Yesterday I attended an 11 hour kundalini yoga event called White Tantra. This event happens locally every year, and I have wanted to go for several years. Finally, the stars aligned, and I was able to attend. I truly had no idea what I was getting into. 😂 Which is not surprising to anyone who knows me btw. 🤓I read the fine print the day before and realized that I would be wearing a turban the whole day. Fortunately, my dear friend was at the door and was the one putting turbans on people. I would have made a giant mess of it without her help. 😜 The reason you wear the white turban is to protect your energy and expand your energy field. Many religions wear head coverings for similar reasons, each with a slight variation. At the end of the day, I will tell you that my energy was so high & expanded, I described it to my husband as "five cups of coffee on crack." But in a good way. If you are looking to raise your energy at all, you might want to consider taking a kundalini class.
Back to the event. I also didn’t really know was that I would be partnered up with a male that I had never met before and I would spend most of the day staring directly into his eyes 👀. Awkward much? It actually wasn't, and I'll get into that in a bit. First, I have some 'splainin' to do.
Let's start with Tantra itself. The literal translation of Tantra is "to weave." It represents the weaving of all energy into form. Some people who practice Tantra say that it can refer to everything - seen and unseen. There are different lineages of Tantra, just like there are different lineages of yoga itself or of certain religions. White Tantra is handed down by the father of kundalini yoga, Yogi Bhajan. There are 126 different "immersions" of White Tantra, and few people will experience all of them in their lifetime. I was able to attend just one of them (number 32, to be exact) and many of the 400 or so people in attendance have been attending annually for years, each time doing a different one of the 126.
The event is private and you cannot take any photos or videos in the room. (The room is actually beautiful and seeing all of the beautiful yogis in white is quite a sight. I can understand why they would want everyone to have a safe experience and not have the distraction, interruption, and almost disrespect of photos and videos.) I actually left the room and took this photo where I was sure not to accidentally get any one else in the photo. They did say that you can take photos outside of the room, so I wasn't breaking the rules. (I read them three times to make sure.)
As I mentioned earlier, if you do not have a partner, you are matched with someone else who doesn't have a partner. I had, like, sooooooo much anxiety about this. I did say a prayer the night before that I would wind up with a good partner. I have to say that I was very happy with my partner because this was his sixth year in a row attending. That made him completely non-judgmental, and he knew what to expect. Also, he brought an extra pillow which he shared with me. My bum would have been so sore otherwise!. One of the biggest things that I learned from this event is that it really didn't matter who my partner was. When I was staring into his eyes thinking about how we are all connected and we are all a part of God, I realized that my partner could have been anyone. The lesson would have been the same. We are all "woven together" through the One. This somewhat "woo woo" concept became ever present to me in that moment and was one of my biggest lessons of the day.
The morning consisted of 5, 31 minute meditations. The meditations are done sitting almost knee to knee with the people next to you and with your partner in front of you. We were lined up in rows. There was a row of men sitting across from a row of women. So for an only child like me, that really LOVES my personal space, sitting almost knee to knee on all sides felt a little tight at first. Interestingly, though, once I "tuned in" to that deeper connection of all-that-is, everything around me except my partner's eyes became a little blurry, and I didn't really feel cramped. During the morning at least. I'll get to the afternoon later. Yet this was another big lesson of the day: when you are truly connected to your highest self and to God, you are able to do things that seem almost impossible - like sit in one place for an entire day staring into a stranger's eyes for instance. But maybe there is something else that YOU want to do, and you are thinking, "that seems impossible." Well, let me say that you might want to start practicing some daily kundalini yoga before you say anything is impossible. One of the elders at the event said to me, "If you practice kundalini yoga daily, the red carpets will be rolled out for you wherever you go." I'm not sure if this is true, but I will say that you will begin to see that you are completely unlimited.
But back to the nitty gritty here. We were lucky enough to get a 15 minute break between each "krya" or meditation. Having the breaks was key for me. Each time, I left the room and went to an adjoining sun-room that was virtually vacant to recharge my battery. I also used these breaks for water, having some fruit, using the bathroom, texting my husband, doing some sun salutations...basically self care. I have learned another very valuable lesson over the years, which is: you are are the only one who can take care of you, and you gotta stay tuned into your needs so you know what exactly that means. I learned during this event that I am now a pro at this. (It used to be my weakest link. No more!)
What else did I learn at this event? Well, if you are like me at all, eye contact is not your cup of tea. For some people this comes naturally. I am secretly very jealous of these people. First of all, until this event, I would have clarified myself as "horrible" with eye contact. I have long struggled to focus on someone's eyes without a million distracting thoughts. This became really clear to me recently when I did a few recorded skype calls with a vocal coach. When I went back to watch the videos, I realized how bad my ADD-ish tendencies are in relationships. For most of my life, I have made eye contact about 20% of the time and I'm constantly fidgeting. I've always been distracted by everything in my field of vision. Or not in my field of vision. Squirrel! What were we talking about? OH, right. Making eye contact with someone for 31 minutes straight, 5 times in a row. Did I mention yet that the afternoon consisted of three 62 minute meditations, 2 of which included the whole eye contact thing. So are you wondering how I managed to do this? I would be if I were you. Actually, I might have zoned out and forgot what I was talking about if I were you and then had to go back three sentences and re-read, but that is beside the point. Truthfully, 10 hours of eye gazing meditation was actually not bad at all! I even had some pretty amazing epiphanies during it, which I will get to shortly. But the secret to my success with this was a combo of two things. First, I sent myself reiki and energy medicine the whole time. And it was 100% effective. So much so that my guides showed up to deliver a very powerful message to me during the day. Basically, what they communicated was that it is safe to take a leap of faith because they are supporting me! (And, you, too!) How often do we stop ourselves from going after what we really want because it involves a leap of faith that we are scared to take or don't feel ready for. Way to often. Like Nike says, "Just do it." The second thing I did was to choose my thoughts. This technique I learned from my greatest teacher, or guru, Dr. Wayne Dyer. Recently, I listened to an old radio show of his and he was talking to the callers about addiction. What he was saying was that whatever we tell ourselves subconsciously about anything is how it will be. For instance, if we say, "quitting smoking will be very hard." Well, then, it probably will be. If we say, instead, "giving up cigarettes will be easy, peasy, lemon-squeezy." Well then, that will be true for us instead. So, as I was sitting there, I was actually not thinking of squirrels that often. I was mostly telling myself in each moment, "There is only this one moment now, and this moment is easy." And I just kept thinking that, over and over. Ok, I will confess, when it got a little hard to hold my fingers up for the meditation, I used one more technique that I use when I get impatient for something. I count backwards from 10 to 1 very slowly, because, usually by the time I get to one, the thing that I am waiting for has happened. In this case I might have had to do that a bunch of times, but hey, it worked! (This technique is great when you pick the slow line at the store, btw.)
Our lunch was a delicious vegan meal with yogi tea and water. We then went back for the three 62 minute meditations in the afternoon. The first two were seated and the third was lying down. Which do you think was the hardest? Well, for me, it was the lying down. I thought I would fall asleep, but we were so close together that I didn't really have room to relax. Imagine lying on your back, head to toe with people on either side of you and your legs have no room to move and your feet are almost touching they are so close. I did see one person roll on their side, but I did not have the room for that. Never have I ever been more grateful for my king size bed. You can bet your bippy that when I got home afterward, I slept like a baby sprawled across my whole side of the bed.
One thing I need to mention. We did a lot of chanting. So, as you are sitting knee to knee and gazing in your partners eyes, often you are chanting. You always start with the chant, "Ong namo Guru dev namo," and you end with, "Sat nam." I do enjoy chanting, so I mostly found this fun. My challenge was that I had a little cold, and I was afraid that I would lose my voice. I actually never did. What did happen was that I got an amazing opportunity to practice all of the techniques that I learned in my recent skype vocal coaching sessions. It was pretty affirming to have the two yogis next to me tell me that I had a nice voice and they enjoyed sitting next to me because of it. This reminded me that I am often way too critical of myself and overthink things - especially when it comes to my vocal abilities. Anyone else out there in the "overthinker" category? Maybe we need to cut ourselves some slack and realize the people around us might be really happy to be around us and that alone is a wonderful thing.
But on to the big kahuna. The biggest message I received during this event was about forgiveness. As I was looking into my partner's eyes I had a sense that there was something he was holding guilt about, but I didn't know what at first. I could just see it in his eyes. I felt the need to just send him forgiveness as we were sitting there. I didn't really know what I was forgiving him for, I just felt he needed it. Or was it me that needed it, and he was just reflecting my need? Either way, it doesn't matter, because we are all One. So as I was forgiving him, it felt very real to me that I was simultaneously forgiving a million people. And so it is with each of us. When we reach a place of realizing that the other person needs love and forgiveness just as we do, and we let go of all the stories we are making up about most situations, we are creating an energy shift with a massive ripple. We literally break the chains and set ourselves free, while freeing a million people at the same time.
So, who are you ready to forgive? Today? Write it down on a piece of paper. Pray about it. Meditate on it. One excellent place to start is in a kundalini yoga class. Well, at least it has been for me. Sat nam, beloveds. Sat nam.