Yesterday I was a dog. Today I’m a dog. Tomorrow I’ll probably still be a dog. Sigh! There’s so little hope for advancement.Charles M. Schulz
Oh to be a dog. So simple. Eat, sleep, poop, run, wag tail, bark, sleep, repeat. I used to feel guilty sometimes about leaving my dogs, worrying they had such boring lives. Then I came to realize, (epiphany!) that they are wired a little differently than we are. Our brains are much more sophisticated, complex and whirling, going a million miles a minute. Animals – not so much. They live by instinct.
A few months ago, I overheard my daughter talking to our dog. She was rubbing him and nuzzling her face in his saying, “Oh you are just a little love, aren’t you. And that’s the whole reason you were put on this planet, to love. Because you are such a little lover.”
I loved hearing that! And, it’s so true. These animals live from their hearts, with no apologies for it. No need for guided meditations or mantras to get out of their heads. They simply don’t have the capacity we humans have, for better for worse.
Eckhart Tolle says, “I have lived with several zen masters–all of them cats.”
And Jesus, in Matthew 6:25 says,
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.”
Oh, to be bird-brained. Such simple mindedness sounds appealing sometimes. Problem is, we humans are not wired that way. We have complex brains which, in some ways, we have abused by overcharging them and burning them out. Easier said than done to just turn things off and drop down into our hearts and live like a bunch instinctual (and loving) animals.
Problem is we a have few more responsibilities than birds and puppy dogs. Like the broken subzero, the emissions test, the distressed teenagers, and oops I just dropped my iPhone and the doctor said something about an irregularity.
We have the complexity to deal with crisis, and the capacity to create it.
In Buddhism there is a term I love, called householders. It’s what you are when you aren’t a monk. In other words, when you aren’t dedicating your whole day to meditation because you have just a few responsibilities getting in the way to cultivating your spiritual self.
Kundalini yoga is an ancient tradition that Yogi Bhajan brought to the west in the 70s for householders. Truth be told it was transformative for a hippie generation, many of whom suffered from addiction. There is plenty of intense and intimidating information, complete with Sikhs in white turbans and language about the serpent energy that is unleashed from your spine. It’s pretty fascinating though, how it works in conjunction with breath and energy work found in other ancient traditions.
Here’s my simplified explanation and understanding: there are kriyas, which are short practices I incorporate into my sitting meditation. It is made up of short transformative exercises based in science, and stimulate breath patterns and energy channels that are consistent with Chinese and Japanese medicine. I was taught and introduced to it by Kartar Khalsa, the adorably sweet and unforgettable teacher in the video below. His website his chalk full of information and explanations. (www.kartarkhalsa.com).
Kartar charged my group with a 40 day challenge, and I did one of his kriyas every day for 40 days. It made a huge difference, and the practice stuck as one of the “many ways” I meditate. Now, when I have monkey mind, which is a lot, I’ll do 6 or 7 minutes of one of these exercises and then sit for 10 minutes afterward. They clear my mind and set me up for better meditation.
Below is a video for a short kriya for focus, and a link for the “Healthy Am I, Happy Am I, Holy Am I” kriya. The suggestion is for 11 minutes or more for the “3H Kriya.” I often find myself doing it for about 5 minutes.
Play with these. Be easy on yourself, but maybe pick one and try for the remainder of the week. 5 minutes of a kriya, then 5 (or more) minutes sitting quietly afterward. Be in the classroom of your mind; see if it makes a sitting mediation easier.
Be open. There are many ways.