Donna Quesada: And so, how would you say… because this comes up all the time… I know there is a lot of difference in opinion between Yogis, with regard to the role of therapy.
How do they work together, and how do they work differently?
Gurudhan Khalsa: Well, in therapy you actually use your Yogic discipline to sit and go through what you have to go through. To fully understand who you are. The all of you. All of your vulnerabilities. You are not going to be strong all the time. You are not going to be courageous all the time. You are not going to be neutral all the time. There are these other moving parts, that if dealt with outwardly, are just going to make me a better, more fully emotional human, that has much more caring and kindness.
For myself and my own vulnerabilities, and it will extend out to other people… Let me say this… I don’t think I incarnated on the planet Earth to learn how to go from point A to point B in a straight line effectively. I’ve got that. I do that pretty well. Well, my incarnation is to open my heart up and start emoting humanly within the context of my Yogic discipline. Yogically, I have to deliver my heavenly self, and my human self, to assist it. But my heavenly self wants me to be me and there is a lot of unprocessed emotion in me that I am working out, that I am going to continue working out… from past incarnations… from when I was three years old, twelve years old. All these various things. It needs to be opened up instead of stamped down and concealed. And who am I concealing it from really? Myself.
DONNA: I’ve heard it said that therapy works on the level of the mind whereas Yogic practice works deeper, on spirit. But it seems like this is a false division. Because your experience is that it is working in tandem to get at that emotional field within. And that’s not just mind. It’s going deeper, and so it goes side by side with your practice, in a sense.
GURUDHAN: And the therapy that I was involved in… that was individually utilized, was somatic therapy. So really, just sensing your physiological impulses. So, we would go through some things. He said, close your eyes. How do you feel? How is your heart beat? How is your pulse? Are you sweating? All these various things that are coming up from the emotional side. And then we started going into the events that got me sweating, or my heartbeat started racing up. We dealt with it very somatically and emotionally and he would always give me the punchline. Okay, we are there. Now what do you want to do? Which was, how do you want to deal with that?
DONNA: In a sense, this is very much what we do. We are expanding in our awareness in how things are sitting in our bodies. Not just in our heads, in the form of thoughts.
GURUDHAN: So, there is this thing in the Yogic world… in the spirit world, called spiritual bypass. It’s been talked about a lot over the last ten years. You get done with your Yoga practice and you’ve sat and meditated. You’ve sat. You’ve exercised. You are feeling really good. That doesn’t mean, don’t deal with your emotional stuff that hasn’t been dealt with yet. The whole feeling good stuff and not wanting to deal with your inner-work. It’s just a bypass. You need enough self-reflection to know that there is no human being on the planet that is immune from having vulnerabilities.
DONNA: And there have always been so many approaches. Now, I am going to go off into a strikingly different area. In previous conversations we have talked about the late 60s. You were there. What do you think about drugs as a portal to practice and healing?
GURUDHAN: You brought something to mind. I’ll get to drugs in a second. My blanket statement is Drugs, no. Period. And I’ll tell you why in a second. So, for the sake of transparency in this whole conversation, I am no longer with that Kundalini community, back since the very end of 2012. Just a piece of information.
So, going back to the 60s.… So, yeah, I participated in the 60s fully. I did drugs. I was protesting out in the streets. But, before I go into the topic of drugs themselves… The one thing I didn’t talk about with all the Yogi Bhajan allegations and things like that… So, coming out of the 60s, I found Kundalini Yoga. A few months later, I met Yogi Bhajan and when I met him, I had this thought that immediately came to me and I projected that onto him. I didn’t verbalize it. And what that thought was, was this: I found my spiritual teacher… Do what you want with me. The moment I said that was the moment I closed all the doors and windows on any questioning. Period. I didn’t start questioning again ‘till 2001. Something like that. But, because I closed all those windows, and this is not an excuse, this is just a fact… I was a product of the 60s. I fully participated in the 60s. I had all kinds of stuff going on. I wanted to simplify my life. I said, fine, do what you want with me. And because of that… No questions asked. Spiritual teacher. It goes back to the whole thing that these Yogis are infallible and stuff. I just didn’t even want to look.
DONNA: And you didn’t see anything?… to be clear.
GURUDHAN: To be clear. Yes. Even though, probably between the mid-90s to the end of his life. Yes, I was behind the scenes. I was in the bedroom. I was never there at a particular point. One o’clock in the morning… midnight… two o’clock… four o’clock. I have never seen anything as far as the allegations that have come up. But again, I believe all the women. So again, this is not an excuse for me not questioning. It’s just a framing… for me numbing myself. I came out of the sixties… numbing. And then, I continued that whole process of numbing. I’m pretty sure I’m now out of that process. It’s been a number of years to move out of that.
Going back to drugs. I believe this is what drugs do to you. Drugs actually anesthetize the nerves along the spinal column. So, you are disassociated from your nervous system. And that is a huge disconnect. To be an alive… human… your nerves have to be vibrant. Your glands have to be secreting properly. Drugs are the antithesis of that. Therefore, no drugs. I am lucky from my drug experiences that I am still living, that I stopped it. And actually, from my five years of drug experiences… it took me twenty years to clear my head. This Yoga… Twenty years. That’s the effect of the numbing of nerves and glands. Especially the heavy duty drugs I was doing. Still, drugs… No.
DONNA: What about in Shamanic contexts, where it’s in a properly guided way?
GURUDHAN: Oh, let me see if I’m going to change my answer… Drugs. No.
DONNA: What has been your greatest challenge? Personally?
GURUDHAN: Heart center. Being able to emote. Being able to expose my vulnerabilities. Dealing with that and understanding the losses in my life through my heart center. Not sublimating the emotions of those losses. Dealing with those losses. It goes back to my beginning answer. Grief recovery. How to move forward, after grief recovery, with at least maintaining my sense of spirit. My sense of resilience. My sense of wanting to be expansive and open. Wanting to have my sense of connectedness. Those have been the biggest challenges for me in the last ten years.
DONNA: And clearly, and you’ve said so… that Yoga is an important part of your life, not just as a teacher but again personally. What is your go-to practice? How has your practice helped you with those things? Overcoming those challenges?
GURUDHAN: Before the last ten years or so, was really to make myself feel good by sublimating my grief. And not dealing with it. My Yoga Practice is pretty much the same, but now I’m utilizing it to fully open myself up and not numb myself to anything.
DONNA: That is so interesting. So, Yoga can be used much like a currency, in that sense? You can get the effect you want, even if the effect isn’t ideal, in terms of the human you want to be.
GURUDHAN: Yeah, of course.
DONNA: That’s amazing actually because it’s got a uniform recipe.
GURUDHAN: The thing that I have been coming up with in my brain cells… probably, the last two years… more and more in my thought patterns, is kind of a fact check on myself. And my fact check is: What you just thought…. Is that real? Is that actually real or is it 47% real? Is it part illusionary? What is real and what is not real? Am I numbing myself to some things? Am I thinking of something that is kind of a fantasy? I’m really fact checking my thoughts more and more often, which I haven’t been doing as seriously as I have been the last couple of years.
DONNA: Now, how does this jibe with the idea that a kriya is a way to get to a specific outcome? A way of feeling? So long as we practice in a certain way… It’s like a recipe, so to speak. But not necessarily?
GURUDHAN: Yoga is a practice. Yoga just gets us to the starting gate of dealing with our emotions, if we are willing to do so. And once you start feeling good and expansive, here’s our will. You can have the willpower to say, You know what, I’ve reached the result of Yoga. My practice just makes me feel great… And think you have no emotions to deal with. Or, okay, I’m feeling great, which makes me better to start dealing with diving deeply into myself and start dealing with what I know is lying in there with vulnerabilities and unprocessed emotions. You’ve got a choice. The outcome of your Yoga practice… You’ve got a choice of what you want to do.
DONNA: So, this is the way you are working with the kriya, with the practice? Whatever that practice is. Whether it’s breathing or it’s chanting or movement…
GURUDHAN: Yoga is only going to open the doors and the windows. And if you poke your head in to some of those doors and windows… It’s dark in there. And some of them have light. That’s us as humans. There are parts of us that are light and parts of us that are dark. And Yoga, hopefully with its discipline… If you put your head around a door and say Wow, it’s pretty dark in there… You are willing to answer it. Because you know innately, that is why you are here on the planet. Once again, it’s those dark places that I didn’t go to previously, and now I’m ready to go to.
DONNA: And It’s not that we need to stay there. It’s that we need to heal.
GURUDHAN: Absolutely. Let me say this. Just because you are going into a dark place doesn’t mean you are going to stay there. If you go into it with a Yogic energy… Go into the dark place… the light of your practice, utilized properly, will shed light on why you have these dark places, in the first place. And that will shed some light on how you want to deal with it.
DONNA: You’ve mentioned the word “vulnerability” several times. And I can’t help but think of Brené Brown’s famous Ted Talk. I think it’s the most watched Ted Talk. Why is this such a buzz word? Why is it so important to understand this word and how to embody it within ourselves?
GURUDHAN: The age we are in now is the age of hyper-sensitivity, whether somebody practices Yoga or not. Everybody is hyper-sensitive. And it’s karmic. Everybody is hyper-sensitive and what are they hyper-sensitive to? Their vulnerabilities. That’s what makes you insecure, angry, insensitive, fearful. It’s vulnerability. So, this is the age for mindfulness. Expansiveness. Where ever their Karma and blessings are, and they want to dive into those sensitivities… It’s the inner-sensitivities causing whatever it is emotionally on the outside. So, what is causing all of our inner sensitivities stem from our vulnerably. And that is why it is a key word. We have to tell our full story. If we don’t talk about our vulnerabilities, we are only talking about part of ourselves. We are only making partial connections to ourselves and therefore we will only be making partial connections to other people we relate with.
DONNA: Indeed, this is a time when it is so important to make connections. We are now in the middle of a pandemic. How has the pandemic affected your world view? And also, your work as a teacher?
GURUDHAN: Let me say this… It’s made me more much more neutral and much more positive about where this planet is going. The pandemic to me was just a wake-up call to humanity saying, Just please stop. Just stop for a minute. Reflect. What you are doing to yourselves? What you are doing to the planet Earth? Just stop. Stop, so you can reflect on how this is affecting your psyche. All the behaviors. All the this, that, whatever it is. And start going inner. And start looking for how you want to conduct yourself once this pandemic is over. Because it’s interesting, and even in my class this morning, we are at a mid-point. It’s been about five months since the pandemic started. It’s about another five months until this big astrological change is happening. We are right in the middle. So, this year, in terms of my practice, me teaching Yoga… and I’ve been espousing this… this is a threshold year. This is a threshold across. This is a gestation period. This is a period before the re-birth is happening. And usually, it’s darkest before the light. It’s exactly what’s happening.
DONNA: I love that.
GURUDHAN: It’s exactly what’s happening. There are three questions in the materials I read astrologically that are apropos to this gestation period. Number one is that anything that is not working for us… leave it behind, moving forward into 2020 and beyond. Anything that is working for you that will continue to work in the future, keep it.
The third question… I’ve said it to myself and to other people… How willing am I to open myself up to new insights, new thoughts, new perspectives, to give me the skill sets to be a force for the planet’s betterment, my own betterment, moving past this year, into this whole decade?
And that’s the biggie. How willing are you to be open to new things? And that is where Yogic practice comes in because Yoga practice… you breathe. It’s expansive. You open yourself up. That openness is needed for new paragons, new ways of thinking to deal with all of this stuff that has been created by us humans to bring balance to the planet. All we have to do is balance ourselves. So, we can be part of that tipping force and bring the planet back into balance.
And it first starts individually. I need to be in balance and part of me needing to be in balance, is for me to continually say, “Am I open? Am I open? Am I being constrictive? Am I being defensive?” All of these various things. I need to deal with myself first, on a daily basis, in order to be part of that population on this planet that is going to tip this planet back to rebalance.