Donna Quesada: Well, Kia Miller, thank you so much for joining us today and it is my pleasure to have you as part of the Awaken community
and it’s just a joy to spend this time with you today.
Kia Miller: Thank you and I’m so excited to be part of this kind of discussion that you invited me to have with you today. This is what thrills me. Talking about human evolution. Talking about Awareness. Talking about Awakening. So I’m so happy to be here. Thank you.
DONNA: And you are joining us from Costa Rica, is that right?
KIA: No, actually I am back in California.
DONNA: Okay, so we are both in the same state.
DONNA: Well, as you may know. We like to start these interviews in a very special way because this is Awaken.com, and so I would love to have you speak to this notion of Awakening and what that means to you… to awaken.
KIA: To me, awakening means coming home to ourselves. Remembering who we truly are. Awakening to the resonance of the intelligence of our soul… that light… that spiritual heart that is within. To me, that is what it means to awaken.
DONNA: It’s like all of these traditions, which to me, are really just different aspects of the same practice that are meant to bring us home… We talk about the divine within. This light within. What does that mean to you to come home?
KIA: To me, coming home means arriving at that place within, where there is no struggle. There is no self-doubt, there is no restriction. It’s just a place of pure peace. It’s a place of contentment. It’s a place of connection versus separation. And I think there are many levels of home.
And so, for all of us to begin to access whatever home means to us, and to keep refining that relationship… So, for me, at the beginning, home was the place of absolute stillness and vibrancy that nature brought me to. If I sat in nature, if I closed my eyes and tuned into the field of nature, there was a silence that naturally arose. A tenderness. An “awakeness.”
And then over time, I began to develop the capacity… to have that space of connection of contentedness in other areas of my life. Through Yoga practice, through pranayama practice. Learning how to stabilize my mind. The practice and the life of Yoga has allowed me to understand more and more what it means to be awake. To be awake in life. To be awake within our own dream in life.
DONNA: You touched on so many things that I’d like to follow up on a little bit. This idea of “different levels” of home is fascinating. Does that mean that there are different levels of awakening?
KIA: Yes, I believe there are different levels of awakening. It’s different levels of awareness. You know the mind is the most extraordinary instrument. And I think that our levels of awareness are connected to… our mind is capable of reading out of every single moment. So much of the practice of Yoga is to refine our mind, so that we can receive more and more subtle things. So we aren’t relying on ourself as just being a physical being… of a wife. Of a teacher. A sister. Of a brother. A boss or worker or whatever. Identities we give ourselves.
As we start to refine our mind and refine our awareness, we become alert to the fact that there is a lot more to being human than meets the surface. To me, these different levels of home relate to the degree of self we are able to tap into at any given moment. Out of all of it is LOVE. And if we are connecting to love, then we are connecting to that source. Because it feels to me like love is at the very essence of this experience.
DONNA: Indeed. You spoke of feeling peaceful when you are in touch with home. And it’s like we are getting into a time that is beyond the identities that we create. It’s so exalted. Maybe even too exalted for people to relate to. But what everybody canrelate to, is the desire to feel peaceful. I’ve shared the stories in my own classes. That is what brought me to spiritual practice. I had anxiety and I had panic attacks. And I found peace when I would come to my breath or when I would get into a chanting practice. What is it that brought you to a practice personally, and how did yoga… Let me rephrase that. Was it through some sort of struggle or some sort of similar kind of suffering? And what was the peace that you discovered as a result of your practice?
KIA: I love the way you shared that… coming to a peaceful place within yourself from the practice. When I was 15, I came across a Raquel Welch book. She was the babe that I wanted to emulate when I was that age and she has Yoga postures in it that I got lit up by. I was so curious. And there started my passion. It actually started out of curiosity more than anything else. Almost a feeling of remembrance. It felt so familiar to me. Even at 15.
And so, then I pursued it with that level of curiosity. Just an understanding that there was something there. And what I learned when I started to practice was that I was very dis-embodied. I had really detached in order to cope with the emotional challenges that I was facing as a teenager. I sort of dissociated. So, the first lesson of Yoga for me, was learning how to get into my body. I was doing a hard, athletic, ashtanga practice. And I had to just learn how to breathe properly. I had to learn how to inhabit my body. To stretch my muscles to get comfort in my body, which I had been disassociating from for so long.
So, it was very healing for me on that level. And when I later… through Kundalini Practices got introduced to very strong breath work, and dynamic movements and kriya sequences of exercises that helped me to provoke and move energy… When I got into those, I started to have a deeper level of spiritual awakening. And I use that term really in just a practical sense. I started to get more grounded. More present. More secure in myself. Less influenced by what other people thought of me. What other people wanted from me.
My own sovereign identity was starting to come through the practices. A healthier diet. Feeling balanced. Present in my body. Starting to cognize my reactivity in life. Starting to become aware of the one in within me that was witnessing through life, versus when I was getting caught in the turmoil of my mind. All of these things started to come alive for me through the practice, and deep, deep healing was happening. Particularly in those early years. Lots of tears. Lots of emotions. Anger, rage, and just this flowering. You could say this opening into possibility. And that has just continued. It just never stops.
There is always another level to go to. And that is what keeps me coming to the mat every day. Sitting on my cushion every day. Engaging in these kinds of conversations. Because I am aware that there are universes upon universes available to us, if we can just shake lose the self-doubt… the rigidity of conditioning we are all under—whether it’s from familiar conditions, social conditioning… All these beliefs that are holding us in limitation.
I truly believe that we are unlimited beings, and the only limitations are our self-doubt and the lack of capacity to use our minds in a helpful way, so that the mind starts to rule our life. Our fears start to rule our life… our doubts start to rule our life. So, Yoga has been an extraordinary healing path for us. And the wisdom of the sages… The wisdom of the teachers throughout the ages… One teacher reflecting the other, and the other, and the other. And revealing to us that there is a path towards happiness, and freedom, and fulfilment that we all seek. There is a path, there is a breath, there is a capacity to witness. An embodiment factor to it… if we follow the steps, we will really start to feel what it means to actually be a human being. So that excites me on a daily basis.
DONNA: And I relate to what you are saying. I too, had similar experiences when I began my journey into Kundalini Yoga. It’s so empowering. It opens the doors to a kind of deep healing experience. And yet, the difficult question… just this last year, it seems like just a series of institutions tumbling, and our community was no exception. We took a big hit. And many of our practitioners lost faith in the practice. For those that may not know, the teacher of my teacher… though I never studied with Yoga Bhajan directly, but many came forward claiming abuse in his presence. I’d like to take a moment and try to address this. How have you gone forth in this practice yourself, as practitioner? But also, as a teacher? Has it diminished the strength and power of this path as a practice?
KIA: What a great question and right off the bat I will say that No… it hasn’t diminished anything for me. Yogi Bhajan was not a direct teacher to me. He was the teacher of one of my deepest and most present teachers. And I feel that what is happening with the tumbling of these institutions, with this one after another… Particularly, male powerful teachers falling prey to their loins, if you like, or abuse of power… It’s a representation of where we are missing the teachings. We are missing the possibility.
Whenever we deify someone, we subtly give our power away. And that has been happening over the course of this last 100 years, 1000s of years. Who knows how long? But this Piscean Age of deifying the teacher… And in doing so, we hand over an element of our power. And we see ourselves as somehow less than the one that is before us, who is revealing so much of the unseen to us.
We then mistakenly see the translator as that infinite truth, without recognizing that the truth that is being expressed by that being is the same truth that is within us… That is within everybody. It’s not about the person who is trend-setting it, but the truth itself. And I feel like this age is one in which we are all being asked to connect to that truth within ourselves. Every time we sit in practice, we are connecting to that wisdom… to that truth. Every time we teach, we are connecting to that wisdom.
And in many ways, this latest scandal within the Kundalini Community, concerning Yogi Bhajan, has just come right on time to shake up the more dogmatic approach, to practice and to invite in each and every person in the community, to find that wealth of their own experience that was ignited in their years of practice and to trust that wealth of their own experience.
And for me, it has always been about the teachings. The practices that he shared from his neutral space as a teacher are effective and they work. There are practices that I’ve gotten from other lineages that also have scandals attached to them. They work.
So, it’s not the practices themselves that are at fault. They are neutral. It’s just that we deify the one who is making the teachings. We give away our power and we give them too much power for the fragile human ego to handle. And it corrupts. As they say, absolute power corrupts absolutely. This is a corruptive influence on the soul, I believe. I think it’s a lot for any masterto be able to handle that, so, I’m not making any excuses, at all. There is a radical self-honesty and self-accountability, as Yogis, that we are being asked to tap into right now. And we are being asked to teach from our own experience… not teaching verbatim what somebody else has said, but teaching from our own experience.
So, as Yogis, as teachers, what we really need to do, is deepen our own experience, so that we can teach from that source of truth within ourselves, and not regurgitate someone else’s. To me, that is the Aquarian Age. We are all being asked to stay in our practice… to emerge out of our practice and be able to teach from our experience.
So, I never have the same answer. It always comes out subtly different. But the clearest thing I can say is that the scandal didn’t make me lose faith. It caused me to pause and reflect and take stock. And open my heart with love for all those affected negatively. To see how, as a community, we can help heal those that were emotionally, mentally or physically injured through the blindness of the community. And I have hopes that, overall, the community will be able to find a level of resilience that will allow everyone to stand in their own power. To stand for these powerful practices can deliver one from darkness.
Read and Watch Part 2 Here: Awaken Interviews Yogini Kia Miller – Pt 2 – Citizen of the Inner World
Read and Watch Part 3 Here: Awaken Interviews Yogini Kia Miller – Pt3 – Get out in Nature. Hug a tree. Sit on the Earth.