In 2005, my wife Kia and I attended the annual gathering of Kundalini Yoga practitioners in the mountains of New Mexico. This amazing event is produced by the 3HO organization during the week of Summer Solstice on a sacred piece of land known as Ram Das Puri. The entire experience is like adult spiritual summer camp, with the highlight of the week being three days of a special form of meditation called White Tantric Yoga.
Here is a description of the experience I had…
I am facing Kia seated on the floor of a structure known as “The Tantric Shelter” on a piece of land known as Ram Das Puri in New Mexico. I am dressed in white clothing and my head is wrapped in a white turban that is so poorly conceived that the word turban really does not apply.
I am appallingly tired from the past several days of early morning Sadhana (spiritual practice). I am in a straight line of men, also seated and dressed similarly, who are facing a line of women. Looking across “the tape,” I see the smiling face of my wife, Kia. Our knees are almost touching. Our eyes are about 3 feet apart.
This is our first day of White Tantric Yoga. For the next 10 hours or so we will be engaged in 31 and 62-minute meditations that are physically and mentally challenging. The main questions running through my head are: What are we going to be asked to do? Will I be able to keep up? How did it come to this?
The promise of White Tantric Yoga is compelling! It would have to be. Simply put, through this extremely powerful and difficult practice you cleanse your subconscious at the deepest level of ALL insecurity and childhood trauma. Who doesn’t need that?
Staring into your partner’s eyes for hours on end as you perform difficult kriyas (actions) is an intense experience. Whatever comes up for either of you becomes a part of the experience for both of you. Many times throughout the day, I would nod off during a meditation. I was trying so hard to stay awake, but after a certain point I just couldn’t help myself. My eyes would roll back for a few seconds and when I came around, Kia would be glaring at me with frustration.
With her eyes, Kia, kept telling me to “pull it together”, but the harder I tried, the worse it got. Finally, we came to this particular meditation where we placed our palms against our partner’s palms and alternately pushed one hand forward and one hand back. I was now getting frustrated with Kia because I thought she was pushing too hard. Of course, she was frustrated with me because I was not pushing the way she wanted me to push.
So there we were one minute into a 62-minute exercise and I am thinking, “This could be the longest hour of my life.” AND it was! Using only our eyes and facial expressions, we were yelling at each other. It must have been quite a sight. When the kriya was over, Kia and I noticed that we were not the only couple for whom this exercise had been challenging. In fact, several couples were very riled up.
What had happened? Issues such as power, control, compassion, patience and tolerance all came up. You might say this meditation hasd been conceived to purposely bring up those issues. Some people were affected by it, others less so. I had never seen Kia demonstrate intolerance or a lack of compassion toward me. And Kia had never heard me call her a “stubborn goat” before either. I remember looking at the enormous photo of Yogi Bhajan on the stage and feeling like he was laughing at me.
Kia and I came through our first day of Tantric feeling like two embattled pugilists. We apologized to each other and committed to do better. The next day, Kia was much warmer, more understanding. I was more patient and more present. One kriya, in particular, had us interlocking fingers with our partner with our arms up at a 45-degree angle toward each other. I felt that to make it all the way through without lowering our arms would be impossible, but was determined to give it a try. I would support Kia’s arms and she would support mine.
As the 62-minutes passed, a plethora of internal voices rose up and demanded that I lower my arms, but I would not. Kia was right there with me! When the kriya was finished, we had completed something that had previously seemed impossible. The power of achieving something that you think you cannot do is transformative. That very experience lies at the heart of White Tantric Yoga.
Many people have asked me what effect White Tantric Yoga has had on my life. I explain it like this…
Have you ever been in a place where there was some kind of background “white noise”, such as from an air conditioner or fan, which was suddenly turned off? You might have spent days or months or years living in that noise, but you barely even noticed it. Now that it is gone, however, the relief you experience is just huge. It feels as if you have taken your first deep breath in a very long time. A terrible annoyance has been removed. You remark, “My God, I’m glad that stopped! How could I possibly have endured living with that horrible noise for all that time?”
Much of the garbage of my subconscious, which used to drive so many thoughts and decisions, has been removed so that I could have better thoughts and make better decisions. I have not been perfect. I have, of course, made mistakes, but every year my relationship with Kia and life in general has gotten better because I have been able to develop a relationship with my Highest Self. I believe my 10 years of White Tantric Yoga has helped to make that possible.
It is truly one of the most loving, important and powerful things that I do each year for myself. And I get to be a part of a global community of people who are all on a spiritual path, who practice yoga as a part of that path and who are looking to be of service to each other and humanity. What more could anyone ask for?