By Nicola-Jane le Breton
“Shakti Pad is the era of consciousness in which you confront the ego and the ego confronts you in a million ways, but if you take faith and the mental link of your teacher, you can lean through it, you can penetrate through it, you can pass it.”
When we train as Kundalini Yoga teachers, we are taught about Shakti Pad—a stage students of yoga often go through in the early years—where we doubt the teachings and question the validity or suitability of the spiritual path we are on. Our yogic practices have brought us so far: perhaps we feel more mastery in our life, are more intuitive, have more energy and positivity or a deeper sense of inner peace. It may be tempting at this point to veer ‘off the path’ away from the yogic teachings to find or make ‘our own way.’
Nearly three years into my Kundalini Yoga journey, I have struggled recently to maintain my commitment. A month or so ago, I had a dream in which I was standing in a dark room where someone was dying. A woman (who in waking life trained with me as a Kundalini Yoga teacher) came into the room and gave me a silver band of light to wear on my head—like a crown (or an arc line). I woke with the realization that this dream was about the importance of maintaining my personal practice—that these teachings have given me inner strength and balance, sustaining and holding me through turbulent times.
The significance, for me, of my friend’s part in the dream is that in waking life she has pursued her path as a Kundalini Yoga teacher with a sincere and steady commitment, practicing Aquarian Sadhana almost daily and beginning to offer workshops and class series as soon as she completed her training. She has been a great inspiration to me as I witness her growing in radiance and wisdom, applying the teachings to her own life while respecting my individual journey along this path, which has been slower and more hesitant.
Sometimes our lives get so busy and challenging that it’s easy to let our daily practice slip. At first, we tell ourselves we’re “being flexible,” but then slowly we begin to wonder if we need to keep our practice up, or if there might be other and better ways to spend that time. In this world of a thousand and one possible events or workshops or online courses to book into every day, we are constantly being seduced to “try something new” and the pressure is immense to venture shallow and wide, rather than to focus and dive deep.
So receiving this dream was a wake-up call. That morning, I spent over an hour doing my morning sadhana, including pranayama, a full kriya and an 11-minute meditation. And since that dream, I have made time each day for my practice, even if only simple and short (e.g. opening prayer, 3 minutes of pranayama, 5 minutes of warmups and an 11 minute meditation, closing song and prayer). Without fully understanding why it is important to persevere with this commitment, I feel called by my dream to honor the gift I have been given and to stay true to this path, rather than wandering onto another, then another, then another.
In Western culture, there’s a very strong pull to be ‘free,’ ‘independent’ and ‘unique.’ I can’t honestly say I’ve found my way through my doubts yet. Too often I have seen spiritual teachers and aspirants whose spiritual knowledge or realizations have made them arrogant or hardened by dogma and judgment. And in my enthusiasm to share with others what’s helped me, I have often made these mistakes myself. I know that these too, are egoic qualities—as dangerous and damaging as the temptation not to commit to one path and follow it through.
“Some people are afraid of commitment. They think it is slavery—going into the dungeon. No, you are meant to commit: commit-ment. It is meant to commit. What you commit to is your choice.”
As a student of Kundalini Yoga, I have been called to this path firstly by need, secondly by a series of serendipitous connections and thirdly by profound experiences of peace—in solitary practice and in sangat (spiritual community). My dream and my doubts teach me that my personal challenge is to honor and trust the gift of these teachings without becoming a rigid follower and proselytizer of them. Just because I follow this path, does not mean it is the ‘best path.’ Nor does it make me superior to others who follow different paths.
In another recent dream, I saw many women, all the same—and in the dream they were grey. Their clothes were grey, their faces were grey and they were indistinguishable from each other. These women were gathered in the street in some sort of revolution. And then one stepped forward who was different from the others. She was taller and she wore rainbow armor. I woke up and thought ‘a rainbow warrior.’ And the image was like a flame, something to walk towards.
For me, the image of the Rainbow Warrior is a beautiful one that acknowledges the many colors and paths of spirit, the many traditional and spiritual teachings that are offered around the world. At some point we must trust that the path that is opening in front of us—that offers to carry us from the ordinary to the extraordinary, from fragmentation into wholeness—is the path we are destined to walk. We can walk this path half-heartedly, or we can walk it as a spiritual warrior with both faith and humility: doing our best to live a life of courage, compassion, and discipline.
"As we are entering the Age of Aquarius, we have to know what life is all about, and we have to become responsible, outspoken, leading teachers of this Age. That's what we have trained for and that's what we have grown into. You cannot live under a camouflage. You have to live openly, honestly, brightly, and forthrightly. Your words should be so strong that they affect every heart; your truth should be so pure that it lifts a person's soul to the heights."
Nicola-Jane le Breton is a community facilitator who plays in the genres of creative writing, storytelling, environmental arts, and yoga. Her strength as a teacher is creating a safe space for participants to discover and trust the creativity that flows from surrender. She offers writing circles and storytelling journeys that support deep inquiry through imagination and vulnerability. By sharing our innermost stories, we build empathy and dissolve differences in our communities. Nicola-Jane works as a publishing consultant and editor in Perth, Western Australia, and is currently running an oral storyteller-development program with theatre director Silvia Lehmann. You can connect with her at: https://www.facebook.com/write2unravel