Thriving in Spite Of

How to handle stress Kundalini Guru Jugat

I live with and try to thrive in spite of depression*. A long time ago I decided it didn’t matter if it is genetic (my grandmother lived with it, and was in therapy for 20 years. I only found out after her death) or circumstantial (insert various emotional, physical and psychological traumas here). For me, it doesn’t help in the wrangling of it.

How to handle stress Kundalini Guru Jugat
Original Illustration by Stephanie Deangelis

Last Monday, I had a doctor appointment to discuss the dosage of my medication. We decided to halve it. No, I decided to halve it. I am meditating every day, going to yoga most days, and sometimes doing two classes a day. I consume a vegan diet, drink all the filtered lemon water I can, and recently have added more foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. I felt lighter and brighter than I had in a long time since adding Kundalini into my daily routine. I even looked different. One of my closest friends said “you look relaxed but fierce”.

So why not cut my medication in half and work towards eliminating it completely? I’ve tried coming off of medication before, so I know what I am in for. My head feels like it has these random electric shocks. They don’t hurt so much as it feels as if my brain skips a pulse. I figured with the tools I’d had been using, I was prepared for it.

The cliff dive off of my steady vibe was something that didn’t even cross my radar.

Exactly 6 days later, I woke up and instead of greeting the day with my usual Sat Nam three times as I place my feet on the floor, I silently groaned. I have to wake up? I have to get out of my bed? Why? And then I rolled over and fell back to sleep.

And in hindsight, this is how I know. The blackness on the periphery of everything I see, even when I closed my eyes to it. My depression is rearing it’s ugly, but all too familiar, head.

In the moment, my subconscious takes over. You’re being lazy. What the hell is wrong with you? Why can’t you stay awake? Why are you so tired? Snap out of it. Stop being dramatic. Why can’t you keep up? When will you ever be good enough?”

According to Spirit Voyage:

Within the subconscious mind sits many of the mysteries of your self which contains unconscious thoughts, unknown desires, traumatic memories, etc. The goal is to bring that which is in the shadow of the mind to the light in order to integrate and learn from. Without awareness, a person is subject to acting on subconscious thoughts without fully being aware of their actions.

I can now say that I understand my depression from the perspective of awareness. Last night, I began to wake up, so to speak. I went shopping for some last minute items, and wrapped my head in a scarf, Householder Style.  I just wanted to practice my technique in preparation for this weekend’s camping trip. I was also reading up on the significance of wearing a headwrap or turban. According to 3HO:

Head coverings of any kind are useful for a meditative practice. Turbans in particular are useful for holding energy in, and for creating a meditative focus at the third eye point (brow point). In addition, the turban provides a nice cranial adjustment. Some teachers wear a turban or head covering for these yogic reasons alone.

The skull is made up of tiny bones that are constantly moving even if only by micromillimeters and the degree to which they move impacts levels of calmness or anxiety. Covering the head stabilizes the cerebral matter and the 26 parts of the brain, which are interlocked with the neurological system and electromagnetic field.

The benefit of wearing a turban is that when you wrap the 5 to 7 layers of cloth, you cover the temples, which prevents any variance or movement in the different parts of the skull. A turban automatically gives you a cranial self-adjustment. You can pay for a cranial adjustment, or you can tie a turban for free!

I thought about cranial adjustment, and wondered if there could be any connection and possibly kickstart my real self back into gear, instead of listening to my subconscious on a loop.

A quick Google search and I found this from Dr. Axe:

Given that the craniosacral system includes structures of the central nervous system — the skull, cerebrospinal fluid, the membranes of the brain and the spinal cord — it’s not surprising that CST can have a positive impact on mood regulation, pain tolerance, stress response and relaxation. The musculoskeletal system, vascular system, endocrine system and sympathetic/parasympathetic nervous systems all influence activities of the craniosacral system.

I felt a shift after wearing it for a few ours yesterday evening. Today, for the first time since last Thursday, I felt strong enough (mentally and emotionally) to get back on my mat. Wrapping my head, one more time, I did the Aquarian Women Leadership Society Summer Kriya and added Sat Kriya, closing with a mediation to clear emotional tension and stress with Guru Jugat.

Again, from 3HO:

Sat Kriya works primarily on the lower triangle—the first, second, and third chakras. The lower triangle corresponds to the earliest stages of our human development, with the first chakra especially relating to birth, infancy, and the issues of fundamental security, being-ness, and belonging. Sat Kriya, in working on the lower triangle, has the power to excavate deeply entrenched wounds from our early life. That’s why it’s often recommended for healing mental and psychological imbalances.

When I was finished, I began to cook dinner for the kids and process. Moving about from cabinet to refrigerator, turning the dial under the huge pasta pot, I was humbled. I was humbled by my depression. I gained clarity around how it shows up. My depression disguises itself as self-doubt and unworthiness. So I beat myself up about being less than, more and more every day until I can’t see my fierce and relaxed self anymore.

As the water in the pot started to boil, I thought to myself, how would I talk to my children about this, if they came to me with this problem? About feeling unworthy, knowing that they live with depression? I wouldn’t tell them to snap out of it, or that they just need to get over it. So why couldn’t I do the same for myself?

Why didn’t I?

Because I didn’t know. I wasn’t aware that this is how this pattern played itself out time and again in my life. Why couldn’t I apply the same compassion and care that I give to  those that I love, to myself? I could. I should. I will.

There is nothing wrong with you except one thing: you undermine yourself. You don’t need anybody else’s strength. You are the prayer, and you are the power. The moment you put yourself down, you forget the existence of God. – Yogi Bhajan

I believe that practicing Kundalini has helped to bring me clarity around who I am through the depression. I am so grateful for this practice, these teachings, and the gift of my shadow self aka my depression brought me: humility, awareness and self compassion, especially during this eclipse season.

My Kundalini teacher shared a quote from her teacher in a recent class, that I hold dear to me:

You are the most powerful creation ever created. – Guru Jugat

Thriving in Spite Of Original Illustration by Nadin Burquan
Original Illustration by Nadin Burqan
*This is a personal blog. As such, it contains opinions and reflections that are expressly my own. Any and all information I post is true to the best of my knowledge, but there may be omissions, mistakes, or errors. This blog is for entertainment and/or informational purposes only and shouldn’t be seen as any kind of advice because I’m not a professional. I’m just a friend, sharing my shit.

Leaving it Blank

Over the last few days, I’ve changed my Instagram bio 4 times. Have you noticed? Of course not. No one would.

I’ve been meditating on the question “Who am I really?” When I meditate on a question, or chew on something, I call it my macro-meditation.

Macro Meditation Who am I really Currently Cristina.jpg

Let’s age ourselves, shall we? In Excel, back in the day, if you wanted to automate tasks, you created something called a macro. When you created a macro, the computer recorded keystrokes and mouse clicks that made your life so much easier because you were working on spreadsheets for 40 hours a week.

Back to my meditation.

In this dwelling place where the computer is my brain and the recorded keystrokes are the answers to the question I am working with.

Who am I really, to uncover that I am a wife. To uncover that I am a mother. To uncover that I am Puerto Rican American. To uncover that I am a friend. To uncover that I am a yogi. To uncover that I am an opera singer. To uncover that I am a tarot reader. To uncover that I am a teacher. To uncover that I am afraid. To uncover that I am insecure. To uncover that I am on and on and on and on…

to then “poof”! Nothing.

What is that? The me behind the me. What is that like?

And I carry this essence created by my macro-meditation beside me like a friend while I go about my day, make meals for my family, pick up prescriptions, go to yoga, study, bake cookies for the kids, and wash dishes, you get the picture.

Where do I go with this essence? Who will understand it? Who can help me nourish it, and care for it? Help it grow? How do I even explain it? Are there others who understand without my trying to put it into words? Wait. Are there others?

Are there others?

There are. They are in communities with other women. Other women who remember the oath their mothers and grandmothers before them made to one another to hold space for the essence. To listen and not judge. To share without fear of withholding the empathy our essence needs. To cry. No. Not just to cry, but to cry without feeling like you have to say sorry. Because you don’t. There are no apologies here, only acceptance, and deep commitment to your life’s path, your essence’s evolution. We need to be cradled in such a way that we can receive healing energy, and not always be the one that gives it.

This idea had been shifting around my consciousness like an etch a sketch shook clean. Last night, I watched a live stream of Guru Jugat give a talk for RA MA TV. Guru Jugat spoke of women in community, and how we need one another because we are created to handle the unique and special energy that we create. There was more to it, obviously, but to say this (totally over simplified and generalized because I’m not watching it again to transcribe it #sorrynotsorry) statement resonated with me, would be an understatement. Watch it. I was belly laughing in bed, good.

Before sitting down at my laptop, I read this (and highly recommend you do the same) from Steph at The Daily Hunch about the Lunar Eclipse in Aquarius and Mercury Retrograde in Leo happening this week:

And in case you thought there wasn’t a ton of saving grace in this week’s astrology, check it out: a Venus/Pluto trine, also exact on the day of the eclipse. Even under the somewhat alienating auspices of this Aquarian moon, we’re unlikely to feel completely alone in all of this, because when Venus harmonizes with Pluto, it’s easier to share our shame, fears, and worries with others — and even nudge each other along on the path to rebirth. You might be processing a lot right now, and you might, like the water bearer, need to steal off to the river alone to do so. Just know that there’s a village waiting for you when you get back.

Full Blood Moon Aquarius Lunar Eclipse Currently Cristina.jpg

I still don’t know what my bio could say. I haven’t found anything that can encapsulate it. Maybe I shouldn’t even care that much. But when I’m given the task of trying to succinctly subscribe who I am, I go blank. I don’t know who I am yet. I haven’t figured it out.