By Deg Ajeet Kaur
“Rather than seeing karma as a punishment, one can view it as the gateway into the human experience through which we can shift into dharma. It is said that even the angels envy this opportunity for incarnation.”
I’m Deg Ajeet Kaur, the sacred Princess/Lioness of God who overcomes every obstacle by embodying graciousness, hospitality and kindness in the world. Sounds like an exciting adventure novel—a novel I would like to read. Oh, it’s me? I’m the heroine of this story? Um. Can’t my novel be a Rom Com?
We can’t choose our life’s story from the book shelf—it’s handed to us—assigned reading. The heroine theme guides me, though, as I turn the pages, using my daily practice for foundation. My name, my sadhana and a healthy lifestyle give me strength. While it’s not an easy read, it’s a challenge I can rise to through repetition and taking it slow. The discipline is the adventure—an adventure that goes in, up and out.
I’m learning to see, read and digest the words of my life as they are presented to me. I used to only read the words that were easy to understand. If I didn’t like a prose and found it too difficult or painful, I skimmed it or jumped to the next paragraph. Conversely, if I read a paragraph before I was ready, my mind would take care of me by forgetting the content. I used to think some of my chapters were punishment—that I did something to deserve them. I found it hard to accept plot lines and pages from long ago. But, it’s getting easier. The dark parts, the hard spots and the rough edges are themes in my novel, a story. And we all have one.
With reflection, a subplot is revealed. Maybe it was forgotten, or perhaps never remembered, but its impact is the subtext of subsequent story-lines. Like a book sitting on a shelf for years, it was always there. And then one day, seemingly randomly, it was noticed and pulled off the shelf. Something about it piqued curiosity that particular day in that particular moment. The book is opened with trepidation and bravery.
Curled up in the corner, the book is read until it’s completed, and then a wondering of why it was never noticed on the shelf, even though it was there since long ago. It was always there. It sat patiently, waiting to be picked up when the time was right to answer questions that hadn’t been asked until now.
We all have our bookshelf. Some of the books have been read many times, the pages curled and stained from repeated review. Some are unopened, standing tall with a stiff spine, waiting to be cracked open for the first time.
This year, my reading assignments were a slow, deliberate read. The content was difficult but I was ready to take on the text. It demanded to be read again and again until the lesson was digested. I read the same words day after day, month after month and even when I knew in my mind that it was time to move to the next chapter, and it felt like the whole world knew it too, and I could recite the passages from memory; my heart wasn’t ready and I found myself back at the introduction again with the same questions and the same confusion and the same need for understanding, review and reassurance.
The words almost became like a mantra that had to be repeated and processed, reverberated through my cells to fully embody the meaning. The repetition felt maddeningly slow and I didn’t know how many times I would have to read it to be finished. Or other times, I’d read a few sentences, feel very fatigued, put down the book and move onto an easier chapter until I felt fortified for the tougher read.
And then one day, it all came together. The confusing plot lines connected in a way that was understood and clear. The lesson landed firmly in my body. I was ready to complete the reading, like a final review before the test—the test of life, the test of action—to finally let it go, to release it and move forward for the next plot line. It’s a relief. It took a long arduous time to process, accept, release and let go of the theme.
That’s when I coach myself in the third person. When I’m ready to embody the lesson and feel really close to getting there, I ask my wise, inner self to guide me, to remind me, empower me, believe in me. My inner voice helps me stand taller, reach higher, breathe deeper, trust more, and feel my sturdiness. The wise voice breaks through my need to re-read the chapter and assures me that I don’t need to read it anymore.
I am ready to not only understand the lesson, but to be the lesson. The lesson is made physical in my footsteps, in my voice, in my action and in my aura. The difficult passages add to a wondrous story, rich in character. The narrative makes me humble, compassionate, knowing, seeing, forgiving and deeply loving.
I face my path without the crutches I used to rely on. Breathing life in as it is, daring to see and feel what is happening (and not through a watered-down version to match what I think I can handle), takes discipline. Reading each paragraph in front of me and not skipping sentences is a disciplined practice.
I can read slowly, with intention and take rests as needed. I feel the emotions that the words evoke. I cry, rest, dig in my garden, laugh with my friends, study, love my children and practice sadhana with my elderly cat, Nico (who is near the end of his life). With practice, I can absorb life’s content real-time, detach and let it flow and spend less time looking back to do re-reads. I’m thinking that my next difficult reading assignment will be a little easier on me because that’s part of my lesson. To trust.
I can revisit each one of the most painful moments in my life and find the offering in the artifacts. We all can—when the time is right. I examine the words in those challenging chapters and pick up the crystal, the sea glass, the flower or the scent in each one. I wear it on a string around my neck, I feel it in the palm of my hand, I plant it in my garden, dab some on my wrists and breathe in its exotic essence—the essence of everything being as it should be, the aroma of relaxed power.
At a point in my life, I thought I knew the next chapter and I had some idea of the ending, too. All the threads tied up together into a pretty multi-colored ribbon, free of break ups, climate change, inequality and epic surprises.
There are books on the shelf that will be opened at the perfect moment. I’ll maintain the practice, be in nature, breathe with my heart, trust my knowing and dare to see and feel what is in front of me.
I’m the heroine. It’s my story. It’s intended to be as it is.
Kundalini Yoga transformed Deg Ajeet’s life (Janet Howard), helping her through big life changes with an increased sense of calm, emotional healing, self-acceptance and trust in the flow of life. She started to recognize a part of herself that was deep within. Quiet. Loving. Forgiven. Forgiving. Her daily sadhana is her gift to herself and the calm consistency in a chaotic, ever-changing world. Wherever she is, her kundalini sadhana is with her. Yes, she gets thrown off balance regularly, but each morning, she gets back to her center – strong, relaxed and at peace.
With an over 25 year career in health care environmental stewardship (www.practicegreenhealth.org), Deg Ajeet’s passion lies in healing the planet – feeling love, respect and appreciation for all living things and connecting with the energy in nature. On the side, Deg Ajeet established Rosehip26 for Air BNB and Reiki Integrative Touch offering. Deg Ajeet received her Level One Instructor Certification in May 2018 and teaches a weekly class at Ananda Yoga in western Massachusetts.