We’re taught in Kundalini Yoga Level 1 Teacher Training about the five stages of practice or commitment, be that a long-term relationship, picking up a new hobby such as learning a musical instrument or, of course, our journey with kundalini yoga. When I first heard about these stages, they meant very little to me. I didn’t relate, and so I just ignored them in favour of the other gems in the kundalini yoga jewel box. But over the years, I’ve been thinking of them more and more, especially, I suppose, as I move through my prolonged practice of kirtan kriya. Now those stages have taken on much more meaning for me.
The stages are essentially a road map, I have found them helpful to navigate a 1,000 day meditation. The first stage is saram pad. I encountered this stage when I started my kirtan kriya journey in September 2017. I did it for 2.5 hours with my friend Jen, and that was the first day of a long journey. I was excited, because I could see how powerful the practice was, and a little nervous, as it was quite a commitment and I wasn’t sure I could make it.
The second phase is karam pad. This was my honeymoon phase, and it lasted a good year – maybe even more. It was heavenly! I was totally smitten with my practice of kirtan kriya, and was absolutely committed and dedicated to it. I relished doing it every morning. Life became a lot about my kirtan kriya commitment, and I kept marvelling at how it was transforming my psyche, noting with excitement all the new developments.
If it wasn’t for the joys of karam pad, I would never have reached this far. ie shakti pad. This is a tricky phase, because it’s when the doubt trickles in. Kirtan kriya no longer has the mind-bl0wing transformative effects it used to – although I still feel pretty lovely during and after each time I sit down to it, and I still know, somewhere in my being, that I absolutely must keep going. It’s much tougher without the giddy glow of karam pad though! The challenging thing about shakti pad is that I don’t know if I’ll ever get through it. It feels like it’s here to stay. I might well be here for the rest of my practice – another year to go! – and I try to make peace with that.
Beyond shakti pad (if we ever get beyond the white water rough and tumble of shakti pad!) is sahej pad – a graceful, easy stage without the passion and enthusiasm of karam pad. Then there’s sat pad – mastery.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves… and come back to shakti pad… one step at a time. Yogi B’s advice keeps ringing loud: Keep up and you will be kept up, Shamrang!
Grateful, as always (even in the depths of shakti pad!) for this magical juju.
Sat Nam x