Living a Good Life
How do I live a good life? This has been a paramount question for me for as long as I can remember. My extensive travels as a child up made me aware that there are numerous choices to be made in life and there are also numerous choices that are made for you.
I was baffled by the extreme variations that I witnessed in the world around me. I remember my father cautiously guarding his wallet from poverty stricken children in Lima, watching decadently dressed adults swill cocktails while gambling in a posh casino in Las Vegas, and a smiling toothless Taiwanese woman touching my blond hair as she gave me a necklace made of painted nuts. I was puzzled by why some had so much and others had so little. One thing that was glaringly obvious was that people’s happiness was by no means proportional to their material wealth or station in life.
Like so many of us, I knew that I wanted my choices to have a positive impact and, somehow, satiate my longing to belong. The looming question was and still is, “How do I live a good life?”
I spend some time every day in contemplation of this question. The answer lies in continually asking this question. Day by day, step by step, it helps to guide me.
As a dedicated Kundalini yogi I begin my day with sadhana. Sadhana means ‘spiritual practice.’ It is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘sadh’ which means ‘to reach one’s goal’ or ‘to gain power over.’ My sadhana involves contemplation on the Divine Creator through the recitation of Japji, yoga exercises and meditation. All of these disciplines give me the time and space to listen to the answer of my ever lingering question, “How do I live a good life?”
Sometimes the path to take is very clear and at other times, the way forward is obscured. I know that I won’t go off course, even when the way forward isn’t clear so long as I maintain my integrity. When the way forward isn’t clear, the Divine Teacher is guiding me to take pause and focus on being rather than acting. In those moments I can practice being the best possible version of me.
My teacher Yogi Bhajan, master of Kundalini Yoga, was once asked, “How can I lead a good life?”
Yogi Bhajan replied, “You’re asking the wrong question. The question is what kind of death do you want to have? If you ask yourself this question you will know how you should live your life.”
All of us wish for an easy transition from life to death and into the next realm. What we are wishing for is a scenario where we have no regrets, no unfinished business, so we can let go with ease.
Taking a moment to reflect on your course of action from the perspective of your death bed really sheds light on the matter! Ask yourself, if I were to die tomorrow how would I feel about this situation and my integrity within it?
I believe when I die, it is me who will decide my fate. My soul knows when I have and haven’t succeeded to live with integrity. I may very well return again to work out things I’ve yet to learn. It is all a process of remembering my divine nature and having the courage, strength and compassion to bring the heavenly realm to earth.
Be well. Do good.
One Minute Breath Meditation
One Minute Breath = 1 cycle per minute. 20 seconds to inhale, 20 seconds hold, 20 seconds to exhale. Please note, many people have to work up to a 20/20/20 breath cycle. This method of building your breathing capicity up to 20/20/20 is explained below.
• Optimized cooperation between the brain hemispheres
• Dramatic calming of anxiety, fear and worry
• Openness to feeling one’s presence and the presence of spirit
• Intuition develops
• The whole brain works, especially the old brain and the frontal hemispheres
[Reprinted with permission from the KRI International Teacher Training Manual Level 1]
Tips to make the One Minute Breath Obtainable:
To start, make yourself very comfortable. Have a shawl on that you can remove without exertion if you get warm. Be very still.
Once you are set, take 3 minutes to relax and deepen your breath.
- Inhale slowly and steadily, filling your lower abdomen, your stomach area, going up to your lungs and then all the way up the chest.
- Lock the breath once you fill your upper chest (after 20 seconds).
- Hold (20 seconds).
- Then exhale, slowly gently and steadily.
- At the end of 20 seconds gently reverse to an inhale and begin again.
Having trouble working your way into it?
Don’t fight your breath. Be relaxed. Here is an effective approach:
- Give yourself permission to work up to it. For the first several cycles of breath allow each section of the breath to be as long as it can be. Count how long long your inhale, breath suspension, and exhale are.
- Once you've established the maximum length of each section of the breath, adjust each section to be the same length as the shortest section of the breath. For example, if my longest breath pattern is a 10 second inhale, a 7 second breath suspension , and a 6 second exhale, I will adjust the breath to be a 6 second inhale, 6 second suspension, and a 6 second exhale.
- Take a day or two and then increase each part by another second until the increase in time becomes comfortable for you. Once you've established a comfort level with the longer breath pattern, add another second to each section again, and so on, until you acheive a 20/20/20 breath.