Surrendering to love (and pain)

The best things in life often come when you least expect them. That is how the yoga posture bound lotus kriya came to me when I thought I was learning the meditative technique Satnam Rasayan, but instead learnt how to surrender to love (and pain).

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It would be a lie to say that is was love at first sight.

My first impression as Mahankirn Kaur Khalsa taught us to sit either in bound lotus position, or easy pose, cross legged position, with our arms tied together at our lower backs and foreheads on the ground, was tremendous pain. Certain thoughts like “are we there yet” came to mind almost immediately and were followed by “I can’t do this, and I want to give up”. But thanks to a competitive ego that doesn’t like to give up before the others, and quite likely also the group energy as well as Mahankirn gently guiding us to keep up, I managed to remain in the position.

After breathing deeply into the pain in what seemed like an eternity, but probably was 11 minutes, we came out of the position and this is when the transformation of the pain became noticeable. The parts of the body that had been hurting and that had been stiff were less rigid and felt a lot better. Still, I wasn’t sure whether this was a yoga posture that I wished to pursue in my own practice. A few days later I gave it another go, and somehow it turned into weeks and months, and I’m now into my eight month of practice determined to make 1,000 days of continuous practice.

When that will happen is not so important. Just as when I am able to sit in lotus position or even sit in the position for the maximum of 31 minutes, aren’t either.

The most profound teaching of this kriya, posture, is that it is teaching me to surrender to the now and to the divine and to get out of my ego mind that wants to control and plan everything.

Throughout the practice of this posture, I have gradually let go of thoughts and desires and learnt to be more aligned with flow. It is a subtle and gradual, but yet noticeable process. My recent trip to Rome to attend white tantra, was the first time I managed to travel without preplanning everything in advance, and I found although it was somewhat challenging to my ego, it certainly is a more relaxing way of living that enables my recovery as I have to tune in with my body to check what I am able to do, rather than doing things because the mind has already planned them without checking in with the body.

What really took me surprise once I started this kriya, were all the trauma and emotional scars it brought to the surface. In my daily practice of accessing subconscious truths at a deep meditative level, I soon discovered I was going into the chore of issues at a far more rapid pace. Deep wounds which I had completely forgotten about, started surfacing, and I finally realised why I had such a big fibroid. It was merely a container of old pain, mostly of an ego that felt unloved.

I started understanding why certain people in my life had hinted and why Mahankirn had given me an anti depression yoga set as my homework. And I started accepting or coming to terms with the idea that maybe I had been just a little bit depressed in my life.

This was made easier by the feelings that arose; for several weeks if not months, I felt at a rather low point in my life. I knew this was old emotions being released and did my best to welcome them. Though at times it was challenging as there seemed to be no end in sight. Life situations that reminded me of and triggered old pain kept surfacing, and became more noticeable and sometimes laughable afterwards, such as when I asked for a vegan salad in a deli that yes, does sell meat, fish and cheese, but also the best artichokes in town, and ended up being shouted upon by the salesman for my request, before he calmed down. Knowing I had a fear of rejection and that this created this experience helped me focus on what I wanted in that situation. Instead of being kicked out, I ended up with a delicious salad.

Whilst the bound lotus has released pain and helped cleanse my subconscious, it also has had a deeply calming effect on my post concussed head. On the days I haven’t been able to do the posture until the evening, I have felt something was amiss.

I felt less grounded, more anxious and fearful, and I could feel less clarity of mind.

So it has become an important medication that helps my mind recalibrate after a night whether it consists of sleep or insomnia; after some minutes in the position I can feel the restless mind becoming more focussed, present and refreshed. It also settles and soothes my nervous system as long as I don’t overdo it. If I extend the time of the posture by more than a minute overnight, then I often feel that it is too much to handle and I know I have to readjust the time again.

Bound lotus is a kriya in kundalini yoga and can be practiced as a meditation or as a yoga set in its own right with a meditation at the end. Whilst it is not a very physical kriya, as you sit in one position for a considerable amount of time without moving the body, it does feel quite physical afterwards as there is quite a release of pain and tension. Some days the pain is excruciating and it is immensely difficult to sit and breathe into, but with some practice you learn to ease into the pain and know there are benefits to reap. This helps you get through.

Some of the benefits include less tension and pain and more flexibility in the lower back and hips. As the tension is relieved in these areas, tension is also released in other areas of the body such as jaw, neck, legs and shoulders. So the posture has given me valuable information about which parts of the body are closely connected and impact one another.

It has also made me aware that the stiffness in my left leg or jaw is actually disguised anger, as pain in an area is often accompanied by feelings like anger or sadness or even tears running down the cheeks.

Sometimes this knowledge appears as rapid images in my mind, flashbacks of my past which tells me which pain is being released, or how free and joyful I felt as a child without this tension. And with this comes an increasing sense of joy and liberty as more and more pain is released.

I have been surprised by pain appearing in areas of my body I never realised there were any pain; and also pains in areas I suddenly realise used to be painful in my childhood, but which I haven’t felt since. I have been and continue to be amazed at how much emotions and thoughts are stored in our bodies, and I find bound lotus a great posture to release the items I no longer need or want, so that I can make room for new things in my life.

I certainly feel there has been many changes in my life since I started practicing bound lotus. I think the main change is that I am acting increasingly from love rather than fear. I have gradually started to let go of the need to constantly having to fix myself and change, and slowly accepting myself more and more. And as you accept yourself more, you inevitably also accept others too. It is a kriya that is changing my perception and  greet pain in a different way than before. This has made me be more open to what life throws at me instead of being locked down by limiting thoughts. By welcoming pain, it is easier to step out of fear and try something new.

The posture has many layers to it, and some say it is the ultimate yoga posture. It certainly is a posture that has taught me a lot about life and that continues to surprise me and keeps helping me allowing more love to enter my life. And that is the most healing power of all that exist in this universe. But to get there you have to go through the pain. Lately I keep hearing Mahankirn’s words as I sit through the pain and try to implement them: “you might as well enjoy it”. That truly is giving pain a different perspective, completely surrendering to love.

Author: Elisabeth Kolstad

I am a kundalini yoga teacher and writer in Bergen, Norway.

One thought

  1. I am so glad this is working for you, but man it sounds painful! I hope you continue to grow and find acceptance and let go of past hurts. And maybe get another delicious salad. 😉 Anne


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