Q & A With Jai-Jagdeesh (Part 1)
May 29, 2012 § 1 Comment
Just prior to an absolutely amazing workshop at Aquarian Yoga Center with sacred chant artist, Kundalini yoga teacher, dancer, photographer, writer, and woman extraordinaire Jai-Jagdeesh, I had an opportunity to ask some questions. Here is our conversation:
AquarianYoga: I’m so happy to have this opportunity to ask you some questions.
Jai-Jagdeesh: Just be sure to mention how tasty the fruit is in your house…!
AY: I certainly will! How do you feel about going to teach at the first Kundalini Yoga center in New Jersey?
JJ: It’s very exciting! I had no idea that it was the first Kundalini Yoga center in New Jersey – in part, because Akalsukh has such a clear, strong, mission, one that is evident in the way he communicates… It never once dawned me that this was a new center. It seems like he’s been doing it for a long time, and it feels like AquarianYoga has been here for a long time.
AY: That’s interesting, because we just opened on 11/11/11.
JJ: I had no concept of that. He started asking me years ago to come do something in his neck of the woods. So it’s kind of hilarious to discover that this is all brand new. I’m very excited. I love what I do. I love to get to travel around and share with other people the things that have impacted me deeply. There’s something really special about that. So whether it’s Timbuktu or somewhere in the middle of the country that has never been exposed to Kundalini yoga before – or Montclair, New Jersey with its new yoga studio that is already bringing a lot of energy to town – I’m happy to do it all.
AY: Do you have any advice for those who are just starting out on the path of Kundalini Yoga?
JJ: The best advice I can offer is something that Yogi Bhajan said all the time: “Keep up and you will be kept up.” And the reason I say that is because I’m still challenged every day by this practice. It’s not that Kundalini Yoga takes challenges away; it adds a different layer of challenge because commitment is a challenge, discipline is a challenge. It’s a different type of challenge than what I used to experience. I used to experience being debilitated by feeling overwhelmed about something. Or feeling fear about something new that was coming in, something that I really wanted to do but was nervous about starting… those feelings still exist, but the strength that I’ve gained from this practice helps to balance it out. The new challenge is the discipline, the commitment, the focus. The understanding when my soul is telling me that I have reached the conclusion of a particular meditation, and also recognizing when it’s just my Mind telling me that it doesn’t feel like doing the meditation on this day. Just really recognizing your rhythms and your patterns, and bearing witness to all the subconscious stuff that gets sloughed off by this practice. The challenges will always be there; no question. But it’s a different set. And as the Neutral mind – the meditative mind – develops in this practice, the challenges don’t feel as intense… but it feels like there are more of them!
AY: The challenges on this path are many.
JJ: Yes, and it’s probably not really exciting for a new practitioner to hear… but I would take “ease within more challenges” over “dis-ease, discomfort, and inability to cope within less challenges” any day.
AY: As far as your life goes right now, your singing and teaching and so forth, how do you balance it all?
JJ: It’s interesting, the life I lead now; if you had asked me ten years ago – or even four or five years ago – what I would be doing now, I never would have given you this list. What I came to understand as I watched things open up was that any time I took a courageous step in the direction of something resonant, something that was part of my destiny but I didn’t know it yet, the universe opened up in some way to allow me to do that thing. So what I decided to do was: take steps, see what the universe opened, and, wherever the opening happened, put all of my time and energy there. Right now, what continues to open over and over is music.
AY: So music is your main focus right now?
JJ: Yes. I’m putting all of my energy into that and, as I do so, opportunities for all the other things that I love are coming in naturally, in smaller capacities, in smaller ways. If I had chosen right now to put all of my time and energy into photography or writing or dance, which are all things that I creatively love and absolutely thrive on in their individual capacity, I think I would feel out of balance, because that’s not what I’m being most called to do. However, as I throw myself wholeheartedly into making music and sharing music, I’m given opportunities for the other passions and creativities everywhere I go. I get to teach yoga while on tour, which is blissful. I was invited to lead that last Spirit Voyage 40 Day Global Sadhana, which allowed me opportunities for a lot of writing, and I even got to weave some of my photography knowledge and enthusiasm into that. And, being on the road, I constantly take pictures and have the opportunity to share those, which is a lot of fun. Also, everywhere I go people seem to be saying “Are you going to be dancing as a part of this concert?”… It’s a big pot of creative soup! It’s the most delicious pot of soup I’ve ever had!
AY: That’s a wonderful way to describe it!
JJ: But really the key for me has been letting the universe choose the ingredients – or the quantities of the ingredients. Because whenever I think “I know”, or whenever I think I have control, I’m given this reminder of the fact that, while each of us is master or mistress or his or her own destiny through choice, there are definitely ways that the universe can put a block – or can open up a channel – and the more in tune we are to that, the better; the more able we are to just sort of surf it, rather than running into obstacles over and over again.
AY: I’m getting goose bumps. That is so true.
JJ: So, in the words of Yogi Bhajan; “Keep up and you will be kept up.” And he has a quote that I’m going to have to paraphrase, but it’s basically: You have two choices. You can either do a practice like this – not specifically Kundalini yoga, but any practice that gets you in touch with your soul, your spirit, your intuition, and that divine guidance – so you can ride the flow of energy… or you can do nothing and let the energy ride you. And I’ve decided to pull out my surfboard!