Radikal Life S1E6: Meditate with Manjot Singh Khalsa
6:39PM Sep 16, 2022
Marina Patrice Vare (they/them/MP)
Manjot Singh Khalsa (he/him)
Hello and welcome to the Radikal Life Podcast. I'm Marina Patrice Vare. My pronouns are they them and MP. And we're recording for you today on the unceded land of the Lenni-Lenape peoples. Today we're going to be speaking with our Meditate Module Leader who may look familiar to you from Episode 1. Manjot, would you like to introduce yourself?
Yes. Sat Nam I'm Manjot Singh Khalsa, my pronouns are he, him. And this is where you want me to share a little bit about myself in the work?
I would love that. Yes.
I've been a wellness entrepreneur for about 25 years. My primary focus is assisting individuals in transforming themselves and their lives. And the primary ways that I am focused on doing that at present is related to some business ventures. One of those is called Radikal Healing with two locations in U.S., and one in Europe. It's a group practice with psychotherapy, other sacred healing modalities. We are a team of 13. And we serve clients both in person and via virtually via telehealth. Additionally, working on this project, because in addition to being the Meditate Module Leader, I'm also the co-creator with you. A couple other places where this work is focused for me is Radikal Yoga, which is a yoga and meditation studio, that's opening on the island of Gotland.
Next month, right?
Yes, next month.
Thank you. Yeah, so that's, that's on the island of Gotland. And, lastly, Radikal Consulting, in which the focus is working with organizations that are in the wellness industry, and assisting them on their path of ethics and integrity. So some of my background, or education, certification related to the work that I do, I'm a Master's level psychotherapist and a Advanced Certified Shamanic Practitioner, and a Kundalini yoga and meditation teacher.
Thank you. Would you share with us a little bit about what identities and communities are important to you?
Sure. I actually made a little list. So let me just reference that. So I'm remembering to bring up what what feels important. My social location includes, but it's not limited. So I'm doing some highlights here. Being a member of Sikh Dharma being involved in the Kundalini yoga community, being a parent, being a parent in general, and then more specifically a parent of three brown children, having a binational existence between U.S. and Sweden, being a business owner, being middle class economically, includes what that comes with it by way of class values. Having the privilege of being educated, being a person of lighter skin, having U.S. citizenship. English speaking, able bodied, neurotypical, having stable mental health. Someone who has shifting body size, and a home owner. So yeah, those those are the things that I'll highlight for now.
Thanks for that. I really appreciate your attention to that. I feel like it's important that anytime we can model like sort of naming where we're coming from.
It really I think helps people get a better sense of our perspective.
Yeah. And I'll also I'll also add that social location, specifically related to the Meditate module is very related to my religious and dharmic life. Because yoga, meditation are central practices on those paths, and yeah, yeah. So I just wanted to share that as well.
Oh, that's great. It's a great bridge for us as well. Would you maybe tell us a little bit more specifically about how your experience as a Kundalini yoga teacher impacts your meditation practice?
Yes, yes. So Kundalini Yoga is known as the yoga of awareness. And the practices which include yogic postures, meditations, chanting mantras, and pranayama, breath work, are all centered around greater awareness, awareness of ourselves, this state of mind were experiencing, the physical structure and framework of the body, and then tapping into and connecting with the larger universal awareness. So, silent awareness, meditation, sitting in silence, that's not specific to Kundalini practice, you know that plenty of practices and unnamed practices, you know, relate to that. And that is my primary daily go to that I'm always prioritizing spending some period of time in that space as some relationship between the Kundalini Yoga. So, as Kundalini yoga teachers, we do commit to engaging in a daily personal spiritual practice, you know, what that is, is you know, specific to each individual. So, for me, that does include meditation. Also as a Sikh follower of Sikh Dharma, and the sound current, so the sound current as accessed by chanting mantra. Or, you know, one of the other ways that I share sound current in the module is through gong bath meditation. So that sound current. Also a class that I teach a meditation class, I teach it at the studio, where we just reference what we'll be teaching, I guess, will be teaching. It's on the schedule. It hasn't happened yet.
But I've done it in the past at our other centers in U.S. is sound through crystal healing bowls. So yeah, this sacred sound current and connecting meditatively with that are important in my personal practice, and are part of the Kundalini yoga and meditation tradition. Yeah, another piece that I just kind of want to tangentially go to, is related to, also related to and maybe you we're gonna get to this, but I'll just,
That's alright, you go where it, yeah.
I'll just pause and share. Yeah. So in Sikhi, we believe in the oneness of humanity, the universality of all. And so, for me, partially related to my own personal life narrative.
Which, you know, is complex, you know, as many folks is by speaking for me. So, it's important for me because of my own lived experience, but also in being a Sikh. So it's really important for me that my offerings are accessible and open to all. Some communities that I am specifically focused on with the work that I'm bringing to the world is individuals who have experienced trauma, LGBTQIA+ individuals and BIPOC Black Indigenous People of Color. Yeah.
That makes sense to me. And I was just gonna pull out two things that I heard and sort of pull them together, which is the, the awareness right in Kundalini yoga, and then the connection to all in the Sikh Dharma. And it sounds like they've had a really complimentary sort of baseline philosophies that have come together for you in a deep way. Yeah.
I really appreciate you sharing a little bit about both of those. And I'm wondering, maybe, for our listeners who are less familiar with Sikh Dharma, would you tell us a little bit about the core beliefs and practices?
Yeah, Sikh, like Sikh S I K H, loosely translates to Seeker of Truth and or student on the path. So, Sikh Dharma is a spiritual path. For individuals who are focused on connecting to cultivating and continuing a relationship with the divine truth within themselves within ourselves. As Sikhs, we strive to recognize the divine light in all of creation, you know, yes, in humanity, but beyond that in all of creation, and we seek to be of service to others. A lot of you know, when people like, well, what is that? Like, from India? The Golden Temple? 10,000 people are fed a day. You know, that's usually people like, Oh, you're those, the one's that give food to everybody.
Yeah, so that is what, you know, that's what's it. The belief is the actions are based on those beliefs. And a lot of individuals that's what they know Sikhs for doing so, that is important as a as a central lived practice. You know, a belief in action. As I referenced, we do believe in the oneness of God. And all humanity. We believe in equality, no castes, no differentiation between gender or any other lived experience or identity. So we have a central belief in equality of all, that's what our first Guru, Guru Nanak, taught and lived. And Shabd Guru, is what I was referring to be referring to before
with the sound current
as meditation. So that sacred sound current, that universal sound is kind of the wisdom keeper of connection with spirit. So for instance, my my children, the two younger ones have Sihk names. And my seven year old is Akal Kaur, my three year old is Karam Kaur. And you know, people are usually interested like, oh, what does what does the name mean?
Mean? Yeah, sure.
And I'm like, Well, it's actually not exactly what the name means. Because it's what is the vibration of the sound current. Even, you know, Manjot Singh.
So you know, I can say, so, yes, someone asked me this two days ago I think.
Yeah. Oh, Manjot. What's that? And you know, I said through the meditative mind, one connects with the divine. Which is ah yeah, good. Good for the Module Leader.
And Akal, you know, Akal actually in Sikhi is what we chant I was chanting it actually in the Lyft on the way over here. Because someone that I know in spiritual community father is in the process of transitioning from life into death, likely today. And so we chant Akal for the liberation of the soul. So yeah, so my daughter's name, I mean, the sound current, the vibration of the sound, means liberation of the soul. You know, Karam, which we'll talk more about later. I know it's on our agenda. But you know, Karam, grace of God. So, yes, the names while I'm on the topic of names, you know, we believe spiritually that the more that we hear our names, it assists us in rising to our destiny.
I love that like fulfilling your dharma
by having everyone's
Every time your name is said,
I really I love this distinction between what does the name mean, and how does the name sound and how the sound of the name brings you closer into the to living the meaning of the name. Thank you for sharing that. That really is rich.
I'm gonna sit with that one for little bit.
Tell me, would you share a memory perhaps that you have related to your meditation journey?
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Um. So my wife and I had been in India, in 2011. And while there on in the ashrams and participating in Kundalini Yoga events, I had been receiving messages, there more and more in meditation, and communication with God, of living more as a Sikh. In my day to day life, and I had returned back to U.S. was having some ego things come up. Like, oh, if I'm my my head is, I think my biggest thing was, if my head is covered, basically 24/7, how's that going to affect my clients, you know, my psychotherapy clients? And, and new clients, you know, in judgment that they have about those in religious traditions, particularly in the U.S., particularly, you know, I'm typically read as a follower of Islam. If people know more about Muslims than Sikhs, at least where I'm situated, you know, was situated in the U.S. in the Philadelphia suburbs. And, yeah, so, at our healing center, my wife and I were leading a silent meditation retreat a day of silence. So we were going into the next silent practice. I was leading, and not much to lead. I'm sitting there in silence meditating as are
Holding the space. Facilitating.
as as our participants. Yes. And in that meditative experience, in my visualization, I began to see the 10 Sikh gurus surrounding me. And just their presence, just their wisdom, their light, their support, and all of my insecurity and fear and ego about these, these what ifs really dissipated. And I was able to just be in that open space of awareness that knowing away from the fluctuations of of my own mind. And, and then yeah, actually, the evening after that, retreat ended, I was, you know, it's my first I think it was my first day back seeing live clients. And I just, you know, proceeded with, you know, having my head covered, and you know, it's it's been 11 years since, you know, everything's been fine.
Yeah. I think that's a really interesting sort of awareness, right, that there is the, the depth of what's calling to you. Right? And then the concern, right about how other people are perceiving you. And I think what I heard there, right, is that, like, you just showed up as your full self, and no one really changed their perception of you. Right? So yes, strangers, perhaps have a assumption set about you that the people who know you don't have, right, but this, I think there's a grace in just walking into spaces where you've already been, and showing up as your full self.
Right, showing up in authenticity. In my life, has always just been the best, the best path to take. Yeah.
I appreciate that. So you've spoken to us a little bit about you know, your Kundalini yoga practice which preceded your, your conversion, would that be the right word?
To the Sikh religion and then where does meditation come in? Are you do you start meditating when you become a Kundalini yogi or did you have you know, like, a long history of the practice that then brought you to yoga?
Yeah, yeah. I meditated pre Kundalini yoga. And Kundalini Yoga, as participants will see in class three, because class three in my module is specifically Kundalini Yoga meditations. So Kundalini Yoga meditations are pretty typically disciplined by way of a certain period of time, potential intended benefits, specific pranayama or breathing pattern, specific mudra so specific placement of hands or arms or you know something, drishti or eye focus, sometimes paired with chanting mantra, sometimes not. So very specific, as is the yoga practice or our kriyas, which is you know, asanas, physical postures done in a particular sequence. So it's very sequence sequential, the meditation and the yoga. So, yeah, pre Kundalini yoga. And I was a student in Kundalini yoga, but other forms of yoga, prior to being called to teach Kundalini and go for training for that. So yeah, my meditation practice was there and present varied. As a shamanic practitioner, I also do something routinely called a shamanic journey, which is not specifically a meditation, but I'll often describe it to individuals as meditation, like, because it is a meditative space. Yeah, so that's, I hope that's answering that inquiry.
Yeah, it does. I'm
curious sort of at what point in your life right meditation became a an anchoring practice?
Yeah. Hmm. Who knows when that was. You know, I think, you know, just what's coming to mind for me. As we sit here in sort of Southwest Philadelphia, I'm thinking when I lived in West Philly, in a second floor apartment, and would go out to the rooftop there. Yeah. This was in grad school. So a million years ago, that I was 21. I'm 53. So whatever that math is,
Yeah, I was specifically exploring various religious traditions that included meditation and visualization as key components. I have been very prayerful since childhood. I would not have called that meditative, but perhaps that's because I didn't know that word. Right. Like why?
Yeah, no that makes sense.
You know, my three year old, you know, probably since two knows the word and says the word meditation.
So, yeah. So So Yes. Probably, even in childhood, without conceptual awareness.
Yeah, that makes sense to me. I'm having a memory of my own. And when you're naming your children being able to say meditate, right, I'm thinking about what a tremendous gift that really is, for us to be able to be in practice with our children. I think I was in middle school, the first time my mom bought me a book, I think it was called The Centering Book. And we worked through some of it together. And then I remember, I have a very vivid memory right now of laying on my mom's bed in her room when I must have been probably a freshman in high school, like closing our eyes and laying next to each other and visualizing colors and having the other person perceive that color. And just, you know, working with the way that one person's energy can shift the other. I had forgotten, how far back that went into my life until you were just sharing this so
Fun to bring that forward.
Yeah, thanks for
like, just like, yeah, bringing that back to me.
And, and perhaps you're you're headed here, but the kind of a little further along the like Kundalini Yoga into Sikhism that, you know, that weaving of the path. So I, you know, post India again, because that was a very hallmark experience, as I shared. I continued to be a student of Kundalini yoga more intensely. And I was at an event with my primary Kundalini yoga teacher, Mahan Rishi Singh Khalsa, who is one of our module leaders on this project for Cleanse and went up to speak with him after that workshop. You know hugged him thanked him for class. And, you know, he looked at me very intensely in the eyes as he does. And he said, Oh, when, when, when will you be taking the Kundalini yoga teacher training? I was like, No, no. No, I'm not no I'm not the one. I said, Oh, my, you know, my wife is a Vinyasa flow yoga teacher, she has been talking about, you know, potentially becoming a Kundalini yoga teacher as well. So she's the one. I was like, I'm doing this, this, this this and plus teach? No.
And well, that planted a seed or was it communication from the divine?
Because yeah, I mean, lo and behold, I then and I don't remember the exact period of time but shortish enough, my wife and I were both applying to for the training course. And I did go into that course being clear that by the end of the program, I would I mean, I say likely it was more than likely I knew I had to knowing that I would be converting to Sikhi. You know, Kundalini yoga teachers, you don't have to be any religion, any specific belief practice and, but the teachings the mantras are based on Sikhi. So, I knew after spending a year of my life, on a daily basis, intensely in steeped in the spiritual practices, and already that I was living as a Sikh for a few years. Prior to that time, that you know, then I would be at a place to fully convert ceremonially. It's called Receiving Amrit, it's, it's, I usually say to people, it's kind of like a baptism, because most people are familiar with that terminology.
That makes sense.
Yeah. So I knew that would be happening at the end of that year, and that is what unfolded,
And I heard you mention your wife, Anna-Sara, there. I didn't know, did she do your Kundalini yoga? Did you do that together?
Yeah. Yeah. I was not aware of that.
Yes. And in fact, my now seven year old was in utero during the entire process. Yeah. So yeah. So she actually my seven year old went through Kundalini Yoga, teacher training before she was born.
So I think that's a great bridge, you shared a story with me about a co-creation that came to you in meditation. And I wonder if you'd like to share that with our audience?
I'll talk about the other kid. Yeah, yeah. I Yeah. What was the year that I note the year when I was thinking, Oh, yeah. Okay. End of 2017. Yeah. Because it was, yeah, the end of 2017. For health reasons, I went into an extended water fast process. And during that time, I was deep in rest, deep in meditation, had taken off of work for 30 days, to be in my healing process. And I was asking God and Guru How can I greater serve thee? And the Sikh holy book which is called the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. We had 10 living gurus. And we view the Siri Guru Granth Sahib as the 11th guru. It's a living book. There will not there will be no human guru further. This connection, relationship with the Scripture. And the 37th pauri or verse, which begins Karam khandd kee baannee jor kept coming. And I was like, Oh, I'm, I'm supposed to chant this, you know, Karam khandd, Karam khandd. And it speaks of this ecstatic, heavenly humanly experience. And yeah, then shortly thereafter, this little being that identified themselves as Karam began communication with me in meditation. And I discovered this was a spirit baby making communication. Because I've worked with spirit baby, conceptually. My wife had this experience with Akal Kaur, speaking to her. And I've I've assisted clients in communication with spirit babies over the years as well. And yeah, so she made this communication with me about wanting to come through in this lifetime into our family. And, yeah, So lo and behold, you know, now she's here, three and a half years old. Yeah. So that
She is an ecstatic dance, in my experience.
Yeah. Full of joy.
Yeah. What a lovely, thanks for that.
Yeah. Thanks for asking.
I love just the the confluence, right of you know, Akal and Anna-Sara And then you and Karam.
yes, yeah. Yeah.
Yeah. Lovely. I want to know if you I know you mentioned your personal practice. And I wonder if you would give us just sort of a sneak into a peek sneak peek. That's the word I'm looking for into your daily life and your meditation practice perhaps what it looks like now, and maybe how it's changed over time. I know for me, mine feels different with young children than it did prior to. Yeah.
Yeah. It definitely looks different way with two young children. I Yeah, Karam Kaur the one we were just talking about is typically home with me during the day. She did start preschool this past year, three days a week, but yeah, often my morning meditation practice includes her and includes the dog.
Yeah. So, yes. And and yes I do prioritize taking time in the healing cottage, which is on my property, so I can be in there away from the physical home for my own time. Yeah. So it has part of my journey has been, and continues to be literally continues to be to this moment to simplify to be more than do and to let go. So I talked a little earlier about sequential practice and Kundalini yoga and Kundalini yoga, and Sikhi have quite disciplined practices that work for a lot of people. Do this meditation for 40 days, do this one for 100 days, do this one 62 minutes a day for 1,000 days. Awaken arise during the Amrit Vela 3:00, 4:00 am.
And when the world is quiet, when that time between day and night is ripest, rise and devote that portion of your day to yourself and connecting with the divine. Spend those two and a half hours in practice. And that, for me, at times has felt pressurized.
Has felt Wow, how am I fitting this in? Personal judgment on I'm in a 40 day sadhana oop I'm on day 14 fell asleep during meditation. So now I have to restart and do another 40 days. So you know those pieces as someone who has a history of workaholism, overdoing producing Yeah, yeah. So that's been something to contend with.
And the being a householder, right, like the it's a very different experience than being devoted simply to the practice.
Yes. Yes. And yeah, you bring up a great point. Yeah. As Kundalini yogis, we are householders. So we are to work in the world. If we're called to to have families and cozy homes, and simultaneously
Yeah, right. Have a depth of practice.
Yeah, yes. So yeah, for me, the simplification, the continual striving to bring mindful awareness to my life, the expanded awareness, the meditative awareness, and then oop, slip off, and then bring myself back again and again. That has been the greater evolution in in more recent years.
Well and what I'm hearing in there, right is this practice of a lifetime. Right, that it is not just we do it now for a set period of time, and then we're enlightened and we stop. Right. It is, you know, a practice to support the entirety of your lifetime. Right. And I think it's interesting to consider how that adapts and changes, as we have different milestones and are on different journeys, right in our lives.
Thanks for sharing that.
I'm wondering if you would lead us through a short meditation, bearing in mind that some of our folks might be commuting or, you know, making dinner is there something that you can lead us through where folks could keep the eyes open and not need to move if they're in a place where they are unable to do that?
Sure. And I did bring I did bring a little script with me.
So this Kundalini yoga meditation is called Meditation to Experience the Expanded Self. It is in essence a guided visualization meditation. So if folks are occupied with another activity, they can listen still do what they're doing and you know maybe see what comes up with a little less focus. But folks that you know are someplace where they can sit comfortably relax their hands how ever, if they can close their eyes.
I'm gonna close my eyes.
Yeah, great please model.
I feel a little weird because people are watching the video.
Yeah, and folks who want to do it with eyes closed, relaxed can come back to this to this portion later.
So take a moment to go internal focus on the breath, just the natural flow of the breath. Nothing to do or shift just be in awareness of the self and the breath. Imagine you were on a mountain and you were looking down at the town or city that you live in.
Understand that what you are seeing is really inside of you.
Imagine what size your head must be to contain all of what you're seeing. And think of how much it can contain how much you can contain how much you are. Now go up in the air until you can look at the entire country the entire land the entire landscape from that broader view of where you reside.
Continue going beyond this and see the entire Earth.
Understand that the entire planet is in your head.
Expand further and see the solar system.
Then see the entire universe. Become the entire universe but still be in your body.
Feel the vast amounts of energy flowing through the body or just be in the awareness.
Invite yourself to expand the little I have individual into the big I of infinity. Go beyond the time and space and try to grab or connect. See or feel infinity. Just breathe into expand into the vastness of yourself. In this vastness see the light of all you are. It's a glittering simple, soft light. Now, imagine that this glittering soft beautiful light is in the center of your head. The top of your head. Focus on it.
That is where the pineal gland is located. It is the most precious gem, which has been placed there,
by creator, by evolution, by God, whatever resonates for you. Breathe into the awareness of that light contained within you. Within your being your body. See nothing but light. It is warm. It is in your head. But it is also as big as the cosmos. Understand. I am. I am.
Inviting yourself to take one final breath.
When you feel ready to do so, you can wiggle the fingers. Allow the eyes to gently blink open if they have been closed.
Thank you for that.
Very spacious. What came to me was the Rumi quote. I love it. Do you know this one?
No, tell me.
You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the ocean in a single drop.
I just really
I've been sitting with that lately, because I think there's I'll call them that. I'm sure there are more than two schools of thought. But I'll call them two schools of thought, right? This sort of like, we're just a insignificant little speck spinning on a giant, right. And then also, this I I prefer this other sort of school of thought about like we are we contain multitudes. And for me, that is the relationship to the divine. So yeah, just sitting with that perspective and feeling, you know, grateful that you brought us that expanded awareness today. Yeah. So we are close to our final question. Typically, before I ask it, I like to just check in and see if there's anything that I haven't asked that you want to share anything that's come up that you want to extrapolate on before we close things out?
No, I feel complete.
So my final question is What is your vision for a Radikal Life?
Yeah, so, for me the concept of radikal and this radikal experience of being is connecting with the essence of self. The Sat Nam truth of one's identity. And how being in the truth of the essence, can also coexist with making fundamental changes to the nature of either things that have gotten in the way of connection with and awareness of our fundamental nature and also expanding truth from one's being into one's life in all aspects of one's life.
And what shifts someone is called to make in the fundamental nature of how their day works, how their life works, etc.
What liberation you're working for.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
So for me personally, a Radikal Life for me is being in a physical high vibration, location, environment, wellness in all aspects physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, energetic for myself, my family, my loved ones, and being engaged in meaningful life's work. Yeah, so that's my vision of a Radikal Life for me.
Thank you. Appreciate. Appreciate that. Thank you very much. And it's been a treat one to talk with you but two to get to be here in person again for a few more days. What a delight for me that we get to do that.
Me too. Thank you.
Thank you for joining us. Head over to our website at Radikal dot Life to sign up for your free Radikal Life Starter Kit. Our website is R A D I K A L dot L I F E. The Radikal Life podcast is produced by me Marina Patrice Vare and edited by Cassidy Vare. Our theme music was created by Mark MeeZy. Radikal Life is a co-creation with Manjot Singh Khalsa and Radikal Healing. Connect with us on social media Radikal with the K. We're on Instagram at Radikal underscore Life underscore 22 and Facebook at Radikal Life.