¦An excerpt from “Kundalini Yoga for Evolving People: Empowering Yourself in a World of Constant Change“, by MutShat Shemsut
Collectively, we have lived under stressful conditions for quite a long time. There was no preparation for enslavement, and no debriefing sessions were held during or after its end. It was a Maafa¹, a horrific, traumatic experience with present-day consequences of institutionalized and repercussive natures. These include the constant threats of violence against black bodies in the present day—echoes of the past. There are often microaggressions in the workplace, and the stress of shifting neighborhoods and uneven playing fields affects many aspects of life.¹
Studies are showing that melanated people are more likely to die at an early age from all causes and that our youth are developing the diseases of old people at a very young age. This can be your reality when you are a person of color. Racism and its stressors have been proven to have a damaging impact on health, increasing the risk of various diseases and mortality, such as hypertension, breast cancer, depression, cardiovascular disease, and the common cold, as highlighted in a dedicated issue of The American Journal of Public Health². Even if someone isn’t directly experiencing racism, exposure to it can still pose health risks. “Embodied inequality,” a term coined by researcher Nancy Krieger, refers to the impact of the fear or anticipation of discrimination on our stress response systems.
It is indeed very challenging to live in a positive present when negativities from the past and stressors like microaggressions and other blatant and subtle forms of systemic racism seem to be a constant intrusion. However, it does not have to define people of color or be a perpetual reality. It does not have to be the center of our attention.
Sound the alarm: Let us focus attention on our health. Let these be the focal points: balanced mental, spiritual, physical, and economic health. We have the option of focusing on what we want rather than what we don’t want. We want spiritual health, happiness, and abundance of all kinds. We deserve it. Most importantly, it is our birthright.
Rather than living in the past and fearing the future, we can work to master ourselves now. However, it will require letting go of a lot of stuff. It will require accessing the contents of those dark recesses of the mind, which are constantly fed reminders of a traumatic past and an often challenging present. It requires a steady discipline of focusing on each present moment and allowing attached emotions and commotions that are blocking personal and collective progress to be released. It requires creating new, positive thought patterns. It requires lots of inner work and a reconnection to the world of spirit.
Kundalini Yoga and meditation are vehicles through which personal transcendence can be achieved, leading to collective ascendancy. It is not a religion. Though references to God are often made, you can replace it with whatever name you relate to – the Great I Am, the Infinite One, the Creator, and Source of all things. Kundalini Yoga works to awaken the kundalini energy present at the base of the spine. Tapping into this energy purifies your system and brings about complete awareness of your body. It gets rid of mental and spiritual blocks. It works to prevent many of the physical diseases found to be common in our communities while improving upon existing negative conditions impacting our bodies. As Yogi Bhajan once put it, “Kundalini Yoga is the science to unite the finite with Infinity, and it’s the art to experience Infinity in the finite.”³
Studies show that yoga and meditation are beneficial to health and well-being in general. Kundalini Yoga and meditation address many of the mental and spiritual conditions and diseases that disproportionately affect people of color.⁴ Various scientific studies conducted by Harvard’s Division of Sleep Medicine’s Dr. Sat Bir Singh Khalsa and other prominent researchers have repeatedly demonstrated that yoga and meditation are effective tools for managing stress and its related side effects.⁵ It leads to physical health improvements such as better immune function, lower inflammation, regulated blood pressure, improved circulation, reduced cortisol levels, and decreased pain. It also has a positive impact on mental health, including increased happiness, emotional regulation, and self-control, as well as decreased depression, anxiety, and the risk of addiction. Furthermore, meditation has been shown to have a positive impact on brain structure, with increased gray matter in areas related to self-regulation and thicker cortical areas for better attention.
You are all encouraged to get on the mat, do yoga, and meditate.⁶ Give yourself the opportunity to release the obstacles that block you and the ties that bind you. Improve your quality of life, align, connect with your higher self, and connect with the God in you! Use this technology that is available to everyone. Achieve liberation while alive!
¹ Maafa, African Holocaust, Holocaust of Enslavement, or Black Holocaust are political terms used to describe the history and ongoing effects of mistreatment of African people, especially by non-African groups such as Europeans and Arabs. This mistreatment has been primarily related to slavery. These forms of oppression persist to this day through imperialism, colonialism, and other means.
² For more detailed information on other researches, see “Why Black Business People Should Meditate“, in: Black Enterprise. June 6, 2016 http://www.blackenterprise.com/black-business-people-meditate/
³ Yogi Bhajan, The Library of Teaching, October 27, 1988.
⁴ Several black women have turned to yoga to improve their health. In a search of over 200 published black women’s memoirs, the term “yoga” appeared in 42 narratives. For more, see “Yoga in 42 African American women’s memoirs reveal hidden tradition of health”, in: International Journal of Yoga. Retrieved July 31, 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4728966/
⁵ See Sat Bir Singh Khalsa articles on Kundalini Yoga and meditations at https://kundaliniresearchinstitute.org/en/yoga-research/
⁶ See “Yoga and Black Men, Why Brothers Should Make the Stretch“, in Ebony Magazine. December 11, 2019. Accessed on June 20th, 2023 https://www.ebony.com/black-men-yoga/
KRI is a non-profit organization that holds the teachings of Yogi Bhajan and provides accessible and relevant resources to teachers and students of Kundalini Yoga.