By Mahan Kirn Kaur Khalsa, as shared in the Fall, 2002 Aquarian Times Magazine
My goal had always been to run a marathon and to make a million dollars by the age of 25.
Throughout high school and college, I was a 4.0 student participating on the volleyball, cross-country, and crew teams. I competed in triathlons and frequently took 30-mile bike rides with my father. I wanted to prove that I was capable of great things. You might say I was the classic overachiever.
In December 2000, I attended a business conference in Acapulco with a few colleagues. While running on the beach, I twisted my foot in the sand. It seemed like a minor injury, and I expected to be better in no time. During the next few months, my foot dramatically worsened. What seemed a simple sprain turned into a nightmare, which would take me to the depths and ultimately the height of my reality.
In March 2001, I flew to Los Angeles and saw the best specialists, some “’ of whom had conflicting opinions They finally agreed I had RSD. I had never heard of the disease, and the doctors gave me no hope for recovery. RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy) is a chronic neurological syndrome characterized by acute burning, severe changes in bone and skin, excessive sweating, tissue swelling, and extreme sensitivity to touch. RSD is an injury to the nerve or soft tissue that does not follow the normal healing path, as the sympathetic nervous system assumes an abnormal function. If the diagnosis is not made early enough, even mild cases can progress and become chronic and debilitating. The pain had escalated to an unbearable degree. I could not put any pressure on my foot. It was swollen, cold, and purple as a beet. Worn down, I was beginning to feel terrified and anxious. I felt devastated and distant from everyone, since they really did not know my feelings of isolation.
I felt physical pain I never knew existed: Imagine a constant severe migraine in your leg and continual burning and throbbing. My nerves became hypersensitive. For months I could not bear to touch my leg. When anyone bumped into my foot, electric nerve shocks traveled throughout my body Not even heavy doses of morphine could deaden the pain. During the middle of the night, I would crawl to the bath room-crying-since there was no way I was going to use a bedpan!
After months on crutches, I was in such pain that I finally resigned myself to using a wheelchair. I felt embarrassed and was afraid that people in California would make funny faces and see me as one of the unfortunate handicapped. I was terribly cold, so whenever we went to the doctors in Beverly Hills, I wore multiple wool socks and blankets, and carried a hot water bottle in the middle of summer. I was quite a sight.
The doctors injected Marcaine into my lower spine to stop the pain cycle and bring circulation and heat to my leg. This was extremely traumatic, as the side effects of both the drugs and the pain from the injections did not allow me to eat, sleep, or move for 72 hours after treatment. One day, the doctor made a mistake with the injection. As I lay on the operating table, I could no longer feel either of my legs. The doctor was squeezing and shaking them, but I still felt nothing. They wanted to continue with another series of 12 injections, but l declined. Later Yogi Bhajan reassured me, “It is just a shadow. Sunshine is on the way. Deeply meditate.” “Where do I find God?” I asked. “Don’t worry; He will come through,” he answered.
During the first six months, I gradually lost the use of my right leg, and it shortened a few inches. I did not know what the next day would bring. l developed “drop foot” where my Achilles tendon shortened, my foot dropped, and I could no longer lift or flex it-I was paralyzed from the knee down. From hopping on one leg for so long, severe hip, back, and neck pain made me literally bedridden. When l looked at my foot, it looked like something from another planet. Atrophy set in, and my calf shrank three inches. I longed to be able to touch my foot, to stand and wash my hair in the shower. Depressed and confused, I felt that God had let me down. If He did exist, how could He allow me to suffer so long? l found myself angry with God. l remembered that in 1994, in India, while riding my bicycle, a bus had hit me. At another time, a TV had fallen on my head. As a result of these accidents, I had bulging discs in my back and neck, making me susceptible to RSD. It seemed to me something karmic was going down.
The doctors in Los Angeles did not expect me to recover and told me, “You will lose the use of your leg, but the good news is we can dull the pain by surgically inserting a remote-control nerve pump. You will require surgery on your Achilles tendon, as it has shortened due to your Drop Foot.” One even mentioned possible amputation. Another pain specialist commented, “You are like ‘Humpty-Dumpty’. Is there anything that is not wrong with you?”
I contemplated the possibility of losing my leg. Strangely enough, l felt that my surrender would not be so difficult. Great pain, along with constant encouragement from my teacher, had developed my patience and expanded my mind beyond my imagination. I resolved that l would be fine and a whole person even without my leg. Never in a million years would I have thought that I could have reached this point in my conscious ness. My physical being, which had always meant so much to me, dissolved into an etheric realm, as a new acceptance I had never known calmly emerged. Stepping forward in my defense, my spirit came to life. Yogi Bhajan said to me, “Pray to Guru Ram Das, the Lord of Miracles.”‘
You can bet l meditated on Guru Ram Das! And he appeared before me. As l bowed before him, my past, present, and future melted. “I am running the show,” he calmly told me. At another time, I was in excruciating pain. Again, I meditated on him. My dead foot became his beautiful face, and his beard caressed the pain. Several weeks later, I was in the operating room getting injections. Again, l saw Guru Ram Das, as he appeared in the face of the doctor and each assistant.
The Guru took hold of the needle and injected nectar within my spine. l was not scared that time. Later, Yogi Bhajan said, “Oh, isn’t Guru Ram Das working overtime?”
Toward the end of May 2001, RSD started to spread to my lower back, stomach, and left leg. l thought, what now? Could l never move again? My father decided to admit me to the Upledger Institute, an intensive recovery program in Palm Beach. I called, and they said, “We are afraid that we cannot see you until August.” That night, l prayed to Guru Ram Das, and was on the plane the next day. At Upledger, I received cranial sacral treatments seven hours a day for one month. Finally, my old nerve pain left, and l could wiggle my toes. It may sound strange, but Dr. Upledger said that he and his assistants had to pull a black magic entity out of my lower back to unblock the damage. People call it a “bad energy cyst.” Truly surprised, he asked, “What is a young woman like you doing with energy like this? I have only seen this in Vietnam vets.” I laughed because, by this time, I had heard it all. Born into Sikh Dharma, with so much protection around me, I had always felt impervious to black magic and was indeed surprised – but in a funny way. It explained a lot, since the nerve pain disappeared after the “entity ” left.
A month later, in a remote village in Mexico, I went to see a special healer who dealt with black magic. I was still in my wheelchair, and the locals carried me down a hill covered with rocks and mud in the middle of a rainstorm. They rolled me soaking wet into his prayer room, which had a large altar, pictures of saints, and a few small wooden chairs. He began spitting alcohol around me. Chanting and praying, he vigorously rubbed my body with a special egg. He lit candles and placed them in special formation on the cement floor. For hours, he held my foot and prayed, clearing away the negativity. He then wrapped my foot in special herbs to enhance circulation. I could feel my foot begin to vibrate and energy circulate as he ousted the negative energy. I trusted God and Guru would protect me from future invaders. Ten days later, I said a final good-bye to my wheelchair, which had been my lifeline for so long, and flew home to New Mexico.
l came directly from the airport to see Yogi Bhajan. I was excited to show off that I only needed crutches. He calmly assessed me and said, “Throw those sticks away and walk.” I froze, having not seen him in months and expecting appreciation and a warm welcome. I could barely take a step on my own, but a great teacher will push you beyond your crutches.
Looking back, I am so glad he did what he did, as it gave me the courage to take my first step.
In one year, I went from crutches to a wheelchair to using a walker and eventually a cane. I had seen over 150 doctors and could have bought a new house with the money it cost. Throughout this challenge, my teacher, Yogi Bhajan, encouraged me to keep up, strengthening my resolve to heal myself. He inspired me to have hope and trust Guru Ram Das. One night, I prayed for a miracle–complete recovery, which none of the doctors, healers and therapists had been able to offer.
The following morning, l went to see Yogi Bhajan but never mentioned my prayer.
He looked at me and said, “You do not do enough yoga. In my meditation this morning, it came to me that you must do a lot of yoga to heal yourself. Now, get into Full Lotus, cross your arms behind your back, and grab your toes. Bow your head down to the floor. Stay there for 31 minutes.”
“Yeah, right,” I thought. “How come no one else in the room has to do it?”
I could barely touch my toes, and every fiber hurt as I bowed. I hoped I would make it. Reading my mind, he said, “l have no sympathy for you. You have to master this kriya in your lifetime, because it will heal your leg.”
I had prayed that God would heal me, and my teacher heard my prayer and facilitated it in a way I never expected.
I wanted a magic wand to cure me overnight, but realized I had to instead master this kriya, conquer my future, and make my power fuse with God in me. l had already gone through so much and experienced the depths of my soul.
However, a brand-new part of this wild journey was now rushing my way, grabbing me in its current, and hurling me to the far reaches of my soul-strength.
I live in gratitude to Yogi Bhajan for sharing an ancient secret with me. It has changed my life and taught me that healing truly comes from within. I started Bound Lotus on December 2, 2001 and have not missed a day. It has transformed my life, healed my leg, and filled me with inspiration that l can share with others.
My prayer is that you will feel inspired to heal yourself through your own power, with Kundalini Yoga, which awakens your spirit to meet and greet any challenge.
40 Days to Change
This kriya is unbearable.
I am drenched with sweat, and I cry, scream, and curse for the duration of 31 minutes. Every fiber burns and I feel like my muscles are ripping apart. After the third day my nervous system completely changes. My leg is no longer cold. I am hooked.
I dread going to sleep, as I know morning will come, and I will have to do the posture again. I use every prop available to be able to stay in the kriya – pillows under my head and knees and a rope to hold my feet in position. I did not realize what I was getting into, but I knew I had to expand beyond my limits to heal myself.
I wonder if I have signed up for a lifelong torture. A friend and I have fondly named it Torture Pose. Will the pain ever subside? If not, how much longer can I endure it?
Complete misery. My whole body goes numb. My back is burning. I look back over the past few weeks and realize that my life has gone upside down in all arenas. This exercise is forcing all types of issues to surface, so I must deal with them head on. Will this really heal my leg, or will I be crippled for the rest of my life? Is it the fear of not getting well that has prevented my recovery? I decide to commit, no matter what, and heal 100%. This kriya will make me healthier than I was before my illness because it works on all levels- physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
I try focusing on the moment instead of how much time is left. Being present in the moment gets me through the time.
I start to notice a change in my attitude. The rest of the day seems so easy after enduring such intensity in the morning. I had always felt I had to be perfect and judged others by my standards. I am beginning to understand and believe that I am perfect in spite of any imperfection. Everyone is perfect.
I awoke, did the kriya, and realized it was the most intense 40-day practice I have ever done. I feel a deep sense of joy and happiness that I have never felt before. During the first 40 days, I could feel God erasing all my past karma from many previous lives.
Later that day, I was in a meeting and a coworker banged on the door and screamed, “Your house is on fire!” Thinking it was a joke, I said, “Not now. I’m in a meeting.” Much later, I arrived to find four fire trucks, people standing around the house and my possessions burned to smithereens. “It figures, ” I told some of my shocked friends, “The one day I decide not to wear my most expensive coat and put my jewelry in the safe, the house burns down.”
After my shock subsided, I felt light and free. I noticed how much energy was stuck in what I had. I even wondered if I should continue the kriya, since I had a feeling it may have caused the fire. However, Yogi Bhajan told me that the kriya was actually responsible for keeping me safe from the fire. In the 3HO tradition, doing Kundalini Yoga kriyas can lessen your karma: What occurs in your life may happen sooner and at a lesser magnitude than the original karmic plan.
I no longer put my head on a stack of pillows. I never thought that I would be able to give up the props. It is a great feeling. I could not imagine that I would be as flexible as I am, but the kriya forces you to be flexible. In turn, your flexibility forces the rigid mind to bend to your will and stretches the opening where God can enter and heal you. My mind gives me every excuse to not continue the kriya, and I now notice the pattern and tricks that it plays. I found out that the acrobats in Cirque du Soleil do this exercise daily to maintain their flexibility- now we know it works!
I still feel pain. Rather than getting frustrated with my boredom and pain, I decide to go deeper into my meditation and breathing.
I notice the effect of my breath and my many thoughts as I do the posture. I dissolve the whole load into the posture by focusing on the breath. I use the breath to release and transcend the pain, which still exists but is much less. The more you focus on your breath, the more your pain transforms into ecstasy.
Yogi Bhajan says if you want to master something, you must teach it, so that is my next step. I look back on the months I crawled to the bathroom and wished I could have simply stood in the shower and could have gotten my own glass of water. Now I am walking without limping. I have really come a long way.
Still doing the kriya. It has developed into the most essential part of my daily routine. Looking back over the past few months, I finally trust the universe to arrange all my affairs. My health has improved tremendously, and I am walking pain-free without a cane. I shall soon be running again. I am inspired to enhance my yoga practice and share this ancient yogic technology.