Mystic Heart teachers are breathing new life into Week Five of the program.
Meditation sessions with Kim Hehr will take place from 7:15 to 8 a.m., and again with Subagh Singh Khalsa from 8:15 to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday in the Presbyterian House Chapel, with additional sessions Mondays and Wednesdays from 4:45 to 5:30 p.m. in Hurlbut Church.
Hehr, a Kundalini yoga teacher, will lead sessions in the centuries-old practice all week. Kundalini acts as a preparation before a longer meditation session, working with the glandular and nervous systems to calm the body down.
The practice also works in connection with the pituitary gland, which acts as the “third eye,” controlling energy flows in the body. Pranayama, a Sanskrit breath practice, will be implemented in Hehr’s sessions, along with “naad” chanting, which means the essence of all sound.
“It actually hits different meridians that help you tune into that higher — whatever you want to call it — your higher power, your higher self, your god,” Hehr said.
Sometimes, this tuning in can help people break the chains of addiction.
“It doesn’t have to be addictions to drugs or alcohol,” Hehr said. “It can be food or negative thought patterns. It’s almost like therapy, but without having to do the talking.”
Hehr said in yoga, these previously “stuffed emotions” finally have a chance to rise to the surface which, in turn, help “elevate your consciousness.” She began her personal practice of Kundalini yoga 17 years ago, during the same month she began recovery, which led her to start her program “Beyond Recovery.”
“It calms your nervous system enough to allow your intuition to flow,” she said, “and your intuition is your love of yourself and others, but you’ve gotta love yourself first.”
And even though Hehr will only be at Chautauqua Institution for a week, she said participants can begin to love themselves within the first 20 minutes of meditation.
“It changes the way you feel,” she said. “It changes things so you can deal with whatever for the rest of the day easier: your family, your dog, the bottle of rum. I don’t say, you know, ‘This is going to be for not smoking,’ but it just works with the light, your own brightness.”
The prime time for Kundalini practices is in the morning “before the to-do list starts to go,” but dinnertime works just as well.
“That’s the time people start to have little meltdowns,” Hehr said. “That’s cocktail hour, too. That’s the time when people don’t necessarily act like they would like their higher self to act.”
Khalsa, director of Mystic Heart Meditation Program, is excited for Hehr’s teachings. Her sessions will explain the “technology of meditation” that Khalsa is unable to include in his 45-minute sessions. He is also eager for a doubling-up of sorts on his particular branch of meditation, as instructed by Yogi Bhajan, a master of Kundalini yoga.
Khalsa begins his morning with this practice before delving into meditation.
“It helps me to energize, focus, relax and remain comfortable and alert during long meditation sessions and also is used for specific purposes,” Khalsa said, “such as developing intuition, clearing away limiting patterns and so on.”
His teaching this week will be looking at judgment in a new light, focusing on the ways the human mind processes information about individual experiences.
“We evaluate the past, we evaluate the present and we imagine various futures and evaluate each of them,” he said.
Most of the time, people have little to no control over these thought impulses. Khalsa wants to bring participants to a place where they “experience without judgment” and, in turn, become more at peace with their current state.
“The value of being individually peaceful is that we can become a more peaceful presence in the world,” Khalsa said. “All compassion, all healing, all peacemaking begins with this and follows from it.”