It’s been a while since I shared some of my kundalini adventures, but rest assured, I’m still getting my weird on a few times a week. In fact, November 16 was my Kundaliniversary, and I’m proud to say that in the year I’ve been practicing meditation, I’ve become more adept at relaxing into it and staying focused. Sure, there was that time I thought about the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and Krispy Kreme, but mostly, the more I meditate, the deeper and more natural it feels.
But as you well know, I’m not perfect. Which is why during my kundalini class this week — a class that was 100% meditation… 75 minutes of meditation! — my mind might have wondered a bit. To Jane Eyre. To spit. To doggies that drool.
My most beloved kundalini teacher Robin has relinquished her Tuesday evening class to another teacher and in celebration of her last class, she wanted to do something special. “Most of the time, ” she said at the beginning of class, “I do kriyas that will make you want to come back. But today, we’re doing something a little more challenging.”
I felt uncomfortable anxiety stab my heart. What did she have in store for us?
For starters: 16 minutes of meditation with our tongues sticking out.
Just for fun, set an online timer for 30 seconds, and stick out your tongue. Stick it all the way out, with your mouth closed around it. Go ahead! Do it! I’ll wait…
Feeling pretty dry, right? Now imagine doing that for 32 times as long. With your hands in mudras. Breathing slowly and deeply, while focusing your internal gaze at the tip of your chin.
“Your tongue’s going to get really dry,” Robin said. “But it won’t fall off. The challenge of this meditation is to not give up… to keep your tongue sticking out, even if it’s uncomfortable.”
Hmmm… being comfortable with being uncomfortable. Sounds familiar, right?
Anyhoodle. My stubborn streak kicked in, and I committed to keeping my tongue out. I leaned into the discomfort. I sat with a long spine. I expanded my chest on my inhale and rhythmically contracted my abs toward my spine on the exhale. I was a stuperstar breather-tongue-sticker-outer except for one thing. Instead of clearing my mind, I thought of this scene in Jane Eyre, starring that horrible little monster of a spoiled brat character: John Reed.
From Chapter 1 of Jane Eyre:
John Reed was a schoolboy of fourteen years old; four years older than I, for I was but ten: large and stout for his age, with a dingy and unwholesome skin; thick lineaments in a spacious visage, heavy limbs and large extremities….
John had not much affection for his mother and sisters, and an antipathy to me. He bullied and punished me; not two or three times in the week, nor once or twice in the day, but continually: every nerve I had feared him, and every morsel of flesh in my bones shrank when he came near. There were moments when I was bewildered by the terror he inspired, because I had no appeal whatever against either his menaces or his inflictions; the servants did not like to offend their young master by taking my part against him, and Mrs. Reed was blind and deaf on the subject: she never saw him strike or heard him abuse me, though he did both now and then in her very presence, more frequently, however, behind her back.
Habitually obedient to John, I came up to his chair: he spent some three minutes in thrusting out his tongue at me as far as he could without damaging the roots: I knew he would soon strike, and while dreading the blow, I mused on the disgusting and ugly appearance of him who would presently deal it. I wonder if he read that notion in my face; for, all at once, without speaking, he struck suddenly and strongly.
And once I thought of it, I couldn’t stop. That scene played in my imagination over and over, John Reed sticking out his tongue at poor little Jane.
Then Robin gently, quietly encouraged us to “…go farther than you think you can. Keep up with it. You can do it.”… and then I was reminded of another passage from Jane Eyre.
From Chapter 6 of Jane Eyre:
Jane: “… it seems disgraceful to be flogged, and to be sent to stand in the middle of a room full of people; and you are such a great girl: I am far younger than you, and I could not bear it.”
Helen: “Yet it would be your duty to bear it, if you could not avoid it: it is weak and silly to say you cannot bear what it is your fate to be required to bear.”
Here’s a paradox: If you have your tongue sticking out for 16 minutes, it will grow very, very dry. Like the Sahara. Like pork loin overdone in a slow cooker. Like a bottle of glitter nail polish from the ’80s found in a box in the basement.
But even while the sticky-outtie part is uncomfortably parched, a deep pool of spit — a Lake Baikal, if you will — forms in your mouth. And, perhaps, should you be so unlucky, begins to dribble down your chin, forcing a conundrum. Should you break your pose to wipe the offending liquid from your chin, or should you bear it — accept your fate and duty to abide by the discomfort — and let it be?
I feel no shame admitting I swiped my chin while keeping my hand in the proper mudra (thumb and ring finger dutifully pressed together).
And that, dear friends, is how kundalini yoga, Jane Eyre, drooly dogs, CrossFit, and sticky-outtie tongues all coalesce in my noggin. (Read more about my adventures in yoga right here.)
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