Narayan “Cy” Sevak, formerly known as, is a Kundalina Yoga teacher at Divinitree Santa Barbara. A former D1 NCAA wrestler, rock climber, and motorcycle racer, Narayan went through a spiritual transformation when he found Kundalini Yoga through the 3HO organization. Kundalini is a harsher, extreme version of yoga practiced by the warrior Sikhs and brought to the United States by Yogi Bhajan in 1968. The practice of Kundalini yoga focuses on rising energy from the body’s lower centers to the body’s higher centers through mantras chanting, breathing techniques, and performing challenging exercises called kriyas.
Jimmy: I remember that you told us once in class that “a lot of the problems that exist today in the world are caused by thinking too much. We need to feel our way out”. Why do you feel that society as a whole has a phenomenon where we think ourselves into bigger problems?
Narayan: If we continue to try to think ourselves outside of a prison that thought has created, we are only going to think ourselves into another prison. The mind is not the answer. We have to feel our way. [We have to] know our selves. Have compassion for others and the world at large. We have to really consider that we are all really one. Every plant, every animal. We have to feel that. We can’t just think it.
Jimmy: I know that the goal of Kundalini Yoga is to learn how to live through intuition and overthinking tends to bog people down. However, emotions come with problems of their own. Insecurity. Jealousy. Selective perception. Bias. How does one feel correctly?
Narayan: There is no correct way to feel. We all have emotions. How we chose to feel about them can be based on our own experience. Maybe we have blockages. Maybe we are triggered by the things that had happened previously in our lives. So you can never really tell somebody how to feel but you can guide them through sutras.
You have to tap into your heart and get out of your mind. You will know it when you feel it. You know it. Because we are feeling, it is not about me, me, me. It is about we, we, we. Negative ego is when everything is mine, mine, mine. It’s all about me. It only recognizes the self. That’s the negative aspect of the ego.
Jimmy: Let’s talk about the ego. The breath of fire is an exercise we do in class that eradicates the ego. After holding that posture for several minutes, our ego is just stripped away. Why is it so effective?
Narayan: You can find a shunia –a state of zero-mind. So you are really looking at the neutral mind. Meditation helps strengthen our neutral minds. If we do that particular posture everyday for three minutes. We see that shift into a more “we perspective”.
Jimmy’s Commentary: I can attest to this. After holding the Breath of Fire for three minutes, my shoulders begin to burn profusely but a very peculiar feeling of willpower holds me into place. This peculiar feeling, for some unexplained reason, makes me feel like my pride and ego is largely irrelevant and so small compared to the grand scheme of things in the universe.
Narayan was quick to add:
Ego is not a bad thing. It has gotten a bad rap over the last 30 or 40 years. There is a lot about ego that makes us who we are.
Jimmy: Such as?
Narayan: Charisma you know! Knowing who you are and your gifts. If you are completely selfless, you lose touch with your gifts. You have to know yourself and you have to know the good parts of your ego. Somebody said that the ego is the glue that holds the soul in the body. That was Guru Singh. That was one of my teachers. He said that. Ego is the glue that holds the soul in the body. Why would we want to eradicate that?
There are negative aspects such as when all we are thinking for ourselves and forget everybody else. If they get hurt, then so be it, as long as I am getting my way. That is negative ego.
Jimmy: Kundalini, in general, helps disperse this negative ego and really bring out the positive ego?
Narayan: It can, I do not think it is automatic. I think that I have still seen people in the tradition that can default back to –once they have gone to a certain level- a spiritual materialism. Suddenly, they have studied with this teacher, they have been doing it for this long and they have done this kriya and they have done this many sutras and suddenly their ego is back much bigger than before than where it began. It’s like wait a minute, that’s a real risk. I mean we all battle that ego. Some saints and some monks have lost it but I think it requires constant practice and that is why this practice of kundalini yoga is so powerful. We do it everyday. It’s everything.
Jimmy: How has your life transformed, once you have started practicing Kundalini Yoga?
Narayan: The initial stages, you may experience a kundalini rising where you finally recognize the inner connectivity of everything and every moment. But that drifts away. That high.
So then the next stage you go through is called Shaktipad. It’s where you are on a spiritual path but you fall on and off. That can last for years because you have a glimpse of the ultimate truth. You recognize the bliss of that feeling and all you want to do is live there, live in that space.
Yet, the real world beckons. The old self wants control. The ego grasping for control of you from the soul. The soul wants to go in the direction of the spirit but the ego wants to have control. But what about your image? What about making money? What about finding a partner, having a nice car, and finding the best job? It’s a fight.
The beginning stages can be tumultuous. Knowing and having the faith that once you get beyond those that you can be cleared of some of your past karma.
Jimmy: Karma? In past lives?
Narayan: Possibly. Or in this life.
I tend to gravitate towards those…such as in terms of relationships; I tend to go for partners that look for fulfill me spiritually. Not fulfillment from an image perspective or living from that second chakra: looking for physical beauty over spiritual beauty or looking for sex over connection. Those are all aspects that have shifted dramatically. Not looking for pleasure but fulfillment. Not stuffing my face with steak or drinking alcohol for immediate gratification but eating greens and grains because I know in the long run, that makes me feel good on a daily basis. I get fulfillment out of my choices rather than instant gratification.
Jimmy: Do you believe in a soulmate?
Narayan: As in one?
Jimmy: It can be multiple.
Narayan: What is the question? That is two questions.
Jimmy: Can a soul mate be multiple?
Narayan: Are you asking whether I believe that there is one perfect connection for people to come together soul to soul? I don’t know. I haven’t found it if there is.
Jimmy: What is love?
Narayan: Love is a state of being. Independent of gain or loss.