I wanted to believe in magic, so I began to meditate.
I’d already been trying to meditate for many years by sitting quietly and observing my mind. From doing this, I learned that meditation was surprisingly hard work and easy to put off for weeks or years or forever. When I did actually sit, I noticed how my thoughts moved like small birds hovering over a pile of seed. They dropped down and darted off, dropped and darted, and kept returning. I couldn’t stop my thoughts, but realizing they were as fleeting as birds helped me take them much less seriously. This was useful for me, a depressive who often imagined the worst. Meditation also taught me that unlike my thoughts, the presence of my breath was as constant as the air itself. This realization didn’t get me to meditate every day, but it did keep me believing in its power.
While this style of meditation had some magical effects, such as getting me off anti-anxiety pharmaceuticals, I wanted real magic. Magic like the man in the black suit on stage, when he saws the lady in half or turns a rabbit into a dove. That sort of magic.
I’d tasted that sort of magic two years ago. I was in the desert, where I awoke before dawn every day, and in the quiet dark of the morning, I chanted and shook and trembled in yoga poses. Alongside other women training to be Kundalini yoga teachers, I had visions and experienced energy surging through me in unfamiliar ways. Kundalini is an unusual style of yoga which asks a lot of its practitioners: to flex the spine rapidly for minutes at a time, to chant syllables that sound like nonsense, to pant like a rabid dog, to cross eyes and stare at the nose for ten, twenty, thirty minutes. By far, the most demanding aspect of this yoga requires the practitioner to set her ego aside and ignore the mind’s resistance as the body does the work.
If this sounds miserable, it was, but it also got me high. And “high” isn’t a metaphor: the energy of the body vibrates at a higher rate, the heart pumps at a higher rate, and the endocrine system secretes more hormones into the bloodstream. It’s a high—and, to be clear, I am not one of those New Age people who talks about getting high without knowing what it’s like to do drugs. I’ve been high on drugs – good drugs. And while the Kundalini high isn’t as disorienting as being on LSD, as manic as cocaine, nor as tactile as ecstasy, the bliss is the same.
For anyone, this transformation feels magical, but for a depressive, especially so. After a month of daily Kundalini practice in the desert, I was high enough to stop drinking and smoking weed, two crutches I’d used for over twenty years. I didn’t stop using because I knew I should, but because I’d completely lost the desire. My test took place at a drum circle amongst giant red rocks. Under the full moon, handsome men sent the joint my way and I passed.
Now that I’d tasted magic, I wanted more, especially because there are books filled with meditations that promise it. Some are mystical: to receive knowledge of the past, present, and future. To clear the psyche. To experience ecstasy. And some are practical: to find lost things. To heal others. To stop procrastination. To mend a broken heart. Since I’d been out of work for over a month while I was getting high in the desert, I chose a practical meditation: the “Subagh Kriya for Prosperity and Good Fortune.”
Unlike the meditation I’d been doing by sitting serenely, cross-legged and completely silent, Kundalini meditations can involve shouting, moving, and even dancing around. The word kriya means “complete action,” and is often a sequence of movements; there are five of them for the Subagh Kriya, or Action for Good Fortune, which I called the “Big Money Kriya.” Unlike the sitting meditation I’d been doing, where my breath was constant and my thoughts changed, Kundalini meditations involve different breath patterns and the practice of maintaining one thought – of Divinity. Different mantras help with this, and for the Big Money Kriya, the main mantra is Har. Har refers to the creative aspect of infinite power, what makes life happen and what allows stuff—such as cash—to manifest in our lives.
Of course, if I really cared about cash, I wouldn’t be working as a freelance yoga teacher and yoga-massage therapist in a rural area. Instead, I’d be off in some city somewhere, amped up on caffeine and pills, selling screenplays or writing grants or prostituting myself in some legal or illegal way. Instead, my depression steered me to a more contemplative path, one in which I needed all the financial mojo I could get.
So I tried the Big Money Kriya. The instructions were to do each of the five exercises for either three minutes (the length of time said to affect one’s blood circulation and electromagnetic field) or eleven minutes (said to change the functioning of the nerves and the glands). Feeling tough after my time in the desert, I tested the kriya by doing each exercise at the eleven-minute maximum. They’re seated exercises where one only moves her arms, breathes in certain ways, chants a little.
My arms nearly fell off. They felt like they were filled with bees. Then they felt as if the bees were on fire. At one point, my head felt as if it was folding in on itself from the sides, revealing one shining spot in the center of my brain. It was like huffing nitrous oxide except without the weird wah-wah noise. So yeah, I got high. But not high enough to attempt doing each exercise for 11 minutes ever again.
Yet I really needed more income. I’d spent time on food stamps, and if I hadn’t been living rent-free with my boyfriend Peter, I would have been squatting in an abandoned cabin. Sure, I could have gotten a job, but I was working just enough to make scheduling a second job complicated. The real issue was that I was stuck in a “poverty mentality.” This term, favored by self-help gurus who love selling e-books on how to overcome it, is shorthand for “feeling poor.” It’s different from being poor; there are plenty of poor folks who are generous with the little they have, and wealthy ones who give nothing away. A poverty mentality is the belief that one is constantly lacking. It’s a crisis of faith.
Looking back, I had this poverty mentality throughout my adult life, and probably through childhood, though I didn’t grow up poor – we were middle-class scrimpers. Instead of starting my adult life by working, I went to graduate school for fiction writing. I chose to live frugally so I had more time to write, buying into the “starving artist” myth. I wrote, but rarely sent my writing out. Not giving myself a chance was part of the poverty mentality. That mentality stayed with me as I worked as a waitress and in underpaid office jobs; it continued as I tried to make a living as a yoga teacher. My poverty mentality benefitted me by keeping my world small, which felt safe. I never bought a house or a new car. I never spent money on fancy clothes or fine jewelry, but shopped at thrift stores. I traveled, but mainly to third-world countries, and only on a backpacker’s budget. At some point, my choice not to focus on making money became the belief that I couldn’t make money. This was why I chose to do the Big Money Kriya – because if even I could make money, then the kriya must be magic.
So I sat down to practice, doing each exercise for three minutes. Like any meditation, the Subagh Kriya is meant to be done daily, and in the Kundalini tradition, one does the same meditation for 40 days in a row to get the full effect. One could keep going for 90, 120, or even a thousand days. In a row. Since this meditation was hard, even at the three-minute times, I aimed for 40 days.
Hopes for cash aside, I also did the meditation out of curiosity. I wanted to see how waving my arms, shouting God’s name, and holding my breath would make me rich. My book said that the meditation “energizes the aura, arc line, and radiant body.” And that the exercise smack hands “stimulates the Moon center and Jupiter. The combination of good feelings (Moon) and expansion (Jupiter) produces an energetic environment for creating wealth.” I’d already made my peace with how totally weird and seemingly-fanciful yoga could be, a foreign land where we have ten bodies – three of which are the aura, arc line and radiant body- and our fingers are connected to the planets. But I still had to wonder: was any of this true?
I carried on. I learned that the headache I got from crossing my eyes in the first exercise went away as quickly as it came on. I learned that my ten-count breath in the fifth exercise was actually only eight seconds because my years of practicing yoga didn’t magically cancel out the effects of smoking weed for even more years. Even though I couldn’t decide if I hated the second exercise – waving the arms – or the third – circling the arms – more, by Day 18, I realized that I was hooked on the Big Money, because it got me high.
As I went deeper into the weirdness, I supplemented the prosperity meditation by reading Abraham, who is not a person, but a spirit channeled by a woman named Esther Hicks. Popular in New-Age circles, Abraham said things such as:
We would like you to release the word “achieve” or “earn” from your vocabulary and from your understanding, altogether; and we would like you to replace those words with the word “allow”. You’re wanting to allow your Well-being, not achieve it.
This gave me a heretical thrill, living in New England where every springtime, the rural Puritans around me became slaves to the earth, hacking away at the soil for their gardens and readying their businesses for the summer tourist season. And I knew that, as someone who worked for herself, I should have been working all the time. If I wasn’t working, I should have been hustling for work. Yet, Abraham said:
Take the time to line up the Energy first, and action becomes inconsequential. If you don’t take the time to line up the Energy, if you don’t find the feeling place of what you’re looking for, not enough action in the world will make any difference.
I continued the kriya. Even though kriya means “action,” this action was lining up my energy, I hoped. My income stream was still a trickle, but I was starting to have faith. Right around Day 40, I realized that more students were coming to my yoga class. Then I got a one-time gig where I taught for an hour and made $140. I learned that my inheritance check from a dear friend’s passing was ready for me. I kept going with the kriya.
Yet, my faith was fickle. A poorly-attended class, an unexpected expense, or the fact that my inheritance check was half of what I expected, all pushed me back into poverty mentality. But that mentality was a gift. It forced me to keep going with the Big Money Kriya. I became afraid that if I stopped, I’d go completely broke.
I must confess that I didn’t do all five exercises every day. When I was short on time, I just did the first exercise - smacking my hands while chanting Har – for eleven minutes. Even though it took less time than to do all five exercises, doing one thing continuously for eleven minutes was its own special challenge. Sometimes I didn’t even try for eleven minutes; on really tight days, the Big Money Kriya got shrunk to five minutes of hand-smacking and chanting. Once, after a day trip to Burlington, I was lying in bed when I realized I was about to miss a day, so I did three minutes of limply bumping my hands, whispering Har as I lay on my pillow.
Perhaps the real lesson of daily meditation is this: a half-assed job is better than nothing. One morning after practice, I felt as if I must be making as much money as the previous summer, when I was waiting tables at a high-volume, high-end restaurant. My logical mind stepped in to say – um, no, the numbers weren’t there. But Abraham confirmed my experience:
At first, the evidence of your improved state of allowing comes in the form of good-feeling emotions, not in the form of stuff. But eventually the money and the new stuff will come, too.
Around Day 70 of the kriya, I got an email from a woman who runs a center for developmentally disabled adults. Though she had never met me and I said I had no experience in that arena, she insisted that I could teach one of their yoga classes. It was only an hour-long class twice a month, but it led to a private yoga session for her and her husband, who then hired me to teach a weekly private yoga class for him and his friends.
Other people approached me. There was the man who saw my website and wanted to buy his 80-year-old father a package of three private yoga classes. The father, who had never done yoga in his life, liked me and hired me on. I got a call from a guitarist who offered to play live music for my yoga classes, for free. I’d just gotten back from a yoga festival and was thinking how nice it was to practice to live music. Then he called.
I did the kriya for 102 days, often in the evening. On Day 103, a Saturday, I intended to do the kriya after my evening guests left, but instead, I went straight to bed. On the morning of Day 104, when I realized that I forgot to do the kriya the previous day, my stomach lurched. It was the same feeling I had as a child when I missed the bus, or as an adult, missing a plane. I bemoaned my fate to Peter, who knew how to handle my moods.
“A hundred days in a row!” he chirped, wrapping me in a hug. “I’m so proud!”
He was right: I needed to focus on my positive accomplishment – that’s what Abraham would do – but I was still angry at myself. I started again, and also wondered if I should try a different meditation. There were so many things to attain besides money. I added the Adi Shakti mantra to my practice, a longer mantra that I chanted for eleven minutes while pulling up on various muscles and using a certain breath pattern, the purpose being “to align with the universal vibration of love and peace.”
I didn’t quite get there. Instead, I struggled with fitting both meditations into my schedule, which already included trying out various physical Kundalini yoga sequences to teach in class. Some days I did both meditations, some days one, some days, the other. After two weeks, I went back to focusing on the Big Money kriya. After all, it was autumn and winter was coming.
With every new massage client I got, my heart lifted – the kriya was working! Yet I was hardly swamped with work; clients would come in once or twice and then drift away. I began to understand that my poverty mentality attracted other people with a poverty mentality, who considered massage as a one-time special treat. Hell, I never treated myself to a massage, so why would the people around me make treating themselves a habit?
I booked a massage for myself and considered picking up a side job to supplement my income, but my schedule stayed just busy enough that I didn’t have time to work for someone else. Nor, honestly, did I really want to. I agreed with Abraham:
There is no better way to earn money than to do the things that you love to do. Money can flow into your experience through endless avenues. It is not the choice of the craft that limits the money that flows—but only your attitude toward money.
While I continued to struggle with my relationship to money, I noticed that Peter, a freelance translator, had a full schedule of work. Was it a coincidence that his desk was right under my meditation room, that his email in-box was directly beneath the spot where I smacked my hands and chanted for increased cash flow?
That December, the impossible happened – Peter gave me an engagement ring. My frugal boyfriend who didn’t believe in marriage took me to a nice restaurant for my birthday and presented me with a sapphire surrounded by diamonds in a gold setting. Even though we argued about what his gesture meant (he wanted it to be a gift unto itself, and skip the drama of a ceremony), it symbolized a shift between us. And I now had a ring made from real gold, a true luxury.
That same month, I got my year-end statement from my investment broker and was shocked to see that my funds had nearly doubled in value. I had to laugh at myself. It’s just like me to be so fixated on my underwhelming cash flow that I couldn’t see the bigger picture of how my investments were slamming. I saw the magic in this and became doubly resolved to let nothing stop me from practicing the meditation.
Then February came. I was out of town at a massage training session, paid for, incidentally, by grant money I secured thanks to the Big Money Kriya. There, I was amongst other people camping on the floor of the studio, so I put off my meditation until bedtime, when I could finally be alone. But by then, I was exhausted from the previous night’s poor sleep due to a death in my family. I conked out, completely forgetting to do the meditation. The next morning when I realized that I missed a day, I had no emotional reaction. I’d done the Subagh Kriya for Prosperity and Good Fortune for 164 days in a row and could simply start over.
Yoga masters say that if you do a kriya for 120 days, you incorporate the new energy from it into your being, similar to what Abraham said about lining up the energy you want. Now people were approaching me to collaborate on yoga offerings. One of them, another yoga teacher, prompted me to charge more than usual for a series of classes, despite my doubts that people would pay more for what I have to offer. People attended! Every week, people attended!
I did the kriya for another 40 days, missed a few days, and then did it for another 31 days. Even though I tried other meditations, I considered my Big Money Kriya a friend whom I didn’t want to abandon.
My poverty mentality was fading fast. I noticed that I didn’t resent the success of others the way I used to, nor was I telling myself that I couldn’t do things because I didn’t have the money. I went to New Orleans in March, New York City in April, and Cambridge, Massachusetts, in May. When I booked my trip to Cambridge, instead of getting a cheap airbnb where I’d share a bathroom with other tenants, I splurged by renting a full apartment for myself. The one with a sunny deck.
Around this time, I got an email from someone who wanted to hire me to teach his children private yoga lessons three times a week. A steady source of income – I could release my money worries for good! Clearly my efforts were paying off in a real way. But the man, Robert Villareal, didn’t answer my questions about his goals for his children; he only cared if I took credit cards. I did, so this wasn’t a problem, until he asked me to do him a favor: could he pay me $4700 so that I could transfer $3000 on his behalf to the driver of the charter bus that would bring his children to my home studio?
Now my suspicion arising from the spelling mistakes and enthusiastic use of capital letters in his emails was confirmed. My energetic environment had attracted a scam artist. Yet, this prepared me for what came next. Four days later, I got a call from a new client who turned out to be a genuine person. After her first session with me, she booked me for private lessons and massage three times a week. I stopped thinking of a second job. Another new client randomly sent me $100 cash in a card that said May you be blessed with abundance.
Awhile back, I’d told my teacher from the desert that I was doing the Subagh Kriya. “Isn’t it great?” he said. “You don’t have to worry anymore! You just do one little meditation.”
“Yes,” I replied. It was great.
A year after I started the meditation, Peter was so swamped with work that he asked me to lay off the Big Money kriya for awhile. I agreed.
In the year that’s passed since, I’ve only done the meditation a handful of times. Now there is no need. Clients can cancel, class can be empty, and I don’t care. My faith is firm: I am blessed with abundance. My cash flow is solid, and I feel wealthy even if my income is still under $50K. Peter’s even going along with my project of hosting a fabulous wedding for 150 people. I finally understand what Abraham meant:
But all things, as they are happening, are happening in perfect order. And if you will relax and begin saying, “Everything in its perfect time. Everything is unfolding. And I’m enjoying where I am now, in relationship to where I’m going. Content where I am, and eager for more,” that is the perfect vibrational stance.
When I stopped doing the Big Money Kriya, I started a meditation for Elevation, Connection, and Joy. It, too, works magic.
Want to learn the Big Money Kriya and hear more about Abraham’s Law of Attraction? Join me and Lise Miller for a two-hour workshop on Attracting Abundance! Saturday, March 30 at True Center Yoga, Randolph. For details, click here.