I am Dharm Kaur from Toronto, Canada and a Kundalini Yoga practitioner since 1991.
I was born in post-war Poland and raised Catholic in a not-so-devoted family. In my early teens, I learned that my parents had gotten married a few years after my younger brother and I were born; and that it was not a church wedding. In my early twenties, when my father was dying, his liver destroyed by heavy drinking, I learned I had an older sister, from a different mother. It was then I remembered and understood two dreadful words, “bastards” and “alimony”, a dark cloud of words with the power to spark devastating storms.
The hypocrisy of my family, the communist rule forbidding religion classes at school, and the young priests-to-be teaching it on church premises and… touching little girls the wrong way… that was enough for me to decide to leave Catholic church. I left my family too; I got married and was blessed with beautiful twins, Joseph and Zosia and in 1984, we escaped communist Poland, trusting that we would leave our traumatic past behind.
Seven years later, in Canada, I found Kundalini Yoga and the very first class shook me to the core. My armored body began to relax, hidden knots gently untying, opening invisible gates; tears began to flow… streams of tears slowly beginning to wash away the painful legacy of a poverty and addiction ridden past. The year was 1991. Yoga classes at the ashram on Palmerston Blvd in Toronto were “magical.”
My true transformation took place a few years later in Espanola, New Mexico, at the Master’s Touch teachers training in the summer of 1997. I still remember the old Langar Hall; only one story high then; without air-conditioning; huge fans humming all day long. Yogi Bhajan was present every day, giving evening lectures, teaching kriyas and mantras, and subjecting us to awfully long, demanding meditations. Seventeen intense days. An experience seriously challenging on many levels – the Master’s radiant body working on us energetically; helping us shed our old skin and let go of things that needed to leave; giving us a chance to become Kundalini Yoga teachers.
We had morning Sadhanas under a “big top” tent erected at Women’s Camp grounds at Shady Lane; and sometimes, at the warm, beautiful golden dome gurdwara… 4a.m. walk up the path in the cool air of the Amrit Vela… unforgettable.
In those days, we thought Japji was for Sikhs only and often joined Sadhana after. I also had my own reason – despite rejecting the church, I loved Jesus… With the passing years however, following my unfolding spiritual path, I understood there was no contradiction… the human heart is big enough to love Jesus, the Sikh Gurus and other saints and prophets.
I began listening to Japji; to the sound of its words, which I couldn’t pronounce or understand, but could feel how they were soothing my mind, refining it in a profound way. Yet I was still not ready to begin a regular practice of Japji recitation.
The turning point came in December 2015, at Winter Solstice. I saw the poster for the Spirit Voyage 40-day Global Sadhana: Meditation of the Soul – An Experience of Japji, and my heart said YES!
I began receiving emails sent every day at 3:01 a.m. My heart was filled with Joy, and so was my Soul. I couldn’t wait to open another email, read a beautiful writing about the pauree for that day and practice recitation with Snatam. Every early morning, during and after recitation, I felt elevated; my heart was softening. My mind felt deeply at peace. And then the magic truly began.
One morning I woke up feeling overwhelmed by guilt. Not sure if it was a dream or reality… I felt guilty for not being in Poland before my mother’s death. At that time, I lived in Canada, a single parent by then, working hard to make ends meet. I visited nine times over the last three years of her life. I helped, I prayed, I called almost every day…Yet, the guilt!
Ten years after my mother’s passing, I lit candles, wrapped myself in a warm blanket on that cold January morning and opened the Japji email – it was the Twentieth Pauree that day, about “…the mind stained by the residues of sin, which can only be cleansed by the love of the Name.” Tears started flowing, my heart bursting with gratitude. I could almost feel my mother’s presence, touching my shoulder: “… nothing matters… only Love remains.”
Another day, my friend with cancer asked for something yogic to help with fear. I sent her a few versions of Chattr Chakkr Vartee. The next morning the Twenty-Ninth Pauree email arrived; a shield of protection. I printed the page from the Japji booklet for her and she loved the English translation.
Another time, thoughts about my ex-husband and his destructive tendencies interrupted my focus. They came exactly when I was reciting the Thirty-Third Pauree. I began noticing the pattern of losing concentration, only to realize that intruding thoughts related exactly to the pauree they interrupted.
Since that Global Sadhana in 2016, Japji became my beloved prayer and a constant companion. Even on darkest days, its sacred Naad heals the mind, mends the broken heart and lifts the Soul.
Pictures of Jesus and Guru Ram Das stand side by side, candlelight reflecting in them; my one-tenth open eyes seem to see their rays touching me. I allow them to enter my heart and allow myself to feel guided, protected and loved.
It took eighteen years from when I first heard about Japji to the day when I truly heard it through my heart and Soul. The embrace was worth the wait.
Dharm Kaur (Ela Bielski) lives in Toronto with her beloved grown-up twins Joseph and Zosia. She’s been practicing Kundalini Yoga since 1991. She was fortunate to meet Siri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan in 1997 while taking the Master’s Touch Teacher Training. Studying at the feet of the master transformed her life. She is now a certified KRI Level 1 & 2. Dharm’s calling has always been to help those less fortunate, and provide sacred teachings of Kundalini Yoga to those who need them the most. Teaching community classes for underprivileged populations in Toronto, volunteering with classes for homeless youth at Covenant House, and at the Jean Tweed Centre programs for women breaking away from addictions, deepened her compassion and enriched her heart. Dharm became a trainer of the Beyond Addiction – Yogic Path to Recovery program, and she’s been teaching in various locations in Canada and Europe.