The Real HighBy:
My definition of a drug is any substance which alters your senses. I include alcohol and marijuana in addition to hard drugs. The following thoughts are a conversation I fantasize having with some of my friends who practice yoga and meditation and use drugs.
I am always so surprised at how prevalent drugs are in the yoga and meditation world because many great teachers including Yogi Bhajan (Kundalini Yoga), Swami Satchidananda (Integral Yoga), and the Dalai Lama (Buddhism) prescribe a completely drug-free lifestyle for practitioners.
I have grown up in a Kundalini yoga and Sikh lifestyle free of drugs for the most part. As a teenager, I did experiment with the use of nutmeg, which can give you quite a high in large quantities. Half a nut did the job for me. I share this with you so that you can know that I have been there—longing to just laugh and be myself through the use of an outside substance. As you look at your jar of nutmeg with new fascination, let me share with you this sense of self in the nutmeg high was short lived—as I believe it is with all drugs. Feeling the intense effect of the nutmeg on my kidneys, I dropped it after only a few experiences.
As I entered into early adulthood I found that I could process stress and find a source of inner strength and calm from my meditation practice. So, if we were friends sitting down having a conversation about this and you were into having a beer after a stressful day at work to wind down, I could tell you that with a few meditation tools under your belt you could save a whole bunch of money because you wouldn't need your beer anymore. However, I would at this point have to complete the story, because this is only a part of it.
Without the use of drugs, the meditation experience is by far much deeper. To reach a deep state of meditation requires going through the channels of the self. It requires passing through the sensations of pain, anguish and desperation. To ignore these sensations would not take you to the vital interior of your being. To have successfully passed through them, in a conscious meditative practice between you and God, is the sweetest victory and sensation I have ever known. But it's not just the pain that one has to pass through. It is also that we must be in a state of complete perception. To feel the air, to hear the sounds around us, to know and sense what is about to unfold, is all a part of meditation. Drugs of any form not only alter but also dampen our senses. It's like walking around with a pillowcase over your head—sleepy to the reality of life.
Sure, who needs reality anyway, right? That is certainly an approach that is quite tempting to take. However, I am with the Buddha on this one. Take me in, let me go through the pain, in my own real self way, so that I can be the kind and beautiful person that I am, and live a life not only of no regrets, but one of service, love and joy. Yes, joy! Because that is by far my favorite sensation of a drug-free meditation.
Snatam Kaur is an American singer, peace activist and author raised in the Sikh and Kundalini Yoga tradition. She grew up in the presence of her spiritual teacher, Yogi Bhajan, learning the essence of Naad Yoga, a form of yoga focusing on sacred sound. At the core of this practice is an essential experience of peace and healing which helps her music be accessible to all people. Her book Original Light is a compassionate and supportive guide to creating a daily spiritual practice. To find out more about her book and online course visit snatamkaur.com.