My first Kundalini yoga teacher’s name was Dukh Niwaran Kaur. She also went by Patty. She introduced herself to me with both names, and of course I didn’t remember the first one. After I started coming to her classes on a regular basis, I knew her name was Dukh Niwaran – it was the way she signed her emails, and I’m sure she used it whenever someone new came to class – but I still couldn’t bring myself to call her anything but Patty. It felt weird to me, the sounds awkward in my mouth, and why did she have two names anyway? As I got deeper into the practice, there were so many things that were strange and foreign to me, and I asked about them all. I know we talked about her name – it meant something like “healer”, which was fitting, since she also worked as a massage therapist – but I don’t think I ever called her Dukh Niwaran.
The fact that I couldn’t bring myself to call her by her name is what feels strange to me now. I didn’t understand at the time that a spiritual name has power – that people choose to be called by something other than their birth name because it connects them with a larger purpose. It connects them with their destiny.
And oh! I sort of squirm just typing that. Can a name really hold your destiny? That sounds so woo-woo.
Here’s where this is coming from: I recently updated my Facebook name to include my spiritual name. I had just returned from a weeklong prenatal yoga training (more on that soon!) where I’d met some really incredible women, and they all knew me as Sandesh. I always go by Sandesh when I’m in yoga classes; it feels like a place where that’s “okay”, where people won’t think it’s weird, and I want to use that name – it’s special to me. So when I got home, part of me was thinking, how are they going to know who I am when Facebook says I’m Cindy Scovel? But, you know, there was a place somewhere deeper that was saying, I want people to know that’s my name.
Yours Truly, AKA Sandesh Kaur
My spiritual name is Sandesh Kaur, which means one who brings the message of God to others. Here’s more from the note I received when I requested my name in 2010:
Sandesh means message, one who brings the message of God to others. Kaur means the Princess/Lioness of God who walks with grace and power throughout her life. Kaur is a name that all women receive. Yogi Bhajan taught that every woman has the potential to attain a true state of grace and power, and he encouraged each woman to manifest that potential. Receiving the name Sandesh Kaur means that you can connect with your soul by delivering the message of how to live in your higher consciousness to other people, with grace and courage.
I know I was still on the fence about the whole spiritual name “thing” back then, but when I got that name… Sandesh… it felt right. I’ve always been a teacher, no matter what I do, and I regularly forget that. Hearing the meaning of my new name – it was yet another reminder of the path I already knew I was on. And even now, when I lose sight of what I’m doing, where I’m going, the bigger picture… it grounds me.
Okay, wanna hear something even more Kundalini? Part of the power of a spiritual name is that it lifts your energy through its nadh, or sound current. (I’m not kidding! Look it up!) And we’re not talking about a quick pick-me-up – by hearing the sound current resonate, you are moved toward your highest destiny. So every time someone calls me Sandesh, and every time I introduce myself, aloud, to a class of students, I get closer to that calling. I move in the right direction.
Can you see why I’m feeling guilty about Dukh Niwaran? I thought it sounded silly; she felt a resonance with her higher purpose.
Don’t worry, you can still call me Cindy. I get it. That’s part of why I wrote this all out for you. But I want you to know you can call me Sandesh, too, without feeling awkward or uncomfortable. After all, you’d be helping me on my journey.