by Susan Pryor,
Kara-Leah Grant’s third book, Sex, Drugs and (mostly) Yoga: Field Notes from a Kundalini Awakening, is an epic auto-biographical journey spanning fourteen years of Kara-Leah’s life.
The journey begins in an acute psyche ward in Vancouver where Kara-Leah found herself after her first psychotic episode involving hallucinogenic drugs.
Kara-Leah, a practicing yogini, went from being a freedom-loving 29-year-old engaged to-be-married party girl indulging in various recreational drugs and freelancing as a journalist in Whistler to being diagnosed Bi-Polar II and committed to the psych ward after her second psychotic break a few weeks later. The book ends up some 14 years on – or as Kara-Leah writes; “half a Saturn cycle – it takes Saturn between 27 to 29 years to travel through our natal chart” – back in her home country New Zealand, now a successful author, retreat leader extra-ordinaire and life-transformer walking what she calls the path of the ‘Awakened Heart Warrior’.
In Sex, Drugs and (mostly) Yoga: Field Notes from a Kundalini Awakening we travel this half Saturnine cycle between these two times and places with Kara-Leah as she explores the part drugs, sex and yoga played in her psychosis or ‘awakening’ as she describes it.
As Kara-Leah’s journey continues, she learns that there is a significant and growing body of health and alternative holistic practitioners and yogis who recognise ‘that Kundalini awakening could look like psychosis’, leading Kara-Leah to ask, “are the world’s psych wards actually littered with people who were not psychologically prepared for the purifying power of Kundalini?”
As she explores these questions, I admire Kara-Leah for being the kinda’ author that has real guts; the kinda’ guts that lie at the heart-of-courage! As a result, I feel that sometimes it takes guts to read her work. When I first heard that the title of her latest book was Sex, Drugs & (mostly) Yoga; I was certain there would be challenges. A quick skim of the book and I discovered this is not a read for the faint-of-heart! And not being faint-of-heart I resolved to navigate this courageous work.
I felt Kara-Leah’s writing of ‘Sex, Drugs & (mostly) Yoga’ to be resoundingly-undoubtedly courageous and as a result, I believe it takes a courageous heart to read this book.
When I began reading this book the intensity shocked me, (now, coming from the heart I experience this as more of ‘awesome’ than ‘shock’). It caused me to question myself, then critique my choices and; then – above-all I discovered as I read I was generously offered a portal into becoming ‘honest’ with myself – as honesty-begets-honesty, but only – only if I had the courage and compassion! Three reads in and the courage and compassion are without doubt!
At first, I journeyed at times being barely able to breathe, eyes glued to each word and sentence as page-after-page-turning-page drew me into the extra-ordinary boldness Kara-Leah exhibits as she contemplates; “What response was truth? What was unconditional love? Could I hold him in his truth without betraying mine?” These sentences stood out to me because this became the on-going paradigm that was my reading companion as I took in Kara-Leah’s words, exposing her experiences, laying out her life – stripped bare – and I found myself asking; “What is my response here – what is my truth? What is unconditional love here as I read this and can I continue to hold Kara-Leah in her nakedness-of-truth while daring to view my own nakedness in my own truth…”
At times I wondered, is this book too much book, too much truth, too intense, too intimate for me?
Yet – read on I did! The words and sentences and pages unrolled before me effortlessly in a story-that-isn’t-a-story, but Kara-Leah’s truth; as Kara-Leah herself says in the Prologue “This memoir is not “what happened” … It is just my perspective…”
Kara-Leah strips herself bare in this book; I believe not so much to reveal herself publicly; but with her trade-mark huge-hearted-love, to offer me, the reader a way into the labyrinth of self-discovery and compassion – compassion; because I know from my own experience that compassion is absolutely essential on the journey one takes in peeling back the layers – to discover the truth of who one is, in the eternal existential quest of humanity to know, ‘Who am I – really?’
‘Why’; Kara-Leah asks; ‘are we so afraid to feel emotional pain? Why are we so afraid to be emotional in front of other people?’
From the start, she dives straight in with brutally raw honesty and there-in was the sensual challenge I met as ‘the reader’; could I match her pace; word-for-word feeling the belly-blows, the heart-wrenches and mind-fucks; as page after page they landed before my eyes…?
At the same time, the thread of compassion woven through-out ‘Sex, Drugs & (mostly) Yoga’ oft as not brought me to tears and feelings of the breath-being-baited and fingers-crossed at moments of joy; deliciously expressed, as Kara-Leah does, in words that evoked wonder, clarity and optimism as moments of ‘enlightenment’ that cast everything else into shadow.
Kaleidoscopic in its richness of human experience this is a book I truly embodied; Kara-Leah’s words echoed as they edged me closer to the heart of my own truth.
A truth inspired by the unwavering headlong courage Kara-Leah delivers line after line; as she offers those readers like myself; with Hearts-of Courage, fear-full yet yearning to live fear-lessly my truth, a gift riding on her uncompromised words of reality – the only place I believe we can free ourselves of suffering and begin to live with integrity and authenticity.
You can purchase Sex, Drugs and (mostly) Yoga: Field Notes from a Kundalini Awakening at Kara-Leah.com.
About Susan Pryor
Amongst other things (Professor Emeriti) Susan Pryor is currently the Editor of ‘Yoga Scene – TODAY!’ online magazine, Poesia, Priestess, Amateur Astronomer, Healer, Yoga and Meditation Teacher and Perma-culture Farmer and Life and Land Designer; Susan has always written, she is an award winning poet and for a number of years wrote a regular Arts column and Nature Column in ‘The Waihekean’. Susan has written for ‘Rainbow News’ and various rural papers and academic peer reviewed journals, and is an invited International Conference Speaker in the Pedagogy of Language learning and teaching teachers. She has published one book ‘Musing on a Guru’ with her latest book ‘Caring for the Carer’ and Caring for the Carer retreat centre soon to be launched.