A Message for Men
An interview with Sewa Singh Khalsa
“What is the most important advice Yogi Bhajan gave to men about relating to women?” Everyone’s answer to this question may be different. Here is Sewa Singh’s.
The thing that Yogi Bhajan taught to men that I find has the most practical value in life and relationships is, “Don’t react.” He used to say, “Act, don’t react.” When I first heard him say that, he didn’t explain it in great detail. It was pretty mysterious. If you just tell a man, “Here is a sacred teaching: ‘Don’t react’,” he’s going to say, “Okay, you’ve told me not to react, but how then, do I do that?” It’s difficult to understand what not reacting means, and how it could have a positive effect.
To start with, women are the manifestation of Shakti, the feminine, creative principle of the Universe, through which God created the creation. As such women are very powerful. They represent the moon—waxing, waning, reflecting. The moon influences the ebb and flow of the world’s oceans. It is not surprising that sparks often fly when men and women communicate or that men can be overwhelmed by a tidal wave of female energy during what began as a “talk.”
In any communication there is both content and energy. Normally a woman communicates through energy and a man uses content. It follows that basically women are energetically much more present, sensitive, and involved whereas men, in general, tend to be more digital or intellectual in their interactions so they lose sight of the richly energetic (non-verbal) component of a woman’s communication.
Men want to respond to content when they need to be responding to energy. When the man responds only to the content, rather than the energy of the whole communication, it’s as if a girl dresses up for the prom and when the guy sees her, instead of admiring her whole appearance, he focuses on the type of orchid she has pinned to her dress. He is so into all the details about the orchid, he misses the whole point of the presentation—the underlying time, effort, and care she put into creating a total impression for him. How will the date go from there?
Yogi Bhajan taught that a man can bring harmony, trust, and inspiration to his relationships with women primarily through mastering non-reactive communication. Reacting is like a knee-jerk response. It is automatic, unconscious, and lacking in concern or consideration for the possible consequences. When you are reactive, you are unconscious and your response is automatic.
The purpose of not reacting is to manage your energy and keep it from going to places and taking on forms that are unproductive or even destructive when communicating with women. Restraining your reactions and directing your energy is really a very yogic technique.
It is worth noting that “not reacting” is not a way to become passive, or to emotionally remove or even distance yourself from interaction. Instead, the beauty of not reacting is that it brings you more responsibly, more powerfully, and more consciously into every interaction.
Another of Yogi Bhajan’s teachings in the realm of male/female relationships is that, in the scheme of things, the overall makeup of the female is more sophisticated than the makeup of the male. This reinforces the age-old yogic caution that, for a man to successfully relate to a woman, one of the best tools is non-reaction—being mindful of a woman’s energetic power, respecting it, and responding to it appropriately.
In yogic practice, one way you can learn to not react is to perfect simran, which is the constant remembrance of God by placing His Name on every breath, either chanting it aloud or silently. In Kundalini Yoga, one way to practice simran is to silently and deeply inhale Saaaaaaat, and exhale Naaaaaaam with each breath.
Simran will allow you to have complete focus on the woman’s being as she communicates and this will minimize your negative mind’s tendency to create reactive, defensive, or angry responses. If you can succeed in the mental focus and physical achievement of one conscious breath, you will stop the pattern of anger that would have gone immediately to your navel point. You have to practice it in the context of the real-life situation, and you also have to practice it on your own alone—and that is what sadhana is.
As a rule of thumb, it is helpful to know that the essential makeup of women dictates their communication needs, one of which is that, as their communication is an energetic flow, it needs to be fully received, instead of blocked or diminished in any way. Nobody likes to be interrupted when they are expressing themselves, but this frustration is especially heightened in women.
Whatever a woman expresses—positive or negative, uplifting or cutting—keep the door open. A woman’s expression needs to flow unimpeded. It follows that if a man is reactive to a woman’s expression, it will create a negative energy backup.
Let’s say a woman wants to communicate three ideas, positive or negative. She gets through one of them and then the man starts talking because he thinks he has to react either positively or negatively. This reaction stops her energetic flow. It’s like interrupting a song. If you interrupt a performance near the beginning, what does the musician want to do? Start over. But, of course, this is incomprehensible to a man because he’s already heard that part of the song. He doesn’t appreciate that it’s music; he thinks it’s content. He thinks he already heard it and is clearly not interested in hearing the same song again, which is insulting to the woman. Now there are two insults: he interrupted the music, and then when it started over—which was an annoyance to the musician but something she had to do to be true to the music—he shows impatience and displeasure. So it’s immediately a complicated insult and the music can’t be played the same way. The performance goes sour.
Communication between men and women is, in a way, reminiscent of White Tantric Yoga exercises, during which the male and female partners each have a role, and when perfectly practiced by the partners elevation and harmony are achieved. Similarly, when a woman is communicating, if her male partner can call upon simran while focusing on her totality, the outcome will be mutually elevating.
Here are some simple guidelines: don’t interrupt. Listen appreciatively, because she is willing to give you her energy. If you feel criticized by a woman, let her express herself fully, and then ask if she has more she wants to communicate. It may sound counter-intuitive, but it actually conveys to a woman that she is being understood and cared about. Of course, it’s very difficult for men to practice this because they are quick to defend their fragile egos, and they are focused on reaching a resolution of the issues raised. A wise man comes to realize that very often, in even the most heated discussion, the underlying quest is for understanding and compassion, and when those are provided, women often find their own solutions.
Sewa Singh Khalsa is one of Yogi Bhajan’s early students. He has acted as a counselor for many couples and individuals, basing his approach purely on the teachings of Yogi Bhajan. He is also an accomplished artist and his work can be seen on www.sikhphotos.com. He lives in Seattle, Washington, with his wife, Sewa Kaur.