By Rachel Surinderjot Kaur

The following is an excerpt from Rachel’s recently published workbook called Embodying the 12 Steps: Kundalini Yoga for Recovery (A Journey through Yoga, Meditation, Writing and Action).

A foundational principle of Kundalini Yoga is expressed in the mantra Sat Naam. Sat Naam means True Identity. Whenever we say or contemplate Sat Naam, often in sync with our breath, we are connecting to our true selves, to Truth, to reality, to what is. Truth is a great teacher. In the Kundalini tradition, one of the ways to name God is Sat Naam, reminding us that when we have connected to Truth, we are connected to something very powerful.

As both a Kundalini Yoga teacher and psychotherapist specializing in 12 Step recovery, I suggest that in the first of the 12 steps, we admit we are powerless over our various addictions and problems—that our lives have become unmanageable. When we undertake Step One around a specific substance or behavior, we are consciously examining what is true about our relationship with that substance or behavior. How do we use it? What happens when we do? How have we harmed ourselves or others with our use or behavior? How are we powerless over the situation? We’ve tried to change or control our behavior or experience, but it hasn’t worked. How has life become unmanageable, impossible, or so difficult that we are at a loss as to what to do?

These can be difficult questions to consider. Perhaps we have been trying to control or change our use or behavior, and it hasn’t worked. Step One asks us to look at whether we need to admit our powerlessness over our use or behavior so that we might have the opportunity to connect with our Sat Naam, our True Self, a source of Power that we haven’t been able to access up until now. Life, our bodies, and our difficulties—what is—can often be our greatest teachers if we stop denying, ignoring, and trying by ourselves to change or control them.

In Step One, we ask ourselves: how can we listen to reality and see the Truth more deeply, not to beat ourselves up, but to learn, heal, evolve, and change? We take off the mask and stop pretending that everything is fine, and we stop believing the falsehood that we’ve got this under control. We look at what’s really going on. When we bring honesty to our situation, we open the door to accepting Truth and Reality. That is the first step towards finding healthy ways to change, ways that actually work.

Here is a meditation which helps one to connect with what is True about their current challenge, problem, or addiction.

Meditation for a Calm Heart

  • Sit comfortably in a chair or on the floor. The spine is straight, shoulders relaxed, heart lifted.
  • Place the left hand on the heart center, and connect with compassion and kindness for yourself, your challenges, and your journey.
  • Place your right hand in front of your right shoulder, as though you are taking an oath (to yourself). The thumb and index finger gently touch in wisdom mudra.
  • Inhale deeply, fully, and slowly through your nose, and suspend your breath.
  • Notice the stillness in your body, and let that stillness come to your mind as well.
  • Hold the breath as long as you comfortably can. Then let the breath out through the nose deeply, fully and slowly, and hold the breath out as long as you comfortably can.
  • Again, connect with stillness, calm, wisdom and compassion.
  • Inhale when you need to, and continue this way for a few minutes, then write on the following questions:
  1. Is there a substance, behavior, situation, or relationship that may be causing your life to be especially difficult?
  2. Can you remember that the reality you are uncovering with this Step can serve as a Teacher?

Rachel Surinderjot Kaur is the owner of Adi Shakti Yoga & Therapy located in Longmont, Colorado. She is a Kundalini Yoga Teacher and psychotherapist in 12 Step recovery.  Rachel is available to offer trainings, lead workshops, and provide private sessions for group and one-on-one support. Connect with Rachel online at, on Instagram and Facebook @KY12Step, or send her an email at [email protected]. Find her book online at