I was born and raised in 3HO Sikh Dharma Kundalini Yoga, a religion / organization that I consider to be a cult.
When I was little, I remember being told that our group was superior from everybody else. We were told that we had been given a special ‘set of tools’ and a ‘technology’ for living in the world. But the reality was that we were being treated carelessly and casually like communal property. When I was seven I was child-swapped to an inexperienced, negligent and abusive couple. After that I was sent away, along with a group of other 3HO children to the GNFC boarding school in India. I was eight years old, and I was to live the rest of my childhood separated from my parents in a far away place under “guidance” of appointed members in 3HO and boarding school staff.
When I returned to the U.S. from the boarding school in India, I was expected to immediately cowtow to Yogi Bhajan and his inner circle. I was discouraged from college and told to work for $5/hr at one of the 3HO businesses. The routine reinforcement was that my life was not my own. I was expected to sacrifice my future for their mission.
So I left at age 18. Well, I was kinda kicked out. … like, a soft excommunication sort of. So without any help or support from my family, I set off to live my life the way I wanted to live it.
I’ve been relative lucky overall in that I have been able to live an okay life. But when I was in my thirties the early childhood and India memories just came flooding back. I started experiencing anxiety, sleeplessness, intrusive thoughts, and even panic. Turns out these are symptoms of PTSD. I called a Therapist for the first time and got help.
And then, I just decided to start writing. Sometimes my posts are polemical, while others are just about memory, or about the things that trigger a specific memory. Sometimes my posts are just a “rage pile” or a place to vent frustration.
As a survivor of this cult I feel it’s my responsibility to speak authentically to this experience. Simply put, it matters. And I take it seriously. I will never give up hope, or my sense of optimism for my life, my future, or the futures of my second generation peers. I am happy with who I am today because I am a person that gets to experience the full breadth of what life has to offer. I have two degrees, a stable, loving and comfortable home life, a thriving art practice, and a really good therapist.