To wake or not to wake: Summer Solstice Sadhana in NM

Here is a cool article that someone wrote about their experience of waking up in the early morning and participating in the daily sadhana at the Summer Solstice event that happens every year here in beautiful New Mexico. If you have been thinking about coming it’s definitely not too early to start planning! Join us June 19 – 28, 2008 and participate in this awesome event that is sure to give you a totally new experience, along with many familiar ones! (If you plan on coming let me know :) 

 By Tommy Rosen (Bhagat Singh)

It is 2:45 a.m. during the week of Summer Solstice in the mountains outside of Espanola, New Mexico, and I am awake in a tent watching my wife, Kia, sleep for a few moments longer.  This is the third year that we have come to this powerful land with well over a thousand people, Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike, from all over the world.

Any minute now, a man with a long, white beard, wearing a turban and playing a guitar, will walk every inch of this land repeating his early morning wake-up song, “Rise Up,” at the top of his lungs.

 

This wee-hour minstrel is Guru Singh, one of Yogi Bhajan’s first students and teacher of Kundalini Yoga.  It just so happens he is also a talented musician who sings with a kind of soulful infectiousness that ruins almost anyone’s chances of actually staying in bed.  I’m so tired it hurts, but to roll back to sleep carries with it a feeling that I will miss something important.  I know I have to get up.

Kia and I take the three-minute walk down to the Tantric shelter, an open-air structure where sadhana (morning practice) takes place.  It would be pitch black if not for the incredible blanket of stars that extends from horizon to horizon in every direction.  People walk silently in reverence to the sanctity of this special time of day known as the Amrit Vela, or ambrosial hours.  I gawk awe-struck at the stars as if I’ve never seen them before.  Something begins to happen.

We enter the shelter and sit down with our yoga mats, meditation pillows, sleeping bags, and shawls to wrap around us in the chill of the early morning.  The space fills up quickly from 3:30-3:45 until there are about a thousand people.  A light illuminates the stage where a man and woman sit and recite Japji, one of the daily prayers of the Sikhs, and which begins morning sadhana.  This twenty minute long hymn is sung in Gurmukhi.  I do not know what they are saying, nonetheless, the recitation is beautiful and there is a power to the tone of it.  Simply put, it feels great to be seated upright on my meditation pillow next to Kia surrounded by a thousand people all meditating in the middle of the night to ancient words I cannot understand.  This is a total departure from anything I grew up with in terms of culture, education, or spirituality.  And yet here I am.

 

When Japji is completed, the lights are dimmed as a teacher takes the stage to lead us through this day’s Kundalini Yoga set.  You never know what you are going to get in Kundalini Yoga.  There are thousands of individual Kriyas (specific sequences of exercises), each with a unique purpose and rhythm.  Today’s Kriya is challenging both mentally and physically.  I remember Yogi Bhajan’s words: “Keep up and you’ll be kept up.” Everyone is moving according to their body’s abilities, some quickly, some slowly, some perhaps more awkwardly than others, but we are all keeping up.  I feel deeply connected with everyone here.

Meanwhile outside, with each passing second, the world is perceptibly changing as the night transforms itself into day.

I know this happens every twenty-four hours, but I never really make the time to observe it, certainly not like this.  The Yoga set lasts an hour.  I am feeling a hum through my body, slightly electric, quite lovely.  I feel alive.

It is now time for the ‘call of the day.’ We chant Ek Ong Kar, Sat Nam Siri, Wahe Guru for seven minutes.  The sky has left its purple pre-dawn glow and we are into oranges and yellows. The sun is not far below the horizon.  With the completion of this chant, we come to the final part of our sadhana: a full-blown devotional concert!

A multi-piece band takes the stage and we spend the next fifty-five minutes singing six different chants.  Today’s instrumentation includes drums, tabla, guitars, harmonium, and the angelic voice of Nirinjan Kaur.  This is not some shabby band with second-rate chops.  These folks are proficient musicians bringing the highest vibe imaginable to the Tantric shelter at 5:00 a.m.!  The purity of it is disarming to the point where I just start laughing.  Then I look over at my wife and notice the tears pouring down her cheeks.  We are so blessed.

At 6:15 a.m. the final chant is completed.  We are now in full daylight and the sun is on the rise.  Kia and I gather our things and make our way back to our tent to prepare for the day.  It seems as if there is a lot of time and space to do what this day will require of me.  At every level of my being I feel calm.

Remembering back to the tent this morning, it dawns on me that I might have stayed in bed and missed this.  I look to the sky and say, “Thank you.”

Tommy Rosen (Bhagat Singh) lives in Venice, California with his wife, Kia, a yoga teacher and filmmaker.  Tommy produced The Eco Gift Expo, a holiday gift show for eco-conscious people at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, in December 2007 and will be expanding the concept to other cities in 2008.  Http://www.ecogift.com Tommy and Kia are jointly producing a documentary on the life, legacy, and magic of Yogi Bhajan called In the Eyes of My Teacher, which will be finished in July of 2008. (Article courtesy of Yogi Times Magazine September issue 2007 Yogitimes.Com)

14 Responses to “To wake or not to wake: Summer Solstice Sadhana in NM”

  1. bkaur says:

    That was beautiful. Me and my mom are making plans to attend the Summer Solstice Sadhana Camp this year, and hopefully we will be able to come. I’m graduating high school in June as well so this will be my senior trip. =D I’ll let you know, Gurmustak Singh, when our plans are final, so that I might get the oppurtunity to meet you. You’re somewhat of a celebrity to me and my mom. =)

    Biney Kaur

  2. amarrama says:

    WAHEGURU WAEGURU WAHEGURU WAHEGURU……..

  3. ujjalbir says:

    Itell you guys are doing a yeomans service to Sikhism and to humanity in general. Thanks an ocean full to the Sikh Net team for bringing out such inspirstional write ups . It sure has rejuvenated my thought process and rekindled my beliefs in the great CREATION THE JAPJI. Actually the ASA DI WAAR in the AMRIT WELA IS SOUL LIFTING . I often enjoy the keertan at that time .May God give you the strength to carry forward the spirit of the YOGI .

  4. Summer Solstice is truly a great experience that I make sure I partcipate in every single year. That week we close the SikhNet offices and move up the mountain to take this time to rejuvenate ourselves. It’s like a spiritual re-charge for me. I have been going every year ever since I can remember (before I was born). Now I go with my son Narayan, and he loves it.

    I’ll be honest, this event is not for everyone. It is not a vacation on the beach staying in a hotel. Everyone camps out in tents, it is dry/hot/dusty in the day (rainy if we are lucky!) and cold at night. Being out in the elements all day (even for me who lives here) can be hard sometimes. If you can cope with this then you’ll be ok. It’s all part of the experience! Even if you are not sure…you should come anyways. Sometimes we need a kick in our lazy butt. People of all ages come (1-80) so there is something for everyone. I just don’t want you all coming and expecting “sandy beaches” and “floating in the heavens” (though you might feel like that at times!)

    I wouldn’t call it a Sikh camp either. It is more of a spiritual camp that integrates many Sikhi practices along with yoga, meditation, various worshops and lots of other things. You’ll meet people from all religious backgrounds and cultures from many parts of the world. Everyone is at different stages of spiritual development. Some are Amritdhari, some are just learning about Sikhi, some are learning about being human. What is beautiful is that it is an environment of learning, experiencing, serving, and acceptance.

    I know for many it can be very expensive to attend with the travel expenses and the registration fees. If you have never been to the event and are planning to come let me know and I can see if there is something that I can do to help.

  5. Sangita Kaur says:

    I feel as though I was there just reading this.  I’ve been to summer solstice once and travelled with 2 fellow yogis that I barely knew–stayed in a tent and experienced the whole 10 days of bliss technology.  My heart, mind and soul craves the experience.  I’ve been absent from my sadhana–witnessing my aloofness and forfeiting my rights as a divine child of God.  Why don’t I do what I know is best for me every day of my life?  Why do I sit on the sidelines and wait for my ego to transcend my soul?  How foolish of me.  What is my problem?  Me, with all the complications that make me human chooses to suffer even when I know the truth.  Thank you for awakening and stirring the "sat" this morning.  The "naam" resonates intrinsically in every cell of my being, yet my ego chooses to experience my weakness.  And, ya know, in all of this understanding I choose not to judge the experience but to accept that on some level I am there waiting for my body to show up again and my mind to elevate to the next level.   I’ve been on the path for 25 years and turning 50 on the 27th of February.  I’m a teacher of the teachings.  I’ve witnessed the profound changes in my life and others.  Yet, I am in a chasm of sorts–waiting, wondering–all the while, knowing that there is a horizon coming.  There is so many illusions amidst the truth–as a human I sometimes revel in the illusion until it makes me ill—makes us-ill.  I’m stirring–

  6. Gurinder "G" says:

    Gurumustak singh, thank you for providing great articles from  people of different walks of life. You said so beautifully that some of the people are there to find themselves as human beings and some are there to elevate themselves to higher levels.  And the most beautiful thing is that people participate in that event from different religions. And that what the essence of sikhism IS! That’s why Golden temple has four doors so people from different religions, creed or tribes could sit together without any being judgemental of others.  One more thing,  I would like to know about food, restrooms, and if there any showers, security  etc..  And the most important thing about the Cost.  

  7. Gurinder, You can read some of these details online here and here. I don’t think the rates have been posted for 2008 but registration starts in a week or so (March 1) so details will probably be posted by then. There are different cost options depending on age, if you are a student, international participant, married, etc. There are also financial aid and scholarship opportunities if money is problem (though this only applies to registration fees and not travel cost). I can assist if someone is interested in coming.

  8. amarrama says:

    gurmustak singh ji , may u please Restore the old heading picture of "guru nanak and  1 onkar" . Please . bcoz that would restore back   every other face ( visa versa is not happening )  I hope u ll pay heed to this request . Thanks in advance .

  9. Gurinder "G" says:

    Gurumustak singh,I like your idea of having different pics being displayed of people of different walks of life because that is the essence of sikhism.  we have to get out of our narrow minds and try to see sikhism through Guru’s eyes.  

  10. amarrama says:

    >>>>>agrees to Gurinder "G" , >>> and has started liking the  idea of having different pics being displayed of people of different walks of life because that is the essence of sikhism.  We have to get out of our narrow minds and try to see sikhism through Guru’s eyes . Thank You "G" .

  11. Harbans says:

    Pyari sangat, I live in London.  Your sadhna inspired me too.. I am on board that ship too now and joined in with your pledge in my own house.   Waheguru

  12. Amrita Kaur says:

    That was so beautiful… I am going to talk to my mom tomorrow about attending the one in June.. I think my exams will be done by then! We have been wanting to do it for years… Thank You for posting that

  13. Sukhbir Singh says:

    Guru Di Fateh 
                         If i wanna attend the Summer Naam Simran Camp how can i come over there coz am just 18 years old in first year Graduation( Computers) staying in India at Hyderabad and i don’t even have siddhi’s. After completing my Graduation with God’s grace i’ll try for visa for New Mexico. Great  Espanola town of Devtas & Devis.

  14. Sukhbir Singh says:

    Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ke Fateh
                                                                       Great thing you are doing Gurumustuk Singh Baba Ji i’m pleased by your  above writing but why to give you problem or be burden on you.