I always find it refreshing and inspiring to read about people starting their journey on this Sikh Lifestyle. More and more these days I have been getting emails from people who are learning about the Sikh lifestyle and starting to follow this path. When I hear their stories it seems that they just "stumbled" upon it, though I think their is a deeper destiny in these people to be able to come to this path. Not everyone has the gift and blessing to discover this way of life.
Often times emails are from new "Sikhers" trying to fit in with Sikhs from Punjabi background or getting help with something. There is a major language/cultural gap when a western person starts living the Sikh lifestyle. This is particularly apparent when trying to connect/relate with older Sikhs who are much more rooted in the old ways and Indian culture. I have found that it is a different story for Sikh youth who have been born and raised in a western country (USA/UK/Canada/etc) since they have the western culture in common. It is easier to connect and relate with the younger Sikhs.
Whenever someone who is not from our Gurdwara comes here, I try to talk to them and make them feel welcome. I know how it feels being an "outsider". I have often been to Gurdwaras elsewhere not knowing anyone and feeling out of place. Often times people stay talking within their circle of friends/family and there is no interaction. I have to be confident and friendly enough to make an effort to smile and talk to people.
I think ultimately even if we are born into this lifestyle we have to make a choice if we are going to really LIVE and PRACTICE this path. Being born into it is a blessing, but more important is practicing this lifestyle which takes conscious discipline and dedication. When I was a teenager I had a "fork in the road" where I was straying from this path and questioning my beliefs as a Sikh. I had to consciously choose to live as a Sikh. I think we all have to go through this. For me being a Sikh isn’t just growing my hair and going to Gurdwara on Sunday. Very often for other modern religions, going to Church/Temple once a week is about the extent of people’s practice of the faith. As a Sikh it is so much more.
For me being a Sikh really is a daily practice….staying focused on learning and working on becoming a better person. My whole life is focused on spiritual/mental discipline. This doesn’t mean I am meditating all the time or not having fun. It just means that the focus of my life, marriage, work all revolves around this. My roots and base is this path. It’s no surprise that there is so much divorce these days because many relationships are based on very superficial things and don’t have a strong base.When I revolve my life around the Guru I have the strength to go through anything and all is taken care of! When you live a life of Dharma there is no Karma. So you can play out your life at the hands fate, or live to your highest destiny.
It’s easy to have an initial inspiration and motivation to do something, but what is challenging is to KEEP UP and keep going consistently. So after you start practicing something, it is the discipline and steadiness that is required to continue your practice, day in and day out no matter what comes. So when you slip up….you don’t beat yourself up. You just keep bringing yourself back to this practice.
I suppose you can relate to it like falling in Love. When you first meet someone and fall in love you feel on top of the world. You show your best to your partner. Everything is fine and dandy and you feel you can do anything! After the initial honeymoon/lovey part of your relationship normalized you have to deal with the full person that might have not been apparent earlier. More effort and motivation is required to keep this feeling. This is your daily discipline.
I see people come and go in this lifestyle, and the people that stick around are the ones that practice it in a balanced way. When you stop the practice you loose the experience, the "juice". Like a special weight loss diet people might be able to make extreme changes for a short period but cannot sustain it so fall back into their previous patterns. In the same way if you don’t live and practice in a balanced/steady way then you’ll crash and burn. Chardikala Jatha talked about this in this video on their recent UK tour about not being fanatic or lazy. Finding the balance.
I was just reading a new blog "Sikh and You Shall Find" by Prithi Hardkaur (UK), who shares her experience of how she found Sikhism and her journey on this path. It’s nice to read other people’s exploration as a Sikh in a personal way like this.
Another new blogger I have been reading is "Bliss Through Gratitude" who is another young woman on this path of discipline who is sharing through her blog.
I would like to encourage you all to start a blog and use blogging as a way of journaling your experiences. So if you commit to a daily practice, start writing your thoughts and experiences down. If you do start, please share your blog here. Even if no one sees it, it is a great way to consciously notice what is going on inside you and the changes that happen. Otherwise you might just go about your life and not realize change in you. You can start your own blog (free) at WordPress.com
Back in 2005 is when my video production started with a bunch of interviews with local friends here in Espanola, New Mexico. In these videos they share their reasons for becoming a Sikh as well as the challenges and joys of living this lifestyle. These were some of my first videos (now there are about 275 on Youtube).
For some reason I never uploaded them to Youtube so many of you might have not seen these. I thought that while on this topic about becoming a Sikh and living this lifestyle it would be a great time to share these older videos with you all. I hope that they give you inspiration and support in your own journey on this path.
Below is a video playlist of 9 videos that you can watch.When one video finishes the next will start.
You can also watch/download the videos individually below.