I often get asked how I came to the Sikh way of life. For me, it was an unexpected journey that began by attending a Kundalini Yoga class back in the spring of 2013.
Kundalini Yoga (as taught by Yogi Bhajan) is a yogic practice that incorporates Asanas (yogic postures), Pranayams (breathwork), Mudras (hand positions), Bhandas (yogic body locks), motion along with Mantras/Chanting and Meditation. Kundalini Yoga also emphasizes the importance of Sangat (community), Seva (selfless service) and Bhakti (devotional yoga). It is a discipline in the Raj Yoga lineage that has the power to quickly and powerfully stimulate awareness and consciousness.
In Kundalini Yoga, there are many times that sacred mantras or Shabads (sacred songs from the Sikh faith) are used during meditation. I experienced profound inner shifts from practicing this beautiful technology.
The path of Yoga is the path of union. I dove deep into my personal yoga and meditation practice and learned more about Sikhi while attending the annual 3HO Summer Solstice events, held at Ram Das Puri in the peaceful mountains of New Mexico. You can read more about Summer Solstice here.
As we travel the spiritual path, practicing our daily Sadhanas (personal practice of yoga, meditation and prayer), we work through deep layers of the subconscious. Profound shifts of awareness occur and it is tremendously beneficial to have an outlet for prayer and devotion – the Bhakti element of yoga. The Gurdwara is there to use (or not) as you wish. I found myself going there more and more as it gave me a strong sense of peace and comfort.
3HO Summer Solstice also provides the opportunity to listen to beautiful, live Sikh Kirtan (sacred Shabads from the Siri Guru Granth Sahib).
During Solstice camp, two Akhand Paths take place. An Akhand Path is a continuous reading of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS), the holy Sikh scripture which is considered a living Guru. Volunteers consecutively read for about an hour each, unbroken, around the clock, until the entire SGGS has been read. The Gurmukhi version of the SGGS consists of 1,430 pages and takes about 48 hours to complete an Akhand Path. The English version takes more like 72 hours.
I have had the blessing of both reading in the Akhand Paths as well as being Sevadar (volunteer who stays several hours to keep things on track and fill in if a reader doesn’t show up).
Selfless Service – Seva is a huge part of Sikhi as well as in the 3HO Sangat. I took the opportunities presented to practice this service and saw how it changed my life. When things seemed down and darkest, finding a place to do Seva turned everything around. It is so simple yet so profound…
During these various experiences, I felt a deep love for Sikhi enter my heart and soul. I began to have a strong relationship with the SGGS and knew this was my path. I felt it change my life in countless positive ways. It has been, and continues to be, a strong support for me in times of deep sadness, challenge, pain, uncertainty, as well as in times of joy. I have seen how the commitment to live my life as a Sikh of the Guru has uplifted both myself and all those I come into contact with, whether it be family, friends, students or just someone in the grocery store. Sikhi has enriched my life in countless ways, as well as giving me the beautiful and priceless gift of growing to love myself the way Waheguru (God, the Divine, Universal Creative Force – whatever you want to call it!) made me. All that being said, nothing worth it is easy!