Sunrise Chanting at Summer Solstice
By Snatam Kaur
Every year up to 2000 people gather in the foothills of the Jemez Mountains in Northern New Mexico for an event called Summer Solstice Sadhana Celebration. I have been attending this gathering since about the age of two. Although it wasn't until I was about six that it was held in today's location.
It was at this early age that my spirit began to dance in the wind through the high desert trees; that I fell in love with the smell of the earth after a rain; that my understanding of beauty expanded beyond anything I could ever imagine as the sunsets painted pictures of grandeur and wonder across the sky; and then as I dared to dream when the night sky allowed the stars to shine so bright I would forget all of my worries. Then it was only in the morning as we sat chanting with over a thousand yogis with the sun rising above us that I did not want anything anymore... I was totally and completely satisfied.
Every year this gathering grows. Slowly, slowly more people come. Now I believe there are over 2000 people who come. It is not, shall we say, a "cushy" event. It is full on camping, full on yogic diet, and a full on experience of the elements which can be anything from blue sky sunny days, to pounding rain storms. But there is this thing that happens. One gets totally transformed, purified, and well, for lack of a better word, happy. Yes, totally happy. You may wonder how this happens, and the formula is simple.
Here are the ingredients:
- Meditate, do yoga, sing, dance, and live in Sacred Community
- Eat Healthy Food
- Be in the Elements of Mother Earth
And this is what you do when you experience the ingredients to this formula:
Call on Your Spirit, Serve others, and serve yourself
- Feel God
- Be Challenged
- Rise Above
So this is the basic program.
The base core of the event is the practice of White Tantric Yoga®. This is a sacred yoga practice with Mantra and Posture that is practiced in partners. At Summer Solstice the White Tantric Yoga takes a total of three days. It is done in partners, with everyone wearing white. You can bring a partner or find one there. It is, by all means, challenging to do. However, it completely clears out your subconscious and brings healing on levels that I could never even understand or describe. My husband and I make it a very high priority to practice this together every year.
On either end of White Tantric Yoga there are these beautifully rich days filled with classes from some of the most incredible teachers from the lineage of Yogi Bhajan's teachings including Kundalini Yoga, Sat Nam Rasayan, Naad (Sacred Sound Current) Yoga, Numerology, Parenting, and many more.
There is also a day completely dedicated to Peace, rightly named Peace Prayer Day. I will actually be joining Gurmukh Kaur, Guru Singh, Nirinjan Kaur and others to provide an experience of Kundalini Yoga, chanting, and celebration for this day. Then as the sun begins to set we will take the Sacred Peace Walk, a tradition set by the Native American tribes who took care of the land before our community came to it.
Every morning there is a sadhana, a meditation, yoga, and chanting experience that goes from 4am to 7am. It is literally the most liberating time for me--to sit and meditate with 2000 people is awesome! Oh my God! Each sadhana is concluded by a Gurdwara, a sacred experience from the Sikh tradition where we have the opportunity to hear the most divine music from incredible musicians, and to hear the daily sacred reading from the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. I find that in these moments I receive these little divine messages that guide me for the whole year.
One of the most healing experiences at this camp is the opportunity to serve. It is through service that we can really break through to a new level of happiness and joy. Everyone who comes to camp is asked to sign up for a service duty (karma yoga) in one of the following areas: yogi tea prep, meal prep, meal serving, meal clean up, and many other areas that I cannot remember. The yogi tea group alone has something like 50 people. What happens is that you meet people from all over the world and totally bond with them as you do your service work. I see so much joy coming from people who take part in this work and there is a deep satisfaction as you see how your work is helping to support everyone else.
The children's program is amazing! There is something for children of all ages including the wee ones of about a year old all the way up to the teens. There are great activities for the children on site, and even some outings for the older children to some great kid spots in Northern New Mexico. For a kid, Summer Solstice is the bomb. Kids run around everywhere getting really dirty, but looking really happy as they experience the great high of the land and the energy of so many people being uplifted by God's own hand.
Summer Solstice is my yogic and meditative vitamin B12! If you are feeling a little low energy, a little sad, a little run down, a little hopeless, or maybe even a lot, come to Summer Solstice! I can say with full confidence you shall be healed.
Side note: If you do come, please bring good sunscreen, a water bottle you can carry with you everywhere (!), a good sun hat, and electrolytes, and meet me in the foot washing station where we can eat some watermelon together and chat.
Here is where you can find out about Summer Solstice.
More about 3HO and other events: www.3HO.org.