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By Dharamjot Singh
For the last two years at the Summer and Winter Solstice Sadhana Celebrations I worked on the set up/break down crew. I have a unique perspective on the land at the solstice sites, and how we treat it during our solstice experience.
We ask participants not to bring anything that they plan on leaving behind, to compost and reduce their waste, and to take their trash with them when they leave. But sometimes convincing people to think and act above and beyond their normal lifestyle is hard.
Yogis leave all sorts of things behind when they go their separate ways: tents, sweaters, blankets, sleeping bags, toiletries, shoes, glass bottles, bags of trash, backpacks, cell phones, flashlights, and lots of other stuff. Every time we clean it all up, sort through it, and put the trash into bags for the landfill, I wonder why people leave behind so much stuff. Could it be that yogis have such a powerful experience that they forget the very clothes they wore to camp? Or maybe, having tapped into the power of Kundalini Yoga, they feel burdened by their worldly goods and choose to leave their kombucha bottles and sleeping bags under a juniper and wander home free from the weight of possessions?
More likely I think is because most people do not give themselves time to think about the details and logistics of camping, and it’s probably not part of their lifestyle routine—just as in a normal day we get too busy to remember to bring our own grocery bag to the store or recycle at work and at home. In addition, the experience of solstice takes us to the ethers and makes it easy to forget the Earth.
As travel restrictions increase, many of us can only bring one bag on the airplane, or if we are carpooling we only have so much space in the trunk. As soon as we set foot in the bazaar, we may see something we want—adding to our homeward bound luggage. We may see other people leaving things behind or throwing things away, and get caught up in the community mindset, following other people’s example instead of our own conscience.
Why is it important to think of the Earth and our impact upon it? Isn’t our Mother Earth divine? And if she is divine, then shouldn’t we as yogis try and join ourselves in union with her? Do we do Kundalini Yoga because it is easy or because it is fulfilling? Do we throw something away because it is easy for us, or do we find a way to leave no trace and reduce, reuse, and recycle because it is the right thing to do?
Growing up and into this Aquarian Age is going to be very difficult, mostly because it will mean having to change our lifestyle and create a new culture around the ideals of compassionate action. The process is slow and arduous. Having seen the changes I have made over the last five years, I know how difficult it can be. I used to smoke a pack and a half a day, eat loads of fast food, drink and consume drugs excessively. My body was a dump, and I used it as such. I generated a huge impact inside myself. I disregarded my health because it was easy and it was the lifestyle I knew from an early age.
Eventually I was disgusted and used up. I was forced to change. I began to open myself to spiritual experience, and as I detoxified my body, mind, and soul, I realized that I was responsible for my health. Owning my responsibility, I began to practice living a spiritual life and in this practice, I began to experience a new sense of perception. The process can seem tedious, yet when seen with a long view it only seems natural. Is it possible to look at our Mother Earth in the same way? Can we not see how burdened and overused she is today? Should we as yogis feel responsible to the divine Earth just as we feel responsible to our own bodies?
Let’s practice yoga everywhere, not just at home or in the classroom. When we travel, when we camp at Guru Ram Das Puri, when we throw away a bottle that could be recycled, when we recycle a container that could be reused, or when we buy a coffee in a paper cup instead of using a travel mug, let us ask ourselves if we are coming closer to union or moving farther away. Being responsible spiritual humans is our birthright. Kundalini Yoga is about awareness, about expanding our consciousness. That implies practice and practice implies vigilance.
No one can tell us to be Aquarian citizens. No one can force us to be responsible. In this let us follow the Aquarian Sutras Yogi Bhajan gave us. When the time is upon us we must start, and every practice starts small. There is a way through every block, even the blocks in our own lifestyles, and our own egos. If we do not understand our divine Mother Earth with compassion we will misunderstand our responsibility as stewards. We must understand that we are living in a transitional period and be ready to act as gentle advocates of our environment at every opportunity.
We must always take a look outside and wonder at the miracle of creation, cherishing the places we go—like Guru Ram Das Puri—as if that landscape was the same one we see when we look into the mirror. Our power comes from that quiet space cultivated in practicing union. When we vibrate that connection, the path shall grow, and sprout, and flower before our very eyes.
Dharam Jot Singh is an artist and certified Kundalini Yoga teacher. He currently lives in Espanola, New Mexico, and works with Team 3HO in the Events Department. He would like to hear from the community about suggestions on how to practice being an eco-responsible yogi, and hopes to see everyone at Summer Solstice this year. You can contact him at [email protected].