By Shabad Kaur Khalsa
Early on this yogic path, back in the 1980's when Women’s Camp was held in the Espanola valley, we traveled up to Ram Das Puri for the Khalsa Youth Campers’ final presentation attended by the parents and Yogi Bhajan. I was stunned by the incredible brightness and clarity in the children’s eyes up there: “Ram Das Puri eyes.” These beautiful children had been on the mountain for two weeks or longer (if they'd attended Solstice with their families).
Then when I began attending Summer Solstice regularly, year after year I would notice the same thing. Everyone’s eyes were extraordinarily clear and calm by the end of the week! Ram Das Puri eyes earned by the ones who travel the 8-mile mountain road; who kept up during 3 days of White Tantric Yoga®; who walked the Peace Prayer Day Sacred Healing Spiral; who tasted the elixir of perfect mung beans and rice that you just can’t duplicate at home; who endured the ‘dust devils’ and dry heat of the desert mountain terrain; who (maybe) caught a few hours of sleep and still rose up for morning sadhana under ‘Nature’s own festival of lights.’
In Yogi Bhajan's brilliance, he intended Solstices to be nature immersions and experiences of group consciousness, vital in our spiritual lifestyle for restoring our balance, rhythms and original self. The whole 10-day experience is called a sadhana (daily spiritual practice), and I understand why.
Sadhana incorporates a practice that nourishes your mind, body and soul. The components are lived viscerally here on the mountain—stimulating the mind with classes by teachers who I always feel privileged to meet, whose integrity is palpable and my imagination fires up with new ideas and knowledge. Meditation in Tantric lines, smoothing the thoughts, releasing urban stress, clearing my psychic field.
For my body temple, lots of Kundalini Yoga, the physical embrace of greeting hundreds of friends, being nourished by blessed meals, touching the red land, absorbing the sun.
Pranayama in the fresh mountain air. And the water! No wonder the ladies would always encourage me to grab an empty water jug to take up when we’d go up for those Khalsa Youth Camp performances. We’d fill up and bring back such amazing drinking water.
And my spirit? My soul literally sings here, chanting mantras, connecting to the ethers, to the Earth, to the Sky. By the end, I never want to leave the mountain.
How do you capture light? One year on Peace Prayer Day I met a professional photographer who was hired by 3HO to document the day. While everyone was dancing joyfully in the Tantric Shelter as they returned from the Sacred Healing Walk, she showed me that her camera was giving her a reading she had never seen before: “Subject Too Bright!”
We introduced our infant son Amar Dev Singh to this sacred land as his second home as much as it was to us. As we headed towards our tent in the dark one night, I accidentally walked him into the needles of a cactus. (Hence his early reference to “Prickly Solstice” as he grew into toddlerhood.) Of course he survived and now a teenager, he can't imagine not going to Solstice. But that’s the point, a sadhana pokes you, provokes you, confronts you and finally uplifts you.
There is always something new to discover at Solstice. A grief to release, a new insight to celebrate, a new friend to make. I see your eyes, as clear as your heart. Do you see mine?
Shabad Kaur Khalsa, LCPC, LMFT, E-RYT 500, KRI Level 1 Lead Teacher Trainer, organizes and leads the Annual Midwest Women’s Yoga Retreat. She is co-founder and director of Spirit Rising Yoga Center and Spirit Rising Foundation. She has taught Kundalini Yoga as well as practiced psychotherapy for nearly 30 years, integrating the yogic teachings into treatment for adults and couples. She is honored to have served Yogi Bhajan directly and has transcribed, edited, and illustrated several books including his Women’s Camp lectures, Master’s Touch and Flow of Eternal Power. The health and empowerment of women through the teachings of Kundalini Yoga is a cause that is near and dear to her heart and she also specializes in Humanology, marriage, conscious birth, self-care, and health and wellness. www.spiritrisingyoga.org, [email protected]