By Dharamjot Singh, New Mexico, USA
Ever since I can remember, I have enjoyed going outside and exploring nature. When I was about seven or eight I was living in Rhode Island and my friend and I would play around the ponds and swamps in our town. We would catch turtles and snakes and spend all day getting lost in the woods. I remember a time when we were looking for a large snapping turtle that lived in a pond we visited often. We had seen the turtle by a tree and it was big, with a head the size of a baseball, and a shell a couple of feet long. Later, I was standing in the water quietly searching for more signs of the turtle, when I looked down at my feet and saw the head of the turtle a couple of inches away from my toes. The turtle could have made a snack of them, but the turtle and I had some kind of understanding at that moment. There was a sensation of life so electric and visceral, that even at such a young age I could not deny the interconnectedness of all things.
I have countless tales just like this, an internal library of nature memories. Some are more spectacular than others, some close calls, and some simple moments of connection, all experiences of nature that erase preconceptions and self importance to such a degree as to create presence of mind. It is that presence of mind and consciousness that I am moving towards when I practice yoga. I have been blessed with a most interesting life. My experience with nature has evolved into a practice of respect, appreciation, and awe. Just as with my yoga practice, I feel most connected to nature when I am in it—when I allow myself a moment to breathe and feel, and smell and touch my surroundings.
That beautiful place we call Guru Ram Das Puri, seven thousand feet high, covered with pinion pine and juniper, filled with cacti and wild grasses, home to literally millions of little individuals, it is a land that holds our presence on it for only a month every year. It is the land that Yogi Bhajan identified as a sacred place, a place to hold our community gatherings during our Summer Solstice Sadhana Celebrations. Working in my capacity as 3HO Events Assistant, I have the unique blessing of visiting the land from time to time. I am always amazed first by the bird life; every tree holds some kind of bird—hardy mountain birds that could fit inside your hand, crows (that can live to be thirty years old) soaring above, and sometimes an eagle can be seen catching currents and searching for prey. The next time you are at Summer Solstice, go for a walk and get away from the people and tents and find a quiet place to sit down, and just wait. Soon, if you focus on simply sitting there, your senses will confront you with the immensity and variety of life all around you. Smell the cactus flowers, you will not be disappointed. Let that strange alien wasp land near you and take a closer look at her. Feel the gentle needles of the pinion pines, and the fur of those thick leaved plants around camp.
Yogi Bhajan said the dust of Guru Ram Das Puri itself has healing properties. I find that if I give myself permission to communicate with nature, I am then more willing to respect nature and, finding respect for nature, I realize that I am sharing this planet with many other visitors. It took me my whole life to find a respect for Mother Earth that is not based in fear, or entitlement, but in relation and love. I believe this is the space we might try and act from at Guru Ram Das Puri. When we visit this sacred land for such a short time, let us remember that even though somewhere there is a piece of paper that is a lease that says that some humans own the small patch of land on which we create our Solstice Event, that in reality that land is home to and life for numerous species of plants and animals that don’t have the same power and voice that we have. Let’s treat the land as sacred even as we look at our imprint on the Earth.
Entering into this Aquarian Age, the technology we possess and the ability to shape our surroundings and our planet will increase tenfold. As we look back on the destruction we have wrought to our Mother Earth, it is my hope that the technological and industrial revolutions which have been the cause of this will lead us to the technology and industry that might undo some of this harm and create new methods for living in harmony with the planet. With consciousness anything is possible. That is why we do yoga, to find the practice that will light our way into bliss.
This is a moment in time when we can look at our lives and feel that connection through our own experience to our glorious home; how amazing it is to live as a human on this planet; to have such power and freedom to range and wander the Earth. Our technology enables us to see and experience our world and our natural surroundings, and take advantage of all the fruits the planet offers up to its inhabitants.
Now seems like a perfect time to embrace our ability and to generate an ecological character that equals our destiny as Yogis and as humans. As we move towards Mother Earth Day, let’s take a look at what we can reduce; let’s remember to find glory in nature, even if it is just to a warm breeze blowing through a city street. Join together in spirit with all the grass roots movements that are giving a voice to our planet. Most of all I will try and be a friend to the natural world, and as a steward of the land I will try and listen to the voice of reason and love my Mother Earth.
Dharamjot Singh is an artist and certified Kundalini Yoga Instructor. He currently works and lives in Española, New Mexico as part of the 3HO Events Team. 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 may contact him by writing to [email protected].