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Is Winter Solstice Right for Me?

By Sewa Singh

Question #1: Why should I go to Winter Solstice?  

1. To pit your material existence against your spiritual existence. Every material level will be challenged, but every level of your spiritual identity will be elevated. 

2. To increase the challenge between your negative mind and your positive mind. Every level of the negative mind will be stimulated—will your positive mind be strong enough to balance this out so that you can strengthen and dwell in your neutral mind?

3. To challenge the relationship between your emotions and your devotion. The emotional body will be poked, provoked and confronted—will the power of your devotion rise to the challenge?

4. To create the opportunity to strengthen your ability to serve selflessly in an environment that is outside of your normal comfort level.

5. To give yourself a rare gift that is 100% for the purpose of elevating your consciousness and 0% for your comfort or ego gratification.

6. To join with other like-minded people to create the vibration of kindness, caring and compassion in the world at a time when these values are being severely challenged.

Question #2: I don't feel physically strong or flexible and I know that there will be a lot of yoga and sitting at Winter Solstice. Should I still attend?

Answer: Kundalini Yoga is not a competition. Even people with very limited physical abilities can get great benefits from doing those things that are comfortable for them. Additionally, it is an extremely valuable thing to face your limitations directly and accept them with grace.

It is true that Kundalini Yoga is challenging physically, but these challenges exist at every level along the gradient of human fitness and present benefits at each stage. The benefits to a person who lacks strength and flexibility but challenges themselves moderately may actually be greater than to a person who is more experienced but challenges themselves less.

Even those people who, because of work responsibilities, may not take part in classes, sadhana or the tantric days, often report being profoundly elevated simply by being in the group vibration. Everyone is challenged at their own level by this type of experience, whether it is the first time or their forty-first time.­­­­­­­­­­­

Question #3: I am not very good at meditation—I can't sit comfortably for long periods of time and my mind constantly wanders. Should I go to Winter Solstice?

Answer: The purpose of an experience like Winter Solstice Sadhana is not to collect people who have perfected meditation, but rather to provide an opportunity for people who would like to improve their meditative skills. Even if meditation is boring and/or painful for you, your meditative mind will still benefit just by being in the vibration of others who are working on it.

It is a powerfully useful thing to experience and assess your mind's concentration and meditation abilities head on. This is how we progress. Being loving, tolerant and accepting of your own limitations is an extremely important part of spiritual progression.

Identifying and working within your comfort levels, physically, emotionally and mentally will yield great benefits in the long run. It does not take a lifetime to connect with your Divinity; it just takes one moment of tranquility.

Question #4: I can't really afford to go to Winter Solstice, should I go anyway?

Answer: One should always make responsible financial decisions. In the case of an event like the Winter Solstice Sadhana, a better question might be: "When I examine an accounting of all my expenses, have I budgeted adequately for things that purely support my spiritual elevation?" Sometimes we consider things in this category as treats, rewards or luxuries. However, when viewed in the context of the totality of our lives, they might serve our long-term happiness better if defined as requirements.

Question #5: I am conflicted between going to Winter Solstice and spending the holidays with my family. What should I do?

Answer:  Yogi Bhajan often said that the answer to any question is contained within the question. This question is a good example of that teaching. The answer is that you have duality. Identify and resolve the dualities involved and you will have no problem deciding which event to attend.

Duality is when there is incongruity, in any combination, between thoughts (intellect), feelings, values, spirit and/or behaviors (including social and financial). If thoughts rule your life, then your behavior, spirit, emotions and values are at risk of duality. If emotions rule your life, then behavior, spirit, thoughts and values are vulnerable to incongruity. However, if you submit your behavior, intellect and emotions to a sacred set of spiritual values, then no duality can exist. This is the great treasure that is Dharma, or spiritual path. All the great religions of the world provide this choice.

Simply identify the area that has the duality and approach it through the dharmic values that your emotions and intellect have submitted to and adhere to them. This will allow you to perceive with great clarity what your choices really are.

Here is a fictional example of how this system can work to clarify a holiday conundrum:

Various members of your family are putting a lot of pressure on you to choose their holiday gathering over your plan to go to Winter Solstice. In the past your family's holiday gatherings have been filled with subtle alcohol and/or drug abuse and negative emotionality. They have ended without anyone being elevated by their inclusion in the event.

Lacking a dharmic view of the situation, many conflicting dualities appear. Loved ones are asking for your participation in an event that you know is going to be painful for you, yet you do not want to disappoint them. If you do not do what they want, they may reject you or feel rejected by you. You may feel that they don't support things that are important to you or worse, are blatantly negative about many of your choices. Additionally, you may resent the fact that you feel controlled by what others may be thinking or how they will react to your choices. There are so many levels of intensely charged murkiness between the mind, emotions, internal and external pressures, etc., that no choice seems to be possible. 

By submitting to dharmic values, the circus of confusion is cleared away. Many spiritual paths teach that living for and serving others is a sacred value that will elevate those who practice it as well as those around them. When applied to the holiday puzzle, things immediately become clearer. The question is no longer "What should I do for my self?" but rather becomes, "How can my choices best serve those I love?" If you have the spiritual strength to go to your family's holiday gathering, serve them and elevate them, then that is clearly your duty, honor and privilege. However, if you feel that you do not have the ability to humbly serve and elevate with simply the power of your vibration, then perhaps you should spend the time nurturing your own spiritual strength. Meditate on it, pray about it—it still may not be an easy decision to make, but at the very least, your choice will be clear and conscious. Additionally, you can have the confidence that you used the most noble and sacred methods available to you to make your decision.

This holiday season, may the Infinite bring the gifts of perfect health, unlimited joy and spiritual prosperity to you and all of your loved ones.

Sewa Singh Khalsa is one of Yogi Bhajan’s early students. He has acted as a counselor for many couples and individuals, basing his approach purely on the teachings of Yogi Bhajan. He is also an accomplished artist and his work can be seen on www.sikhphotos.com. He lives in Seattle, Washington, with his wife, Sewa Kaur and son, Hargobind Singh.