Tuesday, April 24, 2012


A Small Death

You say I have to be awake in this dream?
How is that possible
Amidst all of the confusion?
How am I to know what is real
And what is not?
The sound of my life
Crashing down at times
To the floor
Asking for your help.
And that is how it was last night
When I looked for answers in the dark.
Reaching out into the unknown,
Now a familiar feeling
And that is when you spoke to me.
You said,
"All the answers are in your breath dear child, breathe!"
I protested a moment with some shallow breathing.
You chuckled the weight of my stubbornness away
Just enough
That I decided to take a breath.
And so it began
Breath, by breath
Nothing quick about it
Nothing magic
Just my breath
Bringing in those things you call Love and Light
That are simply Your arms, sweet God
Your embrace of Love and Light.
And slowly, slowly
I felt you.
Enough to know that you were with me
That you were me.
That I could let go.
A small death once again
That allowed me to go to sleep.

Sat Nam.

Photo by Robin Layton

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I have a friend who always responds to the question, "how are you?" with the phrase Ang Sang Waheguru. It means that the miracle, the absolute joy, the creative flow of God is within each and every cell and fiber. He does it without fail. Every time he says it, I love it. It brings me right back to what we are all doing here anyway. We are here to enjoy and live in God's Creation. We are God's Creation.

Let's look at the mantra a little.

Ang Sang Waheguru

Ang means the limb

Sang means association, society, union, company, friendship.

To understand Waheguru I find it best to break the word down

Wah....means ecstatic bliss and joy in the experience of God

He (pronounced Hay) .... means here and now

Guru....means from darkness (Gu) to light (Ru)... as the Divine Guru lifts us up.

What a powerful mantra!

How can we incorporate it into our lives?

For inspiration I would like to talk about the Guru who really mastered this mantra with his whole being and when we tune into his Spirit we can experience the mantra ourselves. His name is Guru Angad. He is the second Guru of the Sikhs and although he is not in his physical body anymore, he is very much present in Spirit and so I speak of him this way. He lived as Guru of the Sikhs in Northern India in the 16th Century. Specifically his life spanned from 1504 to 1552. He came to be the second Guru precisely because he embodied the mantra "Ang Sang Waheguru." His name even invokes this mantra.

Here is a little story about him.

A sage came to visit Guru Nanak, the first Guru of the Sikhs, in his village. In the village there was a palpable joy in the air as everyone lived and worked in the glowing presence of Guru Nanak. People were busy in the nearby fields, making food for Guru Nanak's devotees who visited from miles around, children played in the street, and everyone looked forward to the best time of the day... at the end of the day sitting in the Guru's presence to hear him teach and even sing with his devotee musicians.

The sage was overcome with a sense of joy and fulfillment to be in the Guru's presence, but also to be with so many loving devotees of the Guru.

After one such evening session, when most people had gone home to bed, the sage sat with Guru Nanak.

He said, "It is so beautiful to be here with you. You have so many loving disciples! It is incredible how wonderful the energy is here!"

Guru Nanak said, "Let us see how many disciples I have! Meet me tomorrow at the base of the hill and we shall go for a little walk just after sun rise."

As the story goes, Guru Nanak sent the message out to everyone in the village to meet him at the base of the hill just after sunrise.

People were very excited to join their Guru. They had no idea what would happen, but they were used to this kind of thing as the Guru often taught in spontaneous ways.

At this time in Guru Nanak's life he was very old. In fact, soon he would pass away. But as the sun rose, Guru Nanak appeared at the base of the hill with a walking stick, and a twinkle in his eye. The sage joined him along with the many excited devotees. And just like a clap of thunder, Guru Nanak took off up the trail. People could barely keep up with him as he sped up the hill.

Somehow in a kind of miraculous way along the trail suddenly some gold coins appeared.

Some of the villagers saw the coins and stopped to pick them up. But as they did so, the Guru and those still with him had disappeared. They figured they could meet up with him in the regular evening gathering anyway, and so pocketed the gold coins and went home.

And as miracles go, they usually happen again and even more splendidly. This time, rubies were strewn amongst the rocks of the trail.

And once again some of the people stopped to pick them up, and once again they were left behind as the Guru was not stopping.

And the third miracle was the appearance of emeralds.

Well so many people stopped, that in fact that only two Sikhs and the sage remained with the Guru.

When they reached the top of the hill, there was a quiet clearing. In the quiet clearing appeared to be a body covered with a white sheet. The wind was blowing fiercely, just about as fierce as the look in the Guru's eyes. As they got closer it did in fact appear to be a corpse under there.

The Guru looked at his two Sikhs and said, "Eat this body."

One Sikh looked at the Guru, looked at the others, and promptly turn around and ran back to the village.

The other Sikh bowed his head to his Guru and asked in a state of pure bliss, "Would you like me to start at the head, or at the feet?" as he reached over to pull the sheet off.

There are different accounts of what was actually under the sheet. Some say the corpse turned into flowers. Others say it turned into a beautiful feast.

But, one thing we know for sure was that the Sikh who managed to be a true disciple of the Guru would in fact become the next Guru whose name was Guru Angad.

Alright, so what does this mean for you and I on this beautiful day that God has given us? I am inspired from this story, to receive all that comes my way this day as the blessing of God and Guru.

I am inspired to breath deep and feel the presence of God in everyone who speaks to me. I am inspired to bow my head to every task God gives me today with utmost inspiration and passion to serve the One within us All, even if it does not look like an attractive or enjoyable task!

And to help us find the way to do this, let us chant the mantra, "Ang Sang Waheguru!"



PS. Find out more about Guru Angad, and listen to a recording of the mantra Jin Prem Kio.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

How do we so easily forget that we are creations of the One Creator? How do we so easily slip into a mayhem of thoughts in our minds that gives us no peace? How can we bring ourselves back into a state of calm?

There are many paths, many Dharmas, many practices that answer just that question. I will delve into my Dharma or my path to share a little of my experience.

"Sat Nam" are the original words, the original teaching, the original sound current given to us by Guru Nanak. Guru Nanak was born in what is now Pakistan in the 15th Century. At the time this land that he was born in which was a part of India at the time was ruled by the Mogul Empire. There were two waves of destruction to the human psyche that was passing through India at the time. One was an extremist effort by the Mogul Empire to convert everyone to their religion, the other was an age old caste system.

Guru Nanak himself was born into a Hindu family, where religious ritual was held in high regard. As he grew up, one after the next ritual, was questioned and tested by this young boy of light. He wanted to know the truth, the "Sat" in everything. In the tradition of his family a boy at the age of 13 receives blessings from a local priest, is given a string to wear symbolizing his connection to God, and food is served to the family and friends. At Guru Nanak's gathering with everyone ready for him to receive the sacred thread, the young boy interrupted the ceremony and asked what would happen with his connection to God when in fact the string wore out?

His parents were mortified as the account goes.

But this was only the beginning of a series of events in Guru Nanak's life that would one day make him the founding Guru of the Sikh religion, and a great Saint for not only the entire of India, but the world.

Guru Nanak taught that we must always find the truth in all that we do, find a way to be ourselves, find a way to tap into the Universal Truth in what we are saying, and what we are doing. He gave us a tool to do just that, and it is the second word of this mantra that I am sharing with you today, it is the word, "Nam." Nam means the Name of God. It is a noun. It is the one thing that we can lean on, that will not wear away like a thread, that lives on even after our human form passes.

So he said to us "Sat Nam" or "Truth is God's Name."

If you want to tap into your inner truth, chant this mantra.

In fact breathe it. Join me today. We will do a little experiment. The whole day long, inhale "Sat" exhale "Nam." As you work, as you cook, as you drive, as you have a conversation... make it work. In your mind think these words and allow your breath to be nice and long as you inhale "Sat" and then exhale "Nam". Tap in to the Divine Light, the Guiding Light, the Absolutely Free to Everyone Light that exists with us. You know, just weave it into your day as something fun. Don't get stressed about it. Let's just try it with light hearts.

And let's see what we can do.

Hail Hail Guru Nanak. Thank you for these Divine words of love and light that you have given us.



Photo by Robin Layton

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Every year up to 2000 people gather in the foothills of the Jemez Mountains in Northern New Mexico for an event called Summer Solstice. I have been attending this gathering since probably about the age of two. Although it wasn't until I was about six that the location became what it is today.

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
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 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 missal 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.

Love, Snatam

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