I know you’re probably reading the title and thinking, “the holidays are almost six months from now!” But this last week I’ve learned a lesson about giving, which I want to share with you today.
“Live to give” is a quote by Yogi Bhajan which hangs at the meeting hall where I was this week for the Summer Solstice Celebration. I arrived after an 11-hour drive to Santa Fe, an almost hour drive to Espanola and then an 8-mile dirt road drive up to the mountains of the facility where the Summer Solstice gathering is held every year. I was hopeful this experience would be spiritually transforming. I’ve been practicing Kundalini Yoga for around ten months and participated in one day of White Tantric Yoga last February. I was ready! I was looking forward to the transformational experience in a drug, alcohol and smoke-free environment.
The main reason I was inspired to write this blog is what they call “Karma Yoga.” Before I fully embraced this concept of giving rather than receiving, I was pretty focused on what I was going to get out of this experience. This left me feeling empty, alone and afraid. I was in a sea of people I mostly did not know. Anyone I did know was hard to find, so I was constantly introducing myself and making small talk with many different people. Of course, I did experience some deeper, more profound conversations. Like the conversation I had with a young man who traveled the world without much money and found he was taken care of every step of the way. But I’ll talk more about that in another blog post. Back to the idea of giving. Once I approached my time at Solstice with a giving heart, everything turned around for me and became more beautiful. I had the opportunity to chop vegetables in the kitchen. I picked up trash around the grounds and I signed up to be a monitor for White Tantric.
The White Tantric experience is very intense and deserves a whole blog just to itself. Here is a link about White Tantric if you are interested I showed up at the meeting hall where the White Tantric takes place at 7 am in the morning. I was dressed in all white and had a white turban on my head. I set my hat and sunglasses down on a chair and the Head Monitor took several of us outside to go over the protocol of how to behave as a monitor. You don’t cross in front of anyone, you keep an eye on all the participants to make sure everyone is okay and no one is in distress, etc. I came back in to find my hat and sunglasses had been moved and nowhere to be found.
In the high desert with the sun as intense as it was, these were my most important possessions (aside from my water bottle). I was so distressed about this, I had to miss the first part of the meditation. As I pulled myself together, I went back to the meditation to perform as a monitor. I had reached acceptance about this loss and realized it need not get in the way of my ability to serve. As I relaxed and looked at the participants chanting all around me, my eyes fell on a table and there were my hat and sunglasses. They had magically reappeared.
All in all, I found this whole experience to be transformational. I learned a lot and I realize the path to spiritually is not an easy one.
Growing as a person takes a lot of effort. Just like practicing a new pose, it takes a while to perfect it. Your muscles may be sore and you may not be able to master the pose all at once. Transforming as a person is not easy. We have to change our old patterns of behavior, and in my experience I have found that looking to see what you can bring to a situation, rather than what you can get from it, is one of the most important lessons of all.
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Saraswati Anand Kaur