Sat Nam Fest West 2014 was an amazing and epic adventure for me. In the past, I’ve attended yoga festivals as a participant only – but this year I had the distinct honor of serving as part of the Spirit Voyage team in my newly acquired role as administrative assistant to CEO of Spirit Voyage, Karan Khalsa. By the last day, I was extremely tired from all the activity and lack of sleep. I debated with myself about taking any more yoga classes, thinking that my body needed the rest more than anything else. But my love for Snatam Kaur’s music simply would not let me sit that class out. She was scheduled to teach the class and play her music, accompanied by Ajeet Kaur, Suhkmani Kaur Rayat, and Ezra Landis…how could I possibly sit that class out? After all, the moment I first heard Snatam’s voice singing “Ong Namo” changed my life forever and began my insatiable love affair with mantras.
To my delight, Snatam taught the Narayan Shabad to a packed classroom. This shabad has been calling to me since last year when Spirit Voyage did a 40 day global sadhana with Ajeet Kaur using the Narayan Shabad called Be The Light. I did not participate in that global sadhana, even though I was so moved by Ajeet’s voice and the feeling I got when chanting along.
What often happens in a class led by a teacher that is so connected to the Golden Chain is that the specifics tend to elude one’s memories, leaving behind the feelings associated with the class, and an overall understanding of how the class has transformed you…so here is how I experienced Snatam’s class at Sat Nam Fest West.
Snatam began by explaining the origin of the Narayan Shabad, and that Guru Arjun wrote and recited this shabad, which allowed him to purify himself. It is said that this mantra restores you, and allows life to become fresh and abundant. It removes negativity from your arcline and allows you to experience yourself as the pure, illumined being that you are. It strengthens the aura which increases our protection, and allows us to project and manifest our true Self and connect to our destiny.
Because the shabad is a bit complex, Snatam broke it down into bite sized pieces with a call and response of the first verse, followed by a call and response of the rest of the shabad. When it was time to begin, Ajeet explained how to do the mudra for a particular meditation using the Narayan Shabad (arms overhead, hands interlocked, thumbs touching and pointing down to the crown chakra) and drishti (eyes focused on the tip of the nose). Then Snatam and Ajeet began reciting the shabad for us. What a beautiful site to behold – a room full of yogis in their meditation posture, breathing in the delicious vocals brought forth by Snatam and Ajeet.
For those of you who have practiced this meditation, you understand how difficult it can be to hold this posture for any extended period of time! After about five minutes, all of the regular doubts started creeping up – I’m not strong enough, it hurts, I can’t do this. I observed those thoughts with curiosity, and reminded myself to let the mantra work its magic. Those thoughts led me to areas in my life that I have doubted myself, to thought patterns that have held me back in my life, to the times I have made myself small out of fear of not being good enough. All of these limiting beliefs sprang up, and through the power of the mantra and the energy of the class, I felt those doubts being washed away. I could feel the healing happening – not just of my physical body, but of my emotions and my spirit. What was left was pure and total happiness. I felt light and free for this first time in a long time. What a relief it was to experience my true essence! And as if the kriya had been designed with my particular needs in mind, the Narayan Shabad was followed by some time for dancing.
The simple act of dancing in this class felt like a very natural progression – the shabad had washed away the things that no longer served me, and the dancing was a celebration of who I really am. A celebration of essence. I could feel the innocence, the purity, and the joy radiating from every person in that room. It was such a beautiful moment near the end of the festival that really demonstrated the transformative power of yoga and mantra for everyone who is there. Utter bliss.
Snatam’s class was such a healing experience for me, and I am forever grateful. The space she holds not only as a musician, but also as a teacher is truly something to experience. I might not remember every detail of every word she spoke, but something remarkable happened to me in her class and I will never forget that.
If you would like to experience the transformative power of the Narayan Shabad, you can practice it yourself at home, or organize a group of friends to practice with! Ajeet Kaur’s CD “Sacred Waters” contains a beautiful recording of the Narayan Shabad for this meditation and even a track “Gobinda” that is perfect for dancing!
The gratitude I feel for everyone who makes Sat Nam Fest possible remains with me. If you have ever thought about attending Sat Nam Fest and couldn’t make it, I hope that you will be able to in the future. What happens at these festivals is pretty miraculous. The space that is held by the planners, the teachers, the musicians, and the participants are intertwined in such a way that we are able to make gigantic leaps in our personal and collective evolution. I hope to see you at the next Sat Nam Fest!