May the Pure Light Within You Guide Your Way On
I first heard the song Long Time Sun in a Vinyasa yoga class about five years ago. My teacher played Snatam Kaur’s release on her iPod and I immediately fell in love with the music and lyrics (though I misheard, at first, and thought that she was singing “Guide Your Way Home”).
There’s a reason I misheard that word; at the time, I was experiencing a great deal of pain over the loss of my mother, and the impending departure of my son for college. Separation and attachment issues weighed heavily on my mind; I thought wanting to keep my loved ones close to me was part of being a good mom and daughter, and I couldn’t imagine how I could continue along my life’s path without my mother and children at my side.
Several years before, my mother had died of a rare disease called amyloidosis; she had been diagnosed while we were on vacation together, and within a week, she passed. We were very close, and I had not been able to move away from the pain in my heart each time I thought of her. I was also preparing to send my middle son to college—six hours away. As the mother of three sons, I have always been deeply attached to my children, but after my mom died the thought of any of my boys leaving home had become even more unbearable. In addition, my beloved first yoga teacher, Liz, had announced she was moving from our home state of New Jersey to Colorado. I couldn’t face the thought of her leaving, as we had become close friends in addition to her being the woman who had introduced me to yoga. It seemed that pain, yearning, loss and leaving were all around me. I just wanted my mother, my son, and my teacher, to be home.
Then I heard Long Time Sun, and each and every time my teacher played it in class my tears flowed. The song reminded me of everyone I loved and needed, everyone I had lost or would one day lose: my parents who had died, my children who had left for college or would soon be leaving, my dear friend and teacher. In fact, the week she left, her students gathered in a circle and sang the song to her: it was then, perhaps, that I realized Snatam Kaur was not singing, “Guide Your Way Home,” but “Guide Your Way On.” Though I knew that the move would be a new challenge for Liz (and college would be an exciting and positive step for my son) I was still unable to loosen my attachments; I was still unable to wholeheartedly move ahead.
A few years later, I began practicing Kundalini yoga, and was surprised to learn that Long Time Sun ended every class. As I closed my eyes and sang along, I felt that same surge of longing and sadness, but this time, there was something else.
I had begun a new journey in my yoga practice, and the more I studied Kundalini yoga, the more I realized that the inner light the song refers to is not necessarily a light that guides one home to one’s familiar attachments. Rather, it is an inner light that guides us into each new day, that guides us toward potential, possibility, and hope. It’s a light we all carry within us that illuminates our path, wherever it may lead, even away from home and on to new adventures, relationships and realizations.
Today, when I hear the song at the close of each Kundalini yoga class, I’m still moved by its beauty and yes, sometimes I do still cry. But now my tears flow not from sadness or longing so much as from gratitude—gratitude that I have learned not only to love with all my heart–but also to let go.
(Editor’s Note: There are many versions of this song in addition to the Snatam Kaur version mentioned above. Try some one of the one’s below, or experience Snatam’s gorgeous version for yourself!)