Saturday, June 24, 2006
I am back from a beautiful week up in the mountains above Espanola, New Mexico at the Summer Solstice Camp. I had a great experience (as I normally do). Just me and Narayan camping out with 1,300+ other people from all over the world. It was quite dry and hot this year so was more of a challenge dealing with the elements, but in the end it is the outcome of the full experience that really counts. As normally happens after the week of the camp I am processing (mentally) all kinds of stuff. The camp always has a way of re-connecting me in many ways. It's hard to explain the feeling.
Anyways... I took some pictures (not a whole lot) and recorded some videos which I will start to share in the coming days, so that you can see some parts of the camp. I thought I would do a lot more (pictures/video) but it was too much with the dry heat, doing the camp activities, long days, and taking care of Narayan.
For the past few years at the Summer/Winter Solstice camps we have had evening/night music "jam sessions" titled "Yogi Tea Cafe" where any musician can perform to the camp attendees as we drink our Yogi Tea. At the summer Solstice camp the evenings are a nice time to relax, get relief from the day of dry heat, and just hang out and talk with friends (or make new ones).
This year we had a fun new event at the Yogi Tea Cafe which was an event organized by Spirit Voyage Music. This is the music company that produces Snatam Kaur's CDs and sells lots of great spiritual music and related products. The event was called "Spirit Voyage Idol", which is a twist on the TV show "American Idol" (though it was very different than the TV show in all respects). Over the course of the week different musicians who signed up for the event performed outside under a huge tent and the audience was given ballots to vote for a certain number of their favorite musicians. First two days we voted for 3 out of something like 7 people. The winners from the first rounds went to the semi-finals which we had to then vote for 2 out of 6 people. The last day we had to chose between the two musicians who made it to the finals. It was great fun hearing all the different styles of music and how many of the participants supported each other by providing backup musical roles for each other.
The final night we had heard music from Sat Purkh Kaur (from Espanola, NM) and Dileep Kaur (AKA: Deep Kaur from Surrey, Canada). After their performances and everyone voted, it was such a close vote that they had to re-count the votes 4-5 times just to make sure of the count. Dileep Kaur got the most votes and won the Spirit Voyage Idol competition, which means she gets some prize cash and a $5,000 recording contract (meaning she'll be producing a CD in the near future).
Here is the audio/video from the three nights that Dileep Kaur performed. I'll post some of the other performances in the coming days.
Friday, June 16, 2006
Here is a video from the end of the Jaap Sahib Course with Jugat Guru Singh, Sada Sat Simran Singh and Hari Mander Jot Singh (Cardi Kala Jatha). In the video they share some of their inspirations and experiences living in India and then answer questions by different people.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Last night we did an amazing meditation for 62 minutes chanting the Guru Gayatri Mantra (from Jaap Sahib), "Gobinday Mukhanday, Udharay, Apaaray, Harian, Kariang, Nirname, Akhame". The chanting was lead by Snatam Kaur along with quite a few others on backup vocals, Guitar, Violin and Tabla. We did this meditation after a long (wonderfull) day at the Jaap Sahib Course. It was quite an evening!
If you want to try meditating to the audio, download the file and then play it on your computer or audio player loud enough for the sound to surround and "wash over" you. Sit with your legs crossed on the floor and sit up with your spine straight and shoulders relaxed. Close your eyes and start chanting the mantra. Pull in the navel area near your stomach a bit as you pronounce the end of each word (Gobin-day, Mukhan-day...). Focus at your third eye point in between your eyebrows at the base of your nose with your eyes closed. Continue the meditation for as long as you can (at least 11 minutes). You'll notice how you can really get into it after a while. The audio evolves and changes throughout the 63 minutes. When we were all chanting it together as a group it felt very powerfull. Give a try and see what happens? Your mind may start to wander so just keep bringing it back to the mantra and chant it out loud powerfully from the navel point in your stomach.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Some friends of mine who I met last year in England at the Sikh Student Camp (Kamalroop Singh and Sukha Singh) came to participate in some of our summer camps here in Espanola (as part of the Sikh Youth Travel Exchange), and little did we/they know they were going to be teaching/sharing at the events. Here is an interesting and educational video of them both sharing their experiences relating to Jaap Sahib and telling stories from the times of the Gurus.
Monday, June 12, 2006
Ok, I'm a music/Gurbani lover, I have to admit it, so I'm always on the lookout for unusual recordings and different musical styles. The past few days many of us here in Espanola and visitors from all over the world have been embarking on a Journey exploring the Jaap Sahib bani during this 4 day experiential course. This morning we started with a beautiful musical rendition of Jaap Sahib sung by mother and daughter, Hari Dharam Kaur and Hari Bhajan Kaur. The audio has a certain esoteric feel to it like you are floating in the clouds. It was great to just sit and meditate on the sound as we all recited Jaap Sahib together.
Background instruments were played by Guru Jot Singh (SikhNet Wale) on the Dilruba, and Hari Kaur on the Harp.
I hope you enjoy it. It's been another really long day (and more to come tommorow) so best get some sleep while I can.
Friday, June 09, 2006
I was archiving some old videos to DVD and found this short video clip by Shanti Kaur (1996?) where she was talking to the sangat about the topic of "Giving things up to the Guru/God to take care of" and what that means to her. I have found this to be very true in my life. The natural tendancy is to worry about things and get stressed out about something. I have found that if you develop a relationship with yourself and the Guru and you surrender your problems, challenges, etc to the Guru, that it all gets taken care of. Anyways...watch the video to hear Shanti Kaur's perspective. All food for thought :)
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Earlier I was going through some recordings from previous Summer Solstice Camps and found some that I hadn't edited yet. These are some live recordings from early in the morning during sadhana, as a 1,000+ people sit under the huge shelter meditating and chanting together as the sun come up over the horizon. This recording is of some of the Miri Piri Academy girls (and a few guys). Every morning a different group of people play live music. I remember this particular morning feeling full of joy and emotion at the same time. Narayan was sleeping next to me and the sun was just peaking out over the mountains. I remember tears flowing as I felt the vibration and energy of everyone singing together. It was a beautiful experience.
Solstice is only about 1.5 weeks away so I'm getting excited! All of us at SikhNet are going to be there the whole week. We close the SikhNet office for the week (and yes....I won't be blogging either! No internet up there on the mountain). I'm already rounding up my camping stuff and getting ready (tent, flash light, mat, etc). Narayan loves camping in the tent. It's a lot of fun.
This saturday some friends that I met in England last year (Sukha Singh and Kamalroop Singh) are coming for their first visit to Espanola, for the Jaap Sahib course and Solstice camp (and to connect with the local Sikhs). Thanks to local youth support for money to help cover airfare costs so the the second Sikh Youth Travel Exchange could happen!
The main vocals are by Nirinjan Kaur (Vancouver) - Daughter of Guru Raj Kaur and Hari Singh). She recently recorded a nice CD of "Sopurkh". You can check out the sound clips.
You can listen to the four tracks continuous with the below player or download them individually.
Download Individual Tracks
Sat Siri Siri Akal
Waheguru Wahe Jio