Dear yoginis and yogis,
June was marked by two yogic events for me : a weekend in Devon with the wise Satish Kumar and a weekend in the German Alps at the Bhakti Yoga Summer Festival. In very different ways, these two events both reminded me of an essential attribute of spirituality which can sometimes be forgotten: joy!
Yogis and any people with a spiritual practice can come across as very serious, or austere. Yet time and again I find that people who are truly “advanced on the spiritual path” are easily recognised by the fact that they radiate joy. They always smile, and not just with their mouths, but with their eyes.
They are not oblivious to suffering, quite the opposite, many of them have suffered deeply in their own lives and have heard many heart-breaking stories from all the people that come to see them. But they never lose sight of the bigger picture, and apparently that picture is joyful, no matter what terrible personal or national events may happen.
So I was lucky to be able to spend three days with about twenty people from different walks of life in a beautiful old manor house in Devon, Schuhmacher College, listening to world citizen Satish Kumar, the Earth Pilgrim. We all left deeply inspired, not only by his words, but by his example – the lightness and brightness of his personality, at eighty years of age. His optimism and his activism are contagious.
A week later, by a coincidence of the calendar, I attended another event – a bhakti yoga festival in Germany. Bhakti yoga is the yogic path of devotion. Traditionally, it involves singing mantras. Yogis who are attracted to this path connect with the “Divine” through music or poetry. Nowadays a whole movement of musicians is reinterpreting the classical mantras and Asian instruments with new rhythms and tunes, and their concerts are very uplifting events where we all end up dancing around the room! I felt myself floating after sharing wonderful concerts by David Lurey, Prem Joshua’s band, and the Greek-German musicians Satyaa and Pari with at least 500 other people. So much positivity!
I know the daily news are grim and can get you down, but the world needs yogis to bring light into the darkness, so I recommend listening to an online lecture by Satish or to some of these artists’ music – to shine the light of joy into the shadows.