Satsang: for community & truth.0
Satsang: for community & truth.
By: Sherry Cassedy
Monday morning just after the sun has cleared the horizon, I make the short walk to the studio. I notice the sunrise, whether it is muted by heavy overcast or striated with brilliant color across the morning sky. I reflect on its constancy and variation and will bring that to our morning offering. I turn the key in the simple lock and step into the warmth and calm light of Pleasure Point Yoga. As I put on music, place flowers and light the candles, the spirit of PPY awakens, preparing to welcome the community to another week with intention and beauty.
The students begin to arrive with simple greetings, sharings or silence depending on their own moods and needs of the morning. We each prepare our places with blankets, blocks or bolsters to provide our personal support, and we begin.
Standing, grounding, opening with a round of Om, we chant the Gayatri Mantra, call and response, and then chant together, some referring to the page, some having memorized the ancient Sanskrit verse, a salutation to the sun as emanation of Spirit. As we chant, I light the aarti lamp bringing more light to our circle, attending to the ritual and then offering the light of purification to each student, as I also offer my own presence.
Closing with Om, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti, I loosely translate: “Blessings, as we gather on another beautiful morning, greeting the sun, and trusting that the same force that moves the sun, the moon, and the stars, that holds the planets in their orbit, that brings the seasons and the tides, is moving deep within each of us, slowly moving us toward the truth of who we are, revealing our own natural brilliance. Blessings, Peace, Peace, Peace.”
Now, we have created the space and the intention for our Satsang, and we dive in together. The circle of students expands and contracts, always welcoming of newcomers and seekers, and always trusting that each person is where he or she needs to be that very moment.
“Satsang” is a Sanskrit word derived from “sat”, meaning truth, and “sanga”, meaning community. In Satsang, we gather together, in community to seek truth or, more simply, to be with the truth. We create the space with chanting, light, and intention, gentle rituals that help us to dedicate this hour to our study and practice and to one another.
The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali is the foundational text of most yoga systems and is the primary text for our exploration. We chant and translate the sutra, building one upon the other. We then take one sutra, breaking it down in the original Sanskrit and applying it to our own experience. The Sutra describe three sources of valid truth or correct understanding: direct experience, deductive reasoning and reliance on an authoritative text or teacher. In Satsang we cross-reference all three, taking the Yoga Sutra as our text and breaking it open with examples from our personal life experience.
It is when we find the teachings resonating in our own lives that we recognize truth and can apply it to our personal growth.
The Sanskrit language can be challenging at first, but with some practice and repetition, we develop a level of comfort and a sense of play in rolling the syllables around in our mouths, as we also allow the words to play on our consciousness. Students often quickly find a seemingly random Sanskrit word or chant dancing around their minds or appearing in their dreams, inviting a deeper engagement.
Yoga is the intentional calming and quieting of the turbulent and stormy nature of our mind, knowing that only then can our true nature shine through. The path is laid out before us, as a step by step process of slowly becoming more aware of our own patterns and tendencies, so that we can move more intentionally. In Satsang, we explore the teachings as well as our own habits of mind and methods for becoming more aware and intentional, in a supportive circle of fellow seekers.
We conclude the morning with pranayama (breathing practices), and meditation including hand mudras before and after meditation. We allow the blessings and reflections of our morning practice to settle into the deeper layers of our awareness.
I chime the bells to signal the end of meditation and we close with a final Om. As we finish our weekly satsang, students begin to arrive for the asana class, the lights go up, the energy heightens, and the next week of activity at PPY begins supported by the deeper intention of all the students and teachers, to awaken to the truth of who we really are.
Blessings, Sherry Cassedy.
Pleasure Point’s Satsang is a unique (and free) opportunity to delve deeper into the esoteric teachings of Yoga in the company of one another. It is a great introduction for anyone who is curious to learn more, and a open invitation to revisit and share in the supported space of the Sangha as we deepen our practice.
As we approach another turn of seasons, Sherry will continue with Monday morning satsang and offer an additional evening Satsang celebration of the Spring Equinox on Monday evening April 4, 7:15 to 8:30 p.m. We hope this will allow students who are unable to join in the morning Satsang, the opportunity to come together in community to explore the natural connections between our experience, the world around us and the worlds within. Come dive in!