By Sarah Calvert
“We are not normal.” Guru Singh’s words echoed in my mind; his brilliant Sunday morning class still fresh in my being at the recent Sat Nam Fest. Being Canadian, I had not yet had the opportunity to experience his classes, and had no expectations in terms of what to expect. I was so taken with his style, conveyance of information, and most of all, his personality.
I could hear an inaudible sigh of relief from the yogis and yoginis in the tent, as he reminded us how amazing it is that “we found each other.” Webster’s dictionary describes normal as, “conforming to the standard or the common type,” which is certainly something that we practitioners of Kundalini Yoga do not do.
I, for one, have never felt like I truly fit into my family, despite my undying love for them. My mother used to remind me of a late afternoon when I was in my teens and had set up a blanket underneath a tree, and she came out to ask me what I wanted for dinner, “I’m trying to meditate!” I scolded. I’m not sure I even knew what meditating was, but I knew that some spiritual dude sat under a tree and became the symbol of peace and enlightenment, and I wanted to have a taste of that enlightenment.
I don’t recall reading any books on meditation, or having any teachers at that time; I simply wanted to connect with nature, and myself. My path has taken me to India, South and Central America, all over Canada and the United States, and Europe. Most trips have incorporated some sort of spiritual element, whether it was seeking shamans in Peru, sages and gurus in Dharamsala, or native medicine women in northern Ontario. I have had an underlying feeling for many years that I am just not “normal.”
And so, it was with Guru Singh’s teachings in mind yesterday morning that I had an experience that resonated with his words. He indeed warned us that when we left the bubble of the festival, things would be different, and our sense of belonging would be shaken. Not five hours later we found ourselves at a gas station on the highway just outside of Los Angeles. We bought gas, chips and used the restrooms. As I paid the attendant for my sundries (it had been five days since I’d had chips and was indulging in an un-guilty pleasure), he smiled demurely and asked, “Where are you girls from? Where are you coming from? You seem different.”
To be clear, the girls were decked out in cute prêt-a-porter L.A. outfits, and I was wearing a cute red skirt and tank top; it’s not like we were in full bhana and sporting turbans. I smiled and told him we were coming from a yoga festival, and he nodded and seemed to understand. I agreed, “Yup. We’re different all right.”
He thought he might have offended me so immediately said, “I could tell. I mean, your energy is just different,” and then he proceeded to reach behind the counter and produced Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now.” “I’ve been reading this book, and I’m really starting to understand the power of the mind and thoughts. I figured, I’m here working and just sitting around so I might as well learn something. I’ve gone to do Bikram yoga, but it’s expensive, but I really want to keep learning.”
With that, I told him a bit about Kundalini Yoga and encouraged him to keep on learning and expanding, flattered that we were perceived as “different,” and smiling about the synchronicity of the morning’s teachings, paralleling this experience.
As always, I am grateful for Guru Singh’s class, and the master, Yogi Bhajan, for his great gifts of teachings. The Golden Chain of Teachers continues to trickle down, and I, along with the vast and ever-growing Kundalini Yoga community am blessed to be not “normal.” Wahe Guru!
Author’s Note: This morning I spoke to my father briefly and told him that I’d be unpacking and organizing my life after being away on tour for two months, to which he commented, “I guess it will take you a couple of days or so to be normal.” I responded by assuring him, “Oh no Dad! You know that won’t happen. I’ve never been normal.” Seeing the truth in my words he chuckled, “That’s true.”
Sarah Calvert is a Renaissance Woman: touring singer-songwriter, kirtan artist, multi-instrumentalist, producer, musical theatre director (My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding), English teacher, journalist, Extreme Skier, Kundalini Yoga instructor, chef, Wilderness Guide and all-around swell gal. She has recorded and produced two albums; one of Kundalini Yoga mantras called, "Love and Light," and another entitled, "Other Side," which is a compilation of original songs rooted in folk with hints of jazz and blues. She is currently working on a musical memoir of her tour in Western Canada and India, where she was teaching Kundalini Yoga, performing, and falling in love. www.sarahcalvert.ca