Saran Kaur about the Sikh tradition, her 1000-day meditation and how we can learn to love ourselves
I love chanting and I love all the Gurmukhi Mantras which come from the Sikh lineage. The Sikh Path is something which has always fascinated me and I was eager to learn more about it.
Therefore it makes me so happy that Pia Saranpreet Kaur Khalsa, also known as Saran Kaur, agreed to an interview for ganzherzig. Saran gives us a personal insight into her spiritual path which led her to the Sikh tradition where she found herSELF.
This woman is really one of the people who mesmerizes me because she is gifted with so many talents. She is a classically trained violinist, opera singer, healer, channel, Meridian Therapy practitioner and spiritual counsellor, and she is just completing her BA in English literature.
Apart from that she also hosts a 1000-day meditation called “The Mala of Bliss – 1000-days of Simran”which is free and a beautiful heart-opening experience.
I’m pretty sure that we will hear a lot about Saran Kaur in the future but first we can read about her on this blog. Yeah!
G:Tell us about yourself.
S.K.:My name is Pia Saranpreet Kaur Khalsa, I’m 34 years old, I was born in Finland but I’ve been living abroad for the last 16 years. I’m a classically trained violinist, opera singer, healer, channel, Meridian Therapy practitioner and spiritual counsellor, and I’m just completing my BA in English literature. I love chanting mantras, I love teaching and I love being in nature, hugging trees and dogs! I enjoy living in the city and I really love to travel. My motto is: If you’re busy or life feels like you’re going 1000 miles an hour – at least you’re not bored.
You are a converted Sikh. How did this happen? And what is Sikhism about?
I think I was always a Sikh, you know. I tried on other spiritual paths, but they somehow never fit; it was always something that was missing. So when I found Sikhi, I read all I could about it and went – oh that’s ME! Oh, it has a name – I’m a Sikh! I came to contact with Sikhi through the mantras used in Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan; these mantras are straight out of the Sikh lineage. When I started chanting them, something magical started happening inside me and I realized I was awakening… I was coming out of the spiritual closet. It was a huge step for me; I was always raised to believe that the logic of the mind was the highest virtue. But as I opened to spirit, my life became so rich and so miraculous I can’t even begin to describe it.
Sikhi is not really an “ism”; it can’t be reduced to a religion (even though people try very hard ) because it’s a “dharma”; a path – a way of living. It’s a daily practice, a way to position oneself towards oneself, other people, and the Cosmos. So you can’t really so much “believe” in Sikhi, because it’s all about “doing” Sikhi! It’s basically about having the direct spiritual experience of Oneness with Everything that IS.
Sikhi is about the equality of ALL. The basic principle of Sikhi is that there’s One Universal Creative Source. So we Sikhs believe in the equality of everyone, no matter race, class, sex, or any other distinction. All is One. This is what really attracted me to Sikhi in the first place. Sikhi is also a path of selfless service; we do “sewa”, service by helping out at our local communities, or serving homeless people, or any other kind of social work, without asking for payment or credit. It’s very healthy for the ego to do voluntary work! We learn humility and also we recognize how rich we are when we see how much we have to give.
In the Sikh tradition we don’t preach or convert people. Worshipping services are all about devotional singing together. It’s a beautiful way of joining in the good vibrations, and afterwards we sit down together and share a meal.
I really had a “light-bulb moment” where I realized I was Sikh, and quite soon after I also received formal baptism, so called Amrit. This is a process that takes a person deeper into devotion and practice and there’s a code of conduct that comes with Amrit; for example getting up in the morning early before sunrise and chanting sacred hymns and chants. But it’s a very practical life and I love it so much. It gives a lot of strength and resilience and peace.
Do you have any special rules regarding your food and diet?
Most Sikhs follow a vegetarian diet, and for a baptized Sikh like me this is usually the recommendation. Meat has a heavy vibration and as we walk a spiritual path, usually our diet becomes lighter by itself. For me personally my body has let go of so many foods that I never thought I could live without – bread, cheese, milk, sugar, chocolate (?) – I now only eat salads, nuts and seeds, lots of fresh green leafy vegetables and some chickpeas and mung beans. Broccoli is also great for protein. This is not a Sikh diet, mind you; it’s simply what my body wants to have at this point in time. Food has always been a great spiritual teacher for me and learning to let go of my attachment to food has indeed been a huge lesson, but I’m grateful for the freedom from cravings or “needing” food. It’s simply nourishment. When the body and mind are clean, we actually need much less food than we think!
Can you tell as about the Sikh-Tradition of covering the hair with a Turban. What is the meaning behind that?
In most original cultures, hair is revered and seen as important. Hair is a spiritual tool. In Sikhi, we see hair as a carrier of energy and strength, and that’s why we coil it into a know on the top of the head. It’s a way of securing and anchoring our Spiritual energy.The turban was in ancient India a sign of royalty and only few select people had the right to wear one. So the 10th enlightened master – the 10th Guru – ordered his Sikhs to wrap a turban as a political act of equality and also so that whoever called themselves a Sikh could be identified in a crowd. We can’t hide as Sikhs, we’re very easy to find! So the turban for a Sikh is their crown as well as a sign of distinction. We say that a king or a queen is crowned once in their lifetime, but a Sikh crowns herself or himself every morning. The turban is also a protective filter as we work with intense and powerful spiritual energies that come through the mantras and prayers. It’s to keep our energy focused and to filter the flow so we don’t get a migraine or headache from doing our spiritual work. And it’s beautiful, too!
What kind of Kundalini-Yoga do you teach?
I teach Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan; he was the last master of Kundalini Yoga. He was a great character and an amazing teacher and anyone can enjoy his lectures (and personality) in the hundreds of videos that were recorded from his classes. He’s simply amazing, there’s always something in there that speaks to you if you open yourself to it.
Kundalini yoga is a body technology; it’s a science of body, mind and energy. It’s also called the yoga of transformation, and it’s an awesome physical tool as well as a spiritual tool. It’s one of the fastest working forms of yoga available to us and is widely used in treating anything from addictions to multiple sclerosis. It works because it specifically targets flows of energy and works with the different body systems such as the glandular functions, or the inner organs or the energy body.
On your homepage we can read “I believe strongly that self-love is the true soil that nurtures the love that we extend to others.” What do you think, why is it so hard sometimes to love ourselves and how can we learn to get closer and closer us?
I think we were taught to not love ourselves. I also think that most of us were raised by parents who didn’t know how to love themselves, so we just kept doing what they were doing. I also think we have many past lives in environments that didn’t teach us self-love.
For me, the first step towards self-love is always forgiveness. Forgiving ourselves for having a hard time growing up, or forgiving ourselves for going through tough experiences. Even forgiving ourselves for letting someone say bad things to us. Because mostly, we tend to take on these things and make them our own, even when someone else is at fault. So forgiving is the first step. Then receiving our own forgiveness! This can be tough if we identify with the hurt feelings; we don’t really want to let them go. Even hurt can become familiar to the point that we want to hold on to it. After that – learning to love ourselves. Asking questions like: if I loved my body, what food would I give it? (and forgiving yourself for all the times you failed to give it what it really wanted.) If I loved myself, what things would I say no to? What would I say yes to? Cultivating an awareness of what is REALLY true and loving, not what we LEARNED from tv or magazines or our parents. I was brought up to think that food is love. But it’s not. LOVE is love. And only I can give myself love – others can only reflect back that love to me. In the words of the famous drag queen and style icon RuPaul – “If you don’t love yourself – how the hell can you love anybody else?”
Right now you host a 1000 day meditation called “The Mala of Bliss – 1000-days of Simran”. What does Simran mean? What is your motivation behind that?
The word “Simran” means “remembering”. It’s a practice to keep remembering the ONENESS that we all are part of, every moment. Because when we remember the Source, we don’t get drawn into the dramas of life; we are connected to Universal Flow. This state is a state of absolute ease – things come so easily to us, nothing sticks to us, and we feel free and have absolute trust.
I was doing Simran on and off as a part of my daily practice but wasn’t doing it too regularly and my spiritual guidance team told me that it would be a good thing to do more of it. A colleague of mine asked me if I’d like to consider a 1000-day meditation and I thought: Cool, I’ll have company in making this happen. But then something came up and I ended up doing this by myself and it’s just as good! I enjoy experiencing my practice this way and I enjoy blogging about it every day. I love it when someone feels inspired to try Simran, even for just 5 minutes.
Is this meditation for everyone and is it always possible to join?
Yes! Simran is absolutely for EVERYONE. You can do it on the Sikh mantra of Waheguru like I am, you don’t have to be Sikh, or follow any religion, or even feel spiritual, it will still work! But Simran is more than just about a specific word although “Waheguru” is the manta of bliss, it will give you a sense of spiritual ecstasy. But I know of a muslim lady who does her Simran on the word “Raheem” – one of the names of Allah. You see, as Sikhi is not a religion, we only want for people to connect to their spirit, no matter what form their spirituality takes! You can also ALWAYS join in in the Mala of Bliss. At any point. I’ve divided the practice up into 40-day pieces, but you can jump in any day for sure – still lots of time until 1000 days are up.
The meditation is very much centered on the heart as you repeat “Wahe Guru” along with your heartbeat. What can we experience through this method and what are the benefits?
The heart center is the gateway into the Soul and the Heart of the Universe. The Heart is where all possible healing starts. The Heart is where true love – absolute neutrality can be found. The heart holds the keys to the mysteries of the Universe. The heart is what keeps us in relationship with each other and gives our lives ultimate meaning. So this is the way to find out who we REALLY are, underneath all the layers of conditioning, learning and ego stuff. So however we connect to the heart – we need to make sure we connect! The heart is where we understand that we are in relationship with everything – the Universe, with mother Nature, with every person we meet. It’s where we let go of our ego need and seek solutions that are good for ALL.
What is really important to you in life?
For me, relationships are EVERYTHING. My relationship to my own Soul, to my body; always healing deeper and deeper. This is how I can contribute to the healing of others in a balanced way. I love teaching, being a teacher, I love serving people with what I know, sharing who I am, getting to know new people. I love communicating, it gives my life meaning! The environment is REALLY important to me, and also women’s issues and rights are very very close to my heart. I hope to contribute in these areas during my life in any way I can.
Where can we find you teaching Yoga or providing Workshops?
I work a lot online on Skype/phone with readings of the Akashic Records as well as healing and yoga, and I travel around a lot right now, but I regularly teach workshops in Copenhagen, Denmark at Yogacentralen in Frederiksberg. Right now I’m doing some workshops for both youthful radiance as well as finding our deepest Soul connection inside ourselves. I’ve done work in the UK and I love doing classes in most of the other Nordic countries too, and I’m always open to doing workshops and retreats on demand – how fun to do collaborative projects in new places!