Happy 2017: The Importance of “Satsang”

I do hope you enjoyed the Christmas school holiday break and are looking forward to getting back in to a healthy routine. If you have kids or have been looking after or spending time with family and grandkids these holidays, it’s fair to say that the New Year doesn’t really begin in earnest until February when school is back and there’s a small amount of time to think about yourself and get back into those yoga lifestyle habits.

My holiday this year was fantastic! I spent time practising my surfing locally with the family and then went on a trip to Bellingen (a slightly inland river town close to Coffs Harbour) for a week (sans kids) to take part in its annual Camp Creative. Basically, you choose an activity from their catalogue, book in and then go and learn how to do that thing every day for a week. There were tons of things I was interested in doing, but I knew I didn’t want to be sitting. I love the music and culture so chose Bollywood dancing which was lots of fun and so uplifting. You can’t help but start moving as soon as the music goes on and visually, it’s such a feast. My somatic brain got a very intense workout because the choreography doesn’t just involve feet, legs and arms, it includes fingers, hands, eyes, and head doing something slightly different each millisecond. I definitely needed a lot longer than a week to truly master the sequence we learned, but it was great fun, inspiring and a real challenge.

“Satsang” – and Why We Need It..

The word “satsang” is a sanskrit term that means something along the lines of community gathering. Satya is the yogic yama meaning truthfulness or honesty and “sanga” means community. Along with the laughs, what I realised after my week in Bellingen, was the importance of community and connection and how the creative arts – and indeed all group activity – is so important on a deep level. I went with a couple of friends and we met and chatted to lots of different people of all ages and backgrounds. Watching piano genius David Helfgott play at the local high school and then address the crowd one night made me wonder if there was some kind of correlation between funding being taken away from the arts and the increase in mental health issues. I mean, who would this man be had he not been fortunate enough to fall into this life? How many more out there like him? Potential geniuses living in poverty on the streets perhaps?

The point is, everybody here felt supported and connected because of the group activities. When my Bollywood teachers requested that everyone stand up to dance in the local park one evening (see above image), everybody did. Pretty much the whole town was dancing together – an amazing vibe. This is what is mean by the term “satsang” in yoga philosophy. Satya meaning “truth” and Sanga meaning “community”. We simply won’t experience this connection alone in front of a computer or IPad and must make the effort and ensure our kids get out there too.