22 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO TO SUMMER SOLSTICE
ATTENTION: THIS MIGHT HELP YOU TO DECIDE WHAT TO BRING AND WHAT TO EXPECT ESPECIALLY IF THIS IS YOUR FIRST TIME.
(Partially reprinted and annotated from the last 10 years)
The Summer Solstice is rapidly approaching and there is much to do before I go to Guru Ram Das Puri for the celebration. I will be joined by thousands of like-minded souls who travel to New Mexico for this extraordinary experience hosted by the 3HO®, Yogi Bhajan's Healthy, Happy, Holy organization.
THE BACK STORY:
In the mid-1970s, a group of Hopis took Yogi Bhajan into the Jemez Mountains of Northern New Mexico near the town of Española and gestured toward the vast wilderness that stretched out for miles. The elders explained that for a hundred thousand years, huge spiritual gatherings took place over a vast territory stretching from what is now New Mexico, south to Mexico, and east to Missouri. They told Yogi Bhajan that these spiritual gatherings took place once every 108 years and the last one had taken place 2000 years ago...around the time the forces of darkness appeared.
The Hopi elders went on to tell Yogi Bhajan that it had been foreseen that just before the forces of darkness reached their full power, a white-clad warrior from the East would arrive and create a white-clad army to protect the Unified Supreme Spirit. Since Yogi Bhajan was the white-clad warrior they were talking about, the Hopis entrusted him with the duty of keeping and protecting the Unified Supreme Spirit on this sacred land. Yogi Bhajan had celebrated the summer soltice in many different locations, but he was looking for one place where the students could return to year after year. In 1976, 3HO Foundation bought the parcel of land that the Hopis had recommended, and Yogi Bhajan named it Ram Das Puri that came to be known as Guru Ram Das Puri.
The Summer Solstice celebration is a great opportunity for many things; to deepen your practice, to be with your spiritual family, to serve, and to live close to this sacred earth. There are several ways to experience this living close to this sacred earth...and one way is to camp. Camping may not be for everyone, but I camped the first 6 years I went and I think I learned a few things which I wanted to share. This was just my personal experience, but it might help others as they start to prepare for the Summer Solstice experience in the high desert.
The first year I thought, that all I needed was a very small and light tent to sleep in. NOT! LET ME TELL YOU THAT YOU SHOULD GET A TENT THAT YOU CAN at the very least ACCOMMODATE YOUR HEIGHT. It doesn't have to be the size of a one bedroom apartment, but you should be able to stand up in it. My first year I couldn't stand up and I was changing my clothes in a crow squat.
It was light to carry, easy to assemble, and basically disposable. And I did dispose of it because it was useless. The second year, I bought a larger, more commodious tent with better construction. THERE IS WEATHER THERE, SO MAKE SURE YOUR TENT IS WATERPROOF and sturdy enough to withstand rain and wind. A FEW YEARS AGO WE HAD FEROCIOUS WINDS; A STRONG TENT IS A MUST IF YOU WANT TO HAVE SOMEWHERE TO SLEEP. Some people came back from events on the site only to find their tents collapsed or if there's rain, their belongings sopping wet. This is avoidable...so I say...Invest in a decent tent that is waterproof and large enough to stand up in. (TARGET, COSTCO AND REI all have good tents) There are other more expensive tents out there but these stores carry good strong tents at a fair price. You can also check Amazon.com. Another year I bought one of those gigantic tents that sleeps 16. It was nice to have all that "space", but I basically used 1/2 of it.
Bring clothing that is easy to wash by hand, layer-able, and warm. It can get both very cold and very hot. If you are there for a while, you'll need to wash your clothes....which you'll probably wash by hand and hang up on a line or a tree. Bring lots of t shirts, comfortable pants, etc. for yoga practice, serving and "playing". Bring something to wash them with. I BRING DR. BRONNERS LIQUID SOAP BECAUSE I USE IT FOR BODY SOAP, SHAMPOO, AND LAUNDERING.
Be prepared for the rain: waterproof tent with rain flap. A portable, foldable rain coat or poncho is a good thing to have just in case. If you don't like to walk in the rain, bring an umbrella. Be prepared for high winds. Make sure your tent is secured and tied down and not in an exposed area where it might fall prey to high winds from all directions. As I said before, a good strong tent is worth the investment.
4. FIRST AID
There is a first aid building on the property which is well stocked with things for minor pain and discomfort, sunburn, scrapes and abrasions, etc. There are doctors and nurses on staff for anything more serious. SO IF YOU KNOW WHAT YOU MIGHT NEED, BRING IT. IT'S GOOD TO HAVE A FIRST AID KIT OF YOUR OWN....don't forget your prescription medication or supplements that you are used to taking. If you have a way to handle muscle pain (narayan oil, arnica, traumeel, ben gay, etc. for example) bring that with you. You can get Narayan Oil - i swear by it - at Ancient Healing Ways. or at Yoga West. You'll be happy to know that there are massage therapists, chiropractors, healers working in the bazaar tent so you can handle most minor injuries or discomfort for a reasonable fee. Just remember to bring what you think you might need based on your past experiences.
5) EATING AND DRINKING
Bring water bottles, hot bottle for yogi tea, eating utensils, a plate (reg food) and bowl(soup). You can pick these things up at places like Costplus, an Army/Navy store or Target. You'll be washing your own plates and utensils at every meal. There are water dispensaries all over the site which includes electrolyte water, too. You don't need to bring dishwashing soap...they have it at the dishwashing station.
The terrain is rough and dry and while flip flops might be ideal for going to and from the shower area, your feet are going to get beat up. Trust me. If you are the slip-on, slip-off kind of person that I am, I like to use keen-type sandals which are waterproof, easy to get in and out of, offer support, and cover the toes (if you choose). I got mine at REI and it'll be another year I'll be wearing them all the time... if you know what you want, you can go to Zappos and get them for less money. I wear the Venice H2.....and the Daytona...both EXCELLENT CHOICES FOR SOLSTICE! While we're on the subject of feet, there is a foot therapy station at Solstice...and I highly recommend bringing BANDAIDS, FOOTCREAM, etc. because I can guarantee that your feet will get DRY. REALLY DRY.
7. WAKING UP
Bring a battery operated alarm clock (and batteries). Even though every morning at 3am before sadhana, Guru Singh and his band of 20-60 merry people walk through the camp sites starting at around 3 singing "RISE UP"...you still may want a back up plan.
SUNSCREEN, LIP BALM, SKIN LOTIONS, TOOTHBRUSH AND TOOTHPASTE. BRING YOUR OWN TOWELS AND WHATEVER ELSE YOU NEED TO STAY GORGEOUS AND HAPPY ON YOUR TRIP IN THE HIGH DESERT. OH DON'T FORGET THE Q-TIPS.
9. FOR WHITE TANTRIC YOGA YOU'LL NEED
White cotton or natural fiber clothing and a white cotton or natural fiber headcovering....ALL of which ARE available from different vendors at the bazaar at solstice. If you haven't experienced a Kundawrap ...you're in for a treat. You can get them ON LINE NOW AND SAVE 10% IN ADDITION TO FREE SHIPPING. Kundalink also has white cotton clothing for women and white cotton shorts for everybody. ORDER YOURS NOW TO GET THEM BEFORE YOU LEAVE FOR SOLSTICE.
10. THERE IS NO HOT WATER. COLD SHOWERS. IT'S ALL ABOUT THE COLD SHOWERS. If you are not used to taking cold showers, now is a good time to practice it. By the time you get to solstice, you'll be a pro.
Sheepskin, yoga mat, warm blanket, and a hoodie or something warm for morning sadhana. Some people take their entire bedding to the tent! It's pretty cold when you start but you warm up pretty quickly after you start doing yoga at 4 am.
12. THE LONG TIME SUN IS STRONG
Bring a hat to protect you head from the sun unless you wear a headcovering. And Don't forget the sunscreen...
Bring the following for a comfortable nights sleep: SLEEPING BAG, WARM BEDDING, YOUR PILLOW, SLEEPING PAD OR AIR MATRESS OR COT. IF YOU BRING AN AIR MATRESS, TRY TO GET ONE THAT HAS A BATTERY OPERATED BUILT IN AIR PUMP. (otherwise you'll be dragging it around all the time to electrical sources to refill it)
14. EXTRA CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES - Bring a bathing suit just in case. Some people go down the hill to the hot springs and you might, too.
15.EVERYTHING IN ONE PLACE
Bring a bag to carry around your stuff. In the past, you could bring your own big bag into the tantric shelter during White Tantric Yoga
but now, they give you a regulation size tote. But during the day you'll be going from class to class and you'll need to carry around your mat and/or sheepskin as well as your water or tea bottles, your plate/bowl and cutlery, and a hoodie or whatever else you need. If you are on site, maybe you can keep some things in your tent, but if you are staying elsewhere, you'll need everything with you for the entire day.
16. BE THE LIGHT
Bring a flashlight OR one of these head lamps. If I have to recommend something that I couldn't do without, I would say it was one of these. I USE THE HEADLAMP BECAUSE WHEN I WALK TO THE BATHROOM IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT AND I AM CARRYING THINGS TO THE BATHROOM, I NEED MY HANDS and you might, too! Highly recommended.
17. PARTY TIME
On the 3HO website, they suggested bringing one or two dressy outfits for social events, but i have to say, this is not really necessary. It's pretty casual.
18. EXTRA PROTECTION
Bring a hooded windbreaker or hoodie... layers of clothing is the best way to go. I rarely wore socks although they can be helpful in the early morning chill.
AND if you need to charge your ipod or iphone or cellular, there are charging stations and you can plug in from time to time. I can tell you that you won't be using your phone very much, or at least much less that usual. The reception has been intermittent in the past. Wonder how it's going to be this year?#$!!
19. KEEP IT CLEAN
A "DOORMAT". SOME HEAVY TOWEL OR SHOWER MAT SO THAT YOU CAN WIPE YOUR FEET OFF BEFORE YOU ENTER YOUR TENT.
Your tent will be filled with dirt in no time if you don't. OH and by the way, all your "whites" will soon be brown. Get used to it.
20. TRAVEL LIGHT
The best advice I can give you is to travel light. You should be able to fit everything in a duffle bag and a medium suitcase. Try to keep your things to a minimum....and make sure you have enough clothes to layer and keep in rotation, comfortable shoes, comfortable bedding, and a tent that you can stand up in. You won't believe how helpful, generous and friendly everyone is and if you need something, if someone there doesn't have it, you can always go down the hill into "civilization" and buy it.
21.SHOW ME THE MONEY!
Bring some money because you can get some fantastic products at the bazaar.... many vendors take credit cards and checks, but cash is always nice!!! see you there! www.kundalink.com
22) AND SHOW ME SOME OF ELENA'S VIDEOS FROM SOLSTICES PAST...
AND while you're at solstice...on June 16th in the Joti Tent at 6:30am - 8:00am
come take my class on The Art of Flourishing
Based on Yogi Bhajan's Law of Creativity - To Conceive, Flourish and Deliver, this class celebrates the stage when implanted ideas start to grow and bear fruit! Creativity is both your essence and your projection -yet many of us stand in the way of our own divine nature. Just like with a rose that goes from bud to flower, we need to metabolize our energy so that we can blossom creatively.
Can't wait to see you!!