Satsang Circles have been around in sannyas since Satyam Nadeen published a book called “From Onions to Pearls” in the late nineties. The characteristic of his recommendations was that participants helped themselves, and used their own material within the circles which were free-forming, and basically everyone could “get” it. Music wasn’t a big part of that, but sometimes played it’s smaller part. Below Deval Premal gives her own take, which is much more focused on music and humming, but arguably is based on the same maxim of restoring the energy of grass-roots sannyas.
Over the years Miten and I have come to see that music, meditation and community are necessary to nourish and sustain us in our daily lives.
I have been giving some thought as to how people could have more opportunity to meet, sing and sit in silence together without any prerequisites…and this is what came to me:
Let’s create Satsang Circles around the planet!
Satsang, translated from Sanskrit means “Meeting (Sangha) in truth (Sat)” and it can be enjoyed in so many ways. We have found that a one hour silent meditation which includes music and chanting is a blissful door into our own inner sanctuary. The music and chanting help to deepen the silence, no effort is needed, and Satsang happens by itself.
This meditation was given to us by Osho when he first went into silence, back in the early days. It is a doorway to the Heart, and an opportunity for us to connect with our inner peace.
My idea is that you offer Satsang as a weekly or monthly gathering in your living room or meditation room. Invite your friends, family, business acquaintances etc… to come together and meet in a way that is beyond the usual social graces.
Creating a sacred space where you and your friends can sit silently together is a profound practice. It transcends social boundaries because there is no need for polite conversation. It is a time to ‘be with ourselves’ – to give ourselves that extra time that we so easily overlook. Satsang is a great support on our spiritual paths. We come together, in our aloneness, and it brings us closer as friends, because we find ourselves in a sacred space together, without judgement, where all is One.
Here’s my suggestion:
There are basically three sections:
Music – Words – Humming.
These activities arise from, and disappear into, the silence which you and your friends have gathered to enjoy.
Prepare about four or five pieces which create a meditative space. The music can be, for instance, any of our CDs (you can start by simply use the Satsang CD, which is designed exactly for this purpose), or various pieces from your favourite artists, for example: Krishna Das, Jai Uttal, Snatam Kaur Khalsa, Karnamrita, Maniko, Ani Choying Drolma, Manish Vyas, Prem Joshua, Devakant, Peter Makena, Maneesh de Moor and Sudha, Ravi Shankar, Kamal, Rishi, Manose, Benjy and Heather Wertheimer, Shyamdas, Hari Prasad Chaurasia… there are many CDs of sacred music around!
Let the music be followed by long periods of silence… some minutes long. Basically, punctuate the silent sitting with sound. As I said, the music is there to deepen the silence, not to entertain. Of course, it’s good to vary the tempo and feeling of the pieces of music you choose..some deep and soft, some more celebrative and up and some to chant with… Be creative, have fun! And don’t forget to use your voice – it is a door into peace and tranquillity… which leads us to the ‘humming meditation.’
This is beautiful to do around the middle of the hour. AND it requires no musical expertise for those who may feel shy to sing!
It is a Tibetan exercise that connects body, mind and spirit. The technique is simple: Take deep breaths and make the sound ‘mmm’ on the out-breath. Let the sound be musical, and travel until the end of the breath – then renew the breath and continue.
This technique creates a circle of energy in the body – revitalising and invigorating the cells on a physical level, and charging chakras and kundalini energy on the meta-physical plane. Simple and effective!
If you play tanpura, this is the perfect situation in which to use it. If not, find music with drone sounds, such as Tibetan Bells etc…
I’d also suggest you find poetic and uplifting ‘spoken word’ to punctuate the silences. Frame the humming section with two readings. A poem or quote that you have found to be inspirational… You can read from Hafiz for instance, or Rumi, Tagore, Buddha, Jesus, Eckhart Tolle, Osho…etc etc..
The music, words and humming will serve to create a beautiful experience for yourself and your friends – and the silence will nourish and sustain you in your daily life.