A week before my 27th birthday in October 2016 I saw a post on facebook for an evening of Kirtan singing at something called Simran at the Gurdwara in town and I knew I had to go there, even if it didn’t mean I was singing along, I wanted to go even just to listen.
Simran in simple terms means the remembrance of God through repetition and recitation of his name
This was at a time in my life where I rarely got out to do anything different than go to work, go food shopping, visit a garden centre and maybe see a friend a few times a month. At home I kept myself busy with housework, some painting and watching TV.
It was during this time that my health was quiet bad though it didn’t show on the outside, I`m quiet a happy person but for some months I had a mysterious illness that took away my appetite and my ability to recognise hunger. Then when I did eat, or forced myself to I got chest pain and headaches. This brought my weight down and played havoc on my hormones, after lots of tests with no obvious problems, I just decided to heal myself naturally with whole foods and faith it was temporary, I would go on to heal my hormonal problems naturally.
The day of Simran I got the bus from town and sat by the river eating turmeric gluten free vege pasta in a Tupperware pot with my mum and dad who joined me to chat or to make sure I got the right bus, maybe both. (Though I knew a bit about Sikhi I didn’t know for definite if there would be food there though of course, there was!) This was also at a time where my long time relationship was on it’s way out, deep down I knew but I wouldn’t of dared admit it then because I was trying to make it work.
I turned up at the Gurwara to say – Hi I’m here for Simran, kirtan! With just faith that they would welcome me regardless of my white skin and only speaking English, I knew from what I had read if they didn’t, it wasn’t Sikhi. Some of the kind guys and ladies showed me around and explained the basics of what to do in a Gurdwara, people were surprised I came on my own, I wasn’t as I was used to doing things on my own. People were so welcoming and I’m always grateful for that.
I had a similar experience of that kindness at my first Naagar Kirtan the month after when a man (doing Seva) handed me a plate of fried spinach (and others handed out more food and chai tea throughout day) as I’d been having a difficult year where it felt like take, take, take. Someone gave me something and didn’t ask for me to be, do or have anything in return, it felt like it reinstalled my faith in humanity and that was my most memorable day of the whole year.
In Simran I really liked to sit and listen to the Guru Granth Sahib, the Kirtan singing and music playing. Being in a place with flowers and light and Kirtan, even though I couldn’t understand most of it, I knew there was love there and devotion, I just felt it.
I continued to go to Simran in two pivotal times in my life where big shifts happened – I ended my relationship and though I was very happy with my conscious choice to do so, my life felt very different and odd, coming to the Gurdwara and listening to the Guru’s words really brought me back to the present moment. The other times where when my friend was dieing, each week I went the Hukamnama, some translated in English had direct significance with my circumstance, it was incredible.
I went back soon after my friend died in February 2017 and though grief gives you a different perspective of life, some days I felt numb and lost not being able to chat with my friend. The Gurdwara had become somewhere I could go to just be, by then it had become a consistent practice and I made sure I went even though I couldn’t explain exactly why I went in the first place.
As going to the Gurdwara means I get a bus from town to another part of town, I often go shopping before and there have been times where it would have been easy to just get the bus home and do something else with my evening, especially when I have lots of bags. Sometimes I have to push myself, though I just feel that there’s nothing like it and I always feel peaceful after.
Now I still go to Simran – and my life has got better! My health is back to how it was years ago, everything is balanced and working well and I’m enjoying my life! I have more fun, freedom and am more authentic than ever before! I know a few people to chat to now and it really is true that it is a spiritual journey on the path to Sikhi, as I’ve been going when life was bad to good and especially as I learnt from a Kundalini Yoga side of things, I’m always learning.
‘Before becoming a Muslim, a Sikh, a Hindu or Christian let’s become a human first’ – Guru Nanak Dev Ji