Updated: Mar 18, 2020
In a world where everyone is busy, it’s not always easy to find the places and the ways to be of service. Sometimes, the best intentions find no home. It can be more work to find a way to serve than to do the service. When I started Sat Nam Foundation, I had a clear purpose. I wanted to provide the place and the way for yogis around the world to serve.
In the beginning, we responded to disasters and emergencies by partnering with sacred chant musicians to offer Kirtan Aid albums as a way to raise funds. Because I own Spirit Voyage Records, we had a running start. All of our artists jumped at the opportunity to participate. And once they were on board, dozens of the biggest names and the most humble, never recorded artists and everyone in between offered music to our projects. We had the means of distribution through the record label, and our projects brought in large sums of money for disaster relief around the world. These projects continue to this day and have provided a wonderful connection between the music, the yoga community, and people in serious need.
As we began serving in this way, our community kept coming to us wanting a more direct connection to service. There was clearly a longing to serve in a group. At Sat Nam Fests, I kept having people ask me how they could go themselves and serve. Much of what we were doing in the beginning was just sending money. It was really a strong push for people to come together to serve, and so we started our seva trips, going to India and Puerto Rico with small groups in service. These have been profoundly transformational experiences for the people serving and for those we serve. Ajeet Kaur and Ramdesh and Gurmukh and Michael Jaidev and I have all supported groups serving. We continue to organize these trips. In fact, in March we have a group going to a remote mountain top orphanage in India with Gurmukh that will be a life-changing experience.
But many people can’t travel around the globe to serve. We had a longing for something where we could gather with our tribe for longer periods of time and do service projects. In 2016, I felt inspired to find a place where we could create a real home for Sat Nam Foundation. Michael Jaidev and I spent days talking about what kind of home would work for us. We dreamed of a place where we could have people come and stay and practice yoga and farm while they did seva. We dreamed of a place where at-risk youth could come and experience yoga and the wilderness and outdoor adventure and organic food and farming. We dreamed of a place where we could host Sat Nam Fest. We dreamed of a place where we could plant organic vegetables and provide them to food kitchens and schools. The dreams were big. We didn't have the money, but we thought with a combination of loans and donations, we could make it work.
So we went online and found a bunch of properties for sale, and Jaidev and Anais hit the road in search. Part of the journey included all of us convening at Mirabai Ceiba's home in Colorado to make the dreams bigger, but also to look at properties in their area. We dreamed of a conscious community where people could live together. We dreamed of a school for children that combined elements of Waldorf and homeschooling philosophies. We dreamed of a space where we could host retreats that would benefit the foundations service projects. That trip did not end in a home. But it ended in a more realized dream.
What we knew was that there some things we could see as important. We wanted forests. We wanted water. We wanted farmland. We wanted a space for yoga.
2-½ years passed, and more and more people started taking notice of the work we were doing in the world. People began to trust that when they donated funds to our work, we achieved results. We helped build a dormitory at an orphanage. We installed rainwater harvesting systems in Puerto Rico and Mexico. We had yurts packed on the backs of yaks and carried over the mountains into Nepal for earthquake survivors. We rescued refugees drowning in the ocean between Turkey and Greece.
And so, when Tina and Davis Mangold decided they were ready to take the properties that they had stewarded and donate them to an organization that could use them to make a big impact, they came to us. It is humbling to see the trust and faith they have in our work. It is inspiring to learn how two people can change so much for a small organization like ours.
And now, with their support, we get to start to take our dreams and make them into a reality.
Balance Bethlehem is a state-of-the-art, stunning eco-friendly yoga studio in the town of Bethlehem, NH. It has two large yoga rooms, 5 treatment rooms, a teaching kitchen and a lovely lounge. It is fully solar-powered. It is nestled amongst gorgeous trees. We can start to envision having teachers bringing groups here for yoga and seva retreats. Yoga and treatments at the studio, seva on the farm. We can also imagine our volunteers starting to teach yoga to the local community here, integrating their seva and their practice, a fundamental core of who we are. The dreams are starting to grow clearer.
Ski Hearth Farm is an incredible 645-acre property in the town of Sugar Hill, NH. Just 10 minutes from the yoga studio, it's like another world. With 400 acres of professionally developed Nordic Ski Trails, it has a thriving ski business operating through the winter. It has a historic renovated farmhouse with 12 rooms, a Nordic Ski Rental business, a commercial kitchen, green houses and farm equipment and more. The property had a regular farmstand for years, operated a CSA, provided organic produce to food pantries, and was a major part of the community. We have hopes of revitalizing all of that, but also finding new dreams to come true. A place for at-risk youth to experience farming and yoga and adventure. A place where we can create an avenue to integrate organic farming with education in the public school systems around the country. A place where yogis can come and be in a community of service. Our dreams are just starting to form more clearly. We hope you will consider joining us.