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What is Satsang?

Updated: Jan 6, 2022

"Feeling connected is knowing about this sacred alignment, where everything has its right place and time and necessity within creation. Everything comes to go and goes to come...Some awareness of who you associate with is very helpful, as we certainly need good friends on this quest. Satsang is one of the easiest ways to establish an integrated awareness of our shared consciousness."

--from the November 2021 Jivamukti Yoga Focus of the Month essay "Life is Cosmos, Not Chaos" by Petros Haffenrichter

Two years ago when I chose the name "Satsang Yoga" for the studio, it was a conscious and deliberate decision. I wanted the studio's name to reflect my intention behind opening it: to create a space for a yoga community to grow together and support one another in the quest for Truth and enlightenment.

Satsang is a Sanskrit term derived from two roots: sat meaning "true’"and sangha meaning community, company, or association. It can be translated as "associating with good people" or simply "being in the company of truth," and refers to the act of gathering with like-minded, uplifting people, especially those on a spiritual path.

Satsang may also refer to a group of people engaged in a spiritual dialogue. Although the term is generally used to highlight the importance of community on spiritual growth, by definition satsang can additionally be considered as a lone relationship with truth.

Traditionally, satsang referred only to a gathering in the presence of a true enlightened being, or satguru. In modern times, satsang has evolved to mean any gathering in which spiritual reflection, discussion, meditation or teaching takes place; for example, chanting in kirtan or philosophical debate in dharma talks.

Generally, a satsang gathering must meet the following requirements:

  • A shared intention between group members

  • Context or theme to spark spiritual insight

  • An agreement regarding ground rules and inclusivity

Satsang in a group can have a profound effect on the ego, since entering into a shared space of support and unity encourages selfless emotions to arise. Satsang is believed to dissolve any sense of separation, allowing the inter-connectivity of all beings in the universe to become more apparent. It is believed that in the company of those who are committed to bringing out the best in one another, extraordinary awakening can occur

Satsang can also be practiced alone by cultivating truth within one’s inner self or remaining centered on thoughts of the Divine. As such, within Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism, satsang typically refers to individual spiritual and devotional activities such as meditation or chanting.

Satsang may also include reading or listening to spiritual teachings before reflecting on their meaning and assimilating them into daily life. In a broader sense, satsang can also include the guidance of the inner voice awakened as the potential of the higher Self is realized.

Satsang is an aid on the yogic path to moksha (liberation from suffering and the cycle of death and rebirth). It helps to remove the negative thoughts, material attachments, and mental obstacles that block this path. As such, satsang helps to keep people engaged in spiritually-centered thoughts and to maintain focus on their spiritual path.

In the Buddhist tradition, one of the Three Jewels that practitioners take refuge in is Sangha (the other two Jewels are Buddha and Dharma). Click here to read a beautiful essay by Zen Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh on the importance of sangha (aka satsang) to one's spiritual practice.

Now that we are settled into our new studio and back up and running at full speed, we are happy to start bringing back some of the satsang building activities that went on hiatus during our scaled back lock-down schedule. Our monthly Friday Fundraiser Flow classes by donation to benefit a local non-profit return in November. Our monthly Saturday Satsang sessions (which include meditation, chanting, and studying yoga philosophy) and our weekly by donation Y12SR (Yoga of 12-Step Recovery) classes will be returning in the near future as well.

I am deeply grateful for the beautiful community of seekers and practitioners that make up the Satsang Yoga family, and I look forward to continuing on the path of yoga with each of you.

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