At Miri Piri Academy, spiritual education and practice are a fundamental part of the daily life of the students, with a wide range of opportunities for learning and mastery. Our program includes Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, Sikh Dharma, Seva, Gurbani Kirtan, Gatka, and several 40 day intensives, the most special being our 40 day Golden Temple Seva practice.
‘Yoga’ means union. The practice of Kundalini Yoga, as taught by Yogi Bhajan, is aimed at union with the divine through stimulation of the Kundalini energy that resides in everyone. Kundalini Yoga is much more than a system of physical exercise. It is a dynamic, powerful tool for expanding awareness. Students gain a sense of self-control, enhanced peace of mind, better concentration, and a deep sense of self-confidence. Regular practice includes:
- Four weekly Kundalini Yoga classes taught by residential staff, peers, and/or experienced visiting teachers.
- An annual 40-day sadhana in the Amrit Vela (the period before sunrise).
- The practice of Kundalini Yoga is not limited to scheduled classes and sadhanas.
Students are strongly encouraged and guided to choose and maintain a personal practice that will serve them after they graduate from MPA.
The study of Kundalini Yoga and yogic lifestyle is also included as part of the academic program. The classes are designed to help students understand what they are living and experiencing at MPA and to help them lead conscious and healthy lives. Humanology, nutrition, relationships, meditation, personal practice, the lives of saints and mystics, recognizing and balancing emotional crises are some of the topics discussed.
9th Grade: Introduction to India and to Miri Piri Academy
10th Grade: Introduction to Sikh Dharma
11th Grade: Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training Level 1
12th Grade: Two Level 2 Teacher Training Modules and a Personal Project
Although not all students at Miri Piri Academy define themselves as ‘Sikh,’ the school program is modeled after the lifestyle taught by the Sikh Gurus. “Sikh” is translated simply as student or disciple. It is used most commonly to describe followers of the Sikh religion, which was founded in India by Guru Nanak in the 15th century. There were ten living Gurus before the Guruship was bestowed upon the Siri Guru Granth Sahib (the holy book of Sikhs) in 1708. Sikhs follow a conscious lifestyle that includes the four pillars of Dharma:Bana, Bani, Simran and Seva, as well as a healthy vegetarian diet, avoidance of drugs and alcohol, and nurturing graceful relationships with others.
The tenth Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh, gave Sikhs a distinctive appearance known as Bana that includes long, graceful dress, uncut hair and a turban. When a Sikh wears Bana, they represent the Guru and they cannot hide their identity from anyone. At Miri Piri Academy, the student’s school uniform is designed to give the students an experience of grace in their personal presentation.
Bani is simply the word of the Guru. The power of the word is such that when someone recites another’s words, they can attain the same consciousness as the person who originally recited them. When the Bani of the Guru is recited, one can tune in to the consciousness of the Guru. Hymns composed by the Gurus and several Hindu and Muslim saints were collected in a single volume called the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. At Miri Piri Academy, the students recite Bani from the Siri Guru Granth Sahib in the morning and occasionally in the evening. Students who take Punjabi classes will learn to read from the Guru in the original Gurmukhi script.
Simran is the practice of meditation. Recent studies have demonstrated that water is transformed by the vibration of the words or thoughts that are projected at it. Just so, the body, which is 70% water, can be transformed by the vibration of the words and environments surrounding it. By meditating on the Infinite as we go about our day, the infinite vibrates continuously in the very cells of the body. At Miri Piri Academy, there is a weekly Gurdwara, Kundalini Yoga classes that include meditation and Nam Simran occur four times per week, and students can take Gurbani Kirtan classes as part of the art and music program.
Seva means selfless service. The Sikh concept of God is that of a God present and pervading through all of creation. Thus, Sikhs strive to maintain a consciousness of God’s presence in each being and in each situation they face. Seva is a natural outcome of such a consciousness. When we can see God in all, we are inspired to serve all. The mark of a Sikh is that of humility and service to all. To instill this consciousness in our students, the school participates in cleaning the Parkarma at the Golden Temple, doing seva at other local gurdwaras and by serving each other on campus.
Gatka is a Sikh Martial Art that uses various weapons and hand to hand techniques. It is used to train the body and mind to work together and to instill the qualities of a warrior, such as bravery, courage, spirit, and self-discipline. At Miri Piri Academy, Gatka is practiced by the entire school one to three times per week. The Miri Piri Academy Gatka Squad participates in exhibitions and parades throughout the year and is a well recognized and much-beloved sight for the citizens of Punjab.
Sat Nam Rasayan
Sat Nam Rasayan is an ancient healing system that trains its practitioner to heal through consciousness, connecting the healer with his or her infinite healing power. The technique was passed on to Guru Dev Singh by the Siri Singh Sahib Yogi Bhajan. Even if one does not plan to become a healer, students of Sat Nam Rasayan learn a new approach to reality that can lead to a more relaxed state of mind. They discover a way to heal from daily stress and pressure and perfect a technique to develop awareness and be more connected to the present moment.
Gurbani Kirtan began in the 16th century as the musical expression of divine poetry (shabad) conceived by the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak. Following him, all the Sikh Gurus articulated their teachings through music. At Miri Piri Academy, every student has the choice to study Gurbani Kirtan or Tabla if they desire. Students are encouraged to actively participate in leading the school during devotional Gurdwara services and have the opportunity to lead the congregation both at the school and at numerous Gurdwaras and events to which we are invited throughout the year.
Special Programs and Intensives
We offer our students multiple opportunities to challenge themselves and excel. To that end, we have provided a number of intensive programs to give students an experience of their own tenacious spirit and unlimited potential. These intensives are a highlight for our students and keep the spirit of the school elevated throughout the year.
Every year, all students participate in a special course designed to deepen their understanding of themselves, their relationships, their health, and their spiritual practice. Instruction is divided by gender so that students can receive the information and training that best suits their needs as they enter society. The program includes intensive yoga and physical training, courses on yogic diet, goal-setting, and positive thinking, and training in relationship and communication skills.
Each year our students and staff choose a particularly challenging set of meditations for a school-wide 40-day Sadhana (daily spiritual discipline). Everyone rises early in the morning to participate. A few of our choices in the past several years include long Ek Ong Kars, repetition of the Re-Man shabd, and a combination of bowing Jaap-Sahib and Kirtan Kriya.
Twice a year, the school as a whole wakes up at 2:00 AM to perform the Seva of cleaning the parkarma at the Golden Temple for forty days. This is a highlight for all students and staff and one of the most memorable experiences of being at MPA.
Every year we organize a voluntary trip to Goindwal, a Gurdwara established by Guru Amar Das, where students participate in the recitation of Japji Sahib, the Song of the Soul, on each of the 84 steps. The process takes a minimum of 12 hours, and students who choose to participate in the meditation gain a new experience of Japji Sahib and of themselves.
Our 12th-grade students take a Japa meditation course held by Jugat Guru Singh. Japa is the repetitive recitation of a specific mantra or shabd.
Once a month the students participate in an intensive practice of Gatka that begins early in the morning and continues until midday. Our teachers acquaint the students with new concepts and give individual attention to each student’s progress.
Seva at Harimandir Sahib – The Golden Temple
Just twenty minutes from Miri Piri Academy, Harimandir Sahib, also known as the Golden Temple, is the heart and home of every Sikh. The plan for its construction was laid out by Guru Amar Das and shared with Guru Ram Das, who began the building of the tank in 1570. Construction was completed during the time of Guru Arjan Dev, who installed the sacred scripture of the Sikhs at the temple in 1604 and began the tradition of continuous kirtan and worship at the temple. This tradition continues to this day. During the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in the 19th century, the temple was completely covered in gold. However, the real treasure lies within the temple, where the congregation sits in the presence of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib and meditates on God throughout the day. The continuous sacred music has instilled the tank and the very stones with a sacred and peaceful vibration that affects all those who enter the temple grounds. The city of Amritsar was built around the temple, and Harimandir Sahib continues to draw millions of visitors to the city every year. Regardless of religious affiliation, students at Miri Piri Academy cherish the opportunity to do seva and meditate at the Harimandir Sahib at least once per week. A Seva intensive takes place once a year, in which all students rise at 2:00 AM to go to the Golden Temple and wash the parkarma for forty days. This event is the highlight of our year, and builds a sense of humility and deep connection to the sacred. To learn more about the Harimandir Sahib, go to http://www.sikhnet.com/GoldenTemple.
Our Gurdwara is a beautiful, meditative environment for the many activities that take place there throughout the day. Many thanks to Gurubachan Singh and Kaur Khalsa who made its construction possible!