Here is a list of things that you and others can do that will give you an experience, and hopefully give you inspiration. These are things that made a difference in my life. I hope you take the time to read through them and find at least a few things that you can commit to doing. See what happens! Get your friends involved too! Let me know what your experiences are - Gurumustuk Singh Khalsa
1. Tell an inspirational story in Gurdwara every week.
Organize with other youth and make it a regular thing. You will learn a lot and be inspired with what the Gurus did and taught. (So will others too!) Reference for stories: "The Sikh religion" by Max Macauliffe. There are also many Sikh story books available online or locally.
2. Lead a short meditation to give other youth an experience of Gurbani and meditation.
You can meditate chanting the Mul Mantra (Ik Ong Kaar Sat Nam Karta Purkh….), Sat Nam or Waheguru. Or do a silent meditation taking long deep breaths. Focus on your breath going in and out. Inhale mentally chant "Sat Nam", exhale "Waheguru". This is a good chance for yourself and others to "tune in". There are also CDs that are available that you can meditate with.
3. Make a commitment to do a meditation daily for at least 40 days.
Regular practice will make a big difference in your mental clarity. You will feel less stress and pressure from daily life. You will also feel more connected to the Gurus.
4. Learn a Shabd and sing or play it every day for yourself.
This in itself is a meditation to learn and sing the Guru’s hymns. It can be very blissful for yourself and others too. Download and print Shabds from : www.SikhNet.com/GurbaniKirtan/
5. Wear the 5 K’s and Bana.
Wear "full" turban, kurta/pajama, kirpan outside of clothes, etc. Let the projection of the Guru inspire yourself and others. It takes more time to dress this way but it will make a difference in how you feel and how others perceive you. Also when you wear the bana that the Gurus gave then you will be less likely to do things against Sikhi. You won’t see a priest in robes doing something bad.
6. Youth Run Gurdwara Day
Organize with your community Gurdwara for the youth to learn and then run the whole Gurdwara. Have a regular weekly youth day where the youth runs everything. This will give the youth experience and learn a lot. It will probably be lots of fun too! In many Gurdwaras the youth don’t have much involvement and generally get left out. Attention needs to be given to the youth so that they enjoy Gurdwara and understand the practices.
7. Shabd Sheets For Gurdwara
Organize with your Gurdwara to know in advance the Shabds that will be played. Then look up and print/make copies of the Shabds so that the Sangat can sing along and understand the bani. This seva will help you and many others be more a part of the Gurdwara. You can download and print shabds from the Siri Guru Granth at: www.SikhNet.com/GurbaniKirtan/ . Get a filing cabinet and organize the copies so that they can be used at a later time.
8. Serve Langar to the Sangat at Gurdwara - SEVA
Seva (selfless service) is a one of the Sikh practices and can be very humbling. You could do this or pick some other type of Seva. Whatever Seva you chose don’t just do it once. Make a commitment to doing it on a regular basis.
9. Sadhana (Daily Discipline/Practice).
a) Rise early in the morning. At this time your mind is quieter and it is easier to meditate. b) Take Ishnaan (cold shower) and rub your body vigorously. You can rub body oil on before you go in the shower. The shower will wake you up and increase your circulation. It is very healthy and will energize you. c) Then read your banis and meditate.
10. Organize a group of youth (or just yourself) to do Japji or Rehiras together continuously for at least 40 days.
Get the experience of doing the Gurus Bani. Having others with you will make it more enjoyable and will help you continue it on a regular basis. Also take the time to read the translation so that you understand what is being said.
11. Learn and practice Gatka, or other martial arts
Martial arts will give you discipline, self confidence and is great exercise. Doing Gatka can be inspiring. It gives a connection to Guru Gobind Singh. If you decide to learn Gatka, practice the "Pantra" (Which is a 4 Step movement) along with Jaap Sahib, played by Ragi Sat Nam Singh.
12. Listen to Gurbani throughout the day.
Doing so will help keep your mind on God. If you can, sing along with the Kirtan.
13. Inter-generational dinner to discuss issues and how each can help/learn from each other.
Help Bridge the gap between yourself and your parents/family/etc. There are many unexpressed issues and this can provide a way for you both to express them and find solutions. Take the initiative to make it happen! Invite a few families/friends. You could start with having the parents and youth talking separately to come up with a list, and then coming together to discuss the issues.
14. Study Sikh history.
Learn what the Sikh Gurus did. Do a presentation at your school to educate others. You can do the research on the internet and also from books.
15. Bored with doing banis?
Then focus on understanding them. a) Switch to reciting the English translation so that you understand what the Guru is saying. b) Recite out loud and consciously listen to what you are saying. c) Do it with full concentration and absorb yourself in the bani to overcome a wandering mind. d) Read one section or sentence and then fully understand the meaning before going onto the next.
16. Become a "Big Brother/Sister" to someone younger than you.
Other youth need help, guidance, and someone other than parents to go to. You can provide this and learn a lot in the process.
17. "Sponsor" someone younger than you during Gurdwara.
Use this as a chance to teach someone younger than you about Sikhi. You don’t have to be an expert to teach something. Actually teaching is a good way of learning. Be creative and use it as a way for you AND someone else to learn more.
18. Find your talent and use it to serve.
Everyone has something special that they are good at. Tune into your heart to see what it is. Then use it to serve. Doing selfless service is very rewarding.
19. Look at the positive in any situation.
Take the hard times as a test and learning experience that the Guru has given to you. Take the good times as a gift. If you do this then your life will be more enjoyable and rewarding.
20. Daily Hukamnama - Every day ask a question and take a hukam (in the language that you understand) to see what guidance the Guru gives you. Use the Guru as a guide whenever you have troubles and hardships. If you do not have a Gurdwara or Siri Guru Granth where you are able to take a hukam then you can take a "cyber" hukam at: www.SikhNet.com/SikhNet/Register.nsf/CyberHukamnama (Close your eyes and meditate for a moment before you do so to "tune in").
21. Go for a brisk walk chanting the Mul Mantra and focus on the rhythm of it.
This is like a meditation exercise.
22. Do Ardas in English
The Ardas that we recite in Gurdwaras is a prayer that reminds us of the sacrifices Sikhs have made. It is good to understand it when you are saying the prayer.
23. Participate in Youth Camps
Youth camps are a great place to make new friends and get support. You will learn things like Gurbani Kirtan, tabla, reading and writing punjabi, gatka and get a better understanding of Sikhism.
24. Organize a Sikh youth group
Use the group to share experiences and support each other as peers, as you will all go through the similar hardships. When you are alone it is more difficult. Together you can do a lot.
25. SMILE and be yourself!
Take the time and energy to give people a bright smile. It will make you and them feel good. These days people are becoming so impersonal and closed that it will help open people’s hearts up.
26. When you are feeling discontent find something that you are thankful for.
God has given us many gifts. We sometimes forget this till it is lost or we don’t have it anymore. Rather than looking at what you don’t have, be grateful and thankful for what you do have, and who you are.
27. Inspire and Support each other
Take the time and energy to help inspire your friends & family. We all need help being inspired and supported. Take the initiative!
28. Be yourself. Do not be concerned with what others think.
God made you who you are. Trying to be something that you are not will only make you feel unhappy. Don’t compromise your values to please others. People who get to know you will see you for what you really are. Those are the REAL friends.
29. Be a living example.
Practice some of the above suggestions on a regular basis. People will see you change and be inspired by your efforts. By setting an example it will make it easier for others to make the effort to do the same.
30. Change starts with you.
There are many problems in this world. We can sit around, complain, worry, or come up with solutions that never get implemented. But unless we take action and live what the Gurus taught then things will continue in the same direction. When you take the initiative it will spread and others will do so also.
Ok, now that you have read the 30 ideas, and maybe think some of them would be great to do, the challenge is to actually DO SOMETHING. Don't wait till tomorrow (because it never does come). Do something today! The challenge here is "Action". It's easy to talk about things and think how good it would be to do something, but to actually DO IT is the challenge. I deal with this every day. Being disciplined is hard. The normal tendency is to take the easy way out. So, are you ready for the challenge? If so make a commitment to do it for some period of time and see what happens.
A donkey with bibles piled on it's back does not make it a padre (Priest). In other words, you can have all the knowledge in the world on your book shelf, but if you don't experience it and use it, then it is useless and doesn't make you a knowledgeable person.
I would love to hear any stories and experiences that you have. - Gurumustuk Singh Khalsa