Scroll through highlights of important activities and events in our community! Stay up to date by subscribing to our monthly email newsletter.
Deep love and appreciation goes to our Fall 2017 Karma Yogi's! We successfully completed a crazy amount of work in an incredibly short amount of time, and the Ranch is now officially ready for winter!
Our annual fall Yogananda retreat hosted by the Golden Lotus Yoga Teachers association drew together over twenty spiritual seekers. The participants focused on applying the teachings of yoga and of Yogananda to their daily life, with a particular focus on taking better care of the body temple using the ancient systems of yoga's sister science, Ayurveda. The group relished in the beauty of northern Michigan's peak fall colors while spending time in meditative walking and reflection. The mornings started off with Hatha yoga classes taught by the GLYTA yoga teachers and the evenings consisted of energization exercises followed by devotional singing and silent meditation. Simple and nutritious meals packed with ingredients from the retreat's organic garden coupled with the company of friends new and old made for a memorable weekend.
The 2017 Yogacharya's Birthday Weekend/Ranch Reunion: Looking Back and Looking Forward
Thank you so much everyone for making Yogacharya's Birthday weekend so memorable and meaningful. (Can you believe it was just three weeks ago!?) Thank you to the staff, the actors, the community members, the yoga teachers, the meditation leaders, the musicians, the cooks, the planners, the speakers, the shrine walk stewards and bird-watchers, the Golden Lotus Board Members; everyone who shared their time, talents and treasures in celebration of our beloved founder, Yogacharya’s Birthday! Thank you!
Belonging to a community of yogis who share a spiritual home and a spiritual path is a boundless blessing. Yogacharya, thank you!! Thank you for gathering us in this place over the years and teaching us to be yogis. Our love for one another and God and our commitment to your vision are alive and well.
This year’s birthday celebration from planning to completion was all about “working together as one”! That was the conclusion of our planning team: Carol, Pam, Peggy, Justine, Ann, Carl, Judi, Steve and Jessica. We remembered together recently the miracles, joys, experiences, stories, and sacred energy of the weekend. We are full of joy and expanded friendship. We are present to an on-going story that includes our retreat, our relationships and our Yoga lineage.
For those of you reading this who joined us for all or part of the weekend, thank you for coming! Your being at Song of the Morning contributed to the sacred energy and miracles of the weekend in ways you cannot even imagine. We love you and look forward to being together again soon.
For those of you reading this who were unable to join us this year; let me give you some snapshots of the weekend:
We toured our new staff housing project (Spiritual Homes) and raised $89,000 in birthday gifts together toward that project, (gifts are still being accepted)
We led and practiced hatha yoga, energization exercises and meditation together daily,
We enjoyed a full schedule of presentations, activities and entertainment,
We shared fabulous meals prepared by our staff and volunteers with fresh produce from our garden.
There were performances of Kirtan before meditation each evening and our traditional Talent Show on Friday night. Performers, director and set and costume designers rehearsed and produced “Tales from the Jungle” on Saturday night to a standing-room-only crowd in the lower domes.
A new recording of Yogacharya Oliver Black, “A New Way of Life”, was introduced at the weekend celebration. (Copies available from the SOM bookstore)
After Sunday Service the Golden Lotus Yoga teachers held their annual meeting. Sunday dinner was a picnic followed by the birthday party, complete with another masterpiece cake ala Carol Armour with Eileen Guilford assisting.
7 individuals who served on staff from the beginning through the decades to the present, represented the 7 chakras and the 7 stages of development of our retreat.Their stories were full of insight, humor, Yogacharya’s love, vision and influence. Their experiences while being on staff and their emotion said it all!! The miracle, memories and impact of life at the Ranch were experienced by all!
10 hearty souls walked the Mackinaw Bridge together on Labor Day.
We were left with a collective experience of profound connection, appreciation, love and miracles throughout the weekend. God is the doer. Yogacharya instilled in each of us a vision for Song of the Morning and entrusted us with the stewardship of that vision and the property. Now it is up to us to work together as one to make our dreams come true.
Yogacharya Birthday Weekend 2017 and our Reunion were amazing! Thank you again for coming! Come home soon!!
Yogacharya's Birthday Committee Member
Guru Bhakti: Immersion in Paramahansa Yogananda's Life, Lineage and Homeland
Song of the Morning was honored to host with Naren K. Schreiner & Lopamudra Bose this past summer. One of the highlights took place July 7 thru July 9. This year, the Indian holiday of Guru Purnima fell on July 9th in the Vedic lunar calendar. This weekend was a contemplative and devotional celebration of the Guru, with focus on Paramahansa Yogananda's life, teaching and lineage in the greater context of India's Sanatana Dharma and culture. There were meditations, puja, kirtan, storytelling of Guru's life, readings of his poems and lesser-known stories, chanting of Guru Gita, satsanga, yoga and Energization, Indian meals, and a procession on Guru Purnima. There was plenty of time for solitude and enjoying the sacred surroundings at Song of the Morning Ranch.
"Michigan this Morning" Visited Song of the Morning
In case you missed it, Song of the Morning was featured on 9&10 News. Check it out here!
Golden Lotus Annual Spring Banquet, May 13, 2017
Each year the Golden Lotus Yoga Teachers Association hosts a banquet downstate as a fundraiser for Song of the Morning. The event took place at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford house, in Grosse Pointe Shores.
Our entire community took this opportunity for fellowship and to celebrate our history. Dr. Gary Saks, keynote speaker presented on, "Why We Need to Go Out of Our Minds". Dr. Wendy Page-Echols, served as the Master of Ceremonies. The evening was inspiring with lessons learned from our founder, Yogacharya Oliver Black. Special guests Naren and Lopa of Sangita Yoga filled the room with the bliss of sacred music. Peggy Braden closed with a chant honoring Yogacharya.
If you were unable to attend please consider a donation, all support goes towards fulfilling the mission of Song of the Morning.
Correspondence from the Mother Center; hopeful for a visit from the SRF Monks in 2018
Song of the Morning Board President, Linda Gabby was delighted to receive correspondence from the Self-Realization Fellowship Mother Center this past February. The letter was in response to our Christmas greeting sent to Sri Mrinalini Mata the current president and spiritual head of Self-Realization Fellowship/Yogoda Satsanga Society of India. Sri Mrinalini Mata's secretary, Sister Preeti, replied with sincere genuineness. Song of the Morning Board of Directors, Staff and Community Members were most excited to see the potential for a visit by SRF Monastics in the Spring of 2018. Though the letter is addressed to Linda, the friendship expressed is for all Song of the Morning friends, members and dear ones.
Celebrating the Life of Gary Wakenhut
Song of the Morning lost a dear friend on February 22: Gary Wakenhut. His beautiful music and presence will be missed deeply at Song of the Morning. Gary's obituary rightfully reads, "He was a kind, patient, accepting, creative soul who deeply loved his wife, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. He is now gently nurturing seedlings and making healing music on the other side." Gary is such a bright light that will continue to shine in our hearts.
Gary and his wife Anne were married for over 50 years. Please keep Anne, their children and grandchildren in your blessings and prayers.
Those who wish are asked to consider memorial contributions to The Song of the Morning Community Care Fund established to provide support for the emerging health care needs of the Song of the Morning resident community: Song of the Morning, 9607 Sturgeon Valley Rd. E., Vanderbilt, MI 49795.
Gary's full obituary can be read here.
Laz Slomovits & Jennifer Burd Presented Mystical Love Songs
On February 12, Song of the Morning Staff, Community Members and others enjoyed an afternoon of music, sweet treats, and big hearts. There was a couple hundred dollars raised to go towards sending a Song of the Morning staff member to Golden Lotus Teacher Training this Spring. Currently there is one staff member that is dedicated to completing this 200 hour training starting in March.
A Very Blessed Twelve Days of Christmas
Each year the 12 Days of Christmas at Song of the Morning is a holiday celebration with a whole new approach and this year it was a truly memorable occasion. Our community came together and celebrated the deeper meaning of the season with such variety that there was something to touch every corner of the soul. We enjoyed morning hatha yoga with some of our favorite teachers including nurturing classes from staff member Erin Mann, alignment centered classes from Clear Light member Karen Epperson and invigorating yet calming classes from special guest teacher Marin Heinritz. Several afternoons were spent in guided, meditative writing, where mind was set aside to allow the divine to flow through pen. Delicious meals were followed by evening readings from the Second Coming of Christ. Energization Exercises prepared us for deeper meditation. An unforgettable Christmas Concert brought us all to the home of Anne and Gary Wakenhut, who shared the best of the Collecting Consort and of course, a delicious spread of goodies. The twelve days concluded with the celebration of Paramahansa Yogananda's birthday on January 5, where we also honored the 70th anniversary of the Autobiography of a Yogi. All souls who gathered were touched by the hand of the divine through the presence of friendship and sincere spiritual dedication.
Tom Walker's Ascension
We lost our dear friend Tom Walker on Sunday, November 27, 2016. Tom passed quickly and unexpectedly from a probable heart attack and will be missed by all. Sandi is doing well and is grateful for their spiritual family, all the outpouring of support, well-wishing and offers of help. At this time she is just doing what needs to be done, one step at a time. If you are interested in sending her a card you can send it to Song of the Morning and we will ensure she receives it. There was a memorial visitation held on Thursday, December 8 at the Gaylord Community Funeral Home and on on Saturday, December 10 an Ascension Service was held at Song of the Morning Ranch with a lunch and reception that followed.
We all loved Tom, his gentle ways and his contagious smile. It was an honor to have him in our life. Blessings to him on his continued spiritual journey and to his wife of 34 years, Sandi. May Master, Yogacharya and the Great Ones keep him in their Divine embrace and guidance.
Yogananda Fall Retreat 2016
For both long-time practitioners and those new to meditation, this retreat was an opportunity to gain a renewed sense of peace. Sandi Jones, Kay Thomas-Hogan and Mary Ann and Roy Thibodeau guided participants on the shrine hiking trails, Hatha yoga classes, evening meditations and Sunday Service. Sunday Service was focused on the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda. The study of the Yama/Niyamas was woven into the weekend, and there was a panel discussion on "Living the Yoga Life in a Busy World," which provided a chance for goal-setting and support for the seasons of Autumn/Winter. This retreat also included free time and a special intro session for newcomers. Stay tuned to our upcoming programs for the next Golden Lotus, Yogananda Retreat.
Meditation Outreach to Vanderbilt Area School
Over the past two years several of our community members have spent time volunteering in the local K-12 school. Anne Wakenhut spent time supporting an elementary school classroom and other staff members came in to teach yoga to students. Beginning in the fall of 2016 the school requested that we meet with the teachers on a regular basis to give instruction and guidance on meditation and daily mindfulness. Already we are off to a great start and we are looking forward to hearing how the training impacts the daily life of these dedicated teachers.
Yogacharya Birthday Celebration: "All Of Us Together!": Sept. 3-4, 2016
Each year it is our joy to invite friends of Song of the Morning to our annual Memorial Celebration of the birth of our founder, Yogacharya Oliver, who gave us the gift of Song of the Morning Ranch, 800 acres of natural splendor in which to pursue the reality that flows, like a deep river, beneath the chaos of our times. Celebrating Yogacharya reminds us that it takes "all of us together" to carry on with all the plans, ideas, and projects that make Song of the Morning Ranch all it is today and all that it can be. We gathered under the newly renovated golden roof of the domes and celebrated our Founder, and what all we have accomplished, in Master's love, together.
Every year we raise money as a memorial gift in honor of Yogacharya to carry on some aspect of his work, as an expression of our gratitude for the retreat he left us all to enhance our spiritual growth. This year we need to raise $15,000 to meet our commitment to the State of Michigan resulting from the 2008 problem experienced with our dam. This will be the fourth of ten yearly payments. The funds collected were only used for this purpose, and future years. All of us together have the means and the will to carry our retreat into the future. Your goodwill, love and devotion are the reasons we are here today. If you missed the birthday celebration you can donate here or send in a donation (please designate "2016 BIRTHDAY FUND" on your check.) And in Yogacharya's words, "Thanks again, my dears, it's people like yourselves that make it all worthwhile...It is always a special event when we are all able to be together!"
YogaFest 2016 took place Aug. 4-7 at Song of the Morning and... What a Joy it Was!
Truly, this was a weekend of celebration, community, service and transformation. With 100 different classes and workshops, everyone involved experienced something unique, but we all fell the Divine through all of as well celebrated Spirit and Nature Dancing Together in the wooded wonderland of Song of the Morning. With over 500 people in attendance, this was the largest gathering to date!
After YogaFest, we revisited the intentions that we clarified at the YogaFest Pre-Party in early April of this year and it was amazing to see how all of these sparks of inspiration were clearly fulfilled at YogaFest--and how these sparks were exactly what made this year's festival so special!
The Song of the Morning community had a more defined presence as our Clear Light Community and our Golden Lotus Yoga Teachers Association were sponsors for the event. Moreover, many of our long-time community members presented at this year's festival! GLYTA yoga classes, meditation workshops and evening meditation, a screening of Awake: The Life of Yogananda, a guided tour of the former lake-bed and community, a satsang on "Spirituality in Turbulent Times"--our community was able to share who we are in more ways than one.
Additionally, the presence of Naren Schreiner of Sangita Yoga, former monk in Yogananda's Self Realization Fellowship ashram, continuously lifted up the teachings we seek to share.
At the Pre-Party we also set the intention of creating a container of selfless service. Everyone--presenters, volunteers, participants, our community--stepped up to make this festival their own, supporting one another and taking the attitude of "We are doing this together!" We invited everyone to participate in helping to make YogaFest a easeful, joyful, positive experience--and WOW did we get what we asked for! Thank you to each one of you for making YogaFest 2016 simply divine.
Firetruck Finds a Home at Song of the Morning
Spring 2016 Song of the Morning Community purchased a firetruck to have onsite at the ranch. Each June Song of the Morning hosts staff, community members and others interested in learning more about us. It was at this event that the firetruck was introduced. Usually we focus on topics such as how to build a house, etc., but this year we switched gears and celebrated the arrival of a firetruck on the property.
Annual Golden Lotus Spring Banquet - May 2016
Our Annual Golden Lotus Spring Banquet sponsored by GLYTA for the benefit of Song of the Morning took place on Saturday, May 14. This year, we were honored to host special guest Naren of Sangita Yoga! Naren lead everyone in the Cosmic Chants to start the evening and he shared sacred music at the close of the programming.
This special event was hosted at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores.
This year's theme was, "The Ranch Belongs to its Members," a phrase that Song of the Morning's founder, Yogacharya J. Oliver Black used to type at the end of every "Thank You" letter he wrote to donors--many whom still continue to financially support the Ranch today.
The evening included dinner, fellowship, sacred music from Naren of Sangita Yoga, entertainment and spiritual refreshment. Guest speaker Jeff Waltz, long time GLYTA teacher and student of Yogacharya, shared wisdom and enlivening stories, while Dorothy Stingley guided the evening as the master of ceremonies! If you couldn't make it--mark your calendar for May 2017!
Community Members Mary Ann and George Johnston
The pioneers of the Clear Light community are moving on to their next chapter. This video captures the essence of this incredible duo, who not only met here but married here and built their home here! They highlight what it's meant to them living at Song of the Morning.
Golden Lotus Inc. Annual Report Released
To view our Annual Report for 2015, please CLICK HERE to download the PDF.
Key Highlights in 2015
- Ongoing nightly meditation, Sunday Services & Bhagavad Gita Study Group
- Overnight Guests: 660 (not including YogaFest)
- 55 Weekend Programs & Workshops, including very successful Yogananda Retreats, Yogacharya Birthday Weekend, GLYTA Teacher Training and Karma Yoga Friends & Members Weekends
- 5th Annual YogaFest: A deeply Devotional and community building experience for 450 participants; highest ticket sales and sponsorship revenues to date
- The completion of dam removal and bridge replacement
- The replacement of roofs on our Wheelhouse and Mainhouse flat roof
Benefit Concert for Song of the Morning - February 2016
"The Subject Tonight is Love" - The Poetry of Rumi and Hafiz Set to Music
On Valentine's Day this year we were thrilled to partner with Laz Slomovits for a fundraising concert to benefit the ongoing mission of Song of the Morning.
Laz is one of the twin brothers in Ann Arbor's nationally known folk music duo, Gemini. Laz has set to music the poetry of the ancient Sufi mystics, Rumi and Hafiz, considered to be among the greatest love poets of the world. Using the renowned translations of Coleman Barks and Daniel Ladinsky, Laz has made beautiful songs from these timeless lyrics. The concert was held in Petoskey at the Crooked Tree Arts Center.
Bridge Completed January 2016
Many of you know that the Fall of 2015 here at Song of the Morning was filled with crews of construction workers tearing down, hammering, drilling, building, hauling, and at time, filling the entire property with the vibrations of all this work combined! But now we are left with a beautiful work of art in the place of our old dam. As of January 8, our new bridge was officially completed. It's beautiful and it works! You can drive across it anytime you want! Come visit and test it out!