My throat is a flute
My ears oceanic shells
Not an accident
I regret losing touch with music. I know that regret is not a very yogic thing to contemplate, but I am going to do it for a moment anyway. When I was 13 and angry, I wanted to shred the guitar like Jimmy Page. My mom graciously supported this, and I took lessons for about a year. I caught on quickly, and I plucked my heart into those strings. When I was 14 we moved to a different state, and I became withdrawn. I was afraid to take lessons with another teacher, and my guitar was the enemy. I stuck it in the corner where it gathered cobwebs and dust.
I still have that guitar. It is leaning against the wall in my living room. The E string is broken, and she is very much out of tune. Writing this makes me want to pick her up and sing a song. I should fix her up. I should get those old lesson books. We all deserve to sing our hearts out.
I know a kirtan is good when there are sparkles in the air. When it is time to get up and go home, the sparkles follow you and they twinkle in your dreams. There is magic in those chants, in those drum beats, and in those chords. We can use that magic to go within and discover samadhi. Sound is not explored enough in yoga classes. All sound is a simple vibration that ranges from the wailing siren to the subtle rustle of leaves. Each and every one of our cells is vibrating. Based on my own healing experiences with kirtan, and other sound therapies, I do believe that chanting enlivens our cells so that we are more emotionally balanced, have clarity of mind, and are performing at an optimal physical level. When I first started to see Monica for an Ayurvedic solution to my digestive troubles, she recommended sound therapy to open my heart. You see, it was not only important to digest my food correctly, but it is equally important to digest my emotions and thoughts in a way; that will spread peace. Sound is another means by which we can heal the body, mind, and spirit on a cellular and astral level.
Arjun Baba mentioned this in the workshop on Sunday when he gave the example about playing music to plants and charting their rates of growth and overall vitality. On a more gross level, chanting helps us to express our emotions, find our voice, clear our mind, and build a community where we are connected by the purest of intentions: devotion to the higher self. After chanting with Arjun and talking with him a bit on Sunday, I feel compelled to start practicing music once again. I have had these urges before, but this time it is different. Before, the urge was egocentric; it was to build talent and get recognition. This time, I feel that music and my affinity for learning chants and communication could be an opportunity to channel my need for community and devotional expression. Perhaps I will ask for a harmonium this holiday season.
People are starting to notice that I have changed. This evokes a sense of pride as well as embarrassment. My ego has not been downsized enough for me to remain acceptant and humble. I suppose that recognizing this is the first step towards liberation. I went to a bar after the Arjun Baba show to say goodbye to a friend that is leaving the country. For the past few months, I have stayed clear of bars and parties where drinking is the main objective. My relationship with alcohol has had a negative impact on my life, and in order to move past something, it is sometimes best to stay away from it for a while. When I was biking from Moksha to InnerTown, traffic was chaos. There was a festival right smack in the middle of Damen Ave, and pedestrians were crossing the street wherever they pleased. I was stressed. I was resenting Manny for choosing to celebrate at a bar and for messing up my state of inner peace. I worked myself up so much that didn’t want to go anymore.
I made it. I hit no pedestrians, and no cars hit me. I go in and no one is there. I sit. I catch my breath. I watch two guys play some pool. I relax. As people start to arrive, the negative feelings I expected to bubble up from the pit of my stomach never came. I did not feel left out for not drinking. I did not feel awkward when encountering people that I was once close friends with. I was at peace amongst the chaos. I was present in a room full of people trying to escape. I had the best time. I will miss Manny very much, but I am happy that I got to say goodbye the right way and with my true self.
My ex-best friend took notice of how ‘radiant’ I looked. I humbly thanked her, hugged her, and wished her well. There was no ill feeling. There was no compliment-fishing. There was just my Self acknowledging her Self and wishing her well.
When the ego begins to dissolve, the first thing to go with it is redemption. Passive aggression, payback, all of these things that we dream about to try to ‘get even’ actually get you nowhere. If anything, they make you sink lower and disconnect from the stillness and truth that is the inner peace inside of us all.
I think I am ready to go back out into the world. I will spread my light to ignite other lights so that my corner of the world is aflame. This is how we will change the world. Only light can permeate the darkness, and even when light is scarce, the smallest glimmer is always visible.