Category: journal entry

Tanpura - WikipediaIt was midnight of the third day when the chanting ended.  Jan 1, 2008.  We’d been at it, 2 hours on and 4 hours off, around the clock. After the first 24 hours I felt myself slipping into an altered state that felt amazing.  For the entire 3 days, the chant never left my mind…there was no room for discursive thinking, worrying, obsessing, analyzing, wondering,. There was no past, no future, just the chant. …there were no thoughts…just the chant…   Looking it up for the first time I discover that the moon was conjunct natal neptune/ketu.  It feels good to *know* that.

I was one of the musicians alternating between harmonium and tamboura.  This was my first time on a harmonium for ‘performance’ and I was nervous about that.  The tamboura however was sheer joy for the memories it brought up.  Years before I accompanied a local sitar player with his gig at the nearby Indian restaurant.  He needed the droning of a tamboura to play his best. He had one and taught me how to play it.   Loving all stringed instruments I was eager to learn and quickly mastered these 4 strings.

The tamboura I was handed at Kripalu was an entirely different instrument.  Little did I know that tamboura’s could be female, like the one I learned on, or male, like this gigantic gourd that was bigger than me!     The powerful, resonant, droning sound could project throughout the entire Main Chapel at Kripalu with only the most gentle touch.  I’m in trouble I thought, for I always err towards loud.

I was grateful for the time we spent together earlier getting to know each other, learning the chant, practicing with the instruments, and rehearsing the ‘changing of the chanters/musicians’ from one shift to another. Although I had received many invitations to join this team, I was only able to participate twice due to family responsibilities

I remember the first meeting of our team.  We sat in a circle on  dusty pink velour cushions and listened to Bhavani & Atma lay out the program and how it was going to work.  After time spent on the logistics, Bhavani brought out the instruments and introduced the chant.  I can still feel my excitement at being one of the musicians.   Although the Sanskrit was short and simple to say, the melody was difficult.  It required good breath control, along with some notes that were hard for me.  I was really impressed with those on the team that were the lead chanters and yearned for a voice as beautiful as theirs.

Over the course of the next three days we would chant Om Nimah Shivaya in Swami Kripalu’s chapel.    It was my favorite room in the whole building with it’s soft pink carpet and cushions.  The light wooden paneled wall behind the riser was rounded.   In one corner was a supply closet hidden behind a wooden door that matched the paneling.  On the other side was the space that housed the artifacts from Swami Kripalu’s time in the USA.  This was also the room where Amrit Desai, the founding Guru of Kripalu Center, would have his most intimate gatherings, I supposed.

On the last night, without missing a beat or a syllable, we moved ourselves to the expansive Main Chapel on the 2nd floor.   The backdrop to the riser we were sitting on displayed a huge OM symbol. Behind the OM backdrop is a mosaic left behind by the Jesuits who previously owned the property   The alcoves on both sides were open with the a/v station on the left.  I am sure that it looks very different today.

Everyone from the surrounding area of Lenox was invited for the final 2 hours of live chant and they began arriving soon after we began.  Slowly the room filled while all 20+ of us, all dressed in white chanted away.  I was grateful not to be the tamboura player for that last session as I was so high from bliss using a “gentle touch” would have been impossible.

There were easily 500 people on the floor in front of us all chanting and swaying away.  I saw thefamiliar faces of teachers, mentors, fellow students, and strangers that I have come to love in my years there.  The entire room was one with the chant.  You could feel it.  Everywhere.  Surrounded by sound & vibrations.

And then,

finally,

we chanted the final Om.

I understand now how “Silence is deafening”.

I don’t have the words to describe the exquisite experience of those silent minutes.  I don’t remember how long it lasted.  It might’ve been 2 or 20 minutes?  Time stopped.  Tears streamed down my face adding to sensory experience of this silence.  It became easy to understand the devotional Bhakti path if this was the reward for practice.  Of course, I had been immersed in it for 72 hours, not 2, a realization that took some time to comprehend.

Eventually, the sounds of bodies moving and voices whispering spread throughout the room.  Most of the audience had only joined in for 2 hours and maybe occasionally during the 3 days in the other chapel.  I wondered if they were feeling what I was feeling.  There was no way to know.

It didn’t take too long for the holiday cacophony to erupt.  It was New Year’s Eve and the kitchen had prepared a feast that everyone was eager to partake.  I didn’t have a bite.  Even though I hadn’t eaten much that day, I was filled up with something that left no room for food.

The next day, we met again to say goodbye and share our experience of that year’s Saptah.  After the hugs I floated out of the building and made my way back home, a 4 hour drive.

 

This year Bhavani & Atma will be leading the Saptah Chant on Zoom & on Facebook.  I’m excited to participate in this way!  I don’t have a tamboura or a harmonium, so I’ll use my harp & a drum for some musical accompaniment.  The chant itself is a difficult one and requires a lot of practice to do it well.  At least that’s how I felt about it 10 years ago.  That said, the melody has never left my mind even though I haven’t heard it anywhere since that night in the Main Chapel.

I’m not sure how long they’ll keep the Facebook link live.  There may be some issues around “recording” this particular melody?  That said, I’d recommend to those who are serious about their seeking to keep the chant on repeat until the clock strikes midnight of 2021.  Om Nimah Shivaya.  Jai Bhagwan.  Jai Gurudev.  Namaste.

Blogging journal entry Music Teachers Yoga

When an outer planet (Uranus/Neptune/Pluto) moves into a new sign or a new house it can be a momentous occasion and often manifests in some kind of (symbolic) event (major or minor) to announce the ‘new’ energy pattern that is about to unfold.

Of course, leaving behind the old sign, or old house also has it’s own significant events that sum up the lesson(s) of what’s being left behind, for now or for however long it takes until the cycle repeats again.  Such is the ‘wheel’ of Karma.

Neptune entered Pisces in 2012 and slid into my ninth house in the spring of 2013.  Neptune can deliver some frightening experiences if left unnoticed so its always best to find healthy ways to experience it.  Such is the gift of astrology, to make one aware of what is possible.  But, back to me, it’ll take until 2029  before it  connects with my midheaven and enters my 10th house.

Neptune in the 9th for 11 years will slowly dissolve what was before and invisibly recreate all ninth house affairs.  In doing that it will also send some *shade* onto the 3rd house, and any other natal placements it aspects.  (Astrological dictionary here)

Some ninth house  affairs include:  long distance travel,  foreign or distant places, aliens, immigrants, as well as Judges, Religious Authority figures, philosophers and athletes.  Travels need not be physical, but could be intellectual or spiritual .  Our personal philosophy is described in the ninth house and with Neptune here I expect I’ll think about things quite differently before it’s over.   (some Neptune keywords here)

In order to understand a transiting planet in one’s personal horoscope, you must first investigate the natal placement of that planet first.  And that’s where it gets impossibly ridiculous for me.  Because, you see, I was born in Neptune, NJ, and lived from 0-8yrs in Neptune City, NJ.  Natal Neptune is in my 4th house of home, real estate, and early childhood.  I have no choice but to pay attention to *neptune*.

Obviously, as the current colloquialism goes, “you can’t make this stuff up”.

Today, Neptune is only minutes away from a trine to Natal Sun, midway thru Pisces, and midway thru my ninth house.   The landscape of my life has certainly changed since I began writing this post in 2015 and I’m happy that I kept the draft.  It helps to mark certain time-periods.

I can say this, we do create our own reality, and with Neptune time is fluid.  It helps to have *spiritual* practices that connect you to *the present moment*

Om Shanti.  May all beings be peaceful.  May all beings be kind.  May all beings be happy.

Do More Yoga.

Astrology journal entry Uncategorized

If Saturn were nearer to us than it is it might look like this.

Forward progress begins again….most especially after mercury goes direct early September.

Happy Birthday Virgo!

Om Shanti, Om

ps. I don’t remember where I got that photo. I’ll credit you if you let me know who you are.

Astrology journal entry Saturn

Floridaastromap

It’s my one ‘day-off’ from Seva and I’m sitting at the end of the dock on the Lake observing the wildlife.  There’s about a dozen cranes meandering around the shore line, calmly strutting and passively standing around the shallow edge.  Nearby, one fat, outrageously large  goose is surveying the group. He reminds me of a sheepdog herding cattle.  The cranes don’t seem to mind him.

Suddenly in the middle of all that wonderful calm and peacefulness a mutt of a dog came chasing out of the nearby woods and raced towards them all!  Everyone began to honk and quack and  bark and scream and run and fly!  The cranes took off together in flight and the goose got him self into deeper waters where the dog couldn’t go.  It was a delightful scene produced by Mother Nature for this observer.

It took awhile for the calm to return, and now the whole group has returned to their meditations over on the property further west. 3cranes

Isn’t that like life?  We’re having a nice peaceful day and then a disturbance comes.  We get rattled.  We yell. We object.  We run away, thinking peace might return to us somewhere else.

The teaching here is asking us to take a closer look at our reactions.  We are told that those reactions are most likely a coming from our past and not necessarily the proper response to what is happening now.

Running away from a hungry, excited dog is probably the proper response for the cranes and the goose.  Yet, even though their peace was disturbed, no doubt they are calm again in this moment.  I doubt they’ll need anty therapy to get over their trauma?

We humans, however, have a mind that retains memories, makes predictions, and plans for future.  It jumps to lots of conclusions, and assumptions far beyond what is actually happening where the feet are.  Some of us have wild imaginations that spin in or out of control.  Some are absolutely delusional at times.  The point is, like all the masters have said,  stay in the now….and if a disturbance comes act accordingly if action is required.  Otherwise, observe the responses in the the body and remember to breathe.  Calm returns quicker that way.

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Blogging Dharma journal entry

Dad 001I have so many questions for you today. I wish you were here. I miss the quiet, calm, presence we shared when we sat together. What would you make of this world in 2016?  I’d love to hear what you’d say regarding the current political situation!  And, there’s no doubt in my mind that you’d be sitting with at least half a dozen digital screens around you….you were pre-geek.

Well, wherever you are now, may it be peaceful, loving, and kind.
Love,
Your Daughter

Asbury Park journal entry My photos

blue doodle 001It’s been a while since I’ve blogged anything, but, I have been writing….

a lot.

Last December I took a 4-session workshop on Writing Memoir, and in January I began to audit a local college course on Creative Non-Fiction.  It felt so good to have a pen in my hand again.  I’d forgotten how the kinesthetic experience of scribbling words on paper could be so immensely satisfying., especially with the right pen.  There is a certain pleasure from typing too, particularly the sound of the keys as they make contact.  But, writing more by hand over the last 4 months has reactivated older neural pathways and lit them up with new creative impulses.  Typing just doesn’t tap into the memories the way handwriting does.

In class we’ve been doing things like: free writing, writing from prompts and pictures and maps, and learning how to craft scenes, dialogue, and sensory information.  All the assignments are to be drawn from our personal life…..aka: non-fiction.   Although I had plenty of english and writing courses in school, this is the first course like this I’ve ever taken and just as I’d hoped it’s the genre that suits me most.  Putting my stories on paper, breathing some life into the characters that inhabit my life, and then sharing the stories has been immensely humbling and satisfying.  It feels more like therapy then entertainment.

Not sure yet how all this comes together, but I have faith that it will.  My goal, if I were to have one, would be to assemble all these stories into a hard copy book. But in the meantime it shouldn’t hurt to publish a tale or two here online on my website?   What do you think?   Who’s reading this?   That’s the amazing thing about the internet, you’re writing for who?

New Moon yesterday in Aries.  We’re in an action oriented cycle right now, but speed has nothing to do with it.  As Confucius says,

” It does not matter how slowly you go,  So long as you do not stop.”

 

 

Blogging Doodles journal entry

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/07/doodling-for-cognitive-benefits/398027/?utm_source=SFTwitter

Blogging Doodles journal entry Stress Management

……I’ve given myself some time & space to write/tell some about my dear Aunt Em.  She is auntema sister to my mother, and also to Uncle Sam….he’s the one I storytold about at the Hamilton Grounds for Sculpture.  Blog post here. What’s so interesting is that since I told that story in September new information has come to me that sheds more light on my connection to civil rights issues…    and, We all need more light, you know?

The topic for the telling is Romance….which is a pretty wide open subject that can be interpreted in so many ways.  However, I knew immediately that this story about my aunt needed to be the first ‘romantic’ story I must tell.  Although, it is very tempting to fly open and tell some tales of my own romantic adventures.   But,most of the characters are still alive to contradict my perspective….which isn’t necessarily a bad thing……..and, now is not the time for that…..or is it?   (pardon my confusion……neptune hovers endlessly around my moon/mars/venus……

Telling the tales of my long departed family feels safe, and even important, since these people provided me with most of my DNA.  It’s good to know your roots and where you come from.  It’s good to see how the stories of our childhood have shaped us, molded us and continue to show us parts of ourselves that may go unnoticed.   But, I digress.   I learned a tune month’s ago at the Harper’s Escape and it’s perfect for this story and provides a perfect title as well…..The Factory Girl.  Don’t know if I’m bringing the harp though….the weather outside is frightful.

I’m going over to the Schedule page now to publish dates and times in case you are local and want to attend.  All Welcome…..

 

Asbury Park journal entry StoryTelling

Sam_JeanThis Sunday is The NJ Storyteller’s Festival and I’ll be on a stage at 4pm. Me and stages have had a comfortable relationship thruout my life. I’ve been on them many times, for many reasons, with groups and solo a lot, too. But, this time, it feels really new and different and scary/exciting…….

I’m telling a personal story that my parents might seriously disapprove of. But, I am soon to be 65 and they are both, long gone as is everyone that I know of in their generation. I am the elder now……daunting.   And, this story did indeed impact my life in ways that are so much clearer today.

This is a photo of my mother and Uncle Sam, her brother, who was a favorite uncle until he disappeared from my life.

Being a Scorpio, life can be a mystery to me much of the time.  Being born in a family that had ‘secrets’ fueled my curiosity in ways that continue even today.

If you’re in or around the Grounds for Sculpture in NJ (a fabulous backdrop to the day!) come and hear some stories…….  maybe you’ll get inspired to tell your own?

 

Blogging journal entry My photos StoryTelling

 

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This Sunday I am hoping to participate once again at the monthly Circle Of Stories.  It’s open to anyone and if you want the time/place details let me know.

StoryTelling is a new art/hobby/practice for me and I’ve enjoyed watching the process that I put myself through to get from inspiration to presentation.  It’s usually exhausting and exhilarating both at the same time. I wonder why am I doing this.  It’s stressful, yet fulfilling too.  What keeps me coming back is the creative challenge to be authentic, entertaining, and deliver a message in three short minutes.

I’ve learned that it really is best to prepare.  Write things down.  Stand in front of a mirror. Practice enunciation.  All that kind of stuff.

My plan today for this Sunday is to continue the story that began with the ill-fated cruise in the Caribbean.  The ship broke down under a full moon sky and we remained motionless in the hot, humid Atlantic air for more than 12 hours.  What happened after that was amazing!

But, you’ll have to come on Sunday to find out!

I appreciate the oral tradition of storytelling. So much more gets communicated than just words alone, especially if such words are simply fonts on a screen.  Old fashioned cursive writing on your  paper of choice adds minimal, non-verbal detail to our words.  But,  the wisdom and knowledge that gets communicated through the sound of the voice reigns supreme for not just understanding and wisdom, but also for entertainment and healing.

Thinking about bringing my harp but undecided yet.

 

 

 

 

Asbury Park Blogging journal entry NJ StoryTelling The Jersey Shore