Tag: <span>Harp</span>

harpatkripaluJULY 2007, KRIPALU CENTER FOR YOGA & HEALTH, Lenox, MA
I was sitting in the back left corner where they stored the blankets and backjacks.  Its the spiritual-gua in ‘feng-shui-speak’, of the Main Chapel and I was self-soothing with my harp, Angelina.  It was a safe spot where I knew I could recover from the day’s stress.   I had gotten reamed out by a 6’2” incredibly handsome Native American Indian chief for playing with his eagle feathers.  Who knew?!  “Don’t touch!” he screamed at me just after I had picked up a heavily decorated bundle of them.  My hands just can’t resist touching sometimes.

Just being in this space was soothing, but being here at Kripalu with “Angelina” was really special.  I’d had many different experiences with her here, and I can certainly attest to the commonly held belief that harps are magical.   To be at Kripalu with my harp is a union of magic & spirit that keeps me coming back to this place, still.

The chapel was being set up for the weekend finale and all was a buzz with joyful, anticipatory energy.  Volunteers were setting up back jacks, audio people were untangling wires, musicians were tuning, someone was playing with the lights, and I was just plum excited to be a part of it all. I had been part of the geek squad doing A/V for years.  I longed to be part of the musicians group.   Later that day, over 400 people would crowd into this sacred space together for the highlighted concert featuring spiritual music from many different world traditions.  And of course that would include the bhakti yogi community which includes the chanters, musicians, dancers, and various others.  Not everyone who practices yoga practices asana.

I was one of the unpaid volunteers that happily did whatever was asked of me and thus I was assigned to the group of pow wow drummers which is how I came to be with the Indian Chief.  It was my responsibility to attend their workshop and satisfy their needs as a representative of Kripalu.
Well, I learned that one does not touch an Indian Chief’s Eagle feathers.  It really upsets them.

So, I’m on the floor strumming my strings and soothing my rattled ego, when a tall, thin, young, African-American man came up to me and introduced himself as Akim Funk Buddah.     He was in the chapel doing a sound check for his performance later that day.  All the other performers were using live music with live musicians.  He, on the other hand, was using only recorded music but wanted to include some live music too, but how?  It was literally the ‘11th hour’ and he only had himself, it was much too late to call in any of his musician friends.

“Hey!  Would you play your harp during my performance? ” he asked.    I had no idea what his performance was, I’d never heard of him before, but, I thought, ” I’ve loved everything that I’ve heard here at Kripalu so how bad could it be?”.  Of course, all the ‘I’m not good enough’ thoughts crowded into my mind too.  Those thoughts were really, really loud!  But, I reminded myself, again, ” I’m at Kripalu and nothing here can harm me and I’ve been sitting in the spiritual corner?  It’ll be ok.”    Faith & I were friends at Kripalu.

So, I leaped at the opportunity!  Have harp, will share…..you know?   I explained that I wasn’t exactly a pro but I would do what I could.  He only had 10 minutes to rehearse with me, and that was it.  Up until that point every performer and workshop leader had offered music that induced a spiritual trance state.  There were sitars, harmoniums, drums, gongs, bowls, and shakers of every kind.  So when Akim put on his recorded music, which I hadn’t heard before I impulsively agreed to play, and performed his ‘act’,  I went into a complete panic!  Yipes!  It was Rap to some electronic beat rhythm!  “That’s not music,” my judging mind shouted at me.  I revolted and rebelled and reminded myself of how much I resist that genre of music.

me_harp_kripaluSo, how do I play the harp with this?   Not a clue.  My higher self said “just play, do your dharma, let go of outcome, dedicate  it to the well-being of all, see what happens.”  But still, there was no melody to get in tune with, nor were there chord progressions, or harmonies, or opportunities for arpeggios to embellish and add to his performance.    Harp & Rap?

I played.

They cheered.

And later I heard from many how absolutely mesmerizing it was to hear/feel those harpstrings weave in and out and all around the heavy electronic beat of this rappers rap.   No one had ever heard anything like it.

Nor will they again, because some things only happen once which is why it’s so important to experience the present moment, all the time.

Someone took my picture during that performance.  Photo’s & recording devices were not allowed in the main chapel back then and  I personally prefer it that way, but, I am so grateful to have this photo to remind me that yoga means union, and there’s only one musician here.


Om Shanti.

©All rights reserved. Ida Cullen, 2016

Gratitude to Kripalu CenterJennifer Reis Shaun Laframboise for that weekend’s experience.  May you continue to be blessed by our lineage.


Tugging_at_your_harp_stringsWow!  Sunday was my first-ever storytelling performance with a harp, and the audience was delighted.  I recognized some serious applause and I was told later that everyone was talking about me, although, I don’t think it was really me they were talking about….it was really about the harp.  Once again  I forgot how utterly mesmerizing this instrument is to most people….and me too, of course.  For all the worry, anxiety, and practice….the music just flowed exactly the way it was supposed to.

Chiron teaching harp to Achilles

In the first person, I told the story of Chiron’s Birth and why he came to be living in a cave with his harp.

This centaur, known as The Wounded Healer, is a mythological story that has captured my attention for the past 20 years or so and I’m frequently referring to his symbolism in my lectures/workshops and yoga therapy classes.  He’s got a powerful story for our times, for sure.  So many of us  feel wounded, shamed, abandoned and just plain old sad.    I’ve blogged a bit about Chiron, the asteroid, and this post gives a pretty good overview of the astrological Chiron.   Today Chiron is traveling thru Pisces which supports healing thru music.

 This was the first time, in a long time, that rather than teach or facilitate,  I practiced Performance & (intentional) Drama.    I was totally unprepared for the sheer joy that I experienced after it was over and thruout the following day.  It was wonderful to find a new, creative outlet that brings together so much of what I love to do, and still challenges me in new ways.  But four minutes is nothing when your hands are on the strings, you know?

Already, I am planning Chapter 2, and expanding my story to maybe 10-15 minutes?  Who knows?  For now, Storytelling is a new hobby/activity for me and I am so excited to see where it takes me.

Ancient Wisdom Astrology Blogging Harp journal entry sound/music therapy StoryTelling The Jersey Shore