Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Today is my day off. I had great healing treatments from our friends in New Jersey; Dr. Mahan Rishi Singh and his wife Nirbhe Kaur. Krishan Prakash was kind enough to take me to the mall and helped me to find a very nice white coat. We are headed up to Toronto next weekend... and I think I'll be glad to have it.
This past weekend we had a concert at Integral Yoga Institute (IYI) on 13th Avenue right in Manhattan. First of all let me say that it was so fun being in New York. I stayed in Brooklyn with my father (Hi Dad if you're reading this blog), and we had two concerts in Manhattan. I really enjoyed to grandeur of the tall buildings of Manhattan which covered miles and miles of space. I suppose coming from the open planes of New Mexico it was shocking. I really loved it though, and found myself as we would drive by one fascinating building after another creening my head to try and see the tops of the buildings.
IYI was founded by Swami Satchidananda who is seen in this picture above. There were many beautiful photographs of him at the center. I took a picture of a picture of him; please forive me it doesn't do justice to the glow and beauty of the photos that I saw there. The Siri Singh Sahib Yogi Bhajan and Swami Satchidananda were great friends... they used to really love and respect eachother. Both of these great spiritual teachers have left their physical bodies, but it was inspirational to see how their teachings are each being carried on. We were taken care of beautifully by the people at the center. It was truly a blessing to be there. In the busy streets of Manhattan it felt like an oasis.
Here are some beautiful words from Swami Satchidananda.
Now, more than ever we need to have a steady mind, a calm and clean mind, and a loving and compassionate heart. So many people are in pain, so many have lost loved ones, and so many are overcome with fear. That is all true and we have to feel compassion and lovingkindness toward everyone.
God has given us a big wake-up call. As yogis let us have a deeper understanding and broader perspective when viewing what is happening in our world. Let's not focus only on the negative side. That is what we see happening sometimes, and people become filled with fear and anxiety. A yogi, on the other hand, will look upon everything with equanimity and balance.
This is a time for us to remember that in the name of religion more people have died than in all the wars and natural calamities put together. Now more than ever we must understand that the purpose of religion is not to separate us. True faiths don't preach hatred and killing, nor did any of the prophets. It is the people who interpret the scriptures who create the divisions. Division comes if we put our ego into the teachings of these religions. Let us strive to be free of that kind of egoism.
In the same way, I see a very bright future for humankind. The positive changes we are seeing are the proof of what is to come. I really feel we are going to see a better world. If you want to know why I feel this way, it is because I see more and more people wanting to know the truth, becoming interested in Yoga and spirituality, and leading more caring and compassionate lives.
The consciousness of people is changing, and they want to know how to lead a better life. Please, have that hope in your heart and that trust that we are building a better world. My prayer is always that universal love will light our paths. Every day when you pray, repeat: "May peace, prosperity, and happiness be unto all. May all see good in everyone, may all be free from suffering. May the whole world be filled with peace and joy, love and light." When you say this, visualize it and really feel it. It should be heartfelt when you send your peaceful energy out into the world.
Our prayers will bring benefit, so let us wholeheartedly pray for the world. Let us each spend at least a few minutes each day in meditation. To me, those are the most important minutes. You may not even realize the effect, but these peaceful vibrations will help millions of peaceless minds. You will be helping the whole world to find peace and joy. And you can carry this peaceful feeling from meditation all through the day, all through the week, all through your life. Even in the midst of a busy life, you can retain this peace. With this outlook, the whole world becomes a heaven on earth. God bless each and every one of you.
For more information about Swami Satchidananda or the Integral Yoga Institute of New York please visit: www.iyiny.org
May Peace Prevail on Earth.
Over and Out.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Our first leg of the Celebrate Peace Tour of October/November 2006 is Ottawa. We have actually been here four times if you can believe it! The first time we were sponsored by Rama Lotus and it was just GuruGanesha and I. Now we've got the "crew"... which includes Krishan Prakash, Karta, and our newest member Ramdass Singh. Ramdass is an incredible musician, who I grew up with in the Berkeley/San Francisco area. He plays clarinet, guitar, and sings. He is interning with us... and really helping out so much. He does a great impersonation of a funny Russian guy called "Uri" and it has kept me laughing, belly laughs. Anyway... here are some pictures taken by Harimander Singh, courtesy of www.bigshots.biz.
Here are one of the presenters at the Peace Prayer Day Celebration. It is inspiring to see what some people are doing for peace on the planet.
Peace is possible. A number of peace organizations came to Peace Prayer Day to display and offer ways that people can get involved.
Here we are at our Celebrate Peace Concert Saturday evening.
At the end of the concert we got a standing ovation.
Here are two of the strong volunteers that helped out... Devinder Kaur and Ram Das Kaur.
Here's the newest star to the Celebrate Peace Tour... Ramdass Singh... giving us a "Uri" smile.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
I am enroute for our next tour. This is a picture of me in the Denver airport taken by me just moments ago. I kind of feel like a techy:)
We'll be going to the North East of the United States and dipping into Canada. Today I decided to bring my own travel mug to the airport. In Albuquerque I went to a breakfast stand and asked if they could use my mug instead of a paper cup. The guy at the cash register looked at me as if I was crazy and seemed to take some pleasure in telling me that it was against their policy. When I said, "But, I'd like to do it for the environment, save a tree, you know what I mean?" He shook his head, rolled his eyes and looked to his co worker who put her hands up in the air and said, "its the policy!"
Who ever heard of a policy like that? When will our government and our companies start creating policies to protect the environment? I've asked that question many times, and the answer keeps coming back to me... when it makes money. There are alot of companies out there making money on saving the environment and its big business. Perhaps there are people from other countries reading this blog, and I urge you to be responsible also. We can no longer ignore the problem of Global Warming, and we cannot in our right minds leave an environmental hazard to our children. If we don't collectively change our habits we will see an environmental hazard in just fifty years. I'm going for the "collective" part of it. I figure even if that guy in the Albuquerque airport who told me it was company policy to only serve drinks out of their cups thinks I'm crazy, at least I got to communicate to him the word "environment." Maybe someone else will communicate to him too... and maybe someday he won't think I was crazy.
Good news is that in Denver (my layover city) I handed my mug over to a lady at a bagel shop and asked her to fill it up with hot water. I tried to go for a more direct approach... and it worked. Try and try again. At least I saved one cup on this airport journey.
Airports are kind of bland at times. But, today I'm blessed that a brave guy has taken out his guitar and is playing just a few feet away from me. Its a nice sound, and I'm glad he kind of broke through the normal operating procedure... which is to sit down, wait for your airplane, don't look at anyone, and or use a bunch of paper cups and plates eating some fast food that you'd rather not know what the ingredients are.
Anyway, now you see a picture of me in the airport, and hopefully you have a sound track in mind.
May Peace Prevail On Earth
Over and Out
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
I just finished writing about an experience I had this summer at a place called Relief Nursery. I hope you enjoy it.
August 3, 2006
When I pulled into the parking lot of the Relief Nursery in Eugene, Oregon, I took a deep breath. After being on tour for two weeks already my legs ached just stepping out of the car. We had traveled from Edmonton, Canada all the way down the Northwest, dipping into cities along the way as if we were a flock of birds. I knew that for this program I’d have to have my feet on the ground, so I took a moment, soaking in the morning summer sun and the fresh air.
I am a musician on a mission. My band and I are on the Celebrate Peace Tour, sponsored by Peace Cereal and Spirit Voyage Music. While on tour we give concerts dedicated to peace on the planet and award grants from Peace Cereal to local organizations in many of the cities where we give concerts. One of our greatest passions is working with children who I call disenfranchised. It’s hard to put a name to it, but there is a whole population of children in our country who are removed from basic privileges that are considered normal for many of us. This population is surprisingly large, but through the Celebrate Peace Tour we have been blessed to partner with some of the organizations in this country who are working to improve the lives of these children. We have visited children in juvenile halls, foster care homes, and poor neighborhoods. We offer music, yoga, and stories all aimed at giving the children we meet a sense of positive self esteem and some basic yogic tools for mental peace and clarity. Most importantly we like to have fun!
Usually I travel with GuruGanesha, who plays guitar and always gets the kids laughing, along with Krishan Prakash, who plays tabla and does a great bear snore for our yoga story. That day however I was without my band and I was visiting a place called the Relief Nursery. I took my new guitar out of the trunk, grasped the soft handle and said a prayer that I would be able to do this program on my own. I knew a little about the Relief Nursery because they were this year’s Peace Grant Recipient in Eugene, Oregon. The next evening I would be giving them the grant at the end of our Celebrate Peace concert.
The Relief Nursery gives care to children who are in abusive or potentially abusive homes. Many of the children who come to the center come from homes where their parents have drug problems or are incarcerated. The center provides a beautiful school and day care where they not only nurture the children but also provide counseling for the parents. Their philosophy is that the most important support system for a child is their family, so the family has to be healthy.
I felt like I had nothing to give in light of the problems these children were growing up with. As I walked through the parking lot I could see some children playing in the school playground and realized that the best thing I could give was love.
The moment I stepped into the school’s office I was greeted by a staff member and immediately lead to where the children’s program would take place. I settled on a beautiful grassy spot underneath a tree. Within seconds all thirty children at the school gathered around me. I tried to breathe and calm my now beating heart with the thought… “give love, give love.”
Children from the ages of about five to eight gathered around me. I said hello to the kids, and quickly realized that a couple of the children only spoke Spanish. We started off with a little yoga, which the kids did with a lot of gusto. I’ve done probably close to a hundred children’s programs in the past, but these kids were different. As I looked at each one of them, I realized that what they call “home” may not be what I could ever feel was home. What they called love, was more simple than I had ever imagined. As they looked at me and followed the yoga postures, there was nothing but that simple love. Even though they giggled and laughed their way through some of the yoga postures, and even though I could barely keep them engaged, their eyes seemed to never leave me.
As we got deeper into the story where I teach the kids yoga and songs, I began to realize what I had to deliver to these kids. It was a moment of joy. And so I asked them to all stand up, and just like the kids in the story who were walking up a mountain, I asked them to march in place with me and sing the song “ I am happy, I am good.” These are words of the revered yoga master and sage Yogi Bhajan. As we sang it we alternated with English and Spanish, “ Yo soy feliz, Yo soy bueno.” With each repetition the kids’ voices got louder and louder… until finally all of us spontaneously threw our arms in the air and yelled the words of the song with joy and celebration. The kids, myself and the staff all paused momentarily in disbelief at our outburst, and with a giggle from a few children and a universal twinkle in all of the children’s eyes we proceeded to yell it again, and again.
At that moment I was almost overcome by tears… for me I was yelling those words right into their homes, right into their lives, and praying that they would have the opportunity to have a beautiful life. That moment of joy will live in my heart forever.
After the program I got a tour of the facility and was thoroughly inspired by what I saw. The center has a room dedicated to counseling, where families come for sessions with highly qualified family therapists. They also have a library where English and Spanish classes are offered. I saw an amazing kitchen facility where nutritious meals are prepared for the children; meals which many of them would not receive otherwise. One of my favorite aspects of the Relief Nursery was a “hand me down” room where parents could bring their kids and get free clothing, shoes, and school supplies. Each of the classrooms had really nice desks, books, and art material. I felt that any child would be blessed to be here, but the fact that these kids have the opportunity was so beautiful to me.
I arrived that morning, tired from my touring but left completely inspired and energized by my experience with these children. It’s easy to get caught up in our lives, with work, with our families, and our endeavors. It’s easy to get stressed out, even when we have such privileged lives. I saw how serving these children not only gave them something, but gave me something as well, and that yes, it is possible to make a difference in this world… even with one guitar.
To find out more about the Relief Nursery please visit: www.reliefnursery.org.
Monday, October 02, 2006
This is a picture of Guru Ram Das, courtesy of Sikhphotos.com. Guru Ram Das is the fourth Guru of the Sikhs. He embodies compassion, kindness and healing. He was an orphan, just barely making a living to feed himself when he met the third Guru, Guru Amar Das. Guru Amardas saw his love and devotion right away. Through a series of experiences, and trials Guru Ram Das transformed himself miraculously to serve and uplift everything and everyone that he came in contact with. Guru Amardas saw this in him, and crowned him the fourth Guru.
As Sikhs we often chant the Shabad (sacred song) Dhan Dhan Ram Das Guru. Shabad means without ego. So when we chant, we bring the energy of the Shabad to us and it becomes our guide and teacher, or Shabad Guru. The Dhan Dhan Ram Das Guru Shabad for me is all about transformation, about making the internal changes, step by step that pretty soon add up to a miracle. This Shabad relates the experience of when Guru Ram Das became the fourth Guru. At the time, it must have felt like a miracle for this once orphan to take the throne of Guruship.... for the people witnessing it, and for perhaps Guru Ram Das himself. I believe all miracles start from within, and I believe that the energy of Guru Ram Das is so powerful and potent because his miracle of personal transformation also began within himself.
Last night we had the Espanola Sikh and 3HO community over to our house in celebration of the birthday of Guru Ram Das. For eleven nights before his birthday we are, along with communities around the world, gathering at eachother's homes to chant the Dhan Dhan Ram Das Guru Shabad for thirty one minutes. On his birthday, which is October 9th this year, we will chant it for two and a half hours in the morning. It is during this time of connection with Guru Ram Das that if you want a miracle you can pray for it and it will happen or resolve as the case may be.
Anyway, the move from Eugene to Espanola has been very energy intensive. In addition we have kept our Celebrate Peace Tour going. For me it is really important to feel settled at home, but I didn't feel settled. It wasn't until last night when everyone poured into our front door, seen in the picture above, that I felt a deep sense of peace and settling. About sixty people sat in our living room chanting, but to me they were angels and warriors... absolutely beautiful... coming to bless our home and bring it protection. I felt so much gratitude as we chanted. I knew the words because I have been chanting this Shabad for so many years now, yet I felt as if I was hearing them for the first time as they penetrated into the air, the walls, and the carpets of our new home.
After the chanting we fed everyone Indian spice cake and Yogi Tea. I also gave a tour of the house to people namely to Shakti Parwha Kaur. She was the first student of Yogi Bhajan's when he arrived to the west. She became what we affectionately call her the "Mother of 3HO." She and I share the same birthday, June 19th. By God's Grace she loves me and has taken me out to movies, walks, breakfast, and all sorts of things for many many years now. I feel so blessed... and I love her dearly too. It was wonderful being able to show her my new home.
In this time of of great change for all of us... I pray that we may reach out to eachother more, that we may have the miracle of friendship, and friendship in our home.
May Peace Prevail On Earth.
Over and Out