Saturday, January 10th at 8:30pm
GIRISH Kirtan and CD Release Party "Sky of the Heart"
207 Arizona Ave., Santa Monica, CA, United States 90401
January 17th Saturday at 7:00pm
GIRISH Kirtan & Season Opening Feature 2015! Cd Release Party, Teen Yoga Final, Raffle, Silent Auction, Food & Community
458 S Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, California
Kirtan Soul Revival (Helen Tocci-Vocals, Calia Marshall-Vocals, Todd Keller-Vocals and Guitar, and Terrence Pompey-Percussion) made an appearance at Mind-Body-Light yoga studio in Redlands California (studio owners Jennifer and Mitchell Desmarais) while in town during their West Coast tour for their new album, "Here For Love".
They had a beautiful kirtan at the studio and then the next day performed live music for Yoga with Julia Jackson at her residence. At the kirtan, they invited up kirtan performer Jennifer Sparks who was in the audience to see the musicians. It was a beautiful evening of chanting.
Oh My Lord it’s Hot!!!
105 degrees outside and 125 degrees in my car! Can’t believe I’m about to make a 100 mile trip to Venice Beach to feed the homeless. OK, that sounds awful of me to complain. I have this Sociology assignment to do ten hours of community service, and truthfully, I have wanted to go to the Santa Monica area and help with my fellow yogi fiends, Arjuna O’Neal and Kasey Luber’s organization, The Share Necessities. A community outreach program in Los Angeles to help the homeless, with food, clothing and school supplies for their children. But of all the days to make the trip…and my air conditioner in my car is kaput.
That’s right, a 100 mile drive, 105 degrees heat and no air conditioner in my car. There hasn’t been any for over two and half years. I took my little Kia Rio to the dealer at that time and they said the motor was dead. And they were right, the motor and air hasn’t started at all in that time. Two and half years of no air in the SoCal heat is mind boggling unbearable. But you do what you have to do when you don’t have the extra funds for repairs. I’m almost jealous of the homeless by the beach in Venice. I mean, the beach is two blocks away! Can’t think that way, just push on and help out to the guys in Venice.
I get maybe 5 minutes away and the sweat is pouring off me into a pool on my seat. I might die, I think to myself. I may actually die of heat exhaustion and I still have 2 hours to drive. I stare glassy eyed out the front window on the 10 freeway, and start to chant to myself, just so I stay conscience… Om Namah Shivaya …over and over again. I am so weak I barely notice coolness on my knuckles on the steering wheel. WTF! Why is there coolness? I wake myself up and notice cool air is coming out of the air conditioner. OK folks, we have just arrived at The Twilight Zone. The air conditioner is working…with a broken motor…and blowing cool…no, wait, it now blowing cold air! Not just cold air, but VERY cold air that I have to turn it down!
I head to West Hollywood to pick up my friend who wants to join me with helping in Venice. He gets in the car and says, “Wow, it’s really cold in here! I thought your AC was broken.” I scream it is and this is something out of a science fiction movie. A ghost in the machine. He turns to me and says, “Maybe it works because you are good person and we are doing something of service for others.” OK, I can accept that. I have to or I’ll go crazy trying to understand this. I can’t think of it on a scientific level at the moment and just have to accept it as a gift from the universe and my teachings in the Laws of Attraction.
As we head down to Venice, we drive through Santa Monica and see all of the haunts my friend used to go to as a boy. He grew up in the area and would always run away from the boarding schools he attended at in Santa Monica and hang out on the beach or at the local food dives that still peppered the landscape. I could see he was in deep thought with his memories of the surroundings. He now is 70 years old and I wonder if he is thinking that we may meet some of his childhood chums as the homeless we are about to meet.
We arrive early to the location in Venice. Homeless people are camped out on both sides of the street. The food truck arrives and we head over to meet the staff. We are the first volunteers to arrive. And homeless people start to walk over to us. They think we are homeless also. We didn’t dress up to volunteer. And most homeless people by the beach fashionably blend in well as shabby chic. We meet a homeless woman who was lucky enough to have come into the good fortune of finding some money and got a car. She lives out of that a street over. She is ready for some tacos to eat. We tell her it's burritos, and she is fine with that. She cracks jokes during our discussion and keeps hoping she gets discovered to appear on a reality show cause she thinks she is funny. She is pretty funny.
The rest of the volunteers arrive along with those in charge. I meet with team leader Ravi, from The Khalsa Peace Corps, and Molly O'Leary from Share A Meal foundation. The rest of the volunteers are gung-ho to help and we all man our work stations in the food truck to start making delicious vegetarian Indian burritos. I'm flying fast making burritos. The crew says it's the fastest time they have done making the food and all the homeless by the truck have been fed and it's still light out. We head out to the Venice Boardwalk to continue passing out burritos, water and socks for the guys and underwear for the girls. We even pass out dog treats for the homeless families with dogs.
We are done in a few hours and everyone is gathering to talk about meeting the next time. We are thanked by so many people on the street. A nice feeling to just share a warm meal with people. I know I'm planning to come back as often as I can. We head back to our cars and leave in our separate directions and back to our families and lives elsewhere. My friend and I are now hungry and he suggests a local food hangout called Johnnie's on Sepulveda. It's been around since 1952 so you know he has been coming there since he was like ten years old. We order their world famous charbroiled hot dogs. They are heavenly. I haven't eaten a hot dog in years and never as good as these. A twinkle in my friend eyes confirm they are the same as when he was a little boy. He becomes that little boy again as we eat our meals. The night is full of great conversation of the evening's events and we head home.
We are able to go to our homes with awesome air conditioning running still...a miracle that keeps on giving. But, like that reference to a science fiction movie I said earlier, as I drive home and pull into my driveway, like John Travolta's character in Phenomenon, where he gets super intelligence powers after seeing a light in the sky and quickly losing them later on...my air conditioner dies as I park the car.
Was it a "miracle" for me giving of my time for others?
Guess I better start doing more for others then...maybe the air conditioner will stay on forever.
I feel so stupid just now getting into Battlestar Galactica. I don't have cable and finally have the chance to see it on NetFlix. For years my Hollywood friends have been telling me to see it, how it is the best reboot of a sci-fi series we grew up with.
But to all my new Yogi friends, I love the music to it! If you are a Yogi and love sci-fi, the opening theme to the show should come as no surprise to you. It is the Gayatri Mantra. The characters on the series sing Sanskrit mantras when they are in prayer and gatherings. Since it is considered one of the oldest languages, it would come to reason that it came from beings from beyond the stars.
Take a listen. The music makes me weep it's so beautiful.
So, like these Hawk manifestations lately has really got me going. I mentioned a few weeks back how appearances of large hawks have appeared around me....ALOT! Ever since I was as ShaktiFest in Joshua Tree.
The past couple of weeks has been crazy with hawks flying over my head and even one followed me as I drove on the freeway for a few miles. It was huge and just floated above my car in front of me. What does this mean?
I keep trying to find out more and I know it is sign of it being my spirit guide and protector and deliverer of messages. I keep my eyes and ears open for the transmissions.
Native Americans believe that the hawk is a visionary of insight, adaptability and openness who helps unveil the messages that the universe sends out. They believe the universe is always communicating, but people are often too busy or too distracted to hear those messages. The hawk helps people to not only see what the universe is telling them, but also understand and interpret the messages. Seeing a hawk means a message is coming and attention should be paid.
American Indians believe that recognizing a hawk as your totem will enable you to live a more fulfilling life. This applies not only on a spiritual level, but also to everyday life decisions. They believe the hawk can empower you to soar, while teaching you to keep your feet on the ground. And just as there are smaller birds that sometimes try to attack the hawk, Native Americans believe that if the hawk is your totem, you will find "smaller" people who don't understand your ability to soar and will try to hinder your success.
So the latest appearance freaked me out. I wonder what the message was? I was standing on my porch yesterday to see all the commotion of people for the 4th of July events in town. As I stood there, I looked upon the huge pine tree in my yard, and abruptly, the branch literally exploded with a huge hawk emerging from the tree. It soared straight at me and swooped up at the last minute to the roof of the porch. I heard a loud "Pop" and and cascade of 100's of feathers rained down in front of me as I looked out. The hawk then appeared in front of me - flying away with a dove in it's mouth and talons.
I have to meditate and dream on this one for a bit and get back to you all.
With this 14th release, Kirtan Wallah—one who sings kirtan, KD offers a westward-leaning album, fully embracing his American roots in rock and country and yet embodying the spirit of deeply devotional Indian chants - the heart of this latest album is still in the Names that he’s singing.
Layering traditional kirtan with instantly accessible melodies and modern instrumentation, Krishna Das has been called yoga’s “rock star.” With a remarkably soulful voice that touches the deepest chord in even the most casual listener, Krishna Das – known to friends, family, and fans as simply KD – has taken the call-and-response chanting out of yoga centers and into concert halls, becoming a worldwide icon and the best-selling Western chant artist of all time. His album ‘Live Ananda’, released January 2012, was nominated for a Grammy in the Best New Age album category. In February 2013, Krishna Das performed at the Grammy awards in Los Angeles, CA streamed online to millions of viewers.
This Summer KD, joined by Arjun (tabla & naal drums), Mark Gorman (electric bass), Genevieve Walker (violin) and Nina Rao (kartals) hits the road again! The KD tour bus will make its way from Vancouver to Texas!
DATES + CITIES ON THE WEST COAST AND SOUTHWEST USA SUMMER TOUR:
June 27 – Vancouver, BC – St. Andrew’s Wesley United Church
June 28 – Seattle, WA – Center for Spiritual Living
June 29 – Portland, OR – Crystal Ballroom
July 1 – Ashland, OR – Historic Ashland Armory
July 3 – San Rafael, CA – Angelico Hall at Dominican College
July 4 – Santa Cruz, CA – Rio Theatre
July 5 - Los Angeles, CA – Wilshire Ebell Theatre
July 6 – Los Angeles, CA – Yoga Works: Larchmont Studio
July 7 – Encinitas, CA – Seaside Center for Spiritual Living
July 8 – Las Vegas, NV – Center for Spiritual Living Greater Las Vegas
July 10 & 11 - Santa Fe, NM – Greer Garson Theatre
July 13 – Dallas, TX – Unity of Dallas
July 14 – Austin, TX – Central Presbyterian Church
July 15 – Houston, TX – Unity Church
*July 25 & 27 – Pagosa Springs, CO – Tara Mandala Retreat
For promo material on Krishna Das please visit:
For more Information on Krishna Das please contact: email@example.com
Photo courtesy from Amma's Facebook page.
Becoming involved with the Bhakti Yoga community, a form of yoga that is of
chanting meditative devotion and not so much the Western strength and fitness version, I had always heard of Amma. Amma is actually Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, but she is simply known as Amma – which is, "Mother" in the Hindi language. She is a hugely known Hindu spiritual leader and guru, who is revered as a saint by her followers and on par as the likes as the Dali Lama and The Pope.
I have always heard from my fellow yogis that it is a wonderful experience to be in her presence and receive what she is known for the world over – giving hugs to everyone who attends her Darshan. The word Darshan is Sanskrit for “auspicious viewing.” She literally gives every single person in attendance, a hug and says a little prayer in your ear and gives a mantra that becomes your own. She never takes a break for food, nor water or even to go to the bathroom, for many hours. I arrived at 7pm for my attendance with her holiness and she did not get up or leave till after 8am the next day!
A mantra is a sacred utterance, numinous sound, or a syllable, word, phonemes, or group of words believed by some to have psychological and spiritual power. I have practiced mantra chanting for a couple years now and have a seen a significant change in my demeanor, and in my way of interacting with my pears. It has actually helped me in my learning and studying practice while in college.
I had heard Amma was in town at the Hilton Hotel by the Tom Bradley Los Angeles Airport. I had the day off so made the trip down to the event at around 2:30pm. Even though the event and to meet Amma is free, I knew to arrive early because one must stand in line for hours just to receive a “token” that would allow you to get in line to meet Amma. The halls of the hotel and event hall were already full with people and alive with commotion.
It was so hot as we waited downstairs in a huge room, one of four, the size of a wedding banquet hall. We stood 3 to 4 people, side by side, in huge rows of 5 “lanes.” So each hall had about 500+ people and this was just to get our token to get in line later to hug Amma. People sat on the floor, reading books, texting on their phones, but many got to know their “neighbor” and struck up conversations with people that have traveled from all over the world to be close to their Guru. It was like a family reunion of sorts, with no one of biological blood. The closeness and intimate conversations we shared with each other, was one part of this experience worth attending.
The “staff” for Amma are all giving of their time and none were paid. It is an all-
volunteer group of people. It is their “Seva” or service to Amma. They came around often to answers questions; and also bring delicious Indian food prepared vegetarian style. Samosas, raw sprouted vegetable wraps, and drinks were offered to keep people content while waiting. One volunteer even remarked, “we try to make this just like if you were India – hot, crowded and packed like sardines.” Most laughed but some were getting a little faint from the heat.
Finally the line starts to move, and we head upstairs to the main hall where the Darshan will be with Amma. It is a massive room with over 1000 seats. I am told I am lucky and blessed to be in the main hall with Amma, most can’t get in and sit in chairs and watch Amma on huge television monitors in other banquet halls throughout the hotel. I am center and few rows back from where she will sit and teach her students of life. There is a huge group of musicians sitting on the floor in front of the stage where Amma will be. They perform beautiful mantra music while chanting the names of God. I am quite excited and not sure what to expect next.
I look out over the sea of people and like lights on an old 70’s Lite-Brite game board, people started to stand out to me, and I could see friends from my city and community everywhere. We hugged and talked about what we were about to see and encounter. We all started to notice celebrities in attendance, like the leader and frequent guest to the Oprah Winfrey show, Rev. Dr. Michael Beckwith of the Agape International Spiritual Center in Los Angeles. Standing behind me, I also got to meet 80’s sitcom star from the Cosby Show, Miss Lisa Bonet. Everyone was the same and no better than the next. We all came to bask in the glow of Amma.
Now mind you; I didn’t know what to expect or if I really was to bask in the glow of anything. It was something I have wanted to do for quite a while. And now moments before she was to enter, you sense anticipation and a hush fall amongst the people. Everyone stands as she enters under an enormous golden silk tent held up by her entourage. She is led onto stage, and throws rose petals over herself and all around her. Little children from families in the audience are asked to come up and sit around her. And then I feel it.
I feel this warmth in my chest, rising to a crescendo of heat. I think I am having a heart attack. But I don’t feel pain. All I can feel is this wild heat in my chest and then this wave of emotion. My eyes well up and I start to weep. I can’t believe this is happening. I feel like such a wimp and can’t control this outburst of feelings. I actually curse myself in embarrassment on why would a man like myself just cry in public. Then I look around, and I am not alone. Everyone – men, women, children – are weeping.
And then just as fast as this sensation appeared, it is gone and blissfulness settles into my heart and others around me. Amma begins to speak throughout the evening and a translator is close by to interpret. She teaches of sacrifice, of charity, of love for all beings, of the hurt and sadness in the world, and of finding inner peace. She tells many parables to the onlookers. One I remember and pertains to my English Composition course is this: Life is a sentence. Death is the period at the end of the sentence. But then you start another sentence and so on. You have many times to come back and fix the mistakes you have made in your life though reincarnation. The statement was simple yet erudite.
The time comes for us to line up to get our hug from Amma. We take out our tokens to see what number is on them. I have L2. They start at A1. It will be over 4 hours till they get to my number. Everyone then moves about to have dinner being prepared, check out vendors who have items from Amma, like photographs or clothing made from her Ashram in India. Ashram is Sanskrit for a spiritual hermitage or a monastery. Her Ashram has over 5000 followers at a time in India. It is free to eat, pray, and live there. All she asks is that you do service for around 4-5 hours a day while at the Ashram. One can stay by either preparing the food for the mass amount of pilgrims that come, to working in the gardens that are all eco-friendly, or to teach others in the ways of sustainability and earthly goodness. I am thinking of making a pilgrimage there one day
to experience for myself.
The time has arrived and I am next in line. We must take off our shoes to be in her
presence. She hasn’t taken a break at all as she hugs every person who comes to her. I make my way onto the stage, I’m a little light headed and disoriented. This is very exhilarating. I am asked to approach her on my knees and what native language do I speak. She bring me close and hugs me and asks me what mantra I want to make my own and whispers it into my ear.
My wife comes up next with me and Amma blesses and hugs us both. She brings our hands together and kisses them. She smiles. That smile could fill the universe. We stand and leave the platform – literally walking on blissful intentions for the rest of the evening and into the next day. I am still thinking about it as I write this.
In the short time I was there – even though it was over 10 hours – I have taken away knowledge I want to affect purpose in my everyday life. I want to be less connected with technology so as to be in the present and with people I love and notice my surrounding and the encompassing peoples of Earth. We are all connected in so many ways. I want to be less commercialized. We are taught this is how to be happy in this country on how many things we obtain. It’s just stuff. I want to do my part in sustainability and making a small difference in how my world is affected which then in part, affects us all.
It was such a great experience to be with like-minded people all wanting light in their lives. I will end with a mantra: Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu – “May all beings be happy and free.”
 Jan Gonda (1963), The Indian Mantra, Oriens, Vol. 16, pages 244-297
Welcome to my Blog page for all things Kirtan, the Yoga community and all things positive.
Thanks for your support.
I love traveling and reporting on the world of Kirtan and meeting all the great musicians on the road.
To help me in my travels AND save you some money, (and because the company believes in my endeavors) I can ow offer a $11 discount on these wonderful Yoga mats from Tomuno!
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