Ever since I can remember, I have been acutely aware of the suffering in the world, both that which is part of the fabric of life such as illness, death, and natural occurrences, and that which we create on our own through the perpetuation of our harmful beliefs and actions toward ourselves and others. It troubled me a great deal, and I often felt overwhelmed by it. I couldn’t make sense of it. At the same time, I recognized that many people deny this aspect of life. I felt quite isolated in my recognition of, and depth of feeling about, the painful aspects of being alive. This combination of factors became the impetus for my commitment to spiritual practice as well as my interest in psychotherapy. I began a very serious meditation practice as well as a great deal of inner work to clear my own harmful patterns.
I later learned that this is referred to as the “gate of suffering” in Buddhist practice–that the acute awareness of the painful aspects of life becomes the entry point into questioning conventional notions of attaining happiness through the acquisition of material possessions and pleasant experiences. That in fact this “gate” or doorway leads to the recognition that suffering is universal, that no one escapes it, and that it links us together as a human family. My response to this truth, as it is for many who recognize it deeply, has been to dedicate my life to learning how to respond to all beings with wisdom and love. This is quite a practice! I have also found that by facing suffering directly, it is transformed. The Heart can grow in its ability to love, and we can come to recognize the workings of Love all around us.
This commitment to using my life to grow in consciousness and living from the Heart has been the underlying force behind the various activities/roles that I have explored. Seeing the suffering in myself and others prompted me to undertake rigorous training in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis so as to help others transform harmful patterns that were blocking their authentic life force and ability to express themselves fully. As I continued on in my meditation practice, I was offered the opportunity to teach, and to use this role to help others to turn toward their own pain with compassion, and, eventually, to see that it is possible to use our limited time here to follow the promptings of the Heart, to grow in our capacity for love and wisdom.
Listening to my Heart’s intention to grow also prompted me to explore the Yogic tradition. I completed a Yoga Teacher Training and seriously undertook the practice of Bhakti Yoga, or the Yoga of Devotion. Bhakti Yoga has taught me, and continues to teach me, how to open to life with gratitude, to recognize that the life force which created everything is large beyond my comprehension, to pay homage to its grandeur and to the energy which caused all that is to come into being. It is a softening practice that asks us to not habitually demand what we want from life, but to surrender and to listen deeply to what life is asking of us! By giving up control of how I think things should be (which often causes a lot of suffering when things don’t turn out according to plan), I have been taken to wonderful places that I never would have expected. And this leads me right to my music!
I never set out to be a singer, or to write songs, but instead wanted to learn to how open my heart to life by singing and chanting. Through this process, I eventually met a man who I thought was going to teach me some well known yoga chants, but instead suggested that I write my own music. Having never been trained as a musician, at first I thought this a preposterous suggestion (!) but eventually I settled into it, and it felt completely right.
I have been singing and writing songs for almost ten years now. I began by using ancient yogic mantras in Sanskrit with my original music. Eventually, I was asked to lead evenings of chanting where groups of people come together and use chant as a heart-opening practice. Continuing to sing, write, and lead others in this practice, has been a great blessing for me and has brought me much joy! Without this as an agenda, I came to meet professional musicians, composers, and singers who were writing songs outside of a spiritual/chant based tradition. Being exposed to them, exposed me to the art of song-writing, and has birthed a whole new aspect of my music.
My journey has been to wake up by transforming the inner suffering, to ignite the Divine spark of the Heart, to fan the flame of this inner fire of love. This is a universal spiritual journey, not owned by any one group, but is the potential of everyone. And so, my songs are now outside of any particular spiritual tradition, they are songs that speak to the Divine spark of Love that lives within us all. At its core, my music continues to convey the same intention that I set as my life’s work many years ago. How do we use our time here wisely? Can the suffering in the world be responded to with Love? How do we evolve in our consciousness to see the Largeness of Life with gratitude, to wake up to its mystery, and the miracle that there is anything here at all? How do we pay homage to that Force that created us and everything that we see, a Force that is wise and loving beyond our comprehension? And how do we recognize that it is this Force that is the guiding Force of our own Heart, whispering to us, and prompting us to follow Love as a path.