Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Gavai and Suni-ai

In his workshop at Winter Solstice Sadhana, Ravinder Singh brought up a really interesting point about Sikh scripture in general, and Jaapji in particular. Gurmukhi, he said, is either sung, or listened to. If you read Jaapji every morning, you probably know gavai (3rd Pauri) means singing and suni-ai (8th Pauri) means deeply listening.

When we recite Gurumukhi, we sing it. We are allowing the sound current to resonate and be heard through the vehicle of our unique voice. That is gavai. On the other hand, when we are absorbed in listening deeply to that same sound current, we are allowing it to settle inside us, as is. That is suni-ai.

I thought about this for a while after the workshop, but just last night I had an "aha!" moment where the past few years of my life made perfect sense to me! What a gift!

So I thought I would share...

About a year and a half ago, after having spent the better part of two years producing my first solo album, I made a decision that shocked everyone who knew and loved me: I decided to stop singing.

To some, I know it looked like I had given up on my dreams. After all, I had moved to Los Angeles that year to sing! What was I doing?

Instead of singing, I began to treat my "day job" at a raw food restaurant as the most important work I could be doing. I became very invested in serving people the best I could. No matter what their attitude. No matter what my mood. No matter what. (Or, in keeping with the extended metaphor of my piece, you could say I was listening to my customers!)

A few months later I volunteered at a festival. The attitude with which I had learned to serve people persuaded the festival to offer me a job. A few months after that, my boss made me sing at his birthday party in front of two of my favorite kirtan artists. A year later, there I was on stage in front of a few thousand kirtan fans singing with one of my favorite kirtan artists.

And so there I was, doing what I always thought I'd be doing: singing.

I realized yesterday that there are times in our life when we are meant to sing, and times when we are meant to listen. In other words, there are times for action, and times for reflection. The key is finding a balance between the two. In our society, we are encouraged to act, but often feel guilty for taking moments to reflect.

Yet, moments of suni-ai can save us a lot of time. They afford us the mental clarity to take better actions.

I feel very blessed to have experienced both modes of being--singing and listening. I was very grateful to Ravinder for illuminating a nuance in Jaapji that I had not yet contemplated.

Blessings,
Sirgun

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Winter Solstice Sadhana

I'm back from Lake Wales, FL!

I spent the last week in a reclaimed summer camp outside of Orlando. It was very moist, sandy, cold, and cozy. We meditated in the ambrosial hours, chanted, moved, danced, healed, and laughed.

Treysha got to sing quite a bit. We sang with Gurunam, Sat Darshan Singh, Simrit Kaur (well, Allison and Michelle did), and SOL Temple. We were streamed on Spirit Voyage's blog (click here to view the archived video). And we sang for the all night kirtan on the last night I spent there. Oh, and we had a CD to share with everyone, which we managed to get together in the days before we left (check it out here).

I am so grateful to have these practices at my finger tips...
I am so grateful to know the people I know...
I am so grateful to see the relevance of what I am learning in my daily life...

Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.

Now I am here in snowy Connecticut. The pace is much slower. I am getting a lot of sleep. I am integrating. I am feeling the best I have in my life.

And the forecast for tomorrow is even better.

Blessings to all.

Good night moon,
Sirgun

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

thank you

thank you for finding me and lighting the way
thank you for inviting me to play
on strings, on keys, with angles and shapes
thank you for catching me when i would have escaped
thank you for sharing, and un-blurring my sight
thank you for beaming daylight into every night
thank you for holding a mirror to my heart
beholding my vision the seas did part

thank you for holding me up through it all
thank you for who I AM most of all

love, Sirgun

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Easy Does It

I made this as the header for a newsletter. I remembered that it had been a little under 2 years since I last sent a newsletter out to all the awesome people who have signed my mailing list since 2006. So I will send one out in the next few days before Winter Solstice.

I was reflecting on what's happened so far, particularly the ease with which my band, Treysha, was able to record our first Live Sadhana CD. Michelle got the offer from a friend to set up a recording system. Ram Kirn happened to be leading the yoga that Saturday morning, which also happened to be a teacher training weekend (meaning 100 people in the room, as opposed to the usual 7 or so). I whipped up a graphic for the label in a few hours. Allison bought all the supplies and scouted out the best prices on everything. Within 3 days we had done everything A-Z. (Now we just have to burn about 200 of them! Luckily there are 3 of us.)

Anyway, it reminded how everything happens easily. The hardest part is having enough trust to get out of our own way.

When I took a music break a little less than 2 years ago I felt a little guilty. I had just made an album after all. Why was I throwing my hands up in the air, halting my rise to fame? (Or something like that.)

Things didn't feel right then is all I can say. I wasn't on my path and everything felt like a struggle. Mostly, I felt I was repeating the same mantra over and over again: "You were wrong. I'm hurt. I have 5 minutes to yell at you in song-form."

It's ironic then, that the first great thing to come of any of the music on "the self-fulfilling prophecy" (which, indeed it was, over and over again), was a spot in a movie about taking responsibility for your own reality. Martin Dunkerton's film is officially launched. I'm even on the soundtrack!

So too have I launched... a new phase in my life.

My new mantras are more like:
Sat Naam - truth is our identity

or,

Ek Ong Kaar - we are one with all of creation

or,

I am bountiful, blissful, beautiful. I am.


Intuitively, I must have understood the power of the word when I decided to stop repeating the ones that put other people in charge of my happiness. I understand more and more each day though.

I am grateful beyond words (wahe!) for having found my path.

And I can't wait to see what is ahead. Patience does pay.

Blessings,
Sirgun



Saturday, December 4, 2010

Rough Dry

One of my mentors once advised us: "Come clean, even if you come rough dry." She was referring to what happens to clothes dried on a line. They're clean, but really stiff and unattractive.

The idea is that you offer your ego up and it doesn't matter what that happens to look like from the outside... you came clean.

I was the given the opportunity (and challenge) to air my "laundry" this past week. Not easy. Not fun. So necessary. So grateful.

Facing my shadow wasn't easy. But it's a lot easier than carrying around all that shadow-laundry.

The moral is: if it's that bad, why wouldn't you want to keep it inside you?

The intelligence is: it's not actually that bad once it's out. Even if it's rough, at least it's clean!

Blessings,
Sirgun

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Click "Reset"

I was in quite a state of unrest yesterday. I called my friend whom I was supposed to meet up with to tell him I didn't trust myself to drive... we'd have to reschedule. He suggested I do 11 minutes of Sodarshan Chakra Kriya.

First off, it went REALLY fast! Secondly, I emerged with a completely clear perspective. The effects of the kriyas that Yogi Bhajan brought to the West are, in a word, magical.

I highly recommend practicing this kriya in moments of panic... when simple deep breathing or physical yoga just isn't cutting through the mental clutter.

This was like clicking the "reset" button on my day yesterday. I am so grateful!



Blessings,
Sirgun

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