Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The 9 of Your Life

According to Tantric Numerology, I will be entering a "9 cycle" as of January.

A 9 cycle is a time to tie up lose ends. It's not a good idea to begin new projects in a 9 cycle... they rarely come to fruition. If we think of our lives are having many seasons, the 9 cycle is like right before the last frost of winter. It's not a good time to plant seeds.

The 9 cycle is also a time for extreme gratitude. Like, TRUE gratitude. Not oh-wow-thank-you-for-this-million-dollars gratitude. More like, oh-wow-I-just-totaled-my-car gratitude. Or oh-wow-my-neighbor-just-threw-a-pot-of-hot-rice-into-my-window gratitude.

The 9 cycle is about mastery. Masters know that "all things come from God." The totaled car and the broken window are no different. The 9-cycler would be wise to scream "Wahe Guru" (yay God!) as calamity is afoot, because life will keep giving us the same lesson so long as we keep rejecting the blossoming of our consciousness. When we can feel gratitude for EVERYTHING (not just the easy stuff), we will begin to let go of the past, and let God create our future. That is the journey of a 9 cycle.

Do I sound excited? Truth be told, the 9 cycle freaks me out a little. There I said it.

I mean, I was born in September (9 month), so I life with this energy as part of my daily existence. Let me tell you: it's not for wimps. I am so GRATEFUL to have so many uplifting tools in my tool-belt, that have successfully pulled me out of the haze time and time again.

9 is about mystery (i.e. confusion, doubt, scattered energy) over mastery (i.e. gratitude, completion, focus).

Blessings,
Sirgun


P.S. Oh - I'll be in a 9 cycle because my birthday (month + day) + the year = 9

For example, 
August 11 birthday = 8 +12 = 2
2+0+1+4 = 7

2+7 = 9!







Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Yoga Journal Review of THE COSMIC GIFT

This is in December's issue of Yoga Journal! Thank you Shannon Sexton for your beautiful review!

Spirited Away:
The Cosmic Gift  |  Sirgun Kaur
Self-released

Singer-songwriter and Kundalini Yoga teacher Sirgun Kaur's first solo kirtan album, The Cosmic Gift, inspires the spirits with its soaring chants. The album features a mix of English lyrics, kirtan mantras, and shabads (Sikh hymns) with a rich instrumental accompaniment that includes violin, acoustic guitar and drums.

There's something deeply moving about Kaur's strong yet tender voice in songs like "Amen"—a glorious, original hymn that features yogic lyrics and a swelling female chorus—and "Mera Man Lochai"—a shabad that sounds like a gentle love song.

Some chants and hymns are hundreds of years old, and along with Kaur's thoughtful English lyrics, they express the love and longing for the divine. The songs are imbued with purity of heart that's so alluring you may want to keep this album on repeat for days and weeks to come. 



Sunday, November 24, 2013

Princess vs. Power Tools

So I saw this video on facebook the other day. It's a really entertaining ad, de-bunking the idea that girls would want to play Princess over playing with tools.


I think this ad is interesting for a few reasons:

1. First off, I see more evidence that little boys are pigeon-holed into "what boys should do/be" than girls these days. Isn't is still weirder to most people for a boy to play with a doll or take ballet classes, than for a girl to be part of a soccer team or play with cars? I support the idea that kids should be able to follow their own inner-guidance and do the things that make them happy, regardless of whether society deems them "male" or "female" activities.

2. Where is the evidence that girls who play with dolls, or boys who play with dolls, are automatically going to be bad at science? Or not grow up to be engineers?

3. Why is it important that girls grow up to be engineers? Implicit in this idea that being an engineer is a superior calling to being a mother. I think this sense of resentment of our "traditional roles" is a remnant of the days where women were considered the inferior sex because all they did was take care of the home. Um, can we just lose this idea? There is nothing inferior about the 24 hour job that is raising a family, preparing nutritious meals and keeping a cozy home. Whether a woman or a man is doing it, this is serious work. The quality of care a child receives impacts our society as a whole in a very real way... for generations! The job of "mother" or "father" should be valued in our society. So-called "stay-at-home" mother and fathers are absolute heroes and should be treated as such. The "bread-winning" partner is also a necessary component... and if they are both doing both, power to them!

4. Progress, as I see it, is not where every member of our society is free to take on more of the traditionally male societal roles. Instead, I believe progress is where each member of our society is valued for their intrinsic worth as a human being, regardless of their sex, skin color, job title, salary, height, weight, etc...


Societies go through waves of valuing that which is inherently "male" or inherently "female". Right now we are obviously at a place in time where MALE values—i.e. reason over intuition, ownership over sharing, interests of the individual over interests of the collective—are extolled, and men and women alike are encouraged to develop their male qualities over their female qualities. Everyone has both. Balance is key.

I support a society where everyone's light is able to shine. I support a society where we are able to pursue our joy, regardless of our gender. I support a society where the loving parent is just as valued as the ingenious biologist. We all have something to contribute, and something to learn here on Earth.


Blessings,
Sirgun

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cozy

Last night I spent the evening in a meeting to start a food program for an elementary school in downtown Phoenix. There are families at our friend's school who do not have enough food over the weekend. A couple of beautiful souls from our community had the idea to form a coalition that would prepare bags of food each week for them to take home...

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the name so we could open a bank account and start the process.

Very exciting. I love feeling like I'm helping.

And then there is another aspect to it, where I feel like it only puts a small bandaid on a very large problem. It feels like sticking my thumb in a leak in a dam.

That's always the way I feel about community service. I must remember that doing something is generally better than doing nothing though.

And I hope that the family we "adopted" over Thanksgiving (before our program officially starts) enjoys all the yummies we collected for them.

Blessings,
Sirgun

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Music Is Inspiring

Last night we attended the GuruGanesha Band & Deva Premal and Miten with Manose concert at the Mesa Performing Arts Center in Mesa, AZ. 

What a high it is to chant with so many people! 

And what an amazing sight to see mantra music grow and get so much attention!

Going to see music is so inspiring for me. It makes me want to do some touring myself... in a little while, when Amrit-Anter (my 9-month old) is bigger. 


Much love,
Sirgun

Monday, October 21, 2013

"Amen" LIVE


This is a live version of a song called "Amen." I wrote the lyrics based on a version of the Lord's Prayer translated directly from the Aramaic. I was really inspired to write my own prayer...

Here it is...

Love,
Sirgun

Sunday, October 20, 2013

God and Me

Here is a new video from Bhakti Fest 2013... "Aakhan Jor (God & Me)" 


The opening verse is a poem about the powerlessness of our ego. "God and me, me and God are ONE" is a Kundalini Yoga mantra.

The song is from my new album THE COSMIC GIFT.

Blessings,
Sirgun

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Learning to love to give

I am slightly embarrassed to say that my first few months as a mother were not all awe, bliss and pixie-filled. It was hard rearranging my life to include a baby. And it was hard to figure out that it wasn't a new version of my old life I needed to design... I had to embrace a whole NEW life.

I'm nearly 8 months in and I can honestly say that I no longer morn my lost free time, my unbroken sleep, or any of the privileges I thought I enjoyed about my life as a childless woman. I love my life now. I realize how much having my son has opened my heart and taught me how to truly love giving.

Love,
Sirgun & Amrit-Anter

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Beyond Comfort

There is a space beyond comfort
where my soul longs to dance

There is no place to sit or sleep
No sugary words,
no thoughtless glance

There is a love like marble
A weathered-smooth substantial stone

Where we build our journey
Where my heart calls home

It's not a place of empty promises,
no cooing voices,
or inconsequential choices

Not soft,
but solid

Not sweet,
but nourishing

Complete.
Complete.
Complete.

Where the heart meets its mate
Where the purpose and plan equate

Aligned
Perfectly aligned

Un-cradled
Un-coddled

Alone,
but One

At home,
at One.

This space exists beyond comfort
I am invited every day


Love,
Sirgun


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Learning to Pray

A few years ago I took a prayer class at Agape Spiritual Center in Culver City, CA with the lovely Rev. Greta. 

She gave us a whole packet of informational materials... prayers from different faiths and traditions. One of them was a translation of "The Lord's Prayer" taken directly from the original Aramaic. It had a very different vibration to it than the one we usually hear: As I lay me down to sleep, etc...

It inspired me to write this song, "Amen". Years later, it appears as the first track of my newest album, THE COSMIC GIFT. 


When I took the class, I was already practicing Sikhism. I took it not because there was something lacking in Sikhism, but because I didn't grow up with religion. I was curious about the prayer technique (called "affirmative prayer") that they used at Agape. I use the system when performing an Ardas actually (the Sikh prayer).

The class affirmed to me that other "religions," or systems of worship, do not threaten my faith. They enrich it. I truly believe that every "religion" is fundamentally the same when we don't see everything so literally. If we can expand our interpretation of what we think, we can reach common ground with pretty much anyone. God is far too vast to understand or win an argument about.

When it comes to God, I believe we should practice what we... well, just practice. Don't preach!


Blessings,
Sirgun

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Embracing It

Having a child is bringing up a lot of things from my own childhood. I expected this. When I taught children's yoga, this happened a lot too. I was grateful for it then because I felt it was preparing me for having my own children. It's a grand purification...


:: BEFORE PURIFICATION, THE MESS ::

Before there is clean, there is dirty.

The mind is a messy place. There is so much there. So much that we are aware of, but so much more that we bury, or that we didn't even notice we kept there in the first place. The Grand Subconscious. The Even Grander Unconscious.

The thing about Western psychology is that it is the study of how interesting this mess is. I recently read an article in Scientific American that had evidence that talking about our problems actually makes them bigger. Because the more we discuss the past the more it plays through our mind and gets reinvented. Our memories are actually not that good. We re-invent the past each time to talk about it. In other words, talk therapy can make our issues worse.

I grew up on a lot of talk.

On the one hand, it made me incredibly adept at identifying my feelings. I think it's important to be able to articulate what is bothering us. On the other hand, it made me create stories about why I am the way I am and who to blame for it.

So: not healthy.

Now that I am raising a son, I see things in myself that I don't like. And the blame rises.


:: HUGGING LITTLE ME ::

I'm finding that the best way to deal with this is to embrace it.

There are reasons behind the way I am. That is my journey. I'm realizing that everyone in my life is and has been a fallible human being—just like me.

Being a mom is helping me forgive my mother. And watching my husband be a new dad is helping me forgive my father.

And watching my son—this HUGE soul in this TINY body—trying to navigate this crazy world, is teaching me about my own journey through life.


:: KARMA ::

I believe we come into this life with a lot of baggage to clear. By God's Grace, we get to shed some of it before we make our way out. This takes a lot of work, and the ability to forgive.

Because without forgiveness, we just collect more and more baggage. More and more subconscious junk, which colors everything we do without us realizing it. And then we create more junk.

In yogic terms, KARMA.

The first step is forgiving myself.

This journey of being a mother is like the fast track to clearing or accumulating more karma. There is another soul on the line. And I have to be very mindful.


Blessings,
Sirgun






Thursday, July 4, 2013

It's (A)live!!!



My new album, The Cosmic Gift, is now available to purchase and download!

It feels so good to release it into the world... what a labor of love.

It is 8 tracks long, mantra-rich, replete with beautiful melodies and harmonies, adorned with sweet string parts, caressed by woodwinds, upheld by drums and hand percussion, and all put together by the talented Ram Dass Khalsa... by the grace of Guru Ram Dass and everyone who helped make it a reality by pre-purchasing and donating to it!

I feel so blessed to have been able to do this.

I hope you enjoy it!

Yay!

Love,
Sirgun

P.S. Here is a list of all the wonderful people who helped make this happen. There was not a moment of making this that I was not grateful to YOU for your support... For, without it, it would not have been possible.

Abhai Raj Singh & Sat Purkh Kaur Khalsa, Bryan Baughman, Julio Andujar, Devi Bhaktananda, Nicole Coyle, Crown of Eternity—Harnek Singh & Kaur, Lisa Freund, Geri Garrett, Christina Glavas, Mary Green, Humble Monkey Yoga, Gagandeep Kaur, Harsukh Kaur, Jaslaen Kaur, Joti Kaur, Harpal Kaur Khalsa, Sat Darshan Singh Khalsa, SatKirin Kaur Khalsa, Tapasyogi Nandhi, Debbie Oliver, Isabelle Pierre-Emile, McKenzie Reed Van Meel, Dr. Karen Rowe, Tiera Rozman—Yoga on Central, Scott & Amber Samplin, Jerry & Pamela Singer, Hari Sangat Singh, Peter Sklivas—Yoga Passion, Donna Swan, Dave & Kathee Walters, Cathy Anderson, John Apt, Allison Austin, Wendy M. Barton, Valerie Bechteler, Paula Becker, Sherry Berger, Catherine Boyer, Sandra Brazeau, Sumr Soudi Breeze, Sheela Bringi, Crystelle Brown, Lisa Bucciarelli, Christiane Bulley, Sangeet Kaur Chana, Denise Cobo (Harchand Kaur), Nancy Cole, Connie Corley, Chris Courtney, Bob Dahlstrom, Cheryl Davis, Pamela Davis, Leita DeRouen, Jo Downer, Cypress Dubin-Snyder, Chrissy Fenzau, Anne Finnan, Anne Fresia, Sarah Garney, Anthea Gaupner, Debra Gehrke, J A Gelabert Sampol, Alana Gentry, Nora Gluck, Rochelle Goehring, Susan Gold, Andrea Meisner Gottleib, Tara Grady, Audrey Hannah, Byron Hamby, Harnam, Tua Hua, Jennie Hyland, Marc Kaplan, Tosh Kara, Esther Katzman, Amar Atma Kaur, Arjun Deva Kaur, Jai Kirti Kaur, Jot Prakash Kaur, Karampal Kaur, Kehar Kaur, Kewal Kaur (Cat), LivNam Kaur, Mandeep Kaur, Nihal Kaur, Paramliv Kaur, Pearljeet Kaur, Ram Das Kaur (Julie), Ram Rung Kaur, Sampuran Kaur, Satgurprasad Kaur, Sirgun Kaur (Powers), Siri Baldeep Kaur, Sirikar Kaur, Carrie Kepler, Adarsh Kaur Khalsa, Ajeet Kaur Khalsa, Amar Khalsa, Daljit Singh Khalsa, Dev Suroop Singh Khalsa, Dhyan Kaur Khalsa, Fatehpal Kaur Khalsa, Ghansham Singh Khalsa, GuruMeher Singh Khalsa, Guru Prem Singh Khalsa, Guru Singh Khalsa, Hari-Mander Singh Khalsa, Himmat Singh Khalsa, Kartar Kaur Khalsa, Kewal Kaur Khalsa, Meher Kaur Khalsa, Namjeev Kaur Khalsa, Sahib-Amar Khalsa, Sant Kaur Khalsa, Sant Singh Khalsa, Sarv Karta Khalsa, Sat Darshan Khalsa, Sat Kartar Khalsa, Sat Kaur Khalsa, Sat Nam Kaur Khalsa, Simran Kaur Khalsa, Simrit Kaur Khalsa, Siri Chand Kaur Khalsa, Dr. Sham Rung Khalsa, Sharon Korchowsky, Veronica Krestow, Laura Langlois-Myers, Paula Leeper, Michelle Lombardo, Courtney Long, Windy Lyle, Lenore Lyons, Liz Marx, Josie Mason, Grace Mauzy, Constance Mayer, Liz McCollum, Julie McDonald, Brenda McMorrow, Joan McSweeney, Helena Nash, Ana Netanel, Francesco Niccoli, Hillary Palestrant, Gita Perkins, Carrie Peters, Julie Phillips, Deborah Pierson, Prairie in Bloom, Stephen Price, Ryan O'Flaherty, Meena Ollek, Yvette Om, Philippe Quesnel, Janelle Reichman, Stella Roest, Guy Robinson, David Rosenthal, Bettina Jaideep Schl├╝ter, Julie Sector, Joan Shangold, Michael Shillingforth, Kate Shipp, Allen Shubert, Ricky Singer, Guruka Singh, Kartar Singh, Paramdhan Singh, Nam Hari Singh, Benida Solow, Regina Spamer (Gurupal Kaur, Leigh Stovestull, Studio Santosha Yoga, Heather Sweeney, Milan Symon, Jamila Tazewell, Alicia Valentyn, Zita Vasilisinova, June Paramdeep Veltman, Nacho Verdugo, Jeanne Verger, Christina Weddle, Rowen White, Lindsey Wicks, Christin Wingo, LynnDee Witteveen, Ananda Yogiji, Stephen Zipperer






Friday, June 7, 2013

It's (Almost) Alive!



Since September, my new album has been in the making.

Well, before that actually...

I began thinking about a new album at the beginning of 2012...

Or maybe it was in 2011 when I released my last album...

ANYWAY, it's been a while. :-)

Creation is a lengthy process.


:: COME AND BE HUMBLED ::

One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is how humbling a process it is to make an album. I don't think many people listen to music with the awareness of how much time, energy, love, sweat, and doubt, awaken through it.

As with any creative project, too, it's never really done. I mean, there is a time when you have to say "enough editing!" But really, there's always something you can keep fixing. There's always something you can go back and forth about—change it, change it back. There's always a wish that this one little tiny thing (that probably no one else will hear) could have been bigger, or smaller, or higher, or lower.

In these times, I have to remember something my mother told me: the imperfections are important because they let God in. I like that.


:: ACCEPTING THE BEAUTY ::

Once I can let go and know that its not ever going to be "perfect," I realize that it already is. This album is exactly what it is supposed to be. My producer did a fabulous job. The musicians gave incredible performances. The songs are lovely. (If I do say so myself)

And the big picture is: I am really happy with it!

This morning the final mix of each track was sent to get mastered. That is the moment of letting go. It's like what I must imagine parents feel about sending their child to college.
We did our best... May you be successful!
And so I bid farewell to "The Cosmic Gift" (my new album), for it is no longer my little project. It will belong to everyone who holds it, sings along, and sees it.

Music is magic like that!


Love,
Sirgun

Monday, June 3, 2013

Listening, Yay!

My new album is in its final stages.

It's an incredible experience listening to mixes as my producer sends them. They are delivered to me in stages, each time a little more complete–adding drums, shakers, harmony vocals, viola, cello, violin–preparing to be heard by more people.

I am listening to the latest "mix." I am riveted. I have never made music like this. My heart swells with gratitude for not only the amazing skill of the musicians, producer, etc., but also for all the people who believed in this music enough to patronize it.

Without that funding, this simply wouldn't have happened. This album was your gift to me. Now it is becoming my gift to you...

I decided to call it THE COSMIC GIFT. The title reflects this gratitude, and also nods at the arrival of the greatest cosmic gift I have ever received... my baby boy.

Wow. It's been quite a year so far!

What next?

Love,
Sirgun


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Measuring the Self

Comparing one's self to others is such an awful habit of mine.

Spiritually, I totally get how ridiculous it is to even go there in my mind.

First of all, one never knows what is really going on for someone. So, when I compare, I'm comparing what I know about myself to what I ASSUME about someone else. So silly.

As I get this album ready, the comparing is getting the best of me at times. Will it sound as good as ______? Will it be ready at the same time as ______?

I have to take a deep breath and be humbled by the fact that it is what it is. I have a newborn baby, and getting this album together have been pretty challenging in that respect. My situation is different from other artists right now. My situation is always different I guess... It's always mine.

Anyway, I did manage to finish the cover art. Photo was taken by my friend Amar Atma Singh. I am so thrilled with the photo shoot! I get really shy being photographed.

Despite the worries, I am so excited about this album. I think it is definitely the best thing I have ever created musically. I'm really looking forward to finishing it... whenever that is!

Love,
Sirgun


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Little More Selfless

I'm going to make this one short, because I never can tell how much time I am going to have to write...

Now that there is a little one in the house, I get little bits of "me time."

I realized today that having a baby has expanded me in ways I wasn't expecting. And in ways I've been fighting a little.

I have been stretched, poked, and provoked.


:: I have been called to be MORE ::

More patient.
More giving.
More resilient.


:: I have also been called to be LESS ::

Less self-pitying.
Less self-centered.
Less complaining.

All this expansion makes me feel like a new, more selfless person.

I never realized how much goes into caring for a tiny human being.

You can't know until you do it, I suppose.


Love,
Sirgun

Sunday, April 21, 2013

God Is Neutral

The moment I started believing in GOD was the moment I threw away the childish notion that God's job was to keep me (or anyone) from experiencing pain...

The hunger.
The pillage.
The torture.
The natural disasters.
The violence.
The anger.

Because, if that was God's job, it was pretty clear God wasn't doing it very well.


:: LIFE IS A CYCLE ::

Rather than grade God on a myopic human scale, consider for a moment that we see very little of the bigger picture. An ecosystem must have all the properties of G-O-D: Generation, Organization, and Destruction. Without generation, there would be no new growth. Without organization, there would be nothing to sustain life. Without destruction, there would be no room for new life. 

Life is a cycle. Our emotions are our work.

Everything that occurs in an ecosystem supports balance. It is easy for us to see this when we look at physical cycles. It is more difficult to see this when we talk about invisible cycle... spiritual cycles.

When things seem to be falling apart in our life, we can always ask: "what is this making room for?" 


:: EVERYONE HAPPY ::

If God could make every human being on this planet happy, would that prove God's existence?

Would that even be possible? 

Hmmm... Do we even know what sort of external factors could contribute to our total and completely sustained happiness?

Sometimes people hope for other people's pain. Sometimes several people want the same thing. Sometimes our mind changes and what used to make us happy doesn't anymore. 

If our happiness weren't a cycle of G-O-D, we might not ever notice we were happy. 

It's a pretty well established point that happiness is not based on external factors. Some of the happiest people on this planet experience extreme hardship. 

Hardship does not preclude happiness. We choose how we interpret the workings of God.

I believe every thing happens to support our spiritual growth. We can choose to ignore it, hate it, and bemoan it. It will come again—to give us another opportunity for learning. Or we can choose to be grateful. Lesson learned. NEXT!


:: EVOLUTION ::

When I started believing in God, my notion of why I was even on this planet evolved.

I have always believed in reincarnation, but I didn't understand why we needed so many lives.

I now think of life as a sort of game. We get to play as many times as it takes to get in right. Like "Groundhog Day." Try and try again. 

My understanding now is: the quicker we remember God, the quicker we win. When we win, we no longer need to take human form. Some spiritual teachers, like the Dalai Lama, choose to reincarnate in order to guide others towards their merger with infinity.

In this game of life, there is an underlying spiritual reality that we often forget.  

The THINGS we think we want are not always going to support our actual purpose on planet Earth. What we think we want and what is going to help our soul evolve in this lifetime, might be very different things.

In other words, the new car might not help us get to our spiritual destination any faster. However, we might need a new car in order to get to our physical destinations. As long as we don't confuse the two, we remain on (spiritual) course. 

TRUST is the awareness that the things we need for spiritual growth are already happening to us. Nothing is BAD, even though they may feel BAD.


:: GOING WITH THE FLOW ::

What happens when we stop trying to force the hand of the CREATIVE FORCE? What happens  when we stop trying to manipulate the physical world to get all the THINGS we think we need?

If you have experienced synchronicity, it's pretty obvious, that a softer approach to life brings many unexpected miracles.

You can have a general sense of where you want your life to go. Allowing the flow doesn't mean being aimless or lazy. We start to become more intuitive about our next step. The things that seem effortless and easy tend to be the way forward. 

When we try too hard to make something happen, it can feel like we are trying to swim upstream. In a sense, we are.

God is trying to direct us one way, and we keep going in the opposite direction. Imagine your life as a road with a particular destination. You keep choosing to walk west, when your destination is north. God keeps redirecting you, which feels like you are being blocked. The moment you begin to walk north, the journey seems a little easier.

(In reality, things are not that one-dimensional of course!)  

Once we begin to walk our path, there is still a lot of work to be done. But it feels forward-moving. It doesn't feel counterproductive, like a dead-end around each corner. 


:: GOD IS NEUTRAL ::

God doesn't do "bad" to "bad" people, or "good" to "good" people. God is neutral.

God is the DRIVING FORCE of generation, organization and destruction (GOD). That force drives life itself. Not just for the "good" people or the "bad" people.

We have free will in that we can choose to be in alignment with it, or not.

But even not being in the flow of God is another part of God really...

It's complicated, you know?


Love,
Sirgun







Friday, April 12, 2013

Making Music with Baby

This weekend we tracked the final vocals for my upcoming album.

I've done quite a bit of recording in my life and I was worried about having a newborn baby with this process.

I mean, it's strenuous enough having a baby who needs my full care and attention...

... but then add hours and hours of my "best" singing to the mix?

Wow.

I am really fortunate to have a husband who was able to telecommute so he could be with our son. And our producer's wife did some babysitting as well. It was a real team effort.

All I can say is: WE DID IT.

Vocals are done and now we just have some strings and some mixing to do.

I am really excited about this album!

Blessings,
Sirgun

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Strength It Took to Birth

{Note added 10/20/15. I have just written a much more lucid update to this blog post. I don't believe most of what is written here anymore as I have a lot more valid information at my fingertips. Please check out the update here.}

Almost two months ago now, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. I love my son and if I had to, I would give birth to him several more times again.

His birth was extremely traumatic for me though. I felt like things hadn't gone the way I planned, that it had been more painful than I was prepared for, and that I hadn't been able to give my son the peaceful experience I had wanted for him.

I wanted to write this not as a complaint, but in the hopes that it might resonate with other women who had been through something similar.


NO PAIN?

When I was pregnant, I consumed all the information I could about natural childbirth.  

The consensus in all the "new age" information I absorbed was that pain in childbirth was the result of fear, something society had convinced women to expect. I reasoned that if I entered into the experience fear-free, I would emerge pain-free. 

I realize now that this is ludicrous. I know that there are women who do not experience pain in childbirth. That's great for them! And I know that are women who do. To state that the difference is fear, is an oversimplification. Not only that, I think it minimizes the experience of women who have hard labors, because, presumably, they got too caught up in the fear. It tells them they did something wrong. If only they had been more relaxed...

To me, it is like people who have never had a weight problem in their life, giving dieting advice. If you had an easy birth, in my opinion, that does not you an expert on how to recreate one. It means that that is how your body works. 

About 14 hours into my labor, when my contractions starting accelerating, it felt like someone had clamped my thighs and was administering high voltage electric shocks. The sensation made me want to throw up. I am a very relaxed person generally and I was breathing deeply through most of my labor, but how deeply would you breathe if you stuck your finger in a socket? I wasn't able to breathe my way out of the pain. I just had to surrender. 


MINE, NOT YOURS

I write these words knowing that this is MY experience, not anyone else's. I think the biggest issue I had with listening to women tell me about their pregnancies and their births is that they would talk about it in the second person. Instead of "I felt...", it was generally "you're going to feel..." 

It's hard not to talk this way. I catch myself doing it too. I feel like if I went through it, surely that must make me some kind of authority on it. Surely my testimonial must be useful. Sure. But it's just mine. 

It's an anecdote, not a rule.

HYPE

One of the biggest disappointments of my birth was that it ended at a hospital. My entire labor up until the last ten minutes of pushing took place in the comfort of my own home. About 40 minutes into pushing, my midwife decided to call the paramedics because Amrit-Anter (our son)'s heart was decelerating during the contractions. We never did find out why that happened. He was born perfectly healthy. 

By the time the ambulance came, his heart rate was back to normal in fact, but I didn't want to chance it, so I was hoisted on to the bed and off we went. 

I was told not to push while we drove to the hospital. 

This was the lowest moment of my life. Not only was the safety of my son being questioned, but I was in extreme agony, trying to keep life itself from coming out of me! 

Everyone had told me how empowered I would feel. How blissful those first few moments with your newborn would be. How relieved you would be.

I did not feel empowered. I felt cheated. 

I did not feel blissful. I felt light-headed.

And though I was relieved, I was shaking uncontrollably for several hours. My midwife told me it was from hormones. 


OUTCOME

While the experience of laor was anything but joy, ecstasy, and bliss, the outcome of the birth was all of those things: our son! 

I know Amrit-Anter went through even more trauma than me, so I understood what he was going through better than my husband in his first few days of life. At least I had known he was coming. He hadn't had any idea of what to expect, or what was happening to him, or where he was going.  

I have a much greater appreciation of the amazing strength it takes to bring life into this world. And I suppose my lesson is that courage isn't the absence of fear. It is the strength to carry on despite it. In writing this, I realize that is probably what people meant by "empowering." 

My life was no longer just about me. Someone else was depending on me to be strong for him. 

I don't encourage anyone to fear this experience. I do think women should know that an entire range of sensations are possible.

In the end, we get what we need, right? 


Love,
Sirgun




Complete and Thrilled

My New Album Campaign raised a whopping $12,835! Thank you so much to everyone who participated and pre-purchased the new album!

I am not getting one penny of this money. It is going to pay my producer and all the amazing musicians who will be playing on the album. Please look for it this summer!

Goes to show... if you ask, it shall be given.

Much love,
Sirgun

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Asking for Help


A man just shared this video with me after contributing to my New Album FUNdraising Campaign

It really hit home because, like Amanda Palmer, I am asking for your help. "You" being not just a generic YOU, but a YOU who has enjoyed my music in the past... or who has just discovered that they enjoy it. 

Being that I am a devotional chant artist, I suspect that this "YOU" will be a select number of people. However, being that this is the internet, a select group of people can still be thousands, millions, or even billions of people. Why not?

Anyway, the way this works is that making a CD is expensive, so I ask YOU (again, the select YOU) to buy the CD before it's done so I can pay to make it.

It's a short-term investment, if you will.

 I'll give you your CD this summer once it's completed.

Besides pre-purchasing the CD, there are other ways to make bigger contributions and get fun prizes in return.

I really like doing my FUNdraising this way because it gets everyone involved in this music project.

For more info, check out the pages dedicated to this on my website: http://sirgunkaur.com/newalbum

Thanks for considering this,
Sirgun

Monday, March 4, 2013

Nature's Intelligence

Just when you think your heart is full... something comes to expand it even more.

On February 11, I delivered a baby boy into this world!

Beyond the amazing amount of work that no one could have ever successfully prepared me for, a baby is certainly a MIRACLE of Nature.

For reasons much more obvious to me now, Nature is usually referred to as a woman: MOTHER NATURE.

Before I went through this incredible process, I had some conceptual understanding of how wonderous the female body is, but now I am in total awe.

I mean, my body knew to make 10 fingers, 10 toes, a perfect little nose... ears... not to mention all the other features of his body I can't even see, which seem to be functioning perfectly.

When I think about the 9 months of mysterious growth happening inside my uterus, I am humbled by Nature's intelligence.

What amazing things we are capable of as women. Wah!

Blessings,
Sirgun


Friday, February 8, 2013

Free Music

I just added a FREE DOWNLOAD to my website. Please enjoy and feel free to share!

It is a live version of a song that will be on my new album: "Rakhe Rakhanhaar"

It features my friends Sat Darshan Singh Khalsa on tabla, and Bahadurpreet Kaur on violin.

Blessings,
Sirgun

Graceful Language

I was telling my husband about a comment someone said that upset me today.

He told me not to take it personally. He said he knew the person and they probably didn't realize I would take offense to their sarcasm.

He said not everyone uses graceful language.

This really struck me.

I thought about all the people I had in my life who do use graceful language.

I thought about how thankful I was for the people who choose their words thoughtfully. I thought about all the people I knew whose words never haunted me after we spoke. I thought about all the people whose careful choice of words ten to echo lovingly in my head even after our conversation is over.

Then I thought... am I one of those people?

I realized that while I admire and seek after people who used their words elegantly, I might not always do the same.

I don't think I'm ever purposefully rude or mean. But I could definitely improve in my verbal skills.

I'm really thankful for this person whose words upset me today.

It's amazing how we can hold up mirrors for each other.


Love,
Sirgun

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Cup on the Table

I am a cup on the table
I know not when the water will come

The more I think of the water
the further away it has run

The more I think of the future
the less it seems I can will it

I am a cup on the table
waiting for liquid to fill it


I may end up losing my patience
But I will not forget why I'm here

What I require is water
I will not be filled with fear

Some substitute fillers may offer
but nothing else will I approve

I am a cup on the table
waiting patiently for you

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Praise the Bridges



I found this quote this morning. 

Ever since I visited Japan in 2006 I have loved the image (and function) of bridges. 

Bridges are like magical portals that take us from one reality to another. They can help us cross the seemingly impossible rift between where we are and where we would like to be.

In Sikhism, we talk about the "Guru." The Guru is like a bridge. 

In times when we feel a sense of disconnect, challenge or confusion, we can call upon "the Guru" to bridge the gap and bring us closer to balance... closer to God. 

How do you call upon the Guru? We have so many tools for linking ourselves to this subtle energy field. Mantra, yoga, meditation, and prayer are all good ways to find the bridge. 

In times of strife, we often forget that some of these more esoteric solutions might work better than the biggest effort to manually "fix" our problem. When we are receptive to the sacred energy that holds this world together, it builds a bridge for us. 

In Sikh poetry, the Guru is often described as a boat that "carries us" across the world ocean. I suppose it would have to be a monumental bridge that would take us across an ocean, so I can see why a boat might be more appropriate symbolism.

However, some obstacles are not quite as wide as an ocean. Some things are handled in increments. Some things reoccur in our lives and we need that bridge to help walk us over.

Sometimes we need a few bridges to even get us to that boat.

Praise the bridge!


Love,
Sirgun








Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sweet Progress

My New Album Campaign rose by over a % today! 

This might not seem that big, but when you're talking about 1% of $15,000, it's a beautiful leap!


Today, I said "no" to something that would have made this campaign a lot easier... I won't get into specifics. Suffice it to say that it was an easy out. I didn't take it. I'm going to do this completely independently. Yep. The hard way.

The funny thing about the hard way is that the "hard" part turns out just to be the temptation. Once I made the decision to decline, a whole wave of pre-purchases and donations came in that I wasn't expecting. And it actually turns out to feel more like the easy way. The right way. 

Anyway, read the THANK YOU note. It's for you.

Blessings,
Sirgun Kaur Khalsa



Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Ocean Inside


The ocean inside is mighty fierce
but not for the force of waves

It is not the crashing into shoreline
or the ever subtle incline 
that touches the beach's enclaves

The ocean inside is mighty fierce
but not for the waves it makes

It is not the rapid changes
in elemental stages
that reverses the damage it creates

The ocean inside is mighty fierce
when it surrenders into the sea

And settles into a stillness
that we did not foresee 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Infinite Hope

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” 
~Martin Luther King Jr.

In honor of Martin Luther King Day yesterday, I wanted to write something on one of the Doctor's amazing quotes. I chose this one out of many because it was short enough to expand on, and pithy enough to really get into.

Here goes...




:: WHAT ARE DISAPPOINTMENTS? ::

I'm certain you have felt the answer to this question.

I see a disappointment as an inner-conflict between what is and what we would prefer to be.

For example, two children playing at the park might have very different experiences based on their preferences. If child 1 really wants to be at the park and child 2 would have preferred to be watching television, child 2 is probably going to be disappointed, whereas child 1 will probably be content to play in the sand.

As our expectations and our vision expand, our disappointments will likely grow along with them.


:: DISAPPOINTMENT IS ESSENTIAL ::

Some might say disappointment is a good thing to avoid. When we can see the world how it is, not the way we would like it be, we can insure our own happiness and contentment. And for mundane things like playing in sand vs. watching television, I'd say that is a good practice. Why waste energy on what could be? Just enjoy the sand!

However, there are good reasons to be disappointed.

Dr. King's legacy would be very different if he didn't simultaneously see things as they were, and devote his life to changing them.

Finite disappointment was a necessary component to Dr. King's infinite hope. Without the nightmare of race relations in the United States that he faced, there could have been NO DREAM. Without this disappointing situation, there could have been no Martin Luther King. There could have been no inspiring leadership. There could have been no example of saintly behavior. There could have been no role model for future generations.

From a finite disappointment came a greater finite reality: equal rights for black people in the United States.

(I am not deluded enough to think that there is complete equality even today, but compared to MLK's time, I dare say we have come a long way.)


:: TRANSMUTING EMOTIONS ::

I suppose my point is, it isn't our emotions that necessarily get in the way. It's the way we use them.

Ultimately, it's how we answer this question:

Do I sit and wallow in my disappointment, or do I use it as fuel? 

Emotions like anger, fear, resentment, jealousy, and disappointment are only "bad" when we let them eat us up. If we can transmute them into something useful, they did their job: they got us started.

Martin Luther King Jr., it seems to me, was not afraid of his emotions. He knew the pain of racism. He used it. Moreover, he transmuted it. He did not throw his pain right back onto his oppressors. He transmuted his pain into the energy of his peaceful campaign to do what he knew was right.

To come back to the initial quote, he transmuted his finite disappointment into infinite hope. And when we are able to transmute something petty and finite into something universal and infinite, we can only expect to succeed... for the expansion we must experience within our own self to make that happen is a win in itself.


Blessings,
Sirgun


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Welcome: Well, Come!

Since May, my husband and I have known that a baby would be coming just about this time of year. As the weeks go by and the (mystery) birth day approaches, I think about the incredible ride I've been on for the past 9 months.

Pregnancy for me has meant nausea, uncontrollable fits of laughter, joy, music, insecurity, sadness, acid reflux, anticipation, anxiety, and so many other not as easily expressible phenomena.

Beyond the "symptoms" of housing life in my womb, pregnancy has also brought me tremendous growth, a sense of peace with who I am, and a unique connection to the Great Spirit that brought me safely into this world.

While certainly not an easy task, I feel truly blessed to be a vehicle for new life.


:: THE REAL DOER ::

Beyond the 9+ months of growing another being inside my womb, pregnancy feels like my lesson in what it truly means to surrender to the potent unfolding of creation. 

In Sikhism, we have the phrase Karta Purkh. 

Karta Purkh is God as the doer of all things. It's an energetic awareness of the intelligence behind the things we think we are causing to happen. In other words, while we can throw a ball really far, there are natural laws that make our actions fruitful, i.e. gravity.

KAR refers to creating, TA is the sound of life giving birth, and PURKH is the primal being-ness of the Universe. 

It's all fine and good to think you understand what it means to accept that things are being done through you. And perhaps you have had an experience that made this concept hit home. For me, I never got it until I became pregnant. 


:: TOTAL ALLOWING ::

The first few weeks of my pregnancy were pretty textbook. I fell into a comatose state of extended evening slumbers, plus a few naps.

At first, I mistook this to be post-festival-work fatigue. I had just pulled several all-nighters at the festival I work for, and I usually had catching up to do when I returned home.   

When the fatigue didn't go away after a couple of weeks though, I became worried I had some sort of virus. It was such a relief to find out that I was pregnant, and not seriously ill. 

Despite the fact that I have a very holistic relationship with my body (through yoga, meditation, careful nutrition, etc.), saying that I had little sense of its ability in the baby-making department would be an understatement. 

I kept feeling like the successful growth of this child had to depend on me doing something. Every other capacity that I had cultivated had, after all, been the direct result of physical or mental action (or so I reasoned). It hadn't been my experience thus far that I could just sit back and watch as my body prepared to run a marathon, for example.


Was I really capable of growing a child? 
Did my body really know something I didn't? 
How is that possible?


I was unable to tap into a secure sense of "knowing" that I could do this.

I was willing to play along though.

I sat back and enjoyed the ride. It quickly became easy to see that something was happening beyond me.


:: THE MIRACLE ::

The miracle is that my body did know what to do.

I watched in awe as things slowly started to grow. When I felt the first miniature kicks, I couldn't believe it. There was really something growing in there! And I did nothing to make that happen.

Sure, you might say, I did do some things to improve my chances of conceiving and growing a child. I did have sex. I did eat. I did breathe. I did keep positive thoughts and sing to my womb.

But when I say "I did nothing", I mean I didn't instruct my uterus, or mentally form the umbilical cord, or go through a long process of filling the bag of waters with fluid. No, all that was completely beyond my control. Pre-programmed by a perfect sense of Divine Order that didn't need my help, only my participation...

Karta Purkh.


:: HERE WE GO ::

So, as we approach our son's upcoming birth day, I have faith that this same Karta Purkh will take the reigns. Just like all the things my body intuitively knew to do to foster this life inside me, I have no doubt that it will continue to amaze me with its mysterious intelligence.

I will try to allow the process to just unfold... not just the birth, but the parenting part too.

In fact, I've mostly been thinking about the actual parenting these past few weeks. It's no small thing to take responsibility for a human soul.

I do take some comfort in knowing that this soul chose his incarnation for the lessons he needed to learn in this lifetime. While I will strive to do my best, we will all inevitably be learning and growing... and that's OK.

I also know that this child isn't really "mine", or my husband's. He belongs to the same fabric of existence that all of us belong to. Our success as parents, I think, will be in how successfully we are able to support his relationship with his own soul and help him complete his mission on this planet.

Ah, here we go...


Love,
Sirgun

Friday, January 11, 2013

Building the Bridge

Creating music is an amazing process.

Take this song, for example.

Rakhe Rakhanhaar...

I began singing this shabad as part of the Aquarian Sadhana with two friends a few years ago. We called ourselves "Treysha."

We decided to put this version on my new album (coming summer 2013), but my producer and I felt it needed something... a bridge.

Mantra music can get a little repetitive, and that's OK. Most of the time, that's the point. But sometimes it's nice to break things up with some English lyrics... something to give a song a little more musical appeal.

Anyway, here's what I came up with:


Ram Dass (my producer) doesn't like the word "orchestra." I'm trying to think of something a little less cerebral to substitute it with... or leave it be.

Love,
Sirgun

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Fly AND Sing


One of my new favorite things to do is make images with quotes on them. I have a whole collection of ones that tell the story of why music/singing is important. 

Enjoy!










Love,
Sirgun






Tuesday, January 8, 2013

God Beyond Religion

I started writing this blog a few days ago and it got completely erased. I guess it was time to get a fresh perspective on the subject...

I find myself using the word "Universe" a lot when I'm talking about God. I suppose I am sensitive to the fact that some people feel uncomfortable with the word "God," and others might assume I am talking about "my" God and not theirs.

The God I'd like to talk about is not a personal or religious one, however. The God I speak of cannot exist for some and not others. If this were the case, it would not be God.

And here I go making you uncomfortable...


:: OH MY GOD ::

Can you really talk about God out of the context of religion? I think so.

For so many years, it seems, people have felt that God belonged to those who appeared religious or pious.

In order to speak with authority on your creator, you had to dress a certain way, pray a certain way, eat a certain way...

And even then, you had to go through an intermediary person to communicate with the One Power that so intimately made YOU.

OMG!


:: TAKING THE LORD'S NAME IN VAIN ::

And of course you can't talk about God without discussing the myriad ways you can talk about God in vain.

This is a really interesting concept though, isn't it?

What would be a vain reason to call on God?

It seems to me that humans might be poor judges of what would be a good conversation starter with the fabric of existence. Who can say God is more interested in a prayer for your grandmother than a stubbed toe?

Probably people who want to make you feel guilty for doing spirituality the wrong way.

Truthfully, no one can qualify your relationship with God but you. And if you believed that, God might not be such a sore topic.

And when I say "you", I mean "me" just a few short years ago...


:: BUILDING RELATIONSHIP ::

The thing I had to figure out about the whole God thing was this: it really doesn't matter what God is. It matters what my relationship to God is.

My spiritual path of choice is very careful about not trying to describe God so much as forging a relationship to that entity.

After all, wouldn't we all be better people if we spent less time trying to convince other people of what God is and wants, and more time establishing a relationship to God?

Religions seem to serve a very important purpose in that they can give us a framework for how we might relate to God—through various disciplines like prayer, reading scriptures, meditation, etc...

Other ways to related to God that do not involve an organized discipline exist too though. Gardening, golf, swimming, cartwheels on the beach, and knitting could be some pretty awesome and expansive activities if done with an awareness of what makes them all possible.


:: WHY? ::

The question is, why would you want (or even need) to develop a relationship with God?

Well, have you tried going through life thinking that there is absolutely nothing going beyond what you can see/taste/touch and smell? That's a pretty sure path to depression. Even scientists wonder at the mystery of the space between matter, and so many more of the various unknown components of our Universe.

A teacher once told our yoga class: "If you believe in an unknown, that's your God."

I find it hard to believe when people say "I don't believe in God." Basically, because I used to be one of them. And when I found out that there were other ways to picture God besides man-who-sits-on-throne-in-outer-space-and-grants-wishes-to-lucky-few, I realized I actually did believe in an integral lifeforce that ran through all creation.

It follows that the reason you'd want a relationship with God is actually pretty simple—you're living in it!  If you were living in New York City without knowing it, knowing how to get around, or knowing anyone else who lived there, you'd feel pretty disoriented, right?

And that's why it doesn't matter what you call "God." We need to connect to that which makes us US. If we don't we will inevitably feel alienated and alone.


:: HOW TO DO IT ::

I can in no way claim that I have the answer for you... how will you feel connected to your light inside, to God, to the Universe.

Things that have worked for me include: meditation, kundalini yoga, affirmative prayer, Sikh Gurdwara services, walking along the beach, talking to the growing child in my womb, chanting, singing, writing music, making music...

Things that have not worked for include: complaining, drinking, hanging out with mean people, living for other people's approval, eating cake, moving houses, getting angry with people who push my buttons...

I leave it to you to make your own list.


:: UNIVERSAL ::

I'd like to conclude by coming back to my original point.

God exists beyond religion.

God is Universal.

I think that last statement is redundant. Hopefully the idea that God is bigger than any religion, thought, or dictate, will become glaringly obvious to all who walk this planet very soon.

While God is Universal, your relationship with God is personal.

And I think it goes without saying (but I will anyway), that just because you think you've found God, doesn't mean someone else wants to hear about it.

If you are reading this blog though, I will consider that you asked, and, therefore, I have full license to tell you all my thoughts on the topic.

Ok. That's all for now.


Love,
Sirgun


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