Sunday, December 14, 2014

Mealtime & Inclusion

Here's a little story about community and mealtime: 

About 4 years ago I found my spiritual family in Sikhism and 3HO Foundation. It was so exciting to finally feel at home in a community of people. 2 ago, I discovered that I have a fairly common gene mutation, which affects my health greatly. It was such a relief to discover why my health had seemed so fragile throughout my life, and it gave me a recipe to stay my healthiest. In order to avoid anemia and illness, I must avoid a lot of food additives and LEGUMES.

I'm learning how important food can be, as I try to navigate gatherings like Gurdwara and Solstice events in a vegetarian community whose diet is based primarily on legumes (soy, dal, mung beans, etc.). It means I have to decline a lot of food, make my own, bring my own, and risk offending people who don't fully understand why I am rejecting their love offering. I feel badly about this, and it does alienate me as I feel less included in mealtime.

On the other hand, I feel very blessed to know I have a G6PD deficiency, as most people who live with this do not know they have it, and their health problems remain a constant mystery to them. It is a double-edged sword. I'm sharing this because I also realize that no one truly and completely fits into a group. We are all unique and have varying physical/emotional/psychological requirements that may make us feel alone in the group. We are all included in God though. We are all One, despite the illusory evidence pointing to the contrary.

 Fateh!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Spirit Voyage Radio Interview

Here is the link to a radio interview I did with Ramdesh Kaur on SPIRIT VOYAGE RADIO last week.

We talk about "Dayaal" and the recording process, and my history as a singer-songwriter. Ramdesh played excerpts of most of the tracks from the album as well.

Here it is - http://www.unity.fm/episode/SpiritVoyage_103014

Blessings,
Sirgun

Monday, October 20, 2014

Dayaal - MY NEW ALBUM!

It's here! It's here! It's here!

My new album "Dayaal" is here and ready for YOU.

I'm really truly excited to share this work with you. A lot of gifted hands worked to make this album what it is.

Click to listen.

I pray you enjoy it.

Love,
Sirgun

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Gluten Free? Not for Me... Here's Why

Before we begin, I'd like to note that I was a raw vegan for many years in my youth and thus "gluten-free" by default. This blog is NOT about my love of gluten.

It IS about my audible-sigh-attitude towards things labelled "gluten-free." And the delusion that anything carrying such a label is, by extension, healthy.

Let's start with my first (humble) observation:

:: Who Are We Feeding? (Or: All About Beans)

Celiac Central reports that 1% of the American population has celiac disease. Not sure what celiac is? Really, you haven't heard about it yet? Ok, here's an explanation:
Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. 
Because those who are so afflicted cannot eat things like traditional forms of bread, pasta, crackers, or many processed foods that contain trace amounts of gluten, some people have gotten creative with alternative ingredients.

Most notably, gluten-free products use bean flours as a substitute for wheat flours and different types of gums (often bean gums like carob, guar, etc...) to make up for the loss of a binding agent (i.e. what was gluten).

Sounds good, right?

So, why is this an issue for me? 

Well, compared to the 1% of people who cannot eat gluten, is the estimated 10% of our human population who cannot metabolize beans. We are called "G6PD Deficient."

From wikipedia:
The condition is characterized by abnormally low levels of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, an enzyme involved in the pentose phosphate pathway that is especially important in the red blood cell. G6PD deficiency is the most common human enzyme defect.
(Emphasis is mine)

As I understand it, G6PD helps our cells metabolize sugar. Also, it creates an enzyme called reduced glutathione, which is the antioxidant that protects our red blood cells from being killed by the oxidation that results from normal metabolism.

When someone like myself eats a cupcake made of fava bean flour, my cells go into auto-destruct mode and I can become anemic or worse. (To be fair, people like me should avoid processed sugar anyway, but let's keep moving...)

There is much ado about celiac and gluten intolerance, but this is likely the first time you have heard of G6PD Deficiency, yes?

When my son was diagnosed about two years ago, it was the first I'd ever heard of it too. Our pediatrician at the time said he saw very few cases of it. Here's the kicker: he never tests for it. Hmmm...

Now, I am very happy for my gluten-free friends and all the great options they now have for sugar cravings and more. But do I think this should become the default way of eating for everyone who is health conscious? No, I do not.

:: Being Vegetarian/Vegan

You may not know this already, so I'll mention here that I am currently a vegetarian.

"Um, a vegetarian who doesn't eat beans?" you might ask.

Indeed. It's a bummer.

To make matters more complex, the same health-conscious people who avoid the putrid slaughtered flesh of farm animals (oh ok, I don't judge), are also the ones switching to gluten free sandwich bread and pizza crusts. In fact, I recently discovered my favorite vegetarian restaurant in Phoenix is going gluten-free. Eek! This means that there will be an ever more limited list of items I can eat on their menu.

So while the gluten-free fad is making life easier for those who actually have issues with gluten, it's definitely making mine a little more difficult... at least socially.


:: Gluten-Free Processed Food Is Still Processed Food

My last observation goes for pretty much every health food craze that I've participated in (raw vegan, pescatatian, dairy-free, lacto-vegetarian, and so on): people start to define themselves by what they DON'T eat, not what they do eat. And the result is the ability to make junk food no matter what your dietary restrictions.

I've seen raw vegan cheesecake, and gluten free muffins. You can make it any way you want. It's still not celery.


Anyway, that's my two cents. I'm mainly trying to raise some awareness about G6PD. With a little help, this affliction may just be the new celiac. Oh, to be so popular!


Much love,
Sirgun

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Gotta Write Something

Greetings Reader,

Many a time when I am at the wheel of my vehicle, singing French children's songs with my toddler (like you do), I think of a great topic for a blog. I never write it down. And I don't remember any of these "brilliant" ideas right now as I write this.

But I gotta write something... it's been a while!

Diabolo Cody—writer genius behind the film "Juno," among many—says she forces herself to write every day to keep up with her craft. I admire that.

In any event, here I am. Back to my blog.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Golden Silence

Sat Nam Dear Friend,

I am on my last few days in the studio, recording my second solo kirtan album. The producer suggested that I observe silence between sessions so as not to needlessly tire out my voice. So each day I drive back to my family and communicate in smiles and occasional sentences jotted down on a notepad app.

It has been very centering. Talking not only tires the voice, it is extremely energetically taxing. I may just emerge from this process a little quieter.

Many blessings,
Sirgun

Monday, May 12, 2014

ForGIVEness

I had my first "5 Rhythms" dance experience yesterday. It was a Mother's Day gift to myself. Thank you me! And from my husband, who watched our 1 year old so I could dance freely for a few hours. Thank you boys!

The facilitator had a few things to share at the end of class... They were, of course, as always is the case, things I've heard before. They were things I needed to hear again. And things I was open to hearing this time. That's why repetition is so important. Words keep coming back until our ears and heart are ready to receive them. And sometimes, we receive something different each time. The gift that keeps on giving.

The message was: this shift that is happening is a shift from feeling like a VICTIM to being LOVE. It is a shift from "woe is me" to "I am free." There is no freedom without forgiveness.

As one of the songs that played in the class made so clear: "Forgiveness is gold."

You want riches? Forgive your mother.

This is hard work.

But once you forgive, you are free.

In my body, dancing around the room... releasing... I realized that nothing from my past is still happening. If I can't forgive it, I continually relive it.

Where is the line between not learning the lesson and forgiveness?

Well, just because you forgive someone does not mean they become your best friend again. Sometimes we can love people from a distance. We can release them from our daily lives, while still loving them. And not being angry with them for playing the part we cast them for in our own awakening. (I borrowed that phrasing from a facebook post I recently saw.)

For Mother's Day, I GIVE myself forgiveness.

Again and again and again and again and again.

Love,
Sirgun




Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Yogi Stories: Finding Love in the Kundalini Yoga World

First published on SPIRIT VOYAGE BLOG, February 6, 2014.


This is a story of yogic technology in action. It is the story of an answered prayer and a fulfilled New Year’s intention. It is the story of two people who knew what they wanted and dared to receive it. This is the story of how I came to enter the most rewarding (and yes, often challenging) partnership and commitment of my life. This is how I met my husband.
In 2010 I attended my first Summer Solstice Sadhana in New Mexico. I was very new to Kundalini Yoga at that time. A friend has invited me to sing for his workshop, and besides, I had some free time. At least that’s why I thought I was there. If you have ever been to this epic event, you know that the reason you think you go, is a very far cry from the reason your soul arranges for you to be there. It turns out there were a lot of reasons for my presence, not least of which was doing a service exchange on the sound team with the man I would marry exactly one year later.
The most amazing part about our first meeting was that neither of were interested in the other romantically. It was not love at first sight.
In fact, besides some conversations about his teacher training, and some other service-related banter, we barely interacted.
The next time we met was at Winter Solstice in Florida, only 6 months later. I had just finished my month-long intensive teacher training in Espanola, New Mexico. Also, I had completed 40 days of reciting the prayer “So Purkh” with the intention of attracting a partner.
My future husband, Harimander, had begun his own spiritual practice. He had expressed interest in marriage, so his teacher encouraged him to being a Sahej Path to activate the intention. A Sahej Path is a personal prayer that involves reading the Siri Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh scriptures) each day, eventually completing it in its entirety.
When we met again at Winter Solstice, something had changed in both of us. Still no attraction though.
We both signed up for the sound team again. On one of the days, we were assigned to help out for a class taught by Snatam Kaur and So Purkh Singh (I love that that is his name by the way!).  I could tell the story within the story of how they met and married—because that was the topic of their class—but I’ll keep on point here.
A So Purkh engraved kara
At some point during their class Harimander and I realized that everything was going smoothly, so we decided to participate in the class.  Unbeknownst to me, he got a very clear message as we were doing one of the exercises in the kriya. The message was: “Your future wife could be very near you right now.” Immediately interested in this suggestion, he opened his eyes and sees that I’m the only one next to him within a few feet. We were “backstage” and everyone else was actually in the class. He didn’t tell me this until a little later in our relationship. He probably didn’t want to scare me.  Smart man.
Our courtship began when he started Facebook messaging me about two weeks later. He ended up coming out to Los Angeles, where I was currently living, to see “how our auras would get along.” I kid you not. That is what he said.
In the car, on the way to a Dave Stringer kirtan, he asked me what I wanted out of a relationship. I told him I wasn’t interested in dating. I wanted to get married. He said that was exactly where he was in his life as well. Three months later he proposed over skype—and again in person when he came to meet my parents in Connecticut. Two months after that we got married at Ram Das Puri in New Mexico at Summer Solstice Sadhana.
Listen to Dave Stringer's kirtan
Some family members expressed their concern that the relationship was so new, and that the marriage felt rushed. My mom thought I was pregnant! (Nope, not until the next year!). Funny enough, for the Kundalini Yoga community, short courtships (even no courtships) were fairly commonplace. Yogi Bhajan had arranged marriages for many people who met and married on the same day. Harimander used to tell people that Guru (the subtle energy that guides us to our highest and brightest) arranged our marriage. I think that’s about right.
We knew what we wanted, recognized it was right there, and signed up for the adventure. We have certainly had our difficulties, but all in all, we both know we made the only possible decision. After all, when God answers your prayers, the least you can do is receive.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Power of Caring

Dearest Blog Reader, 

If you've been following my blog, you will know that I am more of an activism-through-song kind of person. The time has come to do something super substantial! For about 2 years, I have been donating 10% of my monthly income to charity. This practice has made me keenly aware of the fact that we are all interconnected and that there is real power is sharing and spreading our wealth. 10% is a standard amount to give (like tithing in some religious circles). The best time to give is NOW, not when you think you can afford it. Besides the obvious philanthropic reasons for giving, this practice increases your own prosperity. Since my husband and I began doing this, we are always taken of. We always seem to have enough to do the things that matter to us, like eat organic food, and travel.

Where I give my money matters to me. I do not like to give to large non-profits because I feel that most of the money goes to administrative costs, and I'd rather help people directly. That's why this project is really exciting...

I am now working with my community to create a grass-roots effort to assist hungry children and families in our neighborhood. I would be grateful if you could take a look at what we are doing and consider becoming involved or donating. 

The CARING COALITION is a joint venture, including the Sikh Community, other Phoenix faith communities, and the Coronado Neighborhood.

There are children in our neighborhood who eat breakfast and lunch at school during the week but are going without adequate food on weekends.

Starting January 2014 we are providing weekend food for 20 of these children. We are starting small, but hope to grow, serving more children and families and providing more services.

Here are the ways you can help support this effort: 

1. Donate money (our biggest need!) - Visit www.CaringCoalitionAZ.org to donate online or we can gratefully accept cash in person.

2. Help pack food bags - Email caringcoalition@gmail.com to sign up for a date to help.

3. Spread the word - If you know people who might be interested, please share this info.

4. Become a sponsor (as an individual or a business) - We'll have sponsorship packages soon. Email caringcoalition@gmail.com for info.

Visit our website for more info: www.CaringCoalitionAZ.org
Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CaringCoalition


As always,
Blessings,
Sirgun

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