This weekend was all about sound for me. I organized a special “introduction to Kundalini” class for my yoga teacher’s in training. The class, very focused on energy pathways and vibrations, ends with a gong meditation. The half hour devoted to savasana with the deep rich sounds of a gong being tapped over and over, filling the room with this amazing vibration is felt deep in your gut. The process is moving in a way I can’t describe. You have to experience it. I had forgotten how much loved the gong elemet of class the last time I brought this teacher to ReFlex. I’ve been looking at a huge gong for sale on craigslist for several months, but I just didn’t want to invest in more teaching materials at this time. This particular gong hasn’t sold due to a small crack on the outer edge (and I guess not a lot of people are looking for a 3 foot gong) and because it is a bit beat up. These gongs are usually 1600 new, and this one was on sale for 300. But I was so inspired by the class I called the seller that night, drove to Tampa and picked it up – talking him down to 200 due to the gong’s condition and the fact that it hadn’t moved after being listed for months. So I have a big ol’ gong of my own. I can’t wait to add gong meditaton to my classes now.
(The gong has been sitting against a wall in my meditation room for two days. We plan to hang it tonight. Need a special big hook to keep it away from the wall to clear vibration – then its the gong show for me when I feel its time to make some noise! Think I can gong dancers when they don’t point their feet since it’s there in the room????)
The next day, I hosted a Kirtan at my ReFlex – also a part of my wanting to expose each group of yoga teacher’s in training to the vast shades and approaches to yoga.
My training program is very diverse and focused on studying not one method of yoga that the students are taught to regurgitate as teaches, but a broad look at the big picture of yoga. I think it is important teachers develop a wide berth of knowledge and then use your instincts and what resonates within to find their unique “voice” as a teacher. Anyway, for those that don’t know, a Kirtan is a musical event where people gather to chant, sing indian songs (usually in sanskrit), feel the vibration created by a collective group and to meditate. It can feel a bit new-agey weird to some newbies, and occasionally people are resistant to singing songs that are heavily hindu oriented – they are not sure they want to sing Hare Krishna over and over again, but I do what I can to put the event in perspective so students can enjoy the experience either academically or spiritually. It is all a matter of each student remembering to keep an open mind and consider this element of yoga as an exercise in tapping into your inner emotions and energy levels – a musical exploration. Whether enjoying Kirtan becomes an embraced part of each student’s practice is entirely up to them – but they should experience it.
I always adore the Kirtans at ReFlex. I love seeing the room fill up with people and witnessing their reactions to the songs. Some people get deeply into the music, and others observe conscientiously and just enjoy the unity of everyone gathering. Others are self-conscious and silent. Others just let go and let their voices ring out – even badly. There are always a few hippy Kirtan groupies. They are fun to have around because they are enthuasiastic and they jump in clapping or singing. The way they relish each chant is like watching someone who loves chocolate sink their teeth into a great truffle. Bliss. If you are a student of nature and people (I surely am) there is a great deal to observe and appreciate in a unique event like a kirtan – especially when you note the difference between those that are attending for the first time and those that make Kirtan a regular part of their lives.
David plays both guitar and sitar (and indian instrument that is like a guitar). He bought me a guitar when we first started dating and we only recently have gotten around to his teaching me to play.
I’ve had to lose the lovely fingernails because I just can’t press down on the frets with my former groomed talons, and after every lesson, the tips of my fingers smart. But I’m cool with the small beauty sacrifice because it is fun to learn something new – even if I have doubts I’ll ever be very good. I look forward to playing well enough to bring my guitar into a yoga class to play softly during meditations or to guide others in a musical om or chant. I have a teacher who does that now and again and many students feel music makes for a richer yoga experience. As soon as I get the basics down on the guitar, I’m planning to learn the harmonium too. That’s an easier instrument to play and a great addition to a kirtan or yoga event should I want to run one myself later.
Anyway, music is the next frontier for me….. I’m even starting to sing again. I’ve discovered that when I am not aiming to be “onstage” as when singing for theater, my voice rings out clear and easy and softly in tune. Funny, I hated singing when I felt the purpose was to entertain others. Too much pressure to be good. When I just sing for myself, it feels natural and right. I think that kind of singing comes from a more organic place because it derives from a totally different intention.
Makes sense because as I make evidently clear to my yoga students, intention defines what life is all about. Intention is the true judge of character, action, and purpose. But enough yoga-speak.
The big question is…… Does the girl with the biggest gong win? ( because mine is a bit bigger than the Kundalini teachers, for the record….