"Bhakti is love – loving God, loving your own Self, and loving all beings. The small heart should become bigger and bigger and, eventually, totally expansive. A spark can become a forest fire. ”
I've had a precarious relationship with my singing voice over the years - I was told to sing louder during my 20's, to which I of course rebelled and stopped singing for quite awhile. It wasn't until 6 years ago that I opened myself to song once again through a local singing group here on Bowen - the Village SongCircle with my dear friends and mentors, Shasta and Brian. Finding my voice again was a bit awkward at first, as my singing voice is nothing fancy - no vibrato, or anything special. Just an alto. (Haha. And now I know very well that if you have a voice, that's all you need. It doesn't need to be fancy! And there is much joy to be had in singing alto!)
So, I sang happily in my alto voice over the years, enjoying the sensations the music created within me - the harmonies we would all create together every week and the wide variety of songs we sang. The social aspect was so accepting, and we didn't sing under any pressure to perform. Just singing for the joy of it, mixing our voices like a huge batch of sourdough. We adopted Pete Seeger’s definition of harmony: “Any note you’re singing that your neighbour isn’t”. It was a safe place to rediscover my voice.
Then the community Kirtan started up a couple years ago with friends Soorya and Jack. More singing! Great - count me in! By this point, I was really enjoying singing, and my voice was becoming loud and proud. I would close my eyes and sway to the devotional, call and response songs. There were times when I would drift out and beyond - carried on the wings of these ancient melodies. After the 2 hours of singing, I would feel quite the inner buzz happening. My cells were jiggling with vibrations of love.
The Kirtan singing and my yoga practice began to meld slowly. I found myself being drawn to listening more to Krishna Das, Simrit, Deva Premal and Ajeet Kaur (author Thomas Moore's daughter) while I was practicing, and would often find myself pausing to sing along. Soon, the songs rubbed off on my husband, who not only joined me in going to Kirtan, but because of his musical talent, he decided to join the Kirtan band! So now, he is up at the front, chanting and playing his banjo or guitar during our monthly gatherings. This of course lit him right up and opened his heart wide. He is now recording and singing Kirtan almost non-stop.
His singing got me singing and vice versa, and next thing I knew I was in his man-cave, recording my voice onto the tracks he laid out on his computer. Others from the band came to lend their voices as well and next thing we knew, there were full bodied songs for us all to listen to. You can't really get this far, then, without owning a harmonium - and finally one came our way through a friend who originally bought it from Shasta and Brian - my Village SongCircle mentors! The circle was now complete. :-)
The days find me filled with music now - the Song has begun to sing me. I am simply a pawn to Her whims. She creeps in when She pleases and fills my heart with sweetness - during my walks, as I'm driving, as I practice yoga, when I meditate, as I make dinner... it seems to be endless these days. And now to be learning a new instrument... wow. This life feels pretty exciting. Fuller. Heart opening.
I'll leave you with these eloquent words of Rabindranath Tagore, the renowned Indian writer and Nobel Prize winner:
"When Thou commandest me to sing ... all that is harsh and dissonant in my life melts into one sweet harmony ... "
He spoke the truth.
Keep singing - even if it is just the faintest hum...
~ OM ~