Sometimes you just have to trust that the medicine is working....
Before I even asked "What is Kirtan"? I knew I was going.... that morning at yoga, Michael had mentioned that Om Culture was hosting Kirtan that evening.
I didn't wear mascara to Kirtan. And it's a good thing, cause I was crying on the first Om. How come the sound of Om makes me cry these days? Every time, I feel the resonance of people's voices around me and I feel connected to them and I cry.
I did my hair, put my face on, foundation, blush, wore my big gaudy sparkly flower necklace, my favorite red poncho with the matching red and grey striped shirt underneath, matched my socks to my outfit, and wore heeled boots.
I'd never been to Kirtan before, but it was Friday night and I was going out, so I got dressed.
Kirtan : Sanskrit for "praise; eulogy"; also sankirtan; is call-and-response chanting performed in India's bhakti devotional traditions.
Mascara takes oh so long to perfect these days. I've lost patience with this ritual.
You know it's only been in the recent few years that I began raising my eyes to the faces of other people.
I never had an awareness that I had avoided face to face connection; eye contact had become too dangerous some time long ago... but I didn't consciously know this, until I did.
Until I stopped isolating myself, and began looking for connection. Looking someone in the eyes remains one of the scariest and most vulnerable things I practice daily, and I'm still learning.... most times, looking someone in the eyes creates a sensation in me like a frightened deer caught in the cross hairs of a rifle, aimed right at my heart.
I want to run.
I arrived at Kirtan, took off my heeled boots and set myself up crossed legged on my rolled blanket toward the front of the room close enough to really get a good look and participate, but not so close as to have to really participate. I was curious, but keeping my distance.
Looking around, what "I" saw were a lot of grey haired hippies, wearing earth tone tshirts and wool socks, reminded me of a gathering of my parents and their friends. I wasn't uncomfortable, but my "I'm too cool to be seen in this crowd" alter ego had taken front seat in the judgment bus and was firmly planted, crossed legged on my right shoulder, spewing judgements and calling out imperfections of everyone around me. And so the night began.
Judgy-mc-judgerson Alter Ego, I'm Too Cool for School Kid, and "What am I doing here with all these Hippies?" Internal Voice were all having a good time inside my head, pushing and prodding, like bullies on the school ground at recess.
Gina Salá, dressed in a beautiful sari and face sparkling with jewels, sat in front of us with her harmonium, flanked on both sides with her band and surrounded by vases and vases of spring daffodils. She began, in her sweet voice making jokes about going deeper tonight then our credit card debt and facebook posts.
She had my attention.
She spoke, she sang, she chanted. She said:
"That pattern you've been living for decades- it can change in an instant."
She invited us to join her as she was swaying her body in rhythm like she was riding an elephant, because it made her feel grounded. Internal voices start heckling me "WTF, you're riding elephants now? You've never been on an elephant. What'd you think you're in India on safari, now?
OMG, you're so lame, riding a pretend elephant."
But there I was, swaying with the rhythm of the room, riding my elephant and singing. Then things started to really get going.... I'm sitting next to "That GUY" with his short hair cut, could be a yuppie, could be a hippie, earth toned tshirt, rolled khakis, and bare feet. He's flailing around with tremendous intensity, his eyes are closed, and he's sitting less than a few inches away from my side. His arms are waving in the air, fists clenched, then fingers bursting open, repeatedly, clenching his fists then bursting them open, arms waving around his head and mine.
"I guess this is the Kirtan Hippie Fist Pump." internal voice.
His legs thrashing about on the floor like a 3 year old having a tantrum, and OMG he's signing at the top of his lungs. All the bullies inside my head were laughing and preparing to pounce on him if he miscalculated his fist pumping and happen to hit me in the head. "Watch yourself man, I know we're all kumbaya and shit, but you're in my personal space!" internal voice.
Oh my, we're only two songs in, am I really going to be able to sit through 2 hours of chanting and kumbaya shit???!
And then I started reflecting, and then thoughts began to pour out of me and I grabbed my pen from my purse and started writing thoughts on the sheet of paper they gave us at the door with the words of the chants.... I remembered the first time I ever sat for 2 hours in meditation with a guru from the Netherlands, that was years ago? How many years had gone by, 10?
And then the next time I sat in meditation for hours at a time was years later, on Thanksgiving, the day after I resigned from my career. I went in to ten days of silence, where 12 hours a day were dedicated to sitting in meditation. That was one of the most delicious times of my human experience.
I wrote myself notes on the bathroom paper towels while in silence (you weren't allowed to write), and it was horrendously painful while I was there... but the memories I have of that time are so intensely juicy. At first, you think you might pluck your own eyeballs out of your head with the spoon at lunch if you have to listen to the voices inside your head any longer....
Then somewhere around day six of total utter silence, I started thinking I was the most funniest creative person I'd ever met.... a real Disney land for the brain, I thought.
One of my favorite memories is the feeling I had at night time after our last three hour meditation sitting, it ended at 9:00pm, and by 9:06 each night I would have my teeth brushed and lights out in bed. I've never fallen asleep so quickly and slept so soundly, so comfortably, I've never enjoyed falling asleep so much. Pure bliss.
So back to Kirtan, with the fist pumping barefoot leg flailing guy and all the other odd souls that found ourselves at home here on a Friday night.... I decided I'm going to stay till the very end, till the last song is sung. I realize whether I spend 2 hours or 3 hours or 12 hours, I really don't have anything more important or better to do.... and I wonder what if the last few moments are my favorite moments of the entire experience?
Isn't this what it's all about? If you bother to show up, why not bother to follow through? All the way to the end? Even if you don't like it. Cause maybe, just the following through is all that is needed. Trust that the medicine is working. Even if it doesn't feel totally blissful in the moment. Trust that the medicine is working. You don't have to work the medicine. Let the medicine work you.
And wow, I haven't wanted to write so much in weeks, maybe months, so that in and of itself is medicine. I'm going to stay till every last chant is chanted, even if I have to sit next to fist pump guy.
Towards the end of the concert... that lasts over three hours btw (sigh, smile).... Gina sings one of her favorite songs "Because the One I love lives inside of you, I lean as close to you as I can..... Because the One I love lives inside of you, I lean as close to you as I can. I love you. I love you. I love you." (see video)
Because the One I love lives inside of you, I lean as close to you as I can
And everyone draws close to the persons beside them and they wrap their arms around their neighbors and start swaying to the song...... Because the One I love lives inside of you, I lean as close to you as I can..... Because the One I love lives inside of you, I lean as close to you as I can. I love you. I love you. I love you.
Internal voices are SCREAMING!!!! " OMG, we REALLY are singing Kumbaya and holding hands. JESUS!!!"
And I guess this is where I give up, or give in. I believe the saying goes.... If you can't beat'em, join'em.
Say it out loud:
That pattern I've been living for decades- it can change in an instant.
Say it outloud:
Sometimes I just have to trust that the medicine is working.
The medicine is working. I trust.
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Sometime around Christmas this year, my parents had sent me a CD of old pictures from my childhood. They asked multiple times, had I opened the CD? Had I looked at the pictures? No, I said, each time. I don't have a disk drive for my MacBook, and though it seemed important to them, I didn't have any energetic pull or need to see pictures, you know, I've seen all the pictures in the old albums before, I had other things on my mind.... And then I moved, and I packed the CD and found it when I unpacked, but I still hadn't bothered to find a disk drive to view the pictures on the CD.
This weekend my aunt sent me a dropbox of the pictures on the CD that I hadn't bothered to open. I sat there at the kitchen table shuffling through each frame, crying, balling.... feeling really alive.
My young parents, with me. I looked like a happy child. The pictures showed a happy childhood with loving parents.
I'd spent a lot of time being an unhappy adult, but not anymore.....
Say it outloud:
That pattern I've been living for decades- it has changed in an instant.
Say it out loud:
Sometimes I just needed to trust that the medicine is working.
The medicine is working. I trust.
Because the One I love lives inside of you, I lean as close to you as I can.
I love you. I love you. I love you.
With so much love in my heart for all of you.