Between the notes…

The New York portion of the band piled into the car already brimming with instruments, dogs, treats and a sense of adventure. The Berkshires have been a second home to me for years, and going up there always feels like a gift. Justin, our drummer was hosting in an actual house… with an actual living room… whoa! Lots of space to play. Gabriel, our Boston contingency, was meeting us there. Once arrived, we took a trip to the grocery store; we didn’t want anyone to go hungry. When we got back with all our spoils, Justin had set up the space so beautifully. All in a circle sitting on various things in his living room, each mic spaced out just so, so that the neck of this instrument could go there and this that and the other. I can’t lie, seeing the space set up with all our gear made my heart explode.

Things always slow down in the Berkshires. The food is always amazing. Things always line up beautifully and seamlessly. I started the weekend with a sense of urgency, though. We’re a new band. There’s a lot to do, new chants to look at, three different cities to navigate, full lives to work around, harmonies to make more beautiful, a kirtan to prepare…. We don’t know each other that well. Not in the biblical, er, musical sense. It would be easy to let the stress of it crush the bhava or mood of the weekend. Plus, I promised you all these things: cd’s, t-shirts, poster art… an albuuuummmmm. And mostly, I don’t want anybody to feel like I wasted their time.

An interesting word: waste. In this context , what does it mean to waste time. Is it when we are not talking about music or rehearsing? Is it when we are eating? Is it when we sleep in a little too long because we are beat from playing the night before? Is there such a thing as wasted time in music and friendship or even in life, if you are in the moment?

Music happens between the notes, as Yo-Yo Ma says, much like life happens between the moments and yoga happens between the poses. It happens in the morning hug; in making sure the tea drinkers have their tea and coffee drinkers their coffee; it happens over a dinner celebrating our Kickstarter success; it happens in meeting with our sound engineer and getting our questions answered; it happens when we start late; when someone’s girlfriend comes in and you meet her for the second time; when we go see a show to support one of the bandmates; it happens in the moment we are all figuring out how to make that bit of music work; and it happens in the moments of doubt when life gets busy, and yet we pull through to the other side. All of these things create a netting, a texture. Much like in love -or exactly like in love as it is love- we get to know each other in the little ways, which end up being the big ways: our senses of humor, how we are in the world, our energy, our quirks, our pacing, when we are tired or grumpy, our body language. All of the seemingly non-musica, unimportant things which may seem like a waste of time are what make up the band. They are as informative and maybe even more important than the actual notes we play during rehearsal. They create the magic, the filling. Without that it’s just a bunch of strangers playing notes. With it, it is a unifier, love transformed to sound funneled right into your ears. And people don’t listen to music to hear the notes. They listen to hear the relationship, the love, the richness and the play. I had such a clear experience of that.

It reminded to me to keep looking to the space within the events, the space within the comments, within the people. All of the subtler stuff that is constantly being communicated. It’s a way of catching myself. Catching up to myself. Catching you. And the times I can drop in in this way, I feel so content, so very very fulfilled and at peace, like nothing in the world could go wrong. Santosha at its best.

Here are the goings on:

  • Full practice at the Bhakti Center (aka. The Bhakti Jam) is still Wednesdays but has been bumped up to 7 so that people don’t have to rush. We are not on their schedule, we are off the grid, but I will always make the changes on my site.
  • Please follow me on Vimeo: I have added a bunch of different online classes. It will send you updates as to when I add new stuff. Currently I have eight classes for you to choose from. Various levels and various lengths and themes. You can check them out here. If you have any feedback on them or anything you want to work on, let me know. I would love to hear from you. They are really meant to support you as you travel or move or whatever, so that you can still take class with me. My point, is that they are for you so talk to me. 
  • Starting in April, I will be adding two classes at Prema Yoga Brooklyn, in Carroll Gardens in their new space. My schedule is always up to date on my site.
  • August Retreat, Dollywood or Bust is up and ready for your perusal. I’ve had a crappy year, so we are headed to Tennessee to the gorgeous Smokey Mountains, where we have rented a gorgeous cabin with pool and hot tub. We will be spending plenty of time outside and checking out the sites, including… drumroll, please… a day in Dollywood (known for it’s amazing roller coasters). I have been wanting to go there for the last twenty years. Check the details out here.
  • October Pilgrimage to India is up for your perusal! It’s going to be an amazing trek. We are visiting Varanasi, one of the most sacred cities and an extremely musical and vibrant place, Bodhgaya, where the Buddha attained enlightenment under the bodhi tree, Khajuraho and Vrindavan. Check out the details here.
  • And YES!!! May 7 at 7:30 THE MONKEY MENACE is having our NEW YORK CITY KICKOFF KIRTAN at Prema Yoga Brooklyn! Save the date and come join us, get your heart cleansed and opened and sing.