Sacred music has been used in all known cultures as a way to inspire and uplift community and it has always been one of my surest avenues for connecting to the larger sense of “Oneness” in life. I have early memories of being with my grandparents in their church as they prepared for their weekly choir songs. My grandfather was almost always speaking through song and many of my relatives also conversed that way. When I was 18 years old and seeking some sort of therapy I was introduced to a sound based therapist in northern California named Pilar. The entire practice was focused on finding authenticity through the tonality of my sounds and breath. Working with her for several years offered me some of the most profound experiences I have had for sourcing my own sense of what it feels like to be an embodied, whole person.
Years later, part of my Bachelor’s Degree included studying Ethnomusicology and use of sound in ritual and religious practices. Inspired by that and the local LA electronic music scene I began a music partnership with producer/artist Kevin Crosslin under the band name of Saku. We created electric ambient drum and bass music with consciousness inspiring lyrics. Then, for a time, my focus became more immersed in the physical (asana) aspects of yoga and music was set aside. In 2004 I began a deepened study and practice of sound therapy which led me to study sound healing with Tom Kenyon in Seattle, other sounds healers in Northern California and even led me to spend a bit of time with some sound healers at Findhorn in Scotland. Soon after, through being introduced to a local Los Angeles kirtan collective in my friends’ living room, I was introduced to the heart openning practice of chanting. Since then using mantras has become an integrated part of my own wellness practices for health and healing. I have mostly focused my attention on the path of Bhakti Yoga chanting Sanskrit chants as used in Hindu and Buddhist traditions, but my love for all forms of music and devotional prayer through song has only continued to deepen and has now become a big part of what I love to share in many community gatherings.
Several years ago I took the time to define what Bhakti Yoga means to me. Here is the definition:
"Bhakti yoga is the path or practice of "union through devotion." In Bhakti yoga we practice heart-centered mindfulness in the actions of our movements, methods of prayer and interactions in life. One of the gifts and freedoms of the Bhakti path is that the practice may be expressed gently, sweetly, passionately, or fiercely as an offering to and in honor of Spirit. As a form of prayer, Bhakti is often expressed in the form of kirtan, meaning "to repeat." When we repeat a pattern of breath, energy and sound with the intention of aligning with the essence of Spirit, a transformative field is invoked and the potential result is nothing less than bliss (ananda)."
-Terra December 8, 2009
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