Monthly Archives: September 2011

Let’s Talk.

The Hudson reminded me of the Ganges last night.

Last night I arrived in NYC again, skimming over the Hudson at sunset to touch down in the city once more.

I’ve been saying my mantra ‘I’m trying not to travel – it just keeps happening!’ Needless to say, I must not be trying very hard, because my wheels keep turning. This month I came from England straight to LA, to Joshua Tree, to Santa Barbara, to Laguna Beach, to Florida, and now back in the Big Apple. It’s all connected in an attempt to take kirtan wherever there is an enthusiasm for it, but it can sometimes feel like living in a series of trailers. Movie trailers that is, not Winnebagos. The people around me are changing all the time – the places, the pillows, the temperature. I try and stay as adaptable as I can, but it can be overwhelming at times. As soon as you adjust, you’re changing again. There are only a few constants in the midst of it all.

One is my personal sadhana – my japa meditation that I do every day. Though I sometimes struggle with time zone changes to get up early and do it first thing, and doing it on the plane is an exercise in fighting every kind of distraction possible, if I give it priority, it gives focus and spiritual strength to my life on a daily basis. The other is unfortunately, my laptop. Staying connected with the world through email, Skype, and though I hate to say it, Facebook, gives some continuity. It’s alright I suppose – a symptom of our modern age. But sometimes I worry that looking at a screen becomes easier than interacting with those around me. Sometimes you just don’t want to answer the same old questions again, or tell your life history to yet another new set of perfectly well intentioned people.

I’ve always been shy, so this is something I’ve thought about a lot in my life. What is the value of making the endeavour to connect personally? In gaining confidence, and trying to remember that my laptop and phone are just tools for genuine human exchange, it’s getting easier to realise that the true and deep connection between people is magical. Closing the email inbox and opening myself to an unexpected conversation in person has often had the most extraordinary consequences, within and without. It’s common sense, but sometimes that’s not so common.

I attribute so much of anything going right in my life to encouragement and love from others. There is a quality of energy exchange that seems to be able to transform, from the inside out. All the more so in person, as I have been experiencing lately. Though there are all too many people whose kind words are only niceties, there are also an equal amount who really mean what they say. If words took physical shape and form as they emerged, perhaps they’d be jewels.

Electric communication will never be a substitute for the face of someone who with their soul encourages another person to be brave and true.  – Charles Dickens


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Bhakti Bites

All is in full swing here at Bhaktifest. Scorching days and lightning storms haven’t been obstacles to countless hours of Kirtan and spiritual discussion. Here’s just a few little moments – not even an attempt at capturing all that’s happening here. More later.






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Brushfire before Bhaktifest

I’m flying again tomorrow morning after a month back at home. It’s been a whirlwind of festivities, guests, and all sorts of events. In between everything I managed to sneak in some much needed time for painting. It’s something I always want to do – most of the time I travel with a whole art studio’s worth of materials in my suitcase that do nothing but weight me down. But last week for a sweet four hours I just lost myself in it.

Real Love


Hanuman's Jungle Song


Singing His Name


Lavanya Rama

 Now I’m headed to California for Bhaktifest, a weekend of kirtan in the Joshua Tree desert. If you would like to have a copy of any of these paintings, I got some beautiful cards printed which I’ll have there with me. It was quite exciting to see my artwork being printed for the first time. Check out the company –, their products are great!


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Just Like Honey

I was thinking about kirtan melodies as I jogged through the fields this morning. I’ve always participated in kirtan in a supportive role, but in the last six months or so, I’ve been getting asked to lead more. There’s nothing like sitting down in front of a roomful of people who are waiting for you to do something, with almost no idea what you’re planning to do.

What do I sing?! It’s a time honoured question. The words are not so difficult, but there are hundreds and hundreds of melodies to choose from. Some great kirtan leaders can archive thousands in their minds, pulling them out in an effortless sequence over hours of sweet chanting. For some, like me, breaking a sweat is not uncommon.

But as I jogged, I realised that even the most beautifully crafted jar can’t make the honey any sweeter. So it is with a tune. The melody is only a vessel that carries the nectarous names of the Lord, which are sweet in a way that can’t be matched by any other sound.

Photo by Purusartha das

So next time you sit down to sing, no worries. Whatever comes out, the honey will still be sweet. But if you are looking for beautiful melodies, you could try listening to some free downloads from, where five years of 24 hour kirtans are archived, along with thousands of other recordings. Happy tasting.

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