I’ve had the pleasure–blissful pleasure–to participate in an evening of kirtan and a satsang, both this month of August.
It took me an entire year to make it up there, to Kettering (near Dayton, Ohio), a mere hour away. Their gatherings have come to my email. I wanted to drive up last August to the celebration of Anandamayi Ma but didn’t have the energy to do so.
Two weeks ago, I almost literally ‘made’ myself go. Was I glad I did! Laurel is the real deal. She spent nearly three years with Ma at her ashrams. Laurel shared stories of Ma. In the background when we arrived, there were recordings of Ma and a devotee chanting. Bliss! I knew right then I came to the right place.
Laurel has been teaching hatha yoga since 1974. I’m not sure how long she’s been having these chanting sessions. I did find out she and Dan married eight? years ago; Laurel called him her music teacher. They make a wonderful team: Laurel usually plays harmonium and Dan guitar. Both plan mridangam (Indian double headed drum), and usually someone in the audience also plays percussion, making the sound echo from all sides of you.
Well, I’ve used terms like “sides,” and “you,” but once I become immersed in a chant, there is no side or me. One of the appeals of chanting is to let go of my mind, my head, my egoic self. I want to let go, become one, feel the bliss.
And both visits I have. I’ll be back.
At satsang gatherings, Laurel focuses on an Indian saint. Last night was Sri H.W.L. Poonja, known affectionately as Papaji. I have had the fortune of coming across some encounters with Poonja on YouTube. I love Who He Is (or seems to be); he is so down-to-earth and laughs contagiously (he left his body in 1997). Poonja stresses simplicity and tells us:
“You are always Free.
There is no teacher,
there is no student,
there is no teaching.”
These words remind me of Dogen and other of the zen teachers. I do love it when the practices I have studied all come together 🙂
I haven’t even mentioned how wonderfully they decorate the space! The altar/puja extends both sides of the stage. Multicolored lights enliven the atmosphere and make it festive. All this really helps me feel immersed in the sound and complement our series of mini meditations throughout the evening.
By now you realize I will be driving north to Kettering on a regular basis. I feel such sincerity and warmth from Laurel and Dan!
Note: Their gatherings take place at Center for Spiritual Living (4100 Benfield Dr., Kettering, OH). Laurel’s website is home.earthlink.net/~dalamitoh/index.html) *** I received no payment or promises for promoting them ***