opening my heart at the Sea of Galilee

Although we connect through music, social networks, family and community, our most vital connection is to our own heart. Now more than ever do we need to spend time in our hearts, connecting us beyond our little egos into highest potential, a deeper experience of ourselves, a greater reality, the Divine.

Part of my story goes like this:

As a senior at Eastman, I had just come back from an eye-opening experience that made me doubt why in the world I would ever want to pursue a musical career. Disillusioned, I asked my wise teacher, Paul Katz, what I should do. His answer was to “look in your heart and follow where it leads.”

That terrified me. I was just a 20 year old kid stoked up on my ego. I feared what I might find. What if deep down I found some evil tendencies locked away?

But faced with nothing else, I went back to my dorm room and for the first time in many years, made a visit to the hermitage of my heart.

I calmed myself. I breathed. I took out my journal and got to work.

Far from finding some lurking evil within, I found only what is true for all of us: that deep within we are only light, we are only love. But I also found so much junk cluttering up the little hermitage of my heart to see clearly the path I should to take. Too much ego. Too much insecurity. Too much self-doubt.

I wanted desperately to be a force for good in the world. I eventually found my way in music, building a career of service to soften my ego and get rid of this junk around my heart.

When I found meditation, I was given keys to enlarge the hermitage of my heart. Compassion. Devotion. Loving kindness. These keys opened up deeper enjoyment, fulfillment, and connection to my highest potential.

Now when I practice and perform, my goal is to share these hermitage treasures through every note that I play. There is so much more to music than what meets the ear. We hear the hearts of performers: passionate, angry, prideful or loving.

Now more than ever do we desperately need hearts full of loving presence to speak loudly through the silences between our phrases and sentences, between our concerts, speeches and conversations.

Allow me to help guide you into your own hermitage exploration:

  1. Find a place to be quiet, outside or in nature. Find your calm center. Allow your breath to deepen.
  2. Invite into the hermitage of your heart that which hold most dear: love, kindness, peace, compassion. Invite the divine universal presence that all great music seeks to express.
  3. Play or sing one phrase. Rest again in the hermitage. Repeat.
  4. Keeping your awareness on your heart, continue on in the music. Infuse the treasures of your hermitage into your notes and words.
  5. At the end of your practice, rest in your heart. Breathe. Feel for any change. Take those blessings into your next interaction or conversation.
  6. Be the change you wish to see in the world, inwardly as well as outwardly.

I’ll close with these beautiful lyrics:

Listen! Listen!
Whispering within your soul:
Hints of laughter, hints of joy;
Sweet songs of sadness, of quenchless yearning
For the Light,
For My love, your true home.

Long your heart has played the dancer.
Long you’ve toyed with merest shadows
Of the treasures left behind you,
Deep in your soul.

Long you’ve plumbed the dark for answers.
Long you’ve begged from beggars’ empty hands
Gifts of life they too were seeking:
Gifts none could share.

Friend, how long will you wander?
Friend, as long as you seek your home
In a land where all are strangers,
Love locks her door.

Leave to the weak his craven life!
To the coward leave his dreaming!
O my saint, wake up! Reclaim the light.
Seek the truth behind all seeming.

Leave to the weak his craven life!
To the coward leave his dreaming!
O my saint, wake up! Reclaim the light.
Seek the truth behind all seeming.

Turn, turn, turn within:
In silence of soul, in cave of love
Find My abode.

Listen! Listen!
Whispering within your soul:
Hints of laughter, hints of joy;
Sweet songs of sadness, of quenchless yearning
For the Light,
For My love, your true home.

-Swami Kriyananda

 

Speak, Sing, and Play from the Hermitage of Your Heart

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