Musical Meditation

 

Musical Meditation

SiriOm Singh spreads a message of peace
and healing in a concert at Small World Coffee.

By Susan Van Dongen

Posted: Wednesday, October 17, 2007 2:27 PM EDT

There will be a mixture of mocha lattes and mantras when SiriOm Singh and Friends — percussionist Autin Wright and guitarist Theo Thwing — perform at Small World Coffee in Princeton Oct. 20.

When Mr. Singh incorporated singing and vocalizing into his kundalini yoga classes, students noted how lovely his voice was and how healing the process of vocalizing can be, on a mental, physical and spiritual level. Like kirtan chanting — chanting sound syllables, often in Sanskrit — Mr. Singh’s songs mixed with mantras are a form of meditation for himself as well as the listeners.

”That’s the whole purpose of the music,” he says. “It’s way beyond me. It’s about the mantra, the song, the people. It’s about how we can mend our souls and our hearts and elevate our spirits across cultural lines with songs, mantra and vibration. It’s quite healing.

”My main goal is to help people heal and connect more with themselves,” Mr. Singh continues. “When we connect with ourselves, we are connecting with the innermost part of ourselves, the special essence that makes us who we are. Sometimes this is lost and we are encumbered with depression, hate and confusion — that baggage becomes heavier and heavier. One way to help shed this unwanted baggage is through songs and mantras.”

At the urging of his students and friends, in September of 2006 Mr. Singh recorded and self-published Travel the Light, his first CD. The lyrics in the eight songs come from many spiritual traditions, from Sikh and Buddhist mantras to church hymns and spirituals, all “…different paths to celebrate the human spirit,” Mr. Singh says.

”Whatever religious path we travel or how we engage, mantras help elevate the mind, body and spirit,” he continues, noting that “amen” is also a powerful mantra. “All the spiritual traditions are uplifting, they all have the same foundation, the same message — to be in love. This doesn’t mean pining for that special person. This is falling in love with our beloved spirit. When we fall in love with that true, beautiful essence, we really have no problem falling in love with people, no matter what culture. This is an anti-political experience, and it’s not intellectual or analytical. Just pure and simple love.”

A spiritual teacher, certified kundalini yoga instructor, Reiki master, occupational therapist, musician and visual artist, Mr. Singh was raised in Philadelphia in a musical family. He first sang in a church choir when he was 9, and always felt a certain passion when singing the Gospel. He reflects that these early experiences were the first stirrings of finding the light of his inner spirit through song.

”Although, I didn’t know what to call it back then,” Mr. Singh says.

Aside from gospel, jazz and R&B were the soundtrack to Mr. Singh’s life as he was growing up, studying in North Carolina and Texas, and traveling around the United States. He chose a career as a teacher in alternative education settings and as an occupational therapist, both of which are part of his spiritual journey. In 1994, he came back east and settled in New Jersey, where he met Ayala Shimelman, a life coach, hypnotherapist, occupational therapist and fiber artist.

The couple blended their talents as holistic health practitioners, expanding to include Ayurvedic medicine, yoga and meditation. Their Web site (www.bhaktihouse.org) says they discovered kundalini yoga in 1997, but Mr. Singh thinks otherwise.

”Kundalini yoga found me, I didn’t find it,” he says. “Part of the practice is to sing and chant (what is called) ‘sound yoga.’ It’s called this because its main purpose is to unify and align the mind, body and spirit. When I rediscovered my voice through this, I became overwhelmed. It was a personal epiphany, a personal gift to me, and I could not stop singing.

”In class, people commented about my voice and asked if I had a CD,” he continues. “I decided to ‘put up or shut up’ and created this CD. It’s been a wonderful journey that I continue to travel.”

Mr. Singh and Ms. Shimelman named their Trenton home Bhakti House of Devotion because they were always inviting friends over, hosting special events and spreading their message of healing and peace throughout the community.

”My wife and I became dedicated to what we do in the Trenton and nearby communities,” Mr. Singh says. “Bhakti means ‘devotion.’ We named our house this because we’re both devoted to the community at large — not only in Trenton but all over the world. We’ve dedicated our lives to creating peace.”

The couple’s devotion extends to Ms. Shimelman’s native country of Israel, where the two have traveled numerous times, meeting other peace activists who use yoga and meditation to create understanding between the various communities and factions there.

”My spiritual path defines my commitment to peace and healing of the suffering and sadness that many people experience daily,” Mr. Singh writes in the online notes for Travel in Light (cdbaby.com/cd/siriomsingh). “Happiness is the birthright of all who inhabit the earth. It is my wish that everyone experiences it when listening to this music.”

SiriOm Singh and Friends will perform at Small World Coffee, 14 Witherspoon St., Princeton, Oct. 20, 8:30 p.m. Other upcoming events at Small World: Halloween Dance Party with ‘The Beatles,’ Oct. 27. Free admission. (609) 924-4377; www.smallworldcoffee.com. SiriOm Singh on the Web: www.bhaktihouse.org

 

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