What an aum…mazing weekend with Sean Johnson and the Wild Lotus Band! When our yoga storytelling adventure began with a picnic lunch at Lafreniere Park and a carousel ride, I knew I was in for a weekend of enchantment and that is just what I received. May I always remember, thoughts become things.
We headed over to the Bywater Bed and Breakfast and settled into the whimsical old New Orleans home filled with local artwork before setting off for the concert celebrating the release of the band's new cd “Unity.” Friday night’s presentation was held at a Café Istanbul, a quaint little club that hosts live performances, inside the New Orleans Healing Center. Café Istanbul was open to the public as well as the 30+ band followers who were in town for a Bhakti weekend. Those unfamiliar with bhakti and kirtan were given an undeniable delight. Sacred songs, poems, and Sanskrit mantra infused with New Orleans funk, jazz and rock beats. An enlivening experience for all.
Saturday morning teased us with a flavor of fall. Cool temps and low humidity, a taste to savor for the weekend, woohoo! Something we southerners look forward to after the long hot summer. Our Bhakti yoga session opened with introductions and intentions. My intention for the weekend was to simply enjoy the experience. We gathered around the band for a story. Sean is not only a terrific yoga teacher, he is a storyteller extraordinaire, along with Gwendolyn and Alvin’s accompaniment I was transported to another time and place. We listened to the “Birth of Ganesha” and prepared to delve into relationships, creativity, disparity and possibility during our practice. Om Gam Ganapatye Namah.
The closing session of this fascinating weekend opened with the story of “Sudama and Krishna.” This story reminds us to trust ourselves, to trust what we have to offer, to remember that the Divine is always with us, to “Remember Who We Are.” Bhakti is a spiritual path. It is the yoga of love, devotion, and surrender to the Divine. The Bhakti yogi is motivated by the power of love and sees the Divine as the embodiment of love. Singing songs of praise one is able to focus the mind, emotions, and senses on the Divine. This creates an atmosphere of unconditional love, an experience of oneness with everything.
The only requirement for practicing bhakti yoga is an open, loving heart. You only need to surrender doubts, fears and worries and express genuine love. Expressing our devotion to the many aspects of the Divine is a practice of empowerment. The power we receive helps us to perceive and perception is everything. And so I sing, "Open the eye of my heart Lord."
Om Hari Om.