Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Singing the Divine
Category:
Healing

In Harmonize: Discover Kirtan and the Yoga of Devotion, The Happy Human author Gopi Kallayil invites us to experience joy and a meditative state in an effortless way through the power of song and movement. Celebrating its third year at Esalen, this workshop blends live music with yoga and meditation. According to Gopi, no singing experience is required; simply a desire to express yourself through song. We recently spoke with Gopi to learn more about his own connection to music.

Esalen News: In your book, The Happy Human, among some of the many life experiences you share is singing at Burning Man live. What is it about the expression of ourselves through song that is so profound?

Gopi: Humans across all cultures sing and dance. There is something about expressing ourselves through song and music that is uniquely human and mystical. Rather than overthink this from the head, I would like to answer this from my heart. I believe expression through music puts us in touch with a higher consciousness. The divine starts flowing through you.

I am particularly fascinated by traditional forms of music. Take the Bansuri — the Indian flute made from a bamboo reed. It has holes in it and is completely useless from a utilitarian point of view. Yet in the hands of a maestro like Hariprasad Chauraia or Manose, it is magical. They blow through one of those holes and will coax absolutely divine music in complex Indian ragas like Yaman Kalyan through them. What is going on? All that the musician is doing is blowing air. There is no raga hiding inside a bamboo reed. Where is it coming from? Why is it changing my brain chemistry? How is it so sublime?

Esalen News: For Harmonize: Discover Kirtan and the Yoga of Devotion, there are many opportunities for singing as a community through call-and-response chant. Can you share what that experience is like — both from a sense of individual expression as well as a sense of being in community?

Gopi: Kirtan which is derived from the sanskrit word Namasankirtan which literally means singing the divine names together and in community. We will be singing ancient Sanskrit chants set to various melodies and rhythms in a call-and-response format. The lead singer weaves magic in his own imagination. We follow along weaving in and out. Collectively we create music, sounds and celebration that we cannot create individually. And it only exists for that one moment and then disappears. It is sublime.

Esalen News: Your workshop also incorporates bhakti yoga, often referred to as the yoga of devotion or love. How are bhakti and kirtan connected?

Gopi: Bhakti yoga is one of the four main paths of yoga philosophy. Singing Kirtan or Namasankirtan is one of the practices under Bhakti yoga.

Esalen News: It’s been more than a dozen years since you first introduced yoga to your workplace (Google). What, if anything, has surprised you most on that journey?

Gopi: The scale and global appeal has astounded me. When I started at Google in 2005 we had around three classes a week. Now there are more than 250 classes a week in offices around the world, from the Googleplex in Mountain View to New York, Zurich, Tokyo, Sydney, etc. It is one of the largest yoga programs in the world. I am amazed than an esoteric practice originating out of Ashrams in India would find such a global appeal.

Esalen News: The benefits of integrating body and mind are becoming more widely accepted; however, we are still facing feelings of isolation and burn-out as a society. What can we do to live more embodied lives?

Gopi: Drop more into your practice. For me it means slowing down, more communing with nature and others as human beings, using my yoga mat as my life raft and my meditation cushion as a floatation device as I get tossed around by the waves of life. And of course the cheapest and easiest solution is sing Kirtan and lose yourself.

Esalen News: What are you looking forward to most in this September’s workshop?

Gopi: Joyous singing and celebration of ancient Kirtan music  in one of the most beautiful and healing places on the planet I have come across.

Esalen News: What is your favorite view at Esalen?

Gopi: I have two: looking across from the dining room patio on to the ocean on a sunny day and looking at the ocean from the hot tubs on a moonlit night.

Join Gopi, the Kirtaniyas — a global collective of kirtan musicians, producers and dancers, David Estes and Prajna Vieira for Harmonize: Discover Kirtan and the Yoga of Devotion at Esalen September 27-29.


“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

Singing the Divine

About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Category:
Healing

In Harmonize: Discover Kirtan and the Yoga of Devotion, The Happy Human author Gopi Kallayil invites us to experience joy and a meditative state in an effortless way through the power of song and movement. Celebrating its third year at Esalen, this workshop blends live music with yoga and meditation. According to Gopi, no singing experience is required; simply a desire to express yourself through song. We recently spoke with Gopi to learn more about his own connection to music.

Esalen News: In your book, The Happy Human, among some of the many life experiences you share is singing at Burning Man live. What is it about the expression of ourselves through song that is so profound?

Gopi: Humans across all cultures sing and dance. There is something about expressing ourselves through song and music that is uniquely human and mystical. Rather than overthink this from the head, I would like to answer this from my heart. I believe expression through music puts us in touch with a higher consciousness. The divine starts flowing through you.

I am particularly fascinated by traditional forms of music. Take the Bansuri — the Indian flute made from a bamboo reed. It has holes in it and is completely useless from a utilitarian point of view. Yet in the hands of a maestro like Hariprasad Chauraia or Manose, it is magical. They blow through one of those holes and will coax absolutely divine music in complex Indian ragas like Yaman Kalyan through them. What is going on? All that the musician is doing is blowing air. There is no raga hiding inside a bamboo reed. Where is it coming from? Why is it changing my brain chemistry? How is it so sublime?

Esalen News: For Harmonize: Discover Kirtan and the Yoga of Devotion, there are many opportunities for singing as a community through call-and-response chant. Can you share what that experience is like — both from a sense of individual expression as well as a sense of being in community?

Gopi: Kirtan which is derived from the sanskrit word Namasankirtan which literally means singing the divine names together and in community. We will be singing ancient Sanskrit chants set to various melodies and rhythms in a call-and-response format. The lead singer weaves magic in his own imagination. We follow along weaving in and out. Collectively we create music, sounds and celebration that we cannot create individually. And it only exists for that one moment and then disappears. It is sublime.

Esalen News: Your workshop also incorporates bhakti yoga, often referred to as the yoga of devotion or love. How are bhakti and kirtan connected?

Gopi: Bhakti yoga is one of the four main paths of yoga philosophy. Singing Kirtan or Namasankirtan is one of the practices under Bhakti yoga.

Esalen News: It’s been more than a dozen years since you first introduced yoga to your workplace (Google). What, if anything, has surprised you most on that journey?

Gopi: The scale and global appeal has astounded me. When I started at Google in 2005 we had around three classes a week. Now there are more than 250 classes a week in offices around the world, from the Googleplex in Mountain View to New York, Zurich, Tokyo, Sydney, etc. It is one of the largest yoga programs in the world. I am amazed than an esoteric practice originating out of Ashrams in India would find such a global appeal.

Esalen News: The benefits of integrating body and mind are becoming more widely accepted; however, we are still facing feelings of isolation and burn-out as a society. What can we do to live more embodied lives?

Gopi: Drop more into your practice. For me it means slowing down, more communing with nature and others as human beings, using my yoga mat as my life raft and my meditation cushion as a floatation device as I get tossed around by the waves of life. And of course the cheapest and easiest solution is sing Kirtan and lose yourself.

Esalen News: What are you looking forward to most in this September’s workshop?

Gopi: Joyous singing and celebration of ancient Kirtan music  in one of the most beautiful and healing places on the planet I have come across.

Esalen News: What is your favorite view at Esalen?

Gopi: I have two: looking across from the dining room patio on to the ocean on a sunny day and looking at the ocean from the hot tubs on a moonlit night.

Join Gopi, the Kirtaniyas — a global collective of kirtan musicians, producers and dancers, David Estes and Prajna Vieira for Harmonize: Discover Kirtan and the Yoga of Devotion at Esalen September 27-29.


“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Singing the Divine
Category:
Healing

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About

Esalen Team

Singing the Divine

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