Friday, March 27, 2015

My interview with author MELISSA HOLBROOK PIERSON in Bark magazine!

It was such a pleasure to interview fellow author, dog-lover, and dear friend Melissa Holbrook Pierson about her forthcoming book THE SECRET HISTORY KINDNESS: LEARNING FROM HOW DOGS LEARN (Norton: April 2015) for Bark Magazine. Melissa is a beautiful writer, a consummate journalist, and one of the most interesting and provocative thinkers I know. Her new book is a must-read! Check out this profile--and more--in the latest print edition of Bark.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I’m having many moments of nostalgia as I think about album cover designs for my forthcoming album of mantra music, "Beyond the Beyond."  I come from one of those large Catholic conglomerate families, with six older siblings and step-siblings. One of my sweet step-brothers was so seemingly “old” when our families first merged I was awed and delighted to learn he had actually gone to Woodstock! Anyway, this “old” step-brother had the coolest collection of rock and roll albums the young me had ever seen.  I’ll never forget how blown away I was not only by the music (it explains why I am still such a huge fan of 70s rock) but by the cover art. I remember the curious and slightly scary surrealism of the Pink Floyd covers. Or the intricate and fascinating revolving collage of Led Zeppelin III. Or that zipper on the Rolling Stones' "Sticky Fingers"!?!  Talk about brilliant art! 

Recently, a friend of mine advised me that when I think about cover art design for my forthcoming CD, I have to keep in mind the thumbnail factor. Most people, my friend said, won’t see anything but that thumbnail. So keep it simple and bold. 

On the one hand, simple and bold is easy. It kind of takes the pressure off to create an intricate collage (and spend the reported $50K that the old Hipgnosis covers used to cost). But it makes me a little sad that another opportunity for great art has been lost through technology.

So who wants to see a zipper on their kirtan CD, huh?   

To those youngsters who haven’t heard of the late, great Storm Thorgerson and/or Hipgnosis Designs, I encourage you to get their art books or visit.  Be prepared for your mind to BEND!

http://www.stormstudiosdesign.com/#/203933/
#hipgnosis  #stormthorgerson #beyondthebeyond #pinkfloyd

Monday, March 16, 2015

"A student comes to a Master, Teacher, and Guru with tears in his eyes. There are so many problems, and when he leaves, he is carrying the same tears, but the quality of the tears is different, it is of gratitude. Still tears flow, but those are of gratitude, of love; it is so beautiful to cry in love. One, who has cried even once in love, knows the taste of it, of surrender and of devotion and the entire creation rejoices it. The entire creation is longing for only one thing, the transformed tears, from salty tears to sweet tears."

 ~ Sri Sri Ravi Shankar​

Photo: Amma's lotus feet

Friday, March 13, 2015

Let Yourself Be Silently Drawn By the Strange Pull.....

I'll never forget the first time I read the poems of the Sufi Mystic Jallaladin Rumi. 
Who can? I remember how thousands of infinite possibilities seemed to explode in my young brain--and heart, and soul--when I first read these words:

"Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray."
~ #Rumi, as translated by #ColemanBarks

How wondrous it is that words which were written in the 13th century are still being read and circulated today!  And how delightfully bizarre that these ancient words are now being TWEETED. I wonder sometimes if Rumi knew, at some level, that this would come to pass.  I, for one, am grateful that his pure light messages live on and continue to inspire so many. It really is proof that if you do what you love, and follow all those "strange pulls," your work will be infinite and lasting and true. 

I think of the young me: dog-earing pages of poetry; highlighting inspirational passages in novels and spiritual self-help texts; always, always always searching for greater truth and wisdom.  I think of those books, now lovingly organized and packed in neatly-labeled boxes in an ExtraSpace storage unit. It pains me sometimes, that my books do not get to breathe, or experience dust or sun, or the loving touch of human hands. But that's another topic.  
Right now I'm thinking --oddly--that all that dog-earing and highlighting was somehow laying the ground for a future of Pinterest pins and Tweets.  And I think, mostly, that I have to start relying on the ExtraSpace Storage Unit that is my brain.  All those quotes, all those poems, all that knowledge, everything I have ever read...this all must still be inside me somewhere. So even if my books aren't breathing, I must breathe for them, and for all the authors who have inspired me so.
 
Rumi would say not to worry. To call the knowledge forth. 

"This is love: to fly toward a secret sky,
to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment.
First, to let go of life.
In the end, to take a step without feet;
to regard this world as invisible,
and to disregard what appears to be the self.

Heart, I said, what a gift it has been
to enter this circle of lovers,
to see beyond seeing itself,
to reach and feel within the breast."


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

This Snowbird is Getting Ready to Fly Again

Well, my winter in Florida is coming to a close, and while I am always looking forward to returning to my beloved Hudson Valley, said Hudson Valley is still currently buried underneath many feet of snow, and the temperature rarely rises above freezing.  So I am going to extend my stay in Florida for a few more weeks.  If I can.  Any takers?

I really enjoyed my time at Atlantic Center for the Arts and am always so impressed with and inspired by the other in artists in residence I meet there.  I visited the studios of Steven and Katherine Aimone's abstract expressionist master workshop and was blown away by the paintings-in-progress that I saw. The smell of the paint and thinners, accompanied by the sound of classical music on someone's paint-spattered CD player--reminded me of my undergraduate days, when I myself was a painter. Ah, so long ago.

Anyway, it is customary when we leave Atlantic Center for the Arts to sign the wall inside our cottage closet.  I was delighted to see some of my favorite writers' names next to mine: Nick Flynn and Rick Moody.  Thanks ACA!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Prepare to be enchanted, uplifted and healed by my friend Drukmo Gyal Dakini's beautiful voice. Her new CD "The Tibetan Voice of Purification" has just been released and it is incredible.  I can't wait for more people to discover her amazing voice.  And, I'm thrilled to mention that Dakini sings on my CD as well. We're so blessed to have her on the "Beyond the Beyond" team. 

Please "like" her artist page on Facebook and share news of her CD launch to help spread the world about this up-and-coming vocalist and healer. May all beings benefit!

Here is Dakini's website:
http://tibetdakini.wix.com/dragonmusic

Here is her Facebook page:


https://www.facebook.com/pages/%E0%BD%A0%E0%BD%96%E0%BE%B2%E0%BD%B4%E0%BD%82%E0%BD%98%E0%BD%BC%E0%BD%A2%E0%BE%92%E0%BE%B1%E0%BD%A3-Drukmo-Gya/530315830329008

Thursday, February 19, 2015


I spent much of my Valentine's Day yesterday at the animal shelter doing energy work with the dogs. Mostly I just sat with them in a state of compassion. Sometimes it can be tender and almost painful to be in such a chaotic setting with an open heart. So when one of the dogs I was sitting with (a very large ridgeback/cur mix) started to cry, I started to cry as well. It can be so easy as a human in a crazy world to go into a state of feeling helpless and believing that we are unable to change anything. But the good thing about being a yogi and having a spiritual practice is that those practices help us remember that we can always tap into the power of prayer. So I kept singing mantras to the crying dog and praying for her happiness and telling her that I was with her. That she was not alone. Soon, she quieted and then all the dogs in the kennel room quieted. Something shifted. I'm not saying that "I" did anything or made something happen, but it's amazing to witness the energy of prayer in action. A few hours later that sweet, giant dog was adopted on the spot. I watched her hop into a family's car with her tail wagging and I heard someone say "good girl."
 
So...I think of one of my Buddhist teachers saying: "in a crazy world, the only thing that makes sense is compassion." I am so grateful for that teaching.