TRACY: I find people often have interesting stories about how they came to discover the practice of Kundalini Yoga and the subsequent practice of mantra singing in community. Tell us about how you came to it and what drew you to this practice and what the outcome has been for you.
SARAH: The very first Kundalini class I went to was actually an “accident”. I read the schedule wrong and thought I was going to an ashtanga class in Nelson BC. Since I lived out of town, I decided to stay for the class anyway, and it literally changed my life. At the end of the class, we chanted the Guru Ram Das chant, and tears were streaming down my face. Joy, sorrow, grief, bliss…all of it in that one experience. The asanas and pranayama were great of course, but it was the chanting that really drew me in and resonated with me. Since I’m a musician, the music and chanting became a tool I could use easily, and I just feel at home when I’m chanting.
TRACY: Can you share any ways in which you feel tangibly changed by your mantra practice?
SARAH: I’ve had many experiences like I had in that first class, whereby there was a bit letting go of big emotions when chanting; what I like to call, a cleansing of the mind and soul. I feel lighter after a chanting practice, and more expansive…and it’s actually tangible in my body.
TRACY: What are some of the comments you hear the most after one of your concerts from the participants?
SARAH: A lot of, “Wow! I really needed that!” along with many sentiments of gratitude, which is always so rewarding for me.
TRACY: Do you have a core mantra that speaks to you and that you return to over and over again? What is it’s affect on you when you chant it?
SARAH: I really love Rakhe Rakhen Har and I always come back to it. When I first heard it and began chanting, I ended up mumbling a lot of the words because I didn’t know what they were. However, once I began studying them and paying attention to pronunciation, the soothing and calming effects became even more profound. It’s typically an evening mantra, and although it’s part of the Aquarian Sadhana done in the morning, I like to chant this one at night before I go to bed. It’s got a tranquil effect that relaxes my nervous system.
TRACY: In your experience, what would you say is the benefit of attending a chant concert? Why should people do it?
SARAH: I feel that it’s a beautiful way to come together as a community. It’s always great to chant alone, but it’s all the more powerful and profound when chanting with others. There was a study that observed that happy people belong to choirs and sing with other people, and I’ve found this to be true. When we chant certain endorphins are released, changing our emotional state and bringing us those blissful feelings. As for listening at a concert, it’s a way to relax and rejuvenate if you take time to be still and really let the sound sink in; the vibrations of the mantra have an effect on the nervous system.
TRACY: What has motivated you to share mantra with others by way of concerts and workshops? What has prepared you for this moment in time to share worldwide mantra with the masses?
SARAH: I’ve always been a teacher (camp, sailing, swimming, skiing, yoga, pilates etc.) so I’m always wanting to share my knowledge and experiences with others. As a yoga teacher who travels extensively, workshops are a great way for me to connect with those who are interested in Kundalini yoga and mantra. They are both universal languages of movement and sound, so even if I’m teaching in French or Spanish (and I’m not exactly fluent), the students get a lot out of it by watching and listening. With chanting, it’s a foreign language for all of us (except perhaps Sikhs!) so it’s a great way to bridge cultures and be on the same page. My world travels have lead me to this moment of sharing mantra with the masses. Just a few weeks ago I had a friend I met in Peru write me a message from India; she had met a man who works at a hostel on the Camino in Spain (which I walked several years ago) and he was listening to my CD. It’s really a small, beautiful world and I want to keep sharing this sacred practice all over it.
TRACY: What would be the best outcome you could imagine for people’s experience at your “Chanting is Medicine” workshop on May 26th and the concert to follow in the evening?
SARAH: For the workshop, I’d love people to be able to tap into their own sacred sound, and learn how this practice can heal and transform their lives. As for the concert, I want people to feel a part of something larger than themselves; we are never alone. When we chant together, we can transform ourselves and the world around it; I believe that through music, mantra and our intention, we can create peace in ourselves, and then shine it outwardly to the rest of the world.
TRACY: Can you give an example of how mantra has worked in your life?
SARAH: When my mum was sick with cancer and getting treatment, her platelets were really, really low and she kept having to go to the hospital with nosebleeds. I chanted the Guru Ram Das chant for 40 days (for healing) and miraculously the nosebleeds stopped. The doctors were confused and surprised. I wasn't. Yogi Bhajan said, "I don't believe in miracles. I rely on them."
Sarah Calvert will be facilitating a "Chanting is Medicine" workshop and concert on Saturday, May 26th, 1-4pm & 7:30-9:15pm.