I am sitting at the airport in Delhi, SO happy to be typing these words on my MacBook, which my friend Lisa so generously carried to India with her from the States and delivered to me here in Delhi last night.
I’m en route to the Kumbha Mela. And it’s not just the Kumbha Mela this year…it’s the Maha Maha Kumbha Mela, a most auspicious occasion which only takes place every 144 years. I am feeling really blessed and really grateful to be on this pilgrimage, and also somewhat anxious about what awaits me there because it’s a HUGE convergence of human beings and Lord only knows how hectic it might be to be in amongst the masses.
Everything is changing every moment, and thank God my laptop is beneath my fingertips so that I can write it down. Write the story. What is the story that’s unfolding here?
Going back to November when I saw Amma in Detroit, I can begin to trace this storyline, to discern (to some extent) what is going on here. When I saw Amma at the end of November, I handed her a small white piece of paper. It said, “Dear Mother, please remove all vasanas that are blocking my music and my abundance. Thank you. Love, Erin” The next thing I knew, I was in India. It was literally a whirlwind of Nature support and suddenly I was flying across the world for my first meeting with the Eastern Hemisphere.
Since I have been in India these past six weeks I have had some of the most amazingly magical, synchronistic, and blessed spiritual experiences of my life. AND I have been in many extremely challenging situations and experienced a lot of really intense emotions, a lot of crying and feeling lost and afraid, alone in a big, strange universe.
One very notable experience that I had with Neem Karoli Baba in Vrindavan recently seems to have catalyzed the most recent series of events, which leads me to where I now sit, on an airplane on my way to Allahabad to attend the Maha Maha Kumbha Mela which is in full swing there. Over 100 million people are expected to attend this year, and I am amazed that I am going to be one of them. I have been told by quite a few Indians that I should consider myself extremely blessed, that even many Indians are never able to make it to the Kumbha Mela. I bought a sari from a man last night who looked me in the eye and told me just how very, very lucky I am, that he is 46, has lived in India all his life, and has not yet made it to “the Kumbh.”
A couple of weeks ago, I was at the Neem Karoli Baba ashram in Vrindavan, sitting next to the bed where he used to sit with his devotees. This bed holds SUCH incredible spiritual energy, and at one point I placed my forehead on the bed, directly on the very blanket that he himself had once used, and I could feel the energy move all throughout my body like electricity, blessing every ounce of my being. I sat there meditating, feeling so unbelievably blessed to be in such an amazing energy field, so full of his divine presence. The feeling was one of DEEP, warm, nourishing, fatherly love…extremely playful and full of joy… similar in some ways (I imagine) to how it must have felt to sit in his presence while he was in the body.
Suddenly I could see him VERY clearly. I became a clump of wet sand in his hand, and slowly and lovingly he massaged the sand with his fingers, breaking apart the clump so that the pieces of individual sand could lie on the earth and dry. And as this vision was taking place, I could FEEL in my body the experience of what was happening. As he was working on me in this absolutely incredible way, I could feel myself deeply relax…I could feel myself just surrender into the space around me, to feel more at ease than I had felt in a very long time. My perception shifted to become more aligned with Nature, and through all of this I began to taste this amazing and absolutely delicious simplicity. All was well within me and within the universe, and I felt deeply at peace.
I asked him for guidance about how to best share my music with the world, and he smiled at me, looking happy and pleased with me…and also there was this sense that yes, I am doing well, always doing my best, following my intuition, and yet there was a possibility for me to step it up in a way, to ignite more of a fire to fuel my musical journey in a more powerful way. Suddenly I was rolled up like a ball and he kicked me like a soccer ball…far, far, faaaar through the air I sailed, feeling the profound blessing of this darshan booster rocket blast of fire and energy that he had given me. “A kick start,” I later wrote in my journey, smiling at the play on words.
A few days later, I was out walking around Vrindavan and saw a billboard for a luxury housing development called the Hare Krishna Orchid. I felt a strong impulse to check it out, so I followed the arrow on the sign. I walked and walked down this long, curious, dusty road all the way to the end. I decided that I would pretend that I was interested in purchasing a flat there so that I would have some purpose for my visit. I walked through the security gate and into the main office where I sat down at the desk and began speaking with the marketing manager who told me that his name was Raj. He took one look at me and said that he needed to put all business aside for a moment and tell me that I must be very, very careful here in India, that I shouldn’t trust just anyone because there are cheaters here who might not have good intentions. He said that he could tell that I was a very honest person and he was concerned that I might be taken advantage of because I’m so open-hearted and trusting.
Raj and I talked for quite awhile, and just before I left I handed him my business card. He was very interested to learn about my Medicine Songs, the healing work that I do with my music, and wanted to schedule a session with me for the following day. So the next day I gave him a session and he really, really enjoyed it. He told me how powerful my voice is and was deeply moved by the experience that he had had while I was singing.
He told me that I have goodness and honesty written all over my face, telling me over and over, “You’re a good one!” He also said to me at one point during the conversation, “People like you should be messengers for your country.” He was sharing with me that many people do not think very highly of the United States, so it’s good for people to meet ambassadors like me who can show them that actually there are many good people in the U.S. and thereby help to shift the negative stereotype.
All the while, the Russian women who live with him had been cooking dinner and he invited me to stay and eat with them, but I said that I’d rather return another night so that I could bring my friend Daniel with me to meet everyone, which we did the very next night.
So, like this, Daniel and I have become quite close with Raj and he has taken quite an interest in helping us to find what we need here in India. Daniel, having recently decided to stay in India rather than return to the U.S. as he had planned to do, is looking for a music teacher. And I am looking for a recording studio and musicians to work with. For the past year or more, I have felt really, really ready to just get in the studio and record.
Because of the very unique nature of my particular creative process (unlimited spontaneous improvisational devotional singing), it has taken me awhile to discern how I can best share this music with the world. And at this point, I feel most inspired to be in a recording studio and sing and sing and sing and record it and work with a top level producer and engineer to create an album. And maybe some of this spontaneous flow will be turned into more structured songs with choruses and verses, etc, or maybe not. We shall see. I was really excited when I recently learned that actually, the Beatles wrote many of their songs in the studio like this.
Over the course of a few evenings at Raj’s home for dinner, Daniel and I shared our dreams and goals with him. And he told us again and again that he really feels strongly that we were brought to him so that he can help us to fulfill our dreams and to make sure that we have everything we need while we’re here in India. He said to ask him for anything and everything we need at any point while we are here, even money. “Money is your BEST friend when you are traveling,” he said, a statement which certainly has some truth to it. So clearly something very cosmic and very blessed had begun to unfold, and we were all really enjoying each other’s company and all that we were discovering together.
Daniel told Raj that he dreamed of meeting Debu Chaudhuri, one of the most well known and loved musicians alive today in India, and Raj was SO excited to hear this. Raj’s brother (well, really his cousin, but the word cousin and brother are somewhat synonymous here in India at times) Neel is one of Debu Chaudhuri’s main disciples, and so meeting with Debu was absolutely possible, and Raj set about making the arrangements for a meeting with him at his home in Delhi.
In the meantime, I had begun to notice that the enamel on some of my front teeth seemed to have literally disappeared overnight, and there were some other concerning things going on with my teeth as well. And so begun an extremely emotional experience of feeling overwhelmed and anxious about what was going on with my teeth, not sure about where to get help, and on and on…and so this was the experience that was running parallel while all of this cosmic alignment of musical connections was also happening.
Daniel said he thought it was the bacteria here in India that was harming my teeth, so I began to do what I could to prevent any further damage. I began doing coconut oil pulls every morning and evening, using tea tree oil (which has very strong antibacterial properties), and brushing my teeth after every meal.
During this time I also had my first experience playing the “nada vina” which is a more traditional way of saying “tambura.” My friend Rob Cox kept telling me that he REALLY felt like I would love playing it. He has a deep appreciation for the way I sing, allowing my heart to express itself in an uninhibited way, and so he felt like this would be a great way to accompany myself. He learned to sing from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi himself, so to have this validation of the way that I express myself musically was another big blessing on my path.
Then the time came for us to travel to Delhi with Raj. He borrowed his friend’s car and hired a driver, and off we went on our first road trip with our new friend. We first stopped at his brother Neel’s place and Daniel and I each told him a bit about what we are looking for musically. I told him about my creative process of spontaneous/intuitive/improvisational singing and of my desire to record an album. He asked me to sing for him, which I did, and he said that he definitely wanted to help me get an album recorded. He said that he has access to a very nice studio, and is also connected with some of the top musicians in India, musicians who play with people like Debu Chaudhuri, etc. He said that I could basically have any instrumentation that I wanted…guitar, bass, any kind of drums, keys, etc, and that he would look into the cost for recording and let me know what he found out.
Next, we piled back into the car and traveled to Debu Chaudhuri’s house and had an absolutely amazing meeting with him. I sang for him, and he said that I have a “very good voice.” Daniel sang for him as well and he gave us the contact information for a few people in Calcutta who he said would be able to help us. He said to just tell them that Debu Chaudhuri had sent us to them. Amazing!
He asked us quite a few questions and shared his wisdom with us, instructing us, “Be positive and firm about what you want.” We told him that we had come India to be with Amma and he expressed his deep appreciation for her and said that he always goes to see her when she comes to Delhi and has played at some of her programs.
And then, after about 45 minutes in his presence, it was dinnertime so time for us to move along. We took some photos, and I touched his feet (as is custom here in India to receive the blessings from a master or guru) before we left. All of this was a HUGE boon on my musical path. To have the blessings of a master like him is an incredible blessing. He is so masterful and well-respected that he was the recipient of the Padma Bhushan award, one of the highest civilian awards given by the Indian government.
When we walked outside, Neel told us that Debu had taken him aside afterwards and instructed him to look after us. Neel also said that usually these kinds of meetings with Debu are much more formal, and that it had been very clear that he had really taken a personal interest in us because some of the questions that he had asked us were quite personal, like when he asked us how we are financing our journey here in India.
Then Neel and Raj shared with us a bit more about their heritage and their family history (of which Debu Chaudhuri is a part), which brought even more light to the whole cosmic convergence that was happening. Their family was literally Bengali royalty, kings and queens in the magical land of Bengal, before the British came in and turned everything upside down. And the richness of this royal Bengali family was the CULTURE, the MUSIC, the ARTS…and Raj told us, tears streaming down his face, that he just feels SO deeply blessed to be able to help us right now because he sees that same richness in Daniel and me.
It was really QUITE a magical moment in time, standing outside Debu Chauduri’s house in the cool, clear Delhi night air. It all felt SO massively blessed, as if YES, FINALLY my music career is taking flight. This is it!!! I am in the right place and the timing is right and it must REALLY finally be happening for me now!!!
The car delivered us to the house where our friend David was waiting for us. He had just flown to India the day before and the plan was that we’d spend a couple of nights together in Delhi before flying to the Kumbha Mela on February 8th. When we saw David, we recounted the day’s events, the magical tale that we were in AWE to be living, and David was really amazed. He is the one drove us from snowy cold Fairfield to the Moline Airport back on December 29th and has been following our journey quite closely ever since. And he was delighted by this new development in the storyline, also deeply appreciating the blessing of all of this.
That night I became extremely ill. My stomach was sick, I had a massive fever, and my whole body ached. On top of this, I was experiencing excruciating pain all throughout my upper back. The pain was so intense that I could hardly move, and I could hardly sleep because one minute I was shivering and the next minute I was sweating. All day the following day I stayed in bed, feeling absolutely awful, and so by evening I decided that I would not be getting on an airplane to the Kumbha Mela the next morning.
Daniel, David, and I all left in the same car that next morning. They were headed to the airport and on the way I got into another car which would take me to the Maharishi Ayurveda Hospital to rest and recuperate. In the car, I was telling Daniel that even though everything seemed to be working out for me musically here in India, part of me just wants to go home!!! Home is a relative term for me at this point though because all my possessions are in storage at a friend’s house in Fairfield. And so really the closest thing I have to a home is my mom’s house in Wisconsin, but as much as I love visiting my mom there, I definitely don’t want to live there.
But still, part of me wants to go back to the States where I don’t get sick all the time like I do in India, where I can go to a dentist that I know and trust, where I can return to some normalcy of some kind. (The idea of normalcy in my life is really just a fantasy though. I can’t remember the last time my life felt “normal” no matter where I have been.) What I keep saying though is that wherever I am meant to be to be able to REALLY do my music, THAT is where I want to be. I want to do whatever I can to be most fully in service to my music.
So, hearing all of this, Daniel was really encouraging me to get really clear about what I want, like Debu Chaudhuri had said. Do I want to record in Delhi with Neel and his friends? Is this the right album to put out as my very FIRST album? Or do I want to wait until a plan manifests for me to go back to the States and record music in L.A.? (L.A. has been coming up consistently for the past year, and there have been countless signs that when I return from India I may spend some time in Fairfield and Wisconsin and then move to L.A. for my music.) He encouraged me to spend some time really asking myself “What is it that I really, REALLY WANT?”
So I spent a few days at the hospital and went through a pretty rough time there. I discovered a bright red rash on my belly and also some dark brown cavity-looking spots on some of my back molars near the gums and was just absolutely SO overwhelmed and feeling SO confused about what to do. I started asking around to find out if anyone knew of a REALLY good dentist in Delhi, and I was just hearing all kinds of horror stories, which sent me further into overwhelm. I felt like I couldn’t hear my inner guidance (Amma) at ALL, and was just crying and crying and crying so much, feeling absolutely confused and LOST. I was wondering if Nature was trying to show me that I am on the wrong track, that I am doing something wrong, and so experiencing all this disharmony. Maybe it was time to leave India and return to the States. Or maybe this is just all purification, karma burning, etc, something to go THROUGH, rather than a sign that I needed to leave India.
One day, after a couple of days of this, I took a long walk, singing the words “Turn this sorrow into love,” over and over and over again at the top of my lungs. My voice was doing some amazing things that I have never heard it do before and it felt quite liberating not to be concerned about what anyone thought of me right then. I needed to SING, and so I was SINGING. And afterwards I definitely noticed that something had shifted, although I still felt pretty sad and unsure about what to do.
The next day I took another walk, this time singing, “Mother help me surrender to your love,” over and over. And then I walked to this lovely park full of gorgeous green life next to the hospital, intentionally circumambulating it three times, praying and praying for guidance from Amma. And finally some clarity began to come. I was even getting some guidance about my actual itinerary! It seemed pretty clear that she was telling me that I’ll be leaving India on March 15th, arriving back in the States on March 17th. It seemed clear that I was to go to the Kumbha Mela, then Rishikesh, then back to Delhi, then to Bangkok from February 25th to March 4th to get my dental situation sorted out, then back to Delhi to record my album, and then back to the States. It seems like some really amazing structure is going to be created for me when I’m back in the States (probably in L.A. and maybe doing some work related to the music industry) so that I have a way to earn a good living, support myself, have my own space, etc. And I felt so happy and grateful for the clarity.
The next day, I saw Dr. Raju. He is one of the most well respected and adored Ayurvedic physicians in all the world, and I have heard miracle story after miracle story from people who he has helped through the years. I told him about everything that was going on….my digestion was not doing well, I had a rash around my belly button, my teeth were really suffering, and I was feeling lost and confused. He felt my pulse and said that everything I am experiencing is because I am having digestive problems. He prescribed some herbs for me and said that even after seven days of taking the herbs, I will feel a huge difference, and that even my teeth can heal by following this protocol.
That night, I sat down to meditate and immediately had this VERY strong vision of Amma. I saw her plop down on the bed right in front of me, quite casually, as if she were my sister or best friend or something. And she was REALLY light-hearted and giggly and happy and just GLOWING with happiness. The message was really clear that she was quite pleased with me. She had put me through this really tough experience and was pleased that throughout it all, I had never stopped crying out to her for help…I had continued and continued to reach out to her for guidance, even when I couldn’t hear anything from her for days. And the sense was that she created this entire experience in order to strengthen my trust, to deepen my faith in her, to cultivate even more divine longing in me, and to remind me in a clear way that she is ALWAYS with me, even when I can’t hear her. She told me that I am to trust Dr. Raju, take the herbs, and she is going to protect my teeth until I can get to Bangkok for treatment in a couple of weeks.
I know this story is crazy long and if you have stuck with me this long, wow, thank you…this is just pouring out of me, so this story must want to be shared.
So then YESTERDAY was a really blessed day and everything was really flowing and coming together for me. I was feeling extremely clear and it just seemed like I was living one big huge long miracle all day. I woke up to a few different emails with contact info for dental clinics in Bangkok, and when I shared this with the guy sitting at the computer next to me, he handed me a card from a clinic in Bangkok where he has had really good experiences. I bought a new plane ticket to the Kumbha Mela and the arrangements for accommodation fell into place and just one thing after another was coming together. I was also emailing back and forth with my friend Yahyah who will be traveling to Thailand at the end of the month to meet his mother for the first time! And our friend Antwan will be with him as well. These are two of my very favorite brothers, two of my very favorite people in the entire universe to sing with. Nature seemed to be organizing everything and it all felt completely effortless. AND, I even got my MacBook delivered to me from the States last night!
When I spoke with Daniel (who was in Varanasi) last night I told him about everything that had happened and he thought it all sounded really great. He gently asked, “Is the money there yet?” and I laughed a little and responded, “No, not yet.” “That’s okay, that’s okay,” he reassured me. “The money is coming.” We were still planning to meet up at the Kumbha Mela and to travel to Rishikesh with David as planned.
Then I called Daniel TODAY from the airport just before I boarded this plane that I am currently on, flying to Allahabad, and he told me that there has actually been ANOTHER new development in the plan. He has decided that actually (instead of going to Rishikesh) he needs to go to BANGKOK on the 16th to be with our friend Anaghan who is traveling there soon to have heart surgery. So we are canceling our flights to Rishikesh, and that’s what he’s doing, and now I’m again unsure about what I’m doing.
Good LORD, what is going ON here??? Why is everything always changing SO much all the time and why does there seem to be SO little clarity? Am I just burning SO much karma right now and that’s why I’m experiencing everything that I’m experiencing right now, or WHAT?
So even though that threw me off again, and I’m still a bit thrown off, I’m feeling okay. Because what else can I do but trust that Nature knows EXACTLY what she’s doing? What else can I do but just keep flowing with everything that’s happening right now?
The plane just landed on the runway in Allahabad, quite a ROUGH landing, actually (perhaps symbolic of something), and now we’re taxiing toward the airport.
So I am wondering many things at this juncture. Am I to travel with Daniel to Bangkok on the 16th? And if so, how will I pay for the plane ticket, the accommodations, and the dental treatment that I need? With all these ever-changing plans, how will I even know when I can safely book my return flight to the States? Am I going to record some music here in India, or will that have to wait until sometime after returning to the States?
It’s time to get off the plane, so I will end with a short, simple prayer, and will update you when I can as more becomes clear. Thank you for your continual love and prayers. They truly mean the WORLD to me.
Please God, show me the way. Guide my path. Light the way.
I love you and I want to serve you in every way I can. Please show me how.
Thank you, I love you.