Last weekend I had the pleasure of practicing a vinyasa flow class with live music from Steve Gold, and then attending his workshop on Mantra and Manifestation. Both were incredible yoga experiences!
It was so powerful to sing during class, to be freely encouraged to make noise and to express from the heart. The studio was jam-packed, yogis lined up like little sardines. There’s always something exciting about a full room and I was inspired by the energy created by all of us moving and breathing together.
And I have to say it was pretty magical singing So Much Magnificence and feeling the voices resonate in the room during savasana. If you haven’t heard that song, you should definitely check it out.
During the workshop, Steve dove into an exploration of mantra.
We sang om namah shivaya, a mantra close to my heart. You may remember, I have it tattooed on my right ankle :)
Though the Sanskrit words are hard to translate, some interpret the phrase as “I am that I am.” The breakdown of each word can be explained with various definitions:
- Om: the universal sound; an exuberant roar of joy; “yes!”; verily; so be it; amen
- Namah: to bow; “I invite this energy into my heart”
- Shiva: that which contains all things; all possibility; maximum expansion; the destroyer of ignorance
When chanting om namah shivaya, I acknowledge my higher Self. I acknowledge all aspects of my being, and all possibilities for what may come. I ground myself, considering the path I walk. I see the path clearly before me. Om namah shivaya. I am that I am.
The words have such power, and for me personally, they conjure up a lot of memories of the past year when I chanted as a way to invite strength into my life. When we sang the first time during Steve’s workshop, I couldn’t help but tear up.
Om namah shivaya, Om shanti
Om namah shivaya, Om shanty
The words felt like such a relief, and the collective sound of the chant brought me into a space of light, peace, and comfort.
After explaining the meaning of the mantra and letting us experience it firsthand, Steve launched into a compelling story about moving to Hawaii in his 20s. His goal was to cast aside physical and material attachments, to detach from society in pursuit of enlightenment. He encountered several wise mentors and spiritual texts along the way, and was surprised to find that while the adventure was initially very appealing, he couldn’t sustain this simple life of living in a hut, spending days by a waterfall with his guitar, and doing yoga and meditation.
Perhaps most surprising was finding confirmation that his path toward enlightenment didn’t have to look like that of a monk.
He was struck by the words in the Gospel of Sri Rama Krishna that stood in stark contrast to the lifestyle of his spiritual quest:
As long as you have desires, you must exhaust them.
Later, another teacher put it in this way: All of us seek something to do, and someone to love.
So often in yoga and spiritual circles, we hear about the ancient masters who sacrificed a so-called “normal” life and retreated to the caves to do the “real” yoga, meditation, praying, fasting, and other sacred practices.
I found it refreshing to be reminded that we each have spiritual gifts, and many of them involve worldly connections. For Steve Gold, fulfilling his dharma means being a conduit for spontaneous spiritual connection and transformation through musical gatherings. He travels, connects with people up close, and shares his music in a very visceral, immediate way.
He’s had to overcome fears and self-doubt in order to do so. Again and again, he returns to his heart’s truest desire in order to find the motivation and inspiration to keep playing his songs and speaking his truth.
I am grateful to Steve for sharing his wisdom and his powerful music, and for challenging me to be clear about my desires – to be conscious of them, and active physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually in pursuing them.
Om namah shivaya om!
Steve has a new track called Golden Om. I highly recommend his albums Let Your Heart Be Known and So Much Magnificence.
He's also on Facebook.