The main feature of our Spring 2023 issue is an interview with the wondrous Snatam Kaur! Snatam Kaur, a magnificent bright and shining presence when it comes to healing sounds and music, unveils how she came to understand and utilise the healing power of chant. Enjoy our inspiring conversation below.
Harmonise Your Way Home To Centre
by Alison McEvoy
Interviewed by Paul Congdon
Snatam Kaur, a magnificent bright and shining presence when it comes to healing sounds and music, describes the beginnings of her awakening to the call to chant:
“I must have been about four or five and I started calling [for my mum because I’d finished in the bathtub], her name Matiji. She didn’t hear me for whatever reason…and I started going back and forth, making waves with the bathtub water and singing her name. I’d say that’s when my music career started… For me, having a music career means getting lost in the music, and I certainly was that afternoon.”
When we can follow the thread of what we are doing in our lives all the way back to the pure spontaneity and innocent creativity of our childhood, we know we are in touch with what is part of our essence, our purpose and our authenticity.
Snatam Kaur’s music, the sounds she chooses and how they emanate from her, carry a sense of deep purpose – the healing and expanding of human consciousness and being.
THE LIFE BEHIND THE ART
What I found so refreshing about Snatam is that she lifts the veil, allowing us to see the shapes of her life behind her art. She shares how her life experiences, and the healing processes she has gone through amidst the gales and storms of her life, interweave so closely with what has come through her to be created and expressed.
Prior to the creation of her first album Prem, she says, “I had been doing a number of chants every night leading up to that time when I had an opportunity to make an album…I had gone through a painful divorce. I needed those songs to even go to sleep. They were very much part of my healing process. So for me, in that time it was a lot about finding self-love and connecting again with the divine within myself.”
This was the album that propelled her and “exploded everything…everything unfolded from that point.”
MY MEDICINE, YOUR MEDICINE
Snatam is sharing her medicine with the world when she chants. “A lot of my life’s work is having a daily practice myself but also helping other people to have a daily chanting practice.”
You might wonder how a daily chanting practice can help with the day-to-day issues and challenges of your life. Listening to Snatam share the methodology of chanting as a practice, we can understand just how powerful and practical a source of support chanting can be, if used to its full potential.
“I learned from my mum that one could…apply the chant to one’s life and apply one’s life to the chant. Giving it all to the chant itself. This is where my core self-healing practice happens, it’s through this kind of chanting and this kind of self-reflection. So that’s really where the chants come from.”
So many of us feel the huge pull of music to our souls. Music helps us to awaken and feel our emotions out of the watery depths within us. We seek love songs when we are in love. We seek, resonate with, and pour our grief into the broken-hearted songs when things break down. We sing along with triumph songs when we feel on top of the world, and we let the stricken songs rain down on us when we are in the gutter of life. Music resonates with our emotions, our vibrations – this is something many of us instinctually know.
The chants which Snatam shares offer a unique invitation however. They take us on a journey, lead us to somewhere new. They are pathways. They are transformational. They can help us grow through what is happening on the stage of our human life.
“After singing, after chanting these chants, I feel a sense of very deep relaxation and a sense of faith and flow,” she explains. “It’s almost like getting up out of the muck and mire and experiencing this love and joy and then coming back into the human body and feeling a sense of ‘ok, yeah, I can do this…everything is ok’.”
THE INVITATION OF ‘ONG NAMO’
One lesson which Snatam describes learning through the experience of chanting ‘Ong Namo’, is the ability to accept, allow and surrender to what is flowing through her life experience.
I can’t count the times when I have felt that what’s happening in my life is ‘not right’ or ‘shouldn’t be happening’. Often retrospect allows us to see more of a purpose and meaning to what we go through, but accessing a sense of surrender during painful, challenging or difficult moments in life is one of the more elusive abilities of the human being. If we could cultivate the attitude of surrender, we would be heaping less hardship on ourselves and perhaps even see a light when we are in the dark.
According to Snatum, “The inspiration to record that song really came from this place of wanting to surrender to the flow. That flow of Divine coming through my life and coming through me was requiring that I come to a place of humility and let go of thinking that what was happening in my life wasn’t exactly perfect. That I needed to change myself or even what’s happening in my life, but just to kind of look at it all as a flow. And even just for a moment to bow to it and to be OK with it all. And see that that flow was happening to guide me, to teach me, to bring me into communion with my soul’s light and energy and destiny. I continue to do that process…”
MAKE YOUR CELLS DANCE
In talking, writing and reading about the experience of music or sound vibration, so much is lost in translation. To actually experience this is to undergo a shift in your cellular being. That is where this medicine goes – directly to the cells:
“The medicine is to recite. The medicine is to chant. The recitation and chanting speaks to the cells and fibres of our being. In our fingers and our toes and in our whole being. We insert these basic positive vibrations into our beings and it creates a lot of harmony on the physical level…but then also a sense of elevation in the mental state…”
Positive Life will be hosting a live concert with Snatam Kaur on 8th June in Dublin’s RDS Concert Hall where you can take a dip into Snatam’s daily practice of chanting.
“It’s one of the greatest joys of my life to come and chant with people,” she says. “It’s truly a major uplift, an incredibly healing experience and I love it…There’s nothing more powerful to shift consciousness, I feel, than sound vibration… the chants vibrate within our core being.”
VIBRATE HOME TO YOUR CENTRE
On the Saturday following Snatam’s live event, she will be hosting a 3.5 hour workshop in Dun Laoghaire’s Marine Hotel. After a yoga and meditation warm-up, participants will learn to chant a sacred poem written by the tenth guru of the Sikhs, who lived in the seventeenth century as a warrior, yogi and poet.
“[The chant] is an instruction on how to practice life itself. How to come into a place of centre…and to be able to stabilise that place of centre so one can really access that energy. To me that’s really the moment when becoming a channel of the Divine happens, when you can stabilise that centre point.”
Snatam will follow up the workshop with “bonus content” for all participants – a 40-day online practice. The focus and intention of this online immersive practice is to enable participants to “apply the chant to one’s life and apply one’s life to the chant” – a guided experience taking you on the journey that this chant offers, into the practice of life.
Snatam describes how “A huge transformation can happen when you bring these techniques into your daily life…I’ve never once experienced having a problem, an issue or a question that I put forward to one of these 40-day chants and
it not being solved. Every single time I just write down what is it that I’m questioning in my life. What is it I want to do? In this case, how do I want to become a channel of the Divine – because that’s the focus of this chant. I’ll be inviting people to write that down and at the end of the 40 days, I truly feel there will be a lot of clarity.”
As she speaks about the intention which infuses this online immersive practice, you can sense the immense dedication Snatam has to her purpose, her own spiritual practice and the healing and elevating of human consciousness. As we return and learn to stabilise, staying close to our centre, our power and Divine energy, she hopes that we are all able to “live more consciously on the planet.”
I will be joining Snatam in June. I can still remember the impression that hit my cells when I first heard her voice over a decade ago. As the years went by it became an informal practice of mine to sit in the bathtub and sing along to her duet with Peter Kater any time the waters of life were rough or choppy. Which is funny, given Snatam’s bathtub story! There is something about being in water that helps the feelings flow, the vibrations to shift. So, ladies and gents, the gift of sound awaits you… and into summer we go.
See Snatam live in concert this June.
June 8th Concert, RDS
June 10th Workshop, Royal Marine Hotel