I first went to Tulum last February on a spur of the moment trip and was immediately hooked. 5 trips later-it continues to feed my soul like no other place I’ve been.
This last trip was no different.
The day after Thanksgiving, I wanted to start out on the right foot. I usually wake to the sun and walk down the beach and this time, I found myself drawn to a group of hippies doing their morning practice. I joined them and after we finished, I was invited to chant the GuruGita with them.
I’ve done the GuruGita before in India: but it was 4:30 am and I was half asleep so I forgot that it has 352 verses, all chanted to the harmonium. I powered through it and actually was bummed when it ended.
Midway through the Gita, a woman came along and laid her baby down on a bench nearby. As we chanted, the baby slept. The woman and her husband went into the ocean, knowing we were there.
Once we finished (352 verses later) the rest of the group went to breakfast and the baby started to fuss. The mom came to settle the baby and then looked at me and explained “the chanting soothes the baby-can you continue?”
Ironically, my voice (or inability to find it) was the discovery I made in Tulum during a yoga retreat last May.
It was during a chakra workshop at Utopia Tulum with the amazing Monica King that I realized my block. I’d spent the entire winter fighting throat issues that continued into spring and was unable to chant during my yoga classes. It was during this retreat that I addressed this issue and received an amazing healing Mayan ceremony where the leader explained to me -simple as can be- “You are blocked because you aren’t speaking your truth.”
I spent the next 6 months working on developing my skills in speaking out for myself appropriately. Telling my truth to protect my feelings, speaking out against those who judged my body as a yoga teacher, exerting myself in protection of others and myself.
These skills aren’t easy. We aren’t always taught to speak our truth (especially as women in our culture).
So-for this baby-I chanted.
I sang the songs taught by my yoga teacher Janet Stone. Chants to Ganesha, Lakshmi and Shiva. Music that I hear almost weekly, songs that remind me of gorgeous, sweaty moments on the mat. Rhythmic sounds that have lulled me into savasana-words that heal my soul.
I sang and sang, getting over my insecurities over how I sounded and found my true voice.
The baby slept soundly and when the mom came back out of the ocean-I realized over an hour had passed.
That’s when I realized the power of chanting-that the pure expression of love for the Divine transcends everything.
Today, I chanted with Janet Stone in her last class in San Francisco for awhile as she moves to Bali. And, ironically, there was a little baby on stage as we finished our chants with “Row row your boat“-a little tongue-in-cheek ending from Janet.
The lesson wasn’t lost on me: everything we do can be of service-whether we are chanting Sanskrit in beautiful soprano, squeaking it out in an unsure alto (as I do) or sitting in a roomful of sweaty people on a Saturday morning in hippie San Francisco gathering to sing “Row your boat’.
The Divine doesn’t care if you sing in key, wear the right clothes or even speak the local language.
And, she sure as hell loves it when you find your voice to empower yourself to speak your truth. This has no borders.
From San Francisco to Tulum to Bali.
Row your boat…….