Introduction: Five Fingers One Hand

Heidi with headset - making musicTWO: The Singer Songwriter

It’s all coming back to me. I was in one of those proverbial dark tunnels again, unable to see the light. It was a sunny morning in January 2009, almost a year and a half after we migrated to Australia. A family financial crisis was looming on the horizon and my mind was stricken with fear. Everything still felt hard, although we were at least finally getting settled in a home of our own.

It was mostly a question of income. There was no doubt that I had to find a job, but I was extremely reluctant to apply to the schools as an emergency teacher. I had been there and done that in the UK before the big move. I had sworn to myself that I would never do it again.

“Why are you worrying?” Guruji said. “You can apply. If it is meant for you – if it is coming your way, it will come. If not, it won’t.”He was silent for a while.

“Heidi, I have been thinking. Why have you not been writing any songs lately? This is important. You can write devotional songs. Try. At least you can write one song every month. You have a talent. You know what they say? ‘If you don’t use it, you lose it.’”

Sometimes new people after a yoga lesson ask, “That’s so amazing. Can he read your mind or something? When he spoke after the class he answered all my questions…!” I respond with a wry smile and do my best to keep my mouth shut. How can you explain on the doorstep that Guruji is not an ordinary yoga teacher, and this ability is something far higher than mind-reading?

This was one of those moments for me. In my mind I had been lamenting the fact that there was no point writing songs any more. Recording cost too much. I had made India Dreaming without the slightest idea of how to organise a CD launch, had not been ready to perform and did not have the first idea on how to “market” myself or become a musician. I had done my best on a limited budget, and even with the debut albums had not once managed to recoup the costs.

“Don’t think of loss or gain.” Guruji told me, “We have to be creative for the sake of it. It is in our nature to be creative. Don’t think what the result will be. Just do it. Let us see what is going to happen.”

In my book I mentioned that I started singing lessons at the age of seven, and had had early ambitions to become either a singer or a teacher when I grew up. The only trouble was that I was terrified of singing in public. However, I badly wanted to be able to perform, so went through one ordeal after another, singing solos at school concerts, hoping someday to overcome the paralysing fear. It paid off, but I was twenty before I sang in front of an audience and enjoyed it for the first time. Now, if you have already read the “Music” pages we can fast-forward to the present day…

And I find myself at a new junction in my life, which feels more like a cliff at the moment (I’ll explain why later) because I am on the verge of preparing to release a new album, Divine Romance. Most of the songs were written after Guruji told me to start writing devotional songs last January, and the work in the studio has also taken a whole year – a hugely creative, exciting process with plenty of learning curves. We (Guruji and my family!) all agree that it is the best album so far. All the new songs have a distinctly spiritual vibe, inspired by Guruji’s words of wisdom and the yoga path. And since this is my favourite topic, I find myself wanting to share my music again too.

So the question is, can I focus my gaze over the cliff to the great ocean and the big blue sky, or will I wobble as I look down and worry about falling? Well, personal experience would already testify to the fact that yoga develops both concentration and balance, so let’s hope for the best on that one. But you won’t find me getting complacent. It’s just all the more reason to keep practising!

This brings me to introduce the first of four themes around which I’ll be blogging: LIFE IS A FLOWER…

After all, this is “The Buddha in the Garden”, and Guruji often gives his talks colour and variety with allegories and metaphorical stories as examples. And to give you an idea of the topics Guruji speaks about in relation to human development and our journey through life: awareness; birth & death; balance; courage; confidence; desire; detachment; freedom; life, and world peace.