“May our heart's garden of awakening bloom with hundreds of flowers.”― Thich Nhat Hanh
Since the age of eight, when a black and orange starburst garage sale guitar was first nestled in my arms, something has melted wide open with the first vibration. Still remember the first vibrant low twang of its rusty old low “E” chord—it was as if someone had plucked a heart string and loosened it right up. Mouth opened, and some words came out. Don’t remember what they were, but do remember that my troubles went right out the window. My soul knew she was home.
An original song poured out soon afterwards, and never stopped. Professionally, I became a marine biologist, but the music kept calling and soon deckside jams on oceanographic cruises were replaced by real gigs at beach bars. When children were in the audience, I felt a special affinity to sharing music with them, creating songs together, co-creating energy. A very rewarding career as “Shana Banana" was soon born, along with three CD’s and two DVD’s. It was a joy being “Shana Banana” because it served people. It helped to motivate and encourage kids and families, and could deliver so many great messages through original music.
As time went on, I met my husband, our children were born and the yoga/Zen spiritual path deepened. More songs were written along this journey independent of "Shana Banana." Spent a two decades diving deep, and from these depths of exploration came personal revelations - of the gift of learning how to open the heart and share it with others through music and writing. Studied sacred chanting and started to lead kirtan and song circles for all ages called "Chanting to the Open Heart.” Through this new way of singing to and for and with others, it was quickly revealed that it reached our true beings, and together we could begin to transform and open each other's hearts with amazing results. By sharing this music, we began tapping into the authentic, true Self based in compassion and positive change that comes from going right to the heart and staying open.
In the midst, also began writing about my formal Zen practice from the perspective of being a very busy and full time parent. the book "Meditation for Moms and Dads:108 Tips for Parents and Caregivers" was the result.
There is so much gratitude. And yet, witnessing this world suffering under such current environmental and humanitarian atrocities is not what I ever expected to be happening in this or our children's lifetimes. Instead of drama, crisis, or ego fulfillment in the face of such happenings, we remember the Oak Tree In the Garden: Standing up and filling the universe, it elicits a heightened sense of ability, clarity, purpose, and responsibility, rooted in the awareness that the world is suffering and that this sacred short life--indeed, this very moment-- is a gift. We can learn to listen, to stop, to see, to breathe, to allow dharma to assign its purpose. And it has everything to do with a low E string and the melting of the heart into music and writing.
Expression through music and writing continues in harmony with this life's unfolding, deeply rooted in the earth, growing into the boundless, like an oak tree branching out majestically from her source. They are chants, songs, blogs, books, and poetry.
It's a joy to share this path with you here, in fearless humility, compassion and gratitude.
We are sangha.