Happy Yoga Monday – Yoga and Alice Coltrane’s Music

Photo Credit: AliceColtrane.org
Photo Credit: AliceColtrane.org

Happy Yoga Monday!

Today, I am remembering the beauty and power of Swamini Turiyasangitananda a/k/a Alice Coltrane and her music. In 2006, I had a chance to see Alice perform live at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, New Jersey. That evening was and remains a high point in my life. Words cannot begin to describe the beauty of what I witnessed. You had to be there.

Photo Credit: Alice Coltrane.org
Photo Credit: Alice Coltrane.org

Right now I am listening to her Astral Meditations CD. Track 10 entitled “Peace On Earth” is playing. It is a composition that was originally written and recorded by Alice’s beloved, John Coltrane in 1966. See the album — John Coltrane: Infinity.

Photo Credit: JohnColtrane.com
Photo Credit: JohnColtrane.com

There is a point in the composition where Alice’s divine talent as a harpist is prominently featured. My ears tingle as they hear her gracefully weave a golden thread through the entire composition. It connects all of the instruments and musicians as one. Together, they create a musical quilt of peace for humanity to enjoy. Their creative collaboration also reminds me that we can accept and honor humanity’s beautiful quilt of cultural diversity when we choose to practice peace.

The wonderful thing about peace is that it gives birth to ahimsa, a Sanskrit word that means nonviolence. In yoga, ahimsa represents the first of five yamas (satya – truthfulness, asteya – non stealing, brahmacharya – relating to another with unconditional love and integrity, and aparigraha – non-clinging/grasping). Yamas are ethical guidelines or levels of awareness that one aspires to achieve. They apply to our actions, words, and thoughts.

Through the principle of ahimsa, we are called to refrain from causing pain or harm to any living being through our thoughts, words, and actions. When we choose our thoughts, words, and actions carefully so that they do not harm others, we are creating peace. When we are peaceful and nonviolent, we are at ease. We are more relaxed.

Instead of becoming angry at ourselves and others because of the differences we share, we can use that ease to create understanding and tolerance. With understanding and tolerance, we create sacred space for the acceptance and appreciation of our cultural and individual differences. As we come to accept and appreciate the beauty of what makes us different, we can also accept and appreciate the love that connects us as one.

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