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.

Day 6 of 30 Days of Poetry, Jazz & Earth Day Awareness: Celebrating the sacred jazz of Alice Coltrane and poetry of Alice Dunbar Nelson

Spiritual Teacher and Jazz Musician Alice Coltrane
Poet Alice Dunbar Nelson


Yesterday, I recorded an audio blog celebrating the sacred jazz music of Alice Coltrane and a new poetry anthology called Black Nature which features the poetry of Alice Dunbar Nelson. I read Dunbar’s poem “April Is On The Way” and my poem “The Word Green” from my new book That Which Awakens Me. Click on the Cinchcast blog below to hear my reflections. Enjoy!

What does the month of April remind you of?

Here’s my six-word memoir from yesterday:  Poetry. Jazz. Earth. Metaphors. Improvisation. Nature.

Do you have a six-word memoir to share?

Read a poem, listen to some jazz, and choose one way to honor Mother Earth! Enjoy your week!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude for nature poetry and sacred jazz,


Celebrate jazz musician John Coltrane’s birthday today and his connection to my novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One


Happy John Coltrane’s Birthday!

Today marks the 83rd birthday of jazz musician Ohnedaruth John William Coltrane. Ohnedaruth is the Sanskrit spiritual name that Coltrane adopted. It means compassion.  Below are some of my favorite Coltrane quotes:

“My music is the spiritual expression of what I am — my faith, my knowledge, my being … When you begin to see the possibilities of music, you desire to do something really good for people, to help humanity free itself from its hangups … I want to speak to their souls.”

“My goal is to live the truly religious life, and express it in my music. If you live it, when you play there’s no problem because the music is part of the whole thing. To be a musician is really something. It goes very, very deep. My music is the spiritual expression of what I am – my faith, my knowledge, my being.”

“There is never any end. There are always new sounds to imagine; new feelings to get at. And always, there is the need to keep purifying these feelings and sounds so that we can really see what we’ve discovered in its pure state. So that we can see more and more clearly what we are. In that way, we can give to those who listen the essence, the best of what we are. But to do that at each stage, we have to keep on cleaning the mirror.” 



Coltrane’s spiritual name Ohnedadurth is also the name of one of the main characters in my debut novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (www.lovestroubadours.com).


Ohnedaruth is the brother of Love’s Troubadours main character Karma Francois.  Karma and Ohnedaruth visit St. John Coltrane Church in San Francisco, CA.  Click here to learn more about the church:  http://www.coltranechurch.org. Coltrane’s music is also featured throughout the book.


alice coltrane

Alice Coltrane

The music of Coltrane’s wife Alice Coltrane is also featured in my novel.  For more information about Coltrane, visit www.johncoltrane.com. Click here to learn more about Alice Coltrane: www.alicecoltrane.org.


Love’s Troubadours (iUniverse, Inc. – August 2007 – www.lovestroubadours.com) tells the story of Karma Francois, a thirtysomething Oakland-born BoHo B.A.P. (Bohemian Black American Princess) with Louisiana roots and urban debutante flair. The novel begins with Karma’s life in an uproar. Her relationships and the museum curator career that she struggled to form in New York City have crumbled, leaving no viable options to rebuild. Relocating to Washington, DC, Karma struggles with denial, depression, and debt. A lack of full-time employment opportunities forces her to craft a gypsy existence as a Jill of Many Trades: yoga teacher, art consultant, and freelance curator at Howard University Gallery of Art. Unable and unwilling to appreciate these jobs as gifts, she wallows in a pool of lost identity-and doesn’t see a way to keep from drowning. When she looks in the mirror, Karma sees a woman whose choices have dishonored her true character. Now, for the first time in her life, Karma must learn to see herself for who she really is.

Love’s Troubadours is available on Amazon.com for $20.95. To purchase a copy, click on the link below.


What is your favorite John Coltrane composition? 

I love Coltrane’s “In A Sentimental Mood” composition that he and Duke Ellington created together.  It was featured in Love Jones, one of my favorite movies!

Enjoy your day!

Peace and Creativity,





Celebrating Alice Coltrane’s b-day on August 27


Happy Thursday!

Today marks the birthday of Alice Coltrane a/k/a Swamini Turiya Sangitananda, one of my greatest spiritual teachers.  She was an amazing woman, teacher, leader/founder of an ashram, musician, mother,  and wife to jazz musician John Coltrane.  Click on the following link to see a YouTube video of a 1978 interview of Alice Coltrane and friends in concert in Bombay, India: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgqimZjJZ3U.

alice coltrane


In 2004, my sistalove Shantam introduced me to Alice’s music.  Journey in Satchidananda was the first CD I purchased.  It remains one of my favorites.  


Alice’s music deepened my practice of yoga, mantra chanting, and meditation.  It also helped me write and complete my debut novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (www.lovestroubadours.com). 


I even included her music and teachings in Love’s Troubadours.  Her husband John Coltrane’s music and life also play a major role in my novel.  Hint hint … One of the main characters is named Ohnedaruth, the spiritual name of John Coltrane.  Watch Love’s Troubadoursvideos on YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/kiamshaleeke.  You can purchase Love’s Troubadours on Amazon.com for $20.95.  Click here: http://www.amazon.com/Loves-Troubadours-Karma-Book-One/dp/0595440819/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/002-2834089-1615222?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1192066805&sr=8-1.

One of my best memories of Alice is from 2007 when Shantam and I drove to Newark, New Jersey to see her perform with her son Ravi Coltrane (www.ravicoltrane.com). There are no words to describe the power and presence of such a beautiful soul. Her devotion to Spirit manifested in each composition she lovingly offered to the audience.



LOVE was the only vibration we could feel in her presence. Shantamand I sat mesmerized with tears rolling down our faces for most of that magical evening. We knew then that it was a lifetime experience we would always cherish.  Alice made her life transition in January 2008.  To learn more about her, visit www.alicecoltrane.org. For more information about her husband John, visit www.johncoltrane.com.

Picture 176

That Which Awakens Me: Kreative Grooviness, 2005 (painting on cover of my new book)

My new book, That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery (September 2009)  includes a quote from Alice, several references about her music, and a poem about her transition.  I thought you might enjoy reading the quote I use to open my new book. See below. Enjoy!

“Go within. God is working on the inside. Just go into the sanctuary of your heart, offer your prayers and your worship there.”

Thank you for stopping by!

Many blessings,



PS:  Please remember to honor the following days of remembrance this week.

1) August 26 – 89th Anniversary of American women’s right to vote (passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution)


2) August 28 – 46th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I Have A Dream Speech and my brother Mike Leeke’s birthday


My brother Mike Leeke, an amazing comic book graphic artist


Copyright by Michael D. Leeke


Copyright by Michael D. Leeke

Tune into Go Green Sangha Radio on August 29that 11:00 a.m. for my interview with my brother Mike about his career as a comic book graphic artist and the power of diversity in his artwork and comic book stories.  Click here to listen to the show:  http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/21325.  Visit Mike’s Facebook page to learn more about his artwork and career as a comic book graphic artist:  www.facebook.com/michaelleeke.


4) August 29 – 4th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and Michael Jackson’s birthday

Send love and light to all those who were and remain affected by Hurricane Katrina. If you are in DC, join me for a free yoga class that honors everyone impacted by Hurricane Katrina on August 29th from 9am to 9:30am in Malcolm X-Meridian Hill Park. Click here for more information: http://yoga.meetup.com/584.