Tag Archives: Krishna Das

American Yogi

7 Mar

The new place I’ve landed is a private downstairs “suite” in the home of a couple in Asheville.  In addition to the quiet neighborhood and wooded lot, my stay here comes with an additional unexpected bonus.  My new landlords and house-sharers are filmmakers and have nearly completed their project, American Yogi (click here to view the trailer!).

It was a real treat when, a few weeks ago, they invited me to a private screening in their home, conveniently, just upstairs. All I knew about their film was it had a spiritual focus and was about India – both which sounded good to me. So I joined them in their living room surrounded by a few of their friends and happily took in the film.



The film was a real treat!  It was a light-hearted, fun and unfolding story of the spiritual journey of my upstairs neighbor, Steven Newmark, and highlights the presence, power and teachings of Indian Guru, Maharaj-ji.

So far on my spiritual journey, I feel like I’ve just dabbled my toe into the spiritual teachings of India.  Just recently I watched the documentary telling the story of Krishna Das called One Track Heart.  Some of you may know Krishna Das is an internationally known kirtan artist (a beautiful and inspirational style of call and response chanting).  


Krishna Das and Maharaj-ji

A big part of the Krishna Das story was his relationship to his Guru, Maharaj-ji. Honestly, I still feel a little new to the whole “Indian Guru” thing, but I was earnestly touched by Krishna Das’ relationship with him, his complete unbridled experience of unconditional love, and his magnificent healing experience in the face of many deep troubles and sorrows.

So, when watching American Yogi and being “reintroduced” to Maharaj-ji, in some ways it felt a bit like seeing an old friend. In its simplest form, this film was a reminder to me that I don’t have to take all the hassles and worries of this life so seriously or hold on so tightly.

American Yogi's Steven Newmark in the 60s

American Yogi’s Steven Newmark in the 60s

This spiritual tale is filled with mystical experiences, unexpected diversions, and enlightening stories all folded within the uncommon journey of a pretty regular guy. It is intertwined within the stories of Ram Dass, author of Be Here Now, and features the music of Krishna Das and Jai Uttal.  And there’s even a little love story!

It debuted in the prestigious International Film Fest of India.

Here’s what folks are saying about it:

American Yogi is an inspiration.” Ram Dass

“A deeply inspired film! About what the Western mind calls fiction–and the East calls reality.” — Shankar Mohan, Director of the International Film Festival of India

Are you curious?  Well, American Yogi will soon be accessible out in the world. But first they need to handle a few final housekeeping requirements to prepare the film for professional release.  Would you like to be a part of it?

American Yogi has just launched an Indigogo Campaign to raise funds for these final steps. Here are a few ways you can participate:

    1. Get a copy of American Yogi for Yourself! Visit is.gd/americanyogithemovie to view the trailer and learn how to get a downloaded copy of the film for yourself!
    2. americanyogifb1Share American Yogi on Facebook.
      Please include the link: is.gd/americanyogithemovie and if you like you can also use this groovy graphic (right click, save image as)
    3. Share American Yogi with your community, friends and connections. Anyway you like!  Email, Facebook, Twitter…we’d love your help in spreading the word of American Yogi!

Through my travels I’ve learned first hand – it’s amazing what can be accomplished when we take the leap to support each other in our creative endeavors.  Thanks for reading and your support of American Yogi!

The wake of the storm

5 Nov

It’s a chilly evening here in Philadelphia.  While Hurricane Sandy didn’t bring much damage or activity here, she did seem to bring the colder weather.  I suppose I will take it in exchange for a generally quiet hurricane experience.  On Monday, the Eve of Sandy’s arrival, I went to bed about 10:30pm content that I wasn’t going to miss much action by going to sleep.  The next morning I awoke to conversations of “did you hear that wind last night?”  And learned that for a period of about an hour and half the winds were so strong my host considered waking me up and moving me out of the third floor bedroom for safety.  Alas, I slept soundly and in its wake, generally here all is well.

It’s the weekend, which is my free time here in my world of work and exchange.  Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Krishna Das concert at the Mind, Body and Spirit expo held at Lincoln Financial Field, where the Philadelphia Eagles play.  For those of you not familiar with Krishna Das, he plays what is called Kirtan music, that is call and response chanting of spiritual mantras.  It was my second time seeing Krishna Das, the first was time back in New Orleans.   In addition to his beautiful and devoted music, voice and chanting, I have to say that I like the guy!  During his performance he shared stories of his time in India and he was earnest, compelling and funny.  I was grateful to be able to attend the concert in exchange for helping Krishna Das sell CDs at their CD table.  What a treat!

At the end of the night, as I was among the last of folks to leave I decided to take a minute to find my train ticket back home before heading out into the night darkness.  And guess what… I couldn’t find it!  I looked everywhere… emptied out my purse twice, checked all of my pockets.  The trick of this situation was after purchasing the return ticket on my earlier train I only had $1 cash left on me, not enough for a new return ticket.  Not my favorite situation to be in, but I trusted my gut and while I was eager to resolve the situation, I didn’t panic.  I headed up the escalator in search of a cash machine.  As I was going up there were two kind looking youngish men heading down.  I eagerly asked, “Do you by chance live in Mt. Airy?” (the neighborhood in Philly where I reside)  “Yes we do” they replied… Unbelievable!  I quickly explained my situation and asked if I could catch a ride.  My request must have caught them off guard as they seemed hesitant and a bit perplexed by my request… but after a moment or two…  I was invited with them for a ride home.  So I hopped in the backseat of their Honda Fit and were were on our way!

The ride home was quite amicable.  My temporary companions were friendly and good company.  The “driver”, we’ll call him,  is a teacher of yoga and meditation as well as an interfaith minister.  His loyal companion is in Seminary school studying to be a Lutheran Minister.  And so it seemed I was in good hands!  We shared our tales and adventures of working at Universities in Residential Life, an experience we all had in common.  And before you knew it, we were in Mount Airy and I was happily home.   What a gift!

Today I spent some time with a Reiki friend who I met in New Orleans, originally from and now living again in Philadelphia.  We spent a few hours connecting and giving each other Reiki treatments.  It has been at least a month since I have connected with others to share Reiki.  Today was a great reminded how a little Reiki from a friend goes a long way.  There is nothing like a Reiki treatment to turn down the dial of my anxiety, stress and generally being “wound up”.  I left her apartment feeling all is well and grounded a bit back in my body and my being.

After that I made my way to the Art Museum.  The first Sunday of the Month is free at the Philadelphia Art Museum.  It was such a treat to get to head downtown in the brisk fall air and be out amongst the masses and go to the Museum.  I spent most of my time there enjoying a contemporary dance peformance.  What a treat!  Not long after I made my way back to my host’s car that she generously lets me use, and found my way back to Mt. Airy.

It’s been a big week.  Hurricane Sandy, Halloween, a busy weekend and a brief adventure with strangers.  I am still in the midst of plans for a new adventure but things are taking longer to come together then I expected.  So, for now, I am still in the US and, for now, in Philadelphia.

Tonight I cooked a simple but yummy dinner of black beans and rice for me and the fam.  I am now up in my third floor “hen’s nest” chilling to some tunes on Pandora, one of my favorite things about returning to the States!  Good night for now from the post Hurricane and thankful to be safe and sound world of Philadelphia.

Photo of Philadelphia Art Museum

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