When I was asked to write a blog about how yoga has helped me as a parent I declined wondering if yoga had helped at all. I was not in a good space. I felt nothing really helped me in my struggle as a parent. I had been separated from the mother before the birth of our child and it was very difficult to see the baby as much as I wanted to. I felt my rights were violated, I felt frustrated and I felt bitter. I started to understand how people and nations fight to defend their rights. My anger turned inward and isolated me from others. I experienced what is called the dark night of the soul, and I began to question everything including my own sanity. How could it be possible for someone who has been practicing and teaching a spiritual discipline like yoga and meditation for the last 10 years be unable to find peace and understanding in order to have a hand in raising my child full-time? In my despair, I lost my passion for yoga. I did however keep my meditation practice regular and continue to teach yoga classes as this was my main source of income.
A week after the request to write a blog, I thought it over and accepted to write something. I realized that yoga had indeed helped me but not in how I had initially believed it should have or in the way I had thought of yoga and parenting.
At first thought, yoga was the asana practice (physical part through postures and stretching), and unfortunately my practice ran dry. I had reached a plateau. Having taught asana yoga since 2006 and at times up to 13 classes a week in gyms, studios, and at the corporate level, my practice seemed to have run its course. I started loosing the joy I first had when I began many years ago. Thankfully, there was another yogic path I had discovered that sustained and inspired me in my darkest moments.
The yoga of devotion known as bhakti yoga became my main spiritual practice. Singing mantras with others in gatherings known as kirtans and creating music to accompany these sacred chants gave me the fuel to carry on. I recorded my first album entitled Birth of Ganesh and every month I would offer kirtans sometimes to as many as 30 strong voices. The energy, the joy, the upliftment was exactly what I needed to remain hopeful and positive. Apparently we are all in a vibratory state along with everything else in the universe, and the sound that yogic mantras and music in general makes somehow shifted the frequency I was in. It simply made me feel better when all else failed. I realized that when you feel better within yourself you become better equipped to deal with your challenges and handle your responsibilities. That is how Bhakti Yoga helped. It provided me an avenue to unleash my creativity by composing songs, release my emotions by chanting with others, and inspire me to a better future with sacred music.
With a faithful practice of devotional singing that lifted me to a higher vibration and carried me through periods of difficulty and doubt, I now have a stable relationship with a little 2 year old girl that brings so much joy in my life. I would like to share a couple of videos of her growing up. The song featured in the latest video is a mantra and a children's song I put together and recorded with a few of my lyrics halfway through. Nell-Anne, my daughter, has a way of touching my heart and reminding me of how magical life can be. The song is a testimony of how music and sacred mantra can bring you the inspiration to carry on.
Yoga philosophy in harmony with other spiritual teachings tell us that there is a greater purpose, a big plan, a higher self. When I was stuck in my little mind, the ego, I felt anger and bitter. When I stepped out and trusted in the bigger picture through devotional singing combined with meditation, counseling, and a little help from my friends, I found comfort in ways that kept me going. I still feel unsure at times about how things will turn out but I know all is unfolding exactly the way it ought to be. As I raise my consciousness, so does things around me change. The proof is that I found a beautiful home at an opportune time where I can bring my child and enjoy fatherhood with her. To see her growing up healthy, happy, and full of life is very satisfying. It also warms my heart to hear her chant the songs I have been singing to her since her birth! I have much to be grateful about. Shared custody is soon to happen and I can now reap the full joys of parenting.
I would like to close with a Christian prayer that brought me solace during the most difficult times. I have known it since childhood, and the words resonate well with me. I sometimes amend the words here and there to fit my yogic worldview. I provide these extra words in parentheses below with the traditional prayer. I believe the prayer is very devotional and in harmony with bhakti yoga. Through devotion, our inner vibration rises and our consciousness expands. And through the chanting and repetition of the sacred names, our passion is fueled. The prayer begins by praising the name of God as does all the sacred mantras in bhakti yoga. Both the Christian prayer and bhakti yoga highlight love and forgiveness which make healing and personal growth possible. These characteristics are the quintessential human qualities that nurture the human heart in the face of suffering.
Our Father who art in heaven
(Our Mother who art the earth)
Hollowed by thy name
(Through your many names and forms I sing praise)
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven
(Let my higher divine self influence and inspire my physical/mental body)
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our tresspasses as we forgive those who tresspass against us
Lead us not into temptation (ignorance) and deliver us from evil (ego)
MJ Ganesh (Marc-Joseph Chalfoun)
Are you enjoying the change of seasons? One thing I have noticed as the colors change and the weather gets colder is that changes are occurring within and around us all the time. Yet somehow the mind likes to hold on and imagine things to remain the same. The warmth of summer, the stability of a job or relationship, a youthful vibrant health -- are some of those things we wished remained forever. Yet life is always changing, our circumstances, our health -- that is the nature of this physical world. But if there is one big lesson we can learn and appreciate from all the changes is that there are opportunities laden in them to help us rise above and see the place beyond that is changeless and miraculous. This is the place of mystics, where the healing of the soul takes place, so that while the outer withers and fades, the inner draws closer to its true nature. From that place and perspective you are happy, aware of who you are and of the meaning of your life.
I invite you to take a moment now to rediscover that place. You had glimpses of it in youth, in dreams, in celebrations and epiphanies, in quiet contemplations and musical pieces. It is always available if we would only steer our attention away from the plethora of mundane distractions that serve as monsters and demons and willfully take the time to cultivate our own intuitive and spiritual antennas.
As an aid in your reflections and a tool in your development, I invite you to join me for my next sacred chant event (kirtan) on Halloween night. Saturday at 8pm I will be at a new yoga studio in Cote-St-Luc for an evening of powerful spells (i.e. chants) to release the emotional and archetypal monsters and demons that bring fear and illusion into our psychic lives. The mantras we use are like mask removers: they penetrate those self created ego driven monsters that have become our masks and personality costumes. The deities the mantras honor and point us to are our guides that help us out of the darkness of ignorance and into our true nature of light and love beyond the mental and social constructs that have polluted our projections.
Your are welcome to join us in this celebration. Bring a mask with you as a reminder of your own ego mask and of the changeability of the outer costumes and roles we put on, and be prepared to expose your true nature!
To register for the kirtan please visit my page here. Your registration helps me to organize the event, know how many musicians to hire, and prepare the space accordingly. We will also have some Halloween treats for you!
Also, there is still space available for our meditation retreat in December. Maybe a full weekend of meditation in the beautiful natural surroundings up north, with insightful reminders and mindful practices throughout the program, is just what you need to realign with your inner true self that is from above.
Looking forward to seeing you as we shift together into the change of seasons.
A few weeks ago I created a profile on ReverbNation, a music website, and posted short song clips from my album Birth of Ganesh. Then, a couple days later, I received an email from Landmark Events, an organization that offers independent artists the opportunity to play in mid-size venues and in front of music industry reps. They heard my music and offered me the chance to play at their next showcase festival in Montreal! Oh my!! I was so nervous and almost declined, but this is what I was intending when I recorded my album, to bring Birth of Ganesh out into the world. And so here is my chance!
On October 23 I will be with 15 other local artists from various musical genres and playing a set of 25 minutes to a wider audience that are not from the yoga community, including music industry professionals who will be selecting the top artists, rewarding them with grants and the opportunity to continue playing at other mid-size venues across North America.
I am writing you today to extend to you the invitation to come and support kirtan music and my intention to bring it to a wider audience. If you enjoy what sacred mantra music has done in your life, then please come help share the vibes to others. The tickets are only $13 general admission or $12 to stream it live from anywhere in the world! You can always watch it at another time if you are not available on Oct. 23. The time of my set will be selected depending on how many tickets I sell, anytime from 3pm to midnight. I will let you know a day before. Again though, which ever tickets you buy, I will make sure you get a link to watch it online in case you cannot attend.
As a token of my appreciation for purchasing a ticket, I will send you a free download of the album if you do not already have it. Just send me a note once you have purchased your ticket. Thank you!
Here is the link for purchasing the tickets. You will see the option of choosing my name for the artist that you are supporting:http://www.ticketscene.ca/events/14044/
Here is the website for Landmark Events:
Facebook event page with a more detailed description of the festival:
Here is my profile on ReverbNation:
Thank you so much for your support! I will very much appreciate you there along side me, whether in person or in spirit.
I have a few things I would like to share with you today. First, I have a new website design and address. As you may know, I was using www.yogafornewtimes.com as the address for a couple of years now. In the back of my mind, the name, Yoga for New Times, was something I was preparing for a future time: preparing the body, the mind, and the spirit, to grow and evolve in order to reach an optimal state of being with the tools used in the practice of yoga.
Well folks, the time has arrived. I feel that after this productive summer with festivals, retreats, and personal practice, and an eventful year with the birth of my child, the birth of my first album, the changes with musicians, friends, and family, and all the challenges that came with it -- all this has lead to this moment where I feel fully in my power and in a new identity. Yes, practice does pay off as does patience and perseverance.
A name says it all. The name MJ Ganesh was something I was toying with and even shying away from. Ganesh was a name given to me years ago. I didn’t like it but after a while it grew on me. I have come to love Ganesh and what he represents: compassion, tenderness, yet powerful and wise. I can relate to the elephant totem embodied in Ganesh as I feel a special bond with all animals. Being vegan and an animal rights advocate, I champion these creatures especially those who cannot defend themselves.
So, I am now ready to assume my new name and identity. My website now reflects this new role. The site address is www.mjganesh.com. I offer services that I am comfortable with, good at, and love.
Music is my first priority. Having grown as a musician and more recently into a kirtan artist. I accept this role fully. It’s what drives me. You are invited to come and taste this passion of combining music and chanting together at the next kirtan. It will be held at Happy Tree Yoga on Friday September 18. Check out the details and join along. The fire of energy we experience at a kirtan is priceless.
Next, I offer Thai Yoga Massage, a dynamic yet deeply relaxing message. If you have yet to try it, check out the video on the site and accept a $10 rebate on the listed price for your first massage with me. We all need a massage once in a while to release tension and to spoil ourselves too.
I also have 2 yoga classes that I will be teaching, one in the Montreal and the other in Kahnawake. The class integrates all that I have learned over the years, from traditional postures, breathing practices, to meditation and chanting. Registration is now open for these classes which will begin next week.
And finally, I offer meditation retreats. I think the summer retreat just 2 weeks ago was the peak experience this year that brought it all together. We were a full group, 15 participants, together in a week-end that went smooth, quick, and effectively. We all benefited. We all changed. We all received something valuable to bring home with us. Here is what one person said, "What a profound experience the retreat turned out to be for me. It really ingrained in me some good habits on mindfulness and helped me reconnect on a deeper level to the Source. Most importantly, it reminded me of my spirituality and I have really enjoyed incorporating all of the tools I learned into my life each day since I've been back."
The next meditation retreat will be on December 11 to 13. Please accept a $30 rebate on the list price by registering before Oct. 1.
Take a moment to visit my website, and check out all the services offered. And listen to the album! If you don't have yourself a copy yet, please accept 10% off the listed price. Just write a comment below letting me know what you think of the website, and I will send you a code to redeem the discount. Thanks!
It will be my privilege to share these services with you and to assist you on your spiritual journey.
Best on the path,