Reflections on our European Tour

24th August 2018


O dear seeker
Let’s sing the name of our beloved

It has been a couple of weeks since our tour around Europe.  As we return to our daily lives it feels like a good time to reflect on our travels….

To recap, we took a whistle-stop tour from London to Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Belgium and Holland. In a big black band van driven by Neil, Sonya and Daisy in the ratio 4:2:1 (according to our smooth driving capabilities)! We shared kirtan pretty much every night at different venues, where we undertook a journey of sound and meditation.

What remains with me the most is the many people we met at every venue, who were so up for Kirtan and longing to touch that deeper space within. I can still remember faces as I write, those that had tears streaming down as they listened to the calling of the heart, those that had smiles on their faces as they sang to the divine, those with inquisitive eyes as their shared their questions and their fears and those who closed their eyes as they danced to the rhythm of the drum.  

To the guys that hosted us, each and every one opened their door simultaneously with their heart. Politeness went out the window, and what was left was a meeting of hearts from the first embrace.

There are many stories to tell and any of us would be happy to talk about it over a cup of chai. I am currently remembering our last stop with Kelly,  a Dutch girl with eyes that were so beautifully sharp her gaze could reach into the core your being. An established practitioner of yoga, she was living on her own whilst her partner was away on a year silent retreat. A number of months had already passed that she had been on her own. Then suddenly there were 5 friends, some of whom she hadn’t met before, descending on her place.  A big van parked on the street outside. A lot of chatter. And some inquisitive questions. And some deep silences. We shared kirtan at the yoga studio where she teaches yoga. She sang with such a subtle sweetness that our body shook with the vibration of the sound. And then the next day we went on a trip Amsterdam. Our friend couldn’t remember the last time she had been to Amsterdam (being an hour from her house) and wondered if she had ever been to the red light district! We tried some local beer, ate fries with Frites sauce, walked past the red like district (which of course was part of the experience of the city) and generally had a very ‘un-yogic’ day!. But, if yoga means union, then that is exactly what we experienced that day. A day of togetherness, of being in sangha, of being in communion with each other. Our friend’s eyes, brimmed with tears as we talked about the meaning of sangha, the LIVING of a spiritual life (and not just the undertaking of a strict practice that we call spiritual), and finding that child within us that can get lost in all the seriousness.  That day will stick in our memory for a long time.

And what did we learn? Well on a more practical level the following:

  • After travelling around in a van for 10 days, eating many snacks, (cheese, bread, spreads, olives, and other salty based fried snacks) we appreciate warm wholesome food!
  • Take paper towels to clean up any mess in the van, and maybe a travel hoover
  • When travelling in big van try and avoid full on breaking, driving over curbs or sudden turns otherwise known as ‘jhudkas’ – you will hear shrieks from behind as well as smell the spilt coffee/Orangina
  • Our favourite soft drink in Europe was Orangina and we recommend you try it – it is softer than Fanta and very refreshing on a hot day.
  • CLEAR COMMUNICATION WITHIN A GROUP IS KEY – don’t assume anything. Make sure it’s clear what needs to be done that day – How much time do we need to set up before we start playing? How long does it take to get to the venue? Will I need a change of clothes? How can we actually assist Neil rather than laughing at his supreme agitation??!!!! All this will help you avoid ending up in a puddle of sweat and red faced just as you are about to embark on a journey within with a beautiful group of people.

But more profoundly we found that mantra and sound will always draw our attention away from our mundane thoughts through its vibrational quality. And on hearing another’s expression of that longing for something deeper, we can’t help but feel it too. Like osmosis. And the symphony of each beautiful unique voice into the melting pot of kirtan can dissolve any feelings of separation.

Mostly we found that although the energy and group dynamics are different in each venue, the underlying connection was the same everywhere we went.  

People’s participation during the kirtans was pure poetry. An art in motion. And with that in our hearts we are so thankful to have had the opportunity to meet new friends from all over Europe. We’ll see each other again soon.  

We have some recordings from the Europe trip which we will share soon.

If you have any wonderings about what is sangha (community), a word we commonly use in our Saadho sharings, or your own experiences of sangha, then we would love to hear from you.