Since childhood I was trained to be a singer under my father’s guidance. However, as I entered and won several competitions through my teenage years, the one goal of enjoying oneself through one’s art, was lost in the other goal: winning. Being competitive, jealous, demanding of perfection, self-criticism took a front seat and joy was crushed in these heavyweights.
Then the self-awareness journey began and there were too many issues to resolve, so music essentially took a backseat. Singing had become a part-timepass and a part-dreaded experience. A couple of years back I got a chance to submit my journey of re-discovering where music had its roots in me in a non-fiction, short story book, How the Phoenix Rose, which contained stories of personal transformation by 21 women authors. This was my submission: Life_Of_Music
Inspite of recognising that music has a role to play in my life, and even though I no longer dreamt of being a singer, getting back into singing was something I avoided very much. Then last year my friend, Mauli, who is like a guru for me, intuitively told me to start singing. That will help unfold a lot of things for you, she said. I resisted that suggestion very much. As life unfolded, I realised the root of this dread: the connection with my father. Through a year of exploring vulnerability, becoming comfortable with my heart center, a Sunday session with GD that led to the uncovering of unspoken issues between us, I started reconnecting with the gift of what our relationship gave me. Not music, but the child-like attitude to exploring art, the love for seeing nuances, the joy of reinventing for the sake of it and huge deal of self-motivation. These were attributes within me I had rejected unconsciously, when I had to consciously make a choice between being the ‘daddy’s girl’ and ‘mom’s supporter’ in the family at a time when their marriage had hit a bad patch. Though the marriage recovered, the split in me didn’t. And this was the hardest choice to make – to recognise and begin to hold both these polarities in me simultaneously.
Life brings you change when you really ask for it. I met someone who mirrored my father’s softness and childlike enthusiasm for life’s little things and my mother’s smartness and strategic approach. I found myself dealing with these polarities in a single person. Thankfully I fell in love with him. I was no longer trying to tune him to me, but rather, found myself surrendering and responding to all of him. Instead of splitting him in my head, I was entering my heart, prodding myself to bare my true feelings to him, moment to moment. Trust was not easy but thankfully, he minced no words in letting me know when he felt unwanted by me, when he could sense I was avoiding him, or when I was in some way trying to manipulate his responses. Day by day I became grateful for his awareness which helped bring my blind spots into light. That taught me to love myself even when I was clinging to my ego, that led to integrate the two projections within me.
A few months ago a friend suggested me to collaborate with my dad. He had heard both of us independently. This time there was clarity within. I felt it was the right time to do this. I decided on a date we could perform for a group that calls itself a sangha. We came together. The rehearsals often led to a lot of squabbles between us! But I learnt to come around. It also taught me that the best reason to do anything was not for the outcome, but for the process of self-discovery. I learnt to sing with an attitude of watchful alertness, rather than use music to vent out the grief or anger as I was used to earlier. This kind of singing energised me rather than give me headaches, which was also the case when I sang for competitions. Singing became an act of inner listening – listening to the instructions of an inner master. It also broke my myth that I needed an external teacher to teach me how to sing. I realised that I was being guided by my inner master to put on the tapes of certain classical singers to revive my ability for singing nuances. Having received training for a good number of years, the inner instructions flowed in without effort.
The performance was probably the best performance I have seen coming through of me. There was no drama – no self-criticism, no blame, no rush or pressure to perform, no pretense and no embarrassment when mistakes happened. Just a quiet deepening of the question, who am I?
Here is the live recording of a song thanks to the friend who had given me the suggestion to collaborate.
Saibo, a song from the Hindi film, Shor in the City, rendered by me, accompanied on the violin by dad. [Time: 2:23 ]
You can hear other uploads on Soundcloud at: http://soundcloud.com/chriiya