Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Parvati is featured in Nunavut News

Next installment of the trip journal is coming soon. In the meantime, here is a news article from Parvati's visit to Nunavut! (Click to view full size).

Nunavut News, October 25, 2010

Environmental activism, Northern-style

Iqaluit elders and youth share in international awareness tour

by Emily Ridlington Northern News Services Nunavut

Many students said they'd never seen anything like it before. Not many folks in Nunavut are willing to sport a gold jumpsuit and gold boots complete with headdress and sing in front of an entire school to a mix of techno and futuristic-sounding music combined with musical theatre, all in the name of environmental activism. This is exactly what students experienced at Iqaluit's Inuksuk High School at the end of last month. "I thought it was cool and unique," said Grade 11 student Emily Kenneally. She was in the audience when Toronto-based singer-songwriter and yoga practitioner Parvati, along with a couple of other guests, came to perform at the school and raise awareness about how important it is to protect the environment.


Students clapped and danced along as Parvati sang some of her original songs including You've Gotta Believe, a tune about how the world is interconnected. She had just come from Resolute. Accompanied by her husband, Rishi Gerald, and environmental activist Satish Sikha, the trio unveiled to the students part of a one-kilometre-long piece of handwoven silk, on which Sikha has been gathering positive environmental messages from all over the world for the last two years. He said dignitaries and people from all walks of life have contributed, including Iqaluit city councillor Simon Nattaq, who wrote a message in Inuktitut. Gerald said while in Iqaluit, the trio also made a presentation to the community's elders. He said the elders told him they have hope for the future of the environment because children are much more educated and that there are things such as recycling. While the format of the presentation may have been something students did not expect, the message certainly hit home. "The message I think is very important, it is to be true to yourself and be true to the Earth," said Grade 11 student Christine Tootoo. She said she tries to make an effort at home and at school to recycle and shut off the lights every time she leaves the room. She does not litter and she said she tries her best to tell others as well. Listening to Tootoo, Grade 9 student Simonie Alainga said he should try harder at protecting the environment and Parvati's presentation made him think about the future and what the Arctic will look like as it is being affected by global warming. For Kenneally, the future is now. "Look at what is going on at the dump, it's doing a lot of damage to the environment," she said.

Photo Caption: Singer-songwriter Parvati, far right, visited students at Iqaluit's Inuksuk High School at the end of last month to sing and share her thoughts about how important it is to protect the environment. Curious to see if her make-up and outfit were environmentally friendly are from left, students Amy Kalluk, Darlene Arlooloo and Grace Ittusardjuat.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Canadian Singer Parvati interview

North Pole Blog: Day One, Part Two (Iqaluit to Resolute)

(continued from Day One, Part One)


We land at Iqaluit’s small airport, the exterior of the main building beaming a cheerful bright canary yellow. We walk off the plane and directly onto the runway. Immediately the wind fiercely blows and cuts through my winter coat. I pull my hood over my head and pinch the edges of my collar to stop the wind from flowing down my chest. Rishi walks in front of me with his video camera, taking in what he sees. I feel a certain thrill at being here. I feel a rush of humility, awe and wonder at the thought of now being on Inuit land.

As we enter the small building, there is no one at the welcome desk to direct us to our connecting flight. I notice above the desk, a sign in beautiful geometric block letters that I presume make up the Inuit alphabet. Painted pictures on the walls depict traditional Inuit cultural scenes, whale and caribou hunts, life in igloos, children wrapped in animal skins and fur playing in the snow.

A few people, mostly Inuit, faces carved by the wind and time, come and go out the airport’s only front doors that go off into the city. I see an elderly woman and a younger attendant walking arm in arm and speaking Inuktitut. The language sounds percussive, both round and hollow, reminding me of a melodic drum. Immediately I wonder about this old woman’s life, how she grew up, what stories she carries within her of the land and her ancient culture.

There is a slower rhythm here, almost viscous, that seems simultaneously aerial and spacious and massively heavy. I consider how people are an expression of their landscape. With my first glimpse of the Inuit people, there is something here that feels more solid. Perhaps they are like the rock that make up the Earth here, carved by the icy wind. I feel a deep connection to this land and a familiarity with these people that I cannot explain.

I think of the dreams I have been having that lead me on this journey, the voice within that is calling me to the top of the world. This is the voice of our mother, the Earth. This too is the Inuit mother. She is the mother of all that is on the planet. Somehow the Inuit seem to embody that knowing perhaps more so than most people I see in cities all over the world. I suddenly think that the concrete I usually experience below my feet is more like shrink-wrapping sealing the planet than rock of which the concrete is made. Here, despite my oversized snow mobile boots and the polished floor beneath me now, I feel that in Iqaluit, in the land of the Inuit, my toes could dig more easily into the ground and connect with the Earth.

I think of the dreams I have had over the years, taught through the unseen world about the ancient Earth ways of healing by a female shaman that I thought was Mongolian. I wonder if she was Inuit. I wonder too if I was that shaman and if I was Inuit. Maybe those dreams are parallel lives, being lived simultaneously. I wonder what time really means and question the illusion of its solidity. I feel a connection between the people of Mongolia, Tuva, Northern Tibet and the Inuit. I slip into a half dream-like state, where what I am seeing in front of me seems to be covered with a thin, milky film and yet I feel my body/being expand to see much more fully, not just with my physical eyes. Layers of images flood my being of times gone by when the ice was thick, when we listened to the land and when we respected our mother. I taste for a moment what these people have lived through, the coming of the white people, the proselytization of Christianity, the forced silencing of their beliefs, political pawns in Canada’s sovereignty game. Within me, I begin to understand a disconnect I feel exists here and what richness lies behind the pain.

The shrill, laughing shriek of two children playing near me pulls me back to my physical surroundings. A small blond girl and boy of perhaps two or three, are playing hide and seek around the immense body of what seems to be their father. Dressed in a modern remake of traditional Inuit clothes, they seem comfortable here. I wonder if they were born in Iqaluit. What would that be like for a fair child? What would my life had been if I were born and raised here?

I look around me for my travel companions, Sunanda and Rishi. I realize that while I was taking in all of these new sights and sounds, Sunanda had gone to deal with our practical affairs. I feel so grateful that she is here. She lights up like a firefly when she takes charge, feels on top of things and gets tasks done. It is because of her dedicated, selfless work on this project, that we have hotels and meetings booked, that I have a costume to wear in -20C at the top of the world. She is ever willing to pitch in wherever there is a need. She can think outside the box for new ideas and options in a pinch. True to form, amidst the airport chaos, disorganization and absence of staff people, she has found a clerk who can help us collect our luggage, which we must do before we take our next flight to Resolute Bay. I see in the distance that Rishi is already at the baggage conveyer belt, using his muscle to gather our belongings, while Sunanda inquires about our two pieces of fragile luggage, the wig and boom box.

Sunanda walks towards me, looking confused. She tells me that the boom box and wig did not make it to Iqaluit, through Ottawa from Toronto. She is unsettled, taking little comfort in the idea that Air Canada and First Air assure her that our performance items will be sent on the next flight to Resolute Bay, which is not until two days from now. We pause for a moment and consider our need for these pieces, how we would make due in the next two days without them. We decide to move on, and trust that with Grace, they will follow us by the time we get to the North Pole.

Having gathered our bags, Rishi interviews an Inuit hunter about the environmental conditions here, the effect of the melting ice, while Sunanda and I check in our luggage for our next flight. Then we go looking for some food, but can’t look far, as the one, small waiting room is without provisions. We have an hour to wait, but are still unsure where to go for our connecting plane. I was glad that Rishi, who is often hungry, had packed snacks. We sit down to consume bag of potato chips, which for our hungry bellies becomes a feast. We still have several hours of travel before we arrive in Resolute Bay, where hopefully we will have a full meal.


Like a replay of this morning in Torontos airport, soon our names are called over the intercom. Dusting potato chip crumbs from our fingers, we quickly grab our bags, realizing that we are almost late again. Two female flight attendants in uniform standing by a small door wave us over and show us where to go to board our next plane. They tell us that our carry on bags cannot come onto the plane and should have been checked, since the plane is too small to have bags in the cabin. Knowing it is too late to do anything about bags and that we need to be on this plane, we manage to slip through, past the attendants, and carry our bags on board anyway. This plane is very small, seating perhaps twelve, so as warned, we struggle to find places for our so-called carry on bags. The plane is full with Inuit people as well as others who seem to have traveled in the North before, and also with provisions and cargo for the Arctic communities.

Once in the air, I am mesmerized by the breathtaking landscape below. Sheets of blue grey ice begin to grow over stretches of charcoal water. The gravel roads of Iqaluit turn into dark grey fjords and sloping, rocky mountains of brown, orange and red. We are scheduled to land and refuel in Nanisivik airport, an abandoned mining town about 30km from Arctic Bay, though I am told we may not be able to land there today, weather pending. With the rising temperatures in the Arctic, there has been a big problem with fog, causing poor flight visibility and many plane crashes. I look outside the window and take comfort in the sunny, clear day.

Once at Nanisivik, we step off the plane onto the runway. Our plane is the only plane in sight. As I inhale, my lungs expand with immense relief. The air feels so much clearer here than in Toronto. There is a weightlessness in the atmosphere. Without wireless internet and the electrical 60Hz hum of cities or the psychic noise I continually sense in built up areas, the openness here feels freeing and refreshing. The land is huge, immense and vast. I can see beyond and then beyond still. In the distance, rolling red-brown, snow-covered mountains encompass a large body of steely, crisp blue water that is sprinkled with floating white icebergs.

Inspired, I am drawn towards the scenery. I begin to move away from the plane, out to explore the area, but am quickly told that I must go into the tiny office building. Once in the one-room waiting area, Rishi and I find a back door and exit into this immense land. If there are many words in Inuktitut for snow, then there must be many words for rock, as it seems the Arctic is built upon a wide variety of slate, shale, gravel, rocks of differing textures, colours and sizes. As I move out into a wide, open area, I suddenly stand motionless, feet anchored to the ground, torso swaying only by the push, pull of the chilling Arctic wind that wraps around my long down coat and hood. I am in humbled awe at the varied splendour of our rough, wild and fierce planet stretched out majestically before me. Despite the dry cold, my lips gently curl at each side of my mouth. A quiet and expansive understanding moves through my chest as I see more clearly than ever the error of our human folly, the arrogance of thinking that we could ever control Nature. She is completely beyond.


On board the plane again for the last time in this days thirteen-hour journey, destination to Resolute Bay, I meet nurse Jackie from Barrie. Sunanda had met air traffic controller Greg from Ottawa in the waiting room in Nanisivik, while I was out exploring the landscape. Both Jackie and Greg are going to Resolute Bay to work. Jackie fills me in on the ways of that small town. She tells me about the Inuit culture, the layers of wounds, some of the history. I learn that this nurse and one other nurse provide the primary medical care for the town. They have a well supplied health station, where they deal with almost everyones health needs. Occasionally, people are flown to Iqaluit, in more complicated medical cases.

To learn more about the people, I ask Jackie what the main disease is for the Inuit. She tells me that traditionally the Inuit used to suffer mostly from lung disease because of the contained smoke inside their igloos. But now, it is colon cancer. I suggest that the shift in health perhaps is due to the radical change from a traditional diet to one based on flown in goods. She concurs. She goes on to say that because the prices are so high in Resolute for provisions, locals will often prefer buying pop over milk. I find out that a bag of corn chips costs $14.95. As we get close to our destination, Jackie kindly invites me to visit her for a tour of the nursing station. I let her know that I will be in Resolute for a couple of days and will stop by.

We arrive Resolute Bays one-main-room airport, greeted by Meghan, the innkeeper from Qausittuq Inn and Satish Sikha, our friend the Indo-Canadian environmental activist who initially suggested I go to the North Pole to perform. Satish is in Resolute Bay to showcase at the Arctic ocean his eco-silk message that he collected from dignitaries all over the world for the past two and a half years. With bounding delight, Satish openly welcomes us to Resolute Bay. We happily make our way to Meghans van. I quickly realize that the tiny town has no taxis so this van will likely be our transportation while we are here.

We arrive to the Inn, our hotel, tired after a very long day of travel. We are however not jetlagged. It is now 8pm, which is only 9pm in Toronto, as we have traveled almost due North. We meet Chris, Meghans partner and hotel cook, who kindly has dinner waiting. Meghan and Chris, I soon find out, are from Kingston, Ontario, which is comparatively close to home, only 3 hours east of Toronto. A year ago they fell in love with the Arctic and decided to call it home. Managing the Inn is now their full time job and also where they live.

Meghan sat with us for dinner to connect and make us feel welcome. Sunanda, Rishi, Satish and I are the only guests at the inn. In this cold climate, I can see that human company keeps people feeling inwardly warm. I instantly like Meghan. In her twenties, she seems intelligent and receptive, kind and caring. Soon I find myself candidly sharing some of the dreams that have been calling me on this healing journey. I ask her if she knows any local elders and healers who may still remember the traditional, ancient ways of the Inuit, in particular, anyone who may know about shamanism. She pauses for a moment in reflection and runs her hand through her golden curly hair. She looks at me with her green, almond shaped eyes that seem to look deeply out of her round face. She says she believes her Inuit friend Lisa would likely be open to meeting me and perhaps would bring her mentor, a local elder, Louisa. Meghan offers to set up a meeting for tomorrow night. I feel very pleased.

We enjoy our home cooked meal and make our way up to our rooms. As I walk up the one flight of stairs from the kitchen to the guest rooms, I notice the hollow sound my feet make on the stairs. I think how often new-buildings have the same, fast built, empty feeling. To me there is something soulless, void of artistry, about building only with short-term practicality in mind. Architecture can poetically express an essential link between humans and our environment, creating a vital bridge between landscape and the people that live within it. Despite these thoughts, I feel so grateful to be here, warm, out of the cold and with kind people around me. I think back to the sugar cube buildings I saw from the air in Iqaluit, how foreign they looked on the land. The off white outer walls of this inn blend more naturally with its surroundings. Though the fifty or so buildings that dot the ground to create Resolute Bay, population 220, are similar neutral colours to exterior walls of this hotel, there is something about this town that seems like people and buildings were quickly dropped here and expected to call it home.

We are happy to catch up with our friend Satish, who arrived the day before. We speak about his need to showcase his fabric tomorrow, which Rishi will document, and the trip Rishi, Sunanda and I will take to the North Pole. Ironically, it was Satish who first planted the idea in our heads to go to the North Pole. But after we decided to go, we found out that Satish had never intended to go to the actual North Pole, but had wanted to showcase his fabric at the Arctic Ocean. When I realized that a misunderstanding had been spawned, I asked what he meant when he suggested I go with him to the North Pole, if he had not intended to go there. It was simple. As he traveled over the last two and a half years collecting signatures for his eco-silk message, few people knew the Arctic Ocean. So he began to say that he was going to the Arctic Ocean/North Pole. It simply became a habit to say the two names together. Life works in wondrous ways, so however the spark came to me that ignited the light for the trip we were now on, I feel grateful.

When we found out three weeks ago that Satish would go only as far as Resolute Bay, the Earth Team and I created our soil-less garden to lay the ground energetically for the healing work I was going to do at the top of the world. Over these weeks, we have had much inward testing, stirring up deep stuff, to spiritually prepare and cleanse us for this journey. Though Rishi and Sunanda are the only two member of the Earth Team who are physically with me, energetically the entire group has formed a pact and bond to support our healing intention on this mission. Though the three of us are physically going, we feel we are all going. During our discussion with Satish it feels both touching and awkward that he mentions that he would now like to come with us to the North Pole after all we have been through. If he had told us sooner... The four of us enter into a deep discussion about the meaning of the trip, the inner call for me to do healing at the magnetic North Pole, and what this means to us. I am haunted by my vision of the plane crash and again hold back from saying anything specific about that to the others. Instead, we openly discuss the dangers of the trip and how we must go being prepared to die. Still Satish is unwaveringly keen. He has been through much over the past few years with his personal project and is open to more adventure.

It is clear that Sunanda, Rishi and I need to make a tough decision about whether or not we include our friend on the next leg of our journey. Based on how the conversation is going, it seems we generally feel that it would be wonderful if he could join us, but there is a much bigger picture here that we have been called to implement, something bigger than any one of us. Something has been set in motion over the past three weeks, both in the seen and unseen world, and the three of us must go. We are not the doers, but instruments for something beyond our ego or will.

Still not quite at a place of peace and group cohesion, we decide to sleep on the question as to whether Satish will come with us to the North Pole, and opt to talk when refreshed in the morning. Tomorrow we wake up here, in Resolute Bay, Nunavut, at the edge of the Arctic Ocean, still about 1000 km from our final destination. Tonight, I am ready to rest, and rest deeply, feeling open to any dreams and guidance I will get from the unseen on this journey of faith to the North Pole.

The journey continues here...

Monday, October 18, 2010

North Pole Blog: Day One, Part One (Toronto to Iqaluit)

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I stir. It is only 4am. The sound of the morning alarm seems to echo from some distant place. I am deeply asleep. Quickly I realize it is the morning we leave for the North Pole and it is time for me to get up. As I get out of bed, the woozy feeling that swims through my head and stomach immediately tells me that I have not rested enough. I remind myself that I only got to bed a couple of hours earlier. We had been up most of the night getting last minute preparations together for our North Pole journey, checking rented gear, fixing costume pieces, finishing my new song and packing Arctic-ready luggage. The time has come to get on the road. My feelings are a tapestry of fatigue, fear, anticipation and quiet surrender. I begin to focus on moving quickly to take my mind off feeling less than rested and to make our plane’s early departure.

The night before any trip, I like to go to bed only once I have signed off on all the tasks on my to do list. For me, the time between rising and leaving home is not a time to prepare things. Rishi however has a different rhythm. He has planned to download files, burn backing tracks to disk for the songs I am to perform at the North Pole, load the backup materials onto the iPod, iPad and iPhone, then listen through these to make sure they are all in order – all after rising and before walking out our front door.

We leave the house 30 minutes later than scheduled and soon find ourselves thick in rush hour traffic, which has already congested the Trans-Canada Highway. Unexpected construction slows us down even further, as the lanes narrow to a single file. We all begin to wonder if we will make our departure flight. The traffic is moving slowly but continuously, so we remain optimistic.

I Dreamed I Could Fly

We arrive at the airport one hour before our scheduled departure time. We rush to the Air Canada counter, where luckily there was no queue. We immediately begin to check in our luggage. We are told that some of it is overweight. When we hear the rates for excess baggage, Rishi, Sunanda and I pull open our massive bags and dive into repacking them on the spot. We pull out a tent, boots, food...Surely there is a way to reshuffle our belongings so that we pass the weight allowance. With the support of a patient staff member, we succeed.

We are asked to hurry to our departure gate, but first we must check two pieces of fragile luggage in a different area. The boom box that is to play the backing tracks at the North Pole performance and the wig, which is part of my costume, need special handling.

After moving through the details of security, we grab our belongings and run to our departure gate. Once there, we see people just beginning to board our plane. Rishi and Sunanda leave to go grab a quick coffee. Moments after they are out of sight, our boarding area is soon nearly empty. I am not able to go get Sunanda and Rishi, as I must stay with our carry on bags, the video equipment being the most valuable of these. So I wait for them to return as I watch the waiting area become barren.

Soon I hear a voice over the loudspeaker: "Last call for passengers Jordon, Devi and Gerald." I try to flag down Rishi and Sunanda who I can now see in the distance and signal to the attendant at the desk that we are coming. When we arrive at the gate desk, the woman tells us that we are lucky as they were about to remove our luggage from the plane and leave without us. Rishi hands me his coffee and pulls out the video camera. He gets right into documentarian mode and begins to film me walking onto the plane. He wisely knows that we have only one chance to document this journey.


In contrast to our excitement, the general mood in the plane seems glum, perhaps because passengers know that our tardiness has held up the plane or perhaps because it is so early and people feel constrained in their starched shirts and pressed suits and ties. This plane clearly goes to Canada’s capital city, Ottawa. We waddle through the narrow aisle towards our seats dressed like Arctic explorers with layered woollies, snowmobile boots, gloves, hats and thick winter coats.

During the flight, I wonder about the majority of people on board who are only traveling from Toronto to Ottawa. I think of the impact of the plane’s fuel on the environment. I wonder why these people did not chose to take the train or drive. I contemplate the benefits of flying and question if they truly outweigh the inconveniences of such for a short flight. Are people hypnotized by an illusion that flying is better? By my calculations, it takes about the same amount of time to fly as it would to drive or taking the train. Why is flying better? Certainly it is not better for the environment. I begin to feel concerned about the carbon footprint of our trip to the North Pole, as we move to help raise awareness of the problems of pollution and the negative effect that has on the melting polar ice caps.

We deplane in Ottawa and make it to our next departure gate. This time there is no rush. We enjoy a quiet and easy hour layover, get something to eat, catch our breath, capture a bit more video footage and discuss the day ahead.


Boarding a much smaller plane to Iqaluit already signals change. As compared to the fully packed Air Canada early morning flight to Ottawa, this First Air flight is minimally dotted with a variety of passengers: a couple business people, a few people in casual dress and a number of burly, outdoorsy types. Among these were the Inuit, who somehow felt different. I sense in the Inuit something that I feel will reveal itself to me through this trip. I am not sure what it is. I know it feels both familiar and powerful.

Several hours into our flight, we move below the clouds so that we can see the Earth. Looking out the window, the landscape below is beautiful. With only an occasional dusting of snow, the land looks barren carved into a reddish-brown rocky shale. I wonder what the surface of the Moon looks like. I feel grateful for the sky, the sun and all the colours before me. I wonder how people live in this land, without trees. I think of the word “tundra”, which for some reason, as a child, I always loved. T-u-n-d-r-a… it sounds special, like the name of a magical land. This moment feels almost surreal, like what I now experience is the realization of a quiet and ancient dream, as though I always knew I would take this journey.

Below I see a few dots of colour that seem alien to the land. As we get closer, I realize they are buildings. Dirt and gravel roads weave between scattered blocks that look like painted sugar cubes that have been transported by air and randomly placed on the ground. The architect in me questions the relationship between a building and its environment. These buildings look as far as you can get from a natural emergence from the land. Instead, they look like vague thought patterns casually imposed upon the Earth, an effort to create systems in the mystery of Nature.

This inhabited area, which I hear announced over the loudspeaker is Iqaluit, looks very remote, isolated, vulnerable and small. I think to myself, if this is Iqaluit, Nunavut Territory’s capital city, what will Resolute Bay look like? In my mind I had thought that Resolute Bay would be the size of what I see now. Where have I arrived? I wonder what surprises lie ahead on our journey.

To be continued...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

North Pole Journey, Part 1: The Night Before We Leave

I have just returned from a trip to the North Pole to help raise awareness of the melting polar ice caps. The message with which I return was voiced unanimously by everyone I met: the ice is melting; there are fewer animals; the people are suffering; please tell the south to stop polluting.

It is timely to post my first blog about this trip on Thanksgiving weekend, as I feel thankful for so very much: I return safely; I feel supported; the journey was a success at so many levels. I am still inwardly processing the depth and breadth of the trip. Luckily, during the trip I took notes of my experiences. So over the next few weeks, I will be posting my journals and video blogs as a way to share the richness of the experiences I had.

When I left for the North Pole, though it was my body that was physically going, I felt that we were all somehow going together. I hope that through these journals you feel a closeness with me as the journey unfolds. The essential message I brought to the North, one that runs through all my creative work, is that we are not isolated islands but one family, all from the same mother, our Earth. Any decision I make affects myself, others and the planet. We are all connected.

May you feel that closeness and inner richness over this wonderful Thanksgiving weekend and always.

Jai Ma,




How do you pack for a journey you have never taken, to a landscape that is dangerous, inhospitable and very, very cold? Thankfully, many people have come together to donate warm woolies, down sleeping bags, snowsuits and technical gear. Value Village had some used snowmobile boots that fit. Luckily we were able to get some expert advice from videographers who have shot in the kind of conditions we are expecting, anywhere between -15C to -25C. We need to be prepared for things like battery life depleting very quickly in the cold and gear freezing. Even our video camera needs a special Arctic snowsuit. We have had to come up with a new costume for Natamba (the character I play in my show Yoga In the Nightclub), one that will be good for -25C and also allow me to move freely. We met with Velcrow Ripper who is doing a new documentary called “Evolve Love: Love in a Time of Climate Crisis” for some shooting and interviewing tips and to connect about the synergies of our work. JVC Canada donated a flip camera, a boom box and lent us a professional video camera. Mountain Equipment Coop donated a tent. Emergen-C vitamin C drink gave us some vitamin packs. Various friends from all over generously pitched in all they could to make this trip financially possible. I feel very supported and blessed.

It seems we are almost packed. We are all moving to complete the task lists we each have so that we can get some sleep before our long day of travel tomorrow. As I complete the last few audio tweaks on the demo of my new song “Hear This Prayer”, my list is near complete. This feels good. Over the past three days, I have felt immersed in the arising of this new tune that would not let me rest until it was recorded in a format that I could bring with me. The song expresses some of what I have been feeling in the call to this journey. In it, I speak to our mother Earth then pray, asking for help to heal our planet. Now I have a backing track to perform this new song along the journey and at the North Pole. I feel very charged about this.

Two friends drop by for last minute support. I play the new song for them and they say: “This is so Natamba!” I feel a certain success already. I know I can do the rest of the production work to complete the song for release once I am back. It has been challenging to find the time to be with this new song creation amidst the need to tend to all the other practical details of getting ready for the trip. With Grace, this has come together smoothly.

Shutting down my computer for the last time before we go and with the chorus of “Hear This Prayer” going around in my head, I walk upstairs from my music studio to I see if I can help either my husband Rishi or my friend Sunanda with their work load. Our yoga-meditation room is covered in gear. With the winter tent, heavy sleeping bags, arctic clothes and boots, extra food provisions and all the video and audio equipment, there are lots of bags. Sunanda and Rishi are moving quickly. Sunanda has already done a stellar job at packing and Rishi at preparing the gear. I join in to help when suddenly I feel overwhelmed by deep, unpredictable and raw emotions in my heart and chest. These feelings have come over me in increasing waves over the last week. I spontaneously start to sob.

I have experienced unexpected emotions like these before, but only when I have been traveling through the countryside in different locations all over the world. For no apparent reason, I would start to cry; my breathing would quicken, like I was hyperventilating. Sometimes I would feel pain in my internal organs, like I was being squeezed on the inside from a heavy pressure force. In the midst of this, I would hear a voice within tell me that this was because I was passing through an area where Nature was in particular distress. Through the emotional waves, my intuitive connection to Nature was speaking loudly.

A bit like a canary in a coalmine, I have always had a keen sense of perception and intuition to things that others may not perceive. But the emotions I am experiencing through the trip preparations connected to Nature’s distress are happening for the first time while moving about my life in my own home. It is true that I have felt over the last few weeks a deeper connection to Nature than ever, like She is within me, not separate, guiding this journey. I feel I am being shown the depth of healing that needs to take place for our mother Earth. In this, I feel overwhelmed. She is feverish, burdened, overloaded. Faced with the immensity of that knowing, I feel a deep grieving beyond words. These emotions are an expression of the depth of this journey, an expression of the pain of the planet, the way our mother is suffering. I find a quiet place to be present with this passing through me, watching in stillness. Eventually, the emotional intensity passes, my breath returns to a relaxed rhythm. I return to the work at hand, preparing our luggage.


As I pitch in to help pack the rest of our belongings, I reflect on the various preparations we have undertaken for the past three weeks. Yes, there has been the gathering of gear, finding sponsors, booking meetings, finding hotels and airline tickets and writing a song. We also have been preparing spiritually, at the level of the unseen.

A group of ten volunteers I call The Earth Team and myself have created a soilless garden in which we can actively co-create with Nature to set the stage to assist with the intended healing work at the North Pole. I have been working in co-creation with Nature for years. Inspired by the work done with Nature when I was in Northern Scotland at the Findhorn community, I came across an American woman Machaelle Small-Wright who works in co-creation with Nature. Her work called “MAP: Medical Assistance Program” changed my life. She also instructs how to work with soil-less gardens. Working consciously with Nature has amplified my creative connection within myself and to the world around me. The possibility of being able to plug into the vast source of life-energy is so very exhilarating and even necessary to build a healthy future for all.

Just like a garden in soil is a co-creative project with Nature, a soil-less garden is a co-creative project with Nature that is not limited to being planted in the ground. It could be composing a song, running a business or writing a grant. We are not isolated islands as our egos may wish us to believe. We are in constant co-creation with Nature and the Cosmic Intelligence, whether we are conscious of it or not.

Working with our soil-less garden, the Earth Team and myself have been preparing to support the healing work I am to facilitate there. This has asked each of us to go deeper into ourselves, lighten our load and release patterns that do not serve. Every day, we have been individually meeting the soil-less garden to do the necessary preparatory energy work. Even in the rush of this day before we head out in the early morning, Sunanda, Rishi and myself understand the power of the work in the unseen and make time to meet with our soil-less garden to set the stage for the work to come at the North Pole.


As I look around the room to continue packing, the amount of bags I see already feels heavy, and there is more gear yet to include. It is unlike me to travel this way. Usually I am a one-light-bag kind of traveler. But that has changed since touring my show with its technical requirements. Now a trip to the North Pole requires other specialty gear that takes up space. As I move quickly around the room to find places for the rest of the pieces, I contemplate baggage of all kinds. What am I bringing to the North Pole? Yes, these are physical bags, but what about emotional or energetic baggage?

I am experiencing this trip as a deep call to faith. It is clear that it is important to lighten any emotional baggage that could hinder or weigh down the success of this journey. I feel I am going deeper within than ever before to look at my fears, face small-mindedness or illusions of grandeur and release resistance of any kind to the goal of this journey: to selflessly serve the healing of our planet. This is not a trip but a calling. It is not a rational decision to do something strategically to amplify the ego. If anything, I feel it calls for the death of the ego. I am called to follow a voice in the dark that feels totally right. I feel it is the mother calling. So I go.

I was two weeks away from touring my show Yoga In the Nightclub when the voice within became unavoidably clear that I needed to go to the North Pole to sing, do healing work and help bring awareness to the urgent consequences of the melting polar ice caps. This summer, during a few very hot days, something about the heat was unnatural. High temperatures do not bother me but this heat was different. There was a feeling in the air that signaled distress. The winds did not feel right. The sky looked agitated. Nature was very restless. In response to this, this voice within arose. Now I find myself the night before we depart on a journey that feels much bigger than me. In some ways, things are quickly coming together, and yet I can feel that much, at some level, is yet to be dissolved. I sense that I will soon speak of my life in reference to “before” and “after” the North Pole journey.


The thought of emotional baggage brings to mind the discussions Sunanda, Rishi and I have had about physical death. I am very blessed to be making this journey with sincere spiritual seekers who understand the breadth and sincerity of the call.

I remember that during my daily meditation practice, I had a vision a week ago of the real danger of this journey, specifically that our plane could crash. At that time, I paused to consider what I saw. Was I dreaming, imagining or was this real insight? I knew in my gut it was correct. I looked at the image of my guru Amma in front of me and went deeper inside. This was a real possibility and yet I need to go. I sat with this for a couple days, making peace with the possibility of death on this journey. I know that there are energies that do not want this trip to succeed, trickiness attached to the ailing planet and the short term economic profiteering gained from the melting polar caps.

When I saw the vision, I did not want to upset Sunanda and Rishi, so I shared its essential message by starting a dialogue about the dangers of this trip and candidly speaking about the possibility of death. What followed was an open and healthy sharing between the three of us about how we feel about the possibility of dying through this journey. In order to go, we each must be at peace with death. The possibility of physical death is ultimately imminent and can happen at any time. Of this, we have no control. But being receptive to the death of the ego is a choice, a direction one must invoke and welcome as a spiritual seeker. We spoke openly about that kind of death as well. As we now pack, the speed of our bodies in action reflects a certain release to the ego’s identity that “I” am the one doing. Amidst the sea of bags and seeming chaos, there is a deeper feeling of order, one of surrender and service to a greater good. There is a feeling of flow in the room.


As the last pieces of our luggage seem to be coming together, I look up at the image of my guru on the meditation room wall. I see Her smiling and I feel that smile in my heart. I think to myself, “What is this life, if it is not to serve? What am I serving? Is it not a wonderfully expansive, rooting, vital, life-affirming, enriching feeling to feel connected to the very source of life, to allow it to flow through, unencumbered? What is this 'I' that keeps me feeling separate? Listening to that for guidance just brings 'me' suffering, more division and separation.” I feel a rich connection to this voice that calls us on this journey. It unites. It creates. It draws us all closer to each other, to what is essential, to love, to serve. This journey feels so much bigger than me, than Sunanda, than Rishi, than the Earth Team. It gives voice to something to which I feel I am in service, to which I have dedicated my life. I feel the voice of Nature, of the mother calling.

Despite waves of emotions and the vision of a plane crash, I have been feeling inspired, integrated and aligned going on this journey. Even when we contacted the government and were told that this was an unsafe time to go to the North Pole, I did not feel concerned. I know we are protected. We must stay true in our hearts. We are dedicated to this vision. We must pray. We are guided. I trust this unfolding totally. I feel that my body is the very stuff of which the planet is made. Literally I am her daughter, as we are all her children. In that connection, there is fierce direction and profound love. This will guide this pending journey.

We zip up the last suitcase and stack the bags, ready to grab, at the front door. It seems we can now rest for a few hours of sleep. We look at each other and are clearly exhausted by the preparations and also adrenaline-charged about what lies ahead. How we will sleep with this excitement and anticipation is yet to be seen, but we need every bit of rest for the days ahead. Each day leading up to this journey has been action packed and full of surprises and so are the days coming. It is already 1:30am and we wake up at 4am to get ourselves out the door to the plane. As I lay myself down on my soft, comfortable bed, I visualize that I am completely supported by love and grace, so that with the few hours of sleep I now have I can rejuvenate as much as possible. Tomorrow morning before dawn, the North Pole journey begins.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Returned from the North Pole

I returned from the North Pole journey a couple of days ago. The trip was beyond... a success at many levels. I feel like angels were carrying us. Certainly, I was not “the doer”.

I am in some sort of state of culture shock. There is so much to integrate and process. This was huge. I am also crazy tired as each moment prior to the trip and while away was action packed. We met Inuit elders, healers, hunters, politicians. I spoke at the council meeting in the Nunavut capital Iqaluit about my musical project and giving the Earth a voice. I sang at the North Pole and did three other shows, showcasing a new song I wrote just before the trip. I exchanged music with Inuit throat singers and traditional drummers. I facilitated healing work at the North Pole and in two other Arctic locations. We saw absolutely magical land and wild, prehistoric animals and ancient Inuit sites. When I sit still, I can still feel my body floating from the many small airplane rides, like I am still somehow traveling. It is time now for me to re-juice for the next leg of this journey...

The message we carry back from everyone we met was unanimously the same: please tell the South that the ice is melting, the animals are fewer and we are suffering. I am left with a heavy heart, an ache in my soul seeing even more clearly and palpably the effect of our pollution and our cultural disconnect from the Earth. I feel charged with an even stronger connection to an immense, universal force that can help each one of us wake up, so that we may join together as one Earth family and create positive environmental change to benefit all.

As I integrate the experience over the coming weeks, I will be posting my journals and video blogs from my journey. I will also be working on editing the video footage captured, with hopefully enough to create a video documentary. I also have footage to create music videos of the songs I sang at the top of the world. So please stay tuned… much more coming…

Thank you for your continued support. I felt very connected to all while I was traveling. Though it was my body that was traveling, I felt we were all there together.

We are all Her children.
In service,