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Shakti United

As I’ve toured the country, I’ve been amazed and touched by all the heart-centered healers I’ve met. But what got my attention most is the abundance of powerful women deeply rooted in their practices and offerings in their local communities. I felt a longing to bring these modern-day priestesses together to share their incredible voices to bigger scale, to see and support each other, and to rise to our Shakti potential.

And so, returning to home base this winter, I launched a Facebook group called Shakti United! I envision it as a place to empower sisters to share events and to celebrate Shakti in all her forms. We welcome devotees and practitioners of all kinds who are dedicated to healing and supporting the divine feminine creative force.

All devoted to the divine feminine path and healing the female cultural experience are welcome to join and share this in this group.

Please go to the group and add yourself so you can stay in touch with women around the world, share your inspirations, passions, and healing work, and hear others as they share their heart’s path.

Our goal is to offer our first few mini-events in the coming months, evolving into a sort of traveling “Spiritual Lilith Fair,” where we can all come together as one heart, in one loving song. Our first event will be March 30th in Eugene, OR, featuring the amazing Jaya Lakshmi, Matura Seva & Bhakti Shakti!

We can do together what one cannot do alone. We’re donating a portion of every “Shakti United” event or retail sale to Mitrata-Nepal, a small and personal organization focused on education for young girls, empowering and supporting them so that they, too, can rise.

One Heart,

Johanna

Johanna on the lake

On My Way Back Home…

I’m going home. And I’m also bringing my home with me. Both are true. This Bhakti Bus I call Daphne has taken me across the country for the last four months. By now most of her moving parts have been replaced, including her engine. And she’s been a good sport about it, mostly just rolling along.

Wherever I go, I’m nourished by the meeting of hearts as we move our bodies and raise our voices for love and hope. Everywhere we’re greeted by a radical hospitality that shows me again and again the True Nature of the human heart that we’re celebrating. I sometimes think of my journeys as an opportunity to stitch all of us who think this way together. As I move (and as I am moved), I am blessed by each of you who have brought me tea or food, helped me with my engine crisis, listened and shared from your hearts.

By Christmas Eve Daphne and Coco Bean and I will be parked back in Oregon to cozy up with family and friends around a warm fire. We’ll be celebrating the new year at a new ashram retreat center near Portland. And then we will be still for a while during the dark and cold time of year, fed by the energy of all the generous souls who have brought us this far.

Breitenbush Hot SpringsTo celebrate the return of the light in late January, we’ll be hosting RhythmAsana at Breitenbush Hot Springs in the Oregon mountains. I’m looking forward to sharing this magical place with friends from near and far as we move into deep joy together, feasting on fabulous organic food and soaking in the hot pools and dreaming our deep winter dreams.

Deep peace of still times to each of you, Beloveds. We will meet on the Bhakti path next year, perhaps, but for now, I wish you a resting place in your hearts, in our shared heart, beating as One.

Flaunting my Inner Flamingo

Johanna flamingo on stageI’m about to leave on a four-month national tour of festivals West to East and everywhere in between. There’s one thing I was hoping to leave behind, a habit. Ever since I started singing and playing while standing, I have a tendency to lift one leg as the energy builds. Even though I’ve tried to keep both feet on the ground, one of them (usually the right one) just wants to pop up when I forget to focus on keeping it down.

One of my friends at a festival recently said  “I’ve figured out your Medicine Animal. It’s a flamingo!” I didn’t know what to think. I had thought that I’d been hiding my “bad habit,” and here she was naming it.

Later she sent me a link to a podcast called Don’t Underestimate the Flamingo. It turns out they’re amazingly tough birds who can fall asleep standing up in frozen Andes marshes, and then wait for it to thaw before taking off, among other things.

She also sent me a link about the “flamingo spirit totem.” It was also full of good news. Almost eerie, as a matter of fact, a summary of my life path.  In a few words: social, sometimes flirtatious and flamboyant in dress, balancing a busy lifestyle and relationships. But most of all, what I know to be true: “Decisions and life directions usually come from the heart.”

Suddenly the habit doesn’t seem so bad, after all. I discovered a long time ago that it’s the struggle to change something that keeps it around, I’m embracing the toughness of the bird and the power of the heart. I’m bringing her along with me for this tour.

Festival of Colors

Festival of Colors

I had the honor of welcoming the spring this year in a truly memorable, vivid and joy-filled event. I performed and celebrated along with 37,000 others at the Holi Hai Festival of Colors in Spanish Fork, Utah. People of all ages and backgrounds gathered to sing and dance and revel in bright primary colors, dowsing each other with chalk-based powder. The overall energy was indescribable. Imagine moving to high-energy beats of kirtan and sacred music, eating vegan Indian food, and watching peacocks display their plumage. That’s just a start.

Johanna with Caru Das

Festival Owner Caru Das Introducing Johanna at the Main Stage

One of the best parts is that tickets are only $5.00, plus the cost of colorful powders and food. Last week’s festival was timed to coincide with Holi Hai, a holiday celebrating the arrival of spring and the passing of winter in India.

But the fun isn’t over yet. The event was the first in the US Festival of Colors Tour, which I’ll be joining monthly in various locations on the West coast: Las Vegas (Apr. 15th), Salt Lake City (June 10th), Reno (Aug. 19th), Sacramento (Sept. 30th), and Santa Cruz (Oct. 7th). Check out all the dates and places and see amazing video footage here: http://www.festivalofcolorsusa.com/home/

Beyond Love

Big News: The Lullaby Yoga Project

Traveling from town to festival to town this fall, I’ve become so aware of the support all around me, every moment. My little van/RV, my autumn home, supports my body with a safe and cozy place to nest and to cook nutritious meals. I arrive in towns where kind yogis and artists receive me with their big generous hearts and voices. I have such a strong desire to pay it back and forward and left and right and up and down.

Hearing people talk lately about losing sleep over the state of the world made me realize I have something to offer. In my travels over the last couple of years I’ve been offering classes in Lullaby Yoga, guiding people into restorative poses and singing soothing songs and chants to take them into deep rest. I’ve had so many people tell me that they find the music deeply relaxing and wish they could take it home with them that I decided to create an album of Lullaby Yoga music to help people find this peace anywhere.

For the last few months I’ve been working with Ben Leinbach, the award-winning musician/producer who did the final mix on my Heart Beats One album (and dozens of other albums you probably know and love). Together we’ve created the framework for a beautiful Lullaby Yoga album. But the remainder of the project will cost quite a bit more than I can raise hopping from town to town in my yoga van.

So I’m reaching out to you to ask for help. I’ve set up a GoFundMe site to make it easy to give any amount to support the project. I’m offering all kinds of thank you gifts, from early release copies of the CD to private house concerts and voice lessons. I can even write a custom song for you.

Please consider contributing, even if it’s just a few dollars, and please spread the word to others. After all, adults need lullabies too.

I really believe in the power of this music to soothe the soul, and I want to express my gratitude in advance for your help in making this music more widely available. You can watch a short video and read more about the album here.

The Magic of Bhakti

I’m just returning from a two-month tour to and from Shakti Fest in the California desert. This was a healing trip for me, because part of my focus needed to be on getting help for the concussion symptoms that had forced me to shelf my regular life for the last six months. The travel included lots of time with amazing chiropractors and healers, and they became part of what I’m calling Bhakti magic. Bhakti yoga is translated to “yoga of the heart,” and it’s the magic of this loving and supportive generosity that helped me with housing, food, and generous hospitality wherever I went.

Govind das and Radha

Govind das and Radha

Southern California is a major hub of Bhakti yoga, and most of the action centers around Bhakti Yoga Shala in Santa Monica. I found welcoming arms and a home there immediately, starting with a CD release for Radha, one of the dedicated and musical owners of the studio.  Soon I began singing with her and her partner Govind das whenever I could, including their headlining Shakti Fest set and anniversary kirtan.

Dave Stringer and Johanna

Dave Stringer and Johanna Beekman Gospel Kirtan set at Lovelight Festival, Maryland, August 2016

Near the end of the first leg of my trip, a couple of long time yoga and kirtan icons, Dave Stringer and Saul David Raye, showed up and joined in the chants with the rest of us. More Bhakti magic.

Jo Saul David Ray Jim Beckwith Sukhdev Jackson : AYKANNA recording

Jim Beck with, me, Sukhdev Jackson / AYKANNA, and Saul David Raye

Before I knew it, Stringer invited me to come to the studio and harmonize on Saul David Raye’s new musical project, a CD I’d been eagerly awaiting for the past few months.

So there I was, a month into my Bhakti journey, singing along with long-time wallahs and respected pioneers of the chanting community. We ended up sharing the love of music of the heart, and I returned again to work on another track a week later.

Next thing I knew, Saul David invited me to join him at the Bhakti Fest Midwest Retreat, June 24th to 26th, to collaborate and share music.

I’ll be singing with him Saturday night at 11:00, and I’ll also offer support for his yoga classes and share my own music. And the Bhakti magic continues . . .

Johanna with Ben Leinbach

What’s Next? (On the DL)

Spring started with an Equinox kirtan at Love Hive in Portland, and it’s been full of the spirit of creativity ever since. Right now I’m writing from California, where I’m winding my way south with guitar, harmonium, kirtan and lullabies. I’m loving all of the opportunities to share the love with the Bhakti tribe and co-create with other talented Bhakti an Shakti Fest artists. So far I’ve had the pleasure of playing with Joss Jaffe, an amazing songwriter, producer, tabla player and singer. More to come, starting tomorrow in Santa Barbara and moving to Ojai (with Jacob Duran), Santa Monica (with Kia Miller),  San Diego and other locations, culminating at Shakti Fest in just a few weeks.

New music is sprouting this spring, too. I’ve been able to make it back to the studio and my ongoing collaboration with Ben Leinbach. We mastered an exciting new track, which I’ll be playing at the rest of the spring event, and beyond.

On the D.L: I’ve been listening to the tribe as I travel, and one request is loud and clear: We want something quiet and soft with a lullaby feeling.

Saha Dev of Mt. Shasta had this vision almost three years ago, when I met him at Pranafest, where I had my first performances at big yoga festival.  One morning I was playing for Sarah Ivanhoe’s yoga class. He just told me he was transported by the simple, sparse and intimate quality of my voice with just a harmonium. I took him up on his offer to record this concept in his studio. We’ve been able to fit in a couple of basic recording sessions since then.

More details will be revealed. Stay tuned for a low-key, minimalist Shavasana sound. My voice. Your ears. One harmonium. The goal is to make it finished and available by Bhaktifest, this September in the desert.  Just in time for the Fall, the turning inward, the quiet time.

But for now, let the spring Shakti rumpus begin!

Be well,

Jo

From Here to ShaktiFest

Last fall I had a fabulous time singing with many of my favorite artists, from Gina Sala to David Newman, at Bhaktifest. That seems like ages ago. So much has happened since then, including my One Heart One Soul Tour with Mike Cohen, our RhythmAsana Retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs, and a car accident that reminded me once again to live each day from the heart, knowing that each breath is a gift.

I’m blessed to be able to return to Joshua Tree May 13–15 to sing on the Main Stage and lead two Lullaby Yoga classes at ShaktiFest. I’ll make my way down the West Coast, starting with a weekend in Seattle, with stops in many of my favorite venues from the last tour and several new ones. After ShaktiFest I’ll head East for a short Midwest tour.

Details of tour stops are listed on the events page. Check back regularly, because we’re updating frequently as the pieces fall into place.

I’m looking forward to reconnecting with many of you on the road, and I’m excited that I’ll be meeting many of you for the first time.

If you’re interested in deeply-discounted ShaktiFest passes, contact me. I have a few left.

Blessings and love,

Johanna

PS. Here’s the official word from the BhaktiFest/ShaktiFest team: “Join us at Shakti Fest and Bhakti Fest in Joshua Tree, May 13-15 & September 8-11th for a soul touching experience. Step into your heart and explore sacred music, yoga, dance and transformational workshops. Learn and practice with amazing teachers and artists like Jai Uttal, Donna De Lory, Shiva Rea, Saul David Raye, Mark Whitwell, Girish and more! For more info and tickets visit www.bhaktifest.com “

 

Surrendering to the Internal Soundscapes of Life

Last month I was driving home in rush hour near my neighborhood in Portland. I don’t remember a crash, but witnesses tell me I was slammed by a driver who made an illegal left turn into me, causing a head-on collision and a concussion. I’m gradually absorbing lessons about the kindness of airbags, wonderful helpers, and the Universe itself.

While I heal, I’m appreciating the subtlety  and coziness of Winter here in the great Northwest. I’m glad to be far enough along in the recovery process to do a few things I’ve missed, like using electric lights and looking at computer screens. Not to mention walking around without a hat and sunglasses to shield me from the bright Northwest fog.

Once more, yoga and chanting have come to heal me. For a short time, singing and playing seemed to make my concussion worse—only stillness brought peace. But now I find I can celebrate being alive in one of the best ways ever. I’ve returned to my harmonium and guitar, and my hands still know their way around. My voice is regaining its strength, and it’s loving being free.

How lucky to be alive, to have breath and bellows and to release the sounds of praise and longing!  Best of all, I get to share it with amazing people and experience the call and the response that we create together to honor this incredibly beautiful and fragile life.

That’s what I call blessed.

Come Share in the Living Heartbeat

Blessings, Beloveds ~

It’s been a busy (and abundant) time. A few weeks ago I returned from singing my heart out at Bhakti Fest. Since then I’ve been preparing for a full-on tour of the West Coast, which just might mean that I’ll be in your community soon.

It’s kind of a fall harvest tour for me since I’ll be playing and sharing songs and chants from my new CD, Heart Beats One.

I’ll be sharing the joy with with the inspiring Mike Cohen, a leader and teacher from Boulder, Colorado. We’ll be leading kirtan, offering classes and workshops, and singing away stress at Lullaby Yoga.

This Friday night we’ll embark on the journey to spread music and love around the Seattle area. We’ll be at the Laughing Buddha in Mill Creek with Grammy-nominated Jeremy Jones.

Mike and I will work our way down I-5 over the next couple of weeks. I’ll be going solo in the LA area toward the end of the month. That phase of the tour culminates on November 1 in a joint kirtan with Daniel Stewart at Bhakti Yoga Shala, a hot spot for kirtan in the Bhakti world. After that I’ll head North for a few stops on my way back home to Oregon. In San Francisco, we’ll be joined by Ben Leinbach, who did the amazing mixing and played on some tracks of Heart Beats One.

Here’s a quick summary of our tour stops—details are on the Events page and on Facebook.

• Seattle area, October 9
• Hood River, OR area, October 15–18
• Portland, OR, October 17
• Breitenbush Hot Springs, OR, October 21
• Ashland, OR, October 22
• Mt. Shasta, CA, October 23
• San Francisco, CA, October 24
• Los Angeles, CA area, October 29–November 2
• Healdsburg, CA, November 6–7
• Sausalito, CA, November 7
• Corvallis, OR, November 20–21
• Breitenbush Hot Springs, OR, November 27

Yesterday I joined Joni Yung for her podcast Yoga Chat with the Accidental Yogist to talk about the album, the tour, and this amazing journey into the light. Listen to the show (episode 221) here.

Love,
Johanna

P.S. Thanks for helping me occupy the #1 spot in spiritual music on ReverbNation for the last six months!