I always knew there was something magical about music. I grew up in a very creative family. My father was a writer and painter—not by profession, but in his heart. My mother was a fashion designer who loved to sing. I grew up doing a lot of messy art projects with my mother, and listening to the wildest, most fantastical bedtimes stories from my father. I remember being a very happy and confident child, however it was in my teen years when I felt like I had lost something. Something like happiness or a sense of who I was and where I belonged.
Amongst all the paper maché castles and mermaid stories, I now realize, was a tension that emanated from my parents individually, trickled outward into their relationship, and grew as big as the span between Los Angeles and Southern France, my two “home towns”.
I spent most of teenage years feeling as though I wanted to dig a deep dark pit and hide there until things got better.
I strongly felt the contrast between childhood and teen hood, and am now glad I did. I understand that it was this awareness of what was possible, rather than what I did not want, that led me to the practices that would help me figure out how to deliberately maintain my own balance.
What follows are the unlikely events that led me to finding my life’s passion. If you understand how life works, you know they were not actually unlikely at all. Just exactly the steps I needed to lead me towards that which I had been requesting from life all along.
In 2007, I chose to move back to Los Angeles on my own. When I graduated from Brown University in 2005, my parents had followed me to the East Coast of the United States, and I needed some space to grow my own wings. While working at a raw vegan restaurant in Santa Monica, I met a man who was organizing a yoga festival. He invited me to volunteer, and I accepted.
This festival turned out to be Bhakti Fest, which is where I sit now writing this story. That was 10 years ago!
My volunteering there led to a full-time position as the producer’s personal assistant and volunteer coordinator. This job provided me with more opportunities to learn how to express myself through music. The most memorable of these experiences was an evening in the Hollywood Hills where three prominent chant artists were sharing music after dinner and the producer announced to everyone that I would now be singing! This was news to me.
I managed to fumble through a chant I had just written. I felt simultaneously triumphant and embarrassed. But a woman named C.C. White seemed to notice the triumphant part more, or at least my potential, and invited me to be her backing vocalist. That is how I got started chanting: an invitation. And that was a big theme of this part of my life.
After a few years of watching this call and response devotional music that touched my heart so intensely, there I was, on the other side, looking at the audience. I felt blessed beyond belief.
It was around this time that I discovered Kundalini Yoga. Snatam Kaur had been the soundtrack in my car for the entire trip out to LA. and one day I walked into The Golden Bridge in Hollywood (a yoga center that no longer exists) and they were playing the exact song I had been listening to on repeat. I thought to myself, “so this is where that lives”.
I took a total of one yoga class there before I signed up for teacher training to teach Kundalni Yoga to kids. Even before that training was over people began asking me if I would teach their child, or their classroom. In a matter of weeks, I found myself teaching children every day! The strangest part of this was that, again, all these jobs were invitations. I didn’t ask for any of them. It turned out to be an amazing vehicle for healing my childhood trauma, not to mention training for being a mother a few years later.
At the children’s yoga training I met a chant artist who was going to be playing music at Summer Solstice in New Mexico, which is the biggest Kundalini Yoga event of the year. He got me a work trade on the sound team and I ended up being introduced to the greater world of Kundalini Yoga through playing music.
This was where I met two women who would catapult my spiritual awakening into another dimension. I do not even remember how we found each other back in LA, but we did. And we began driving together every morning to Yoga West or The Golden Bridge to do early morning Aquarian Sadhana. This practice ends with 62 minutes of chanting and we began assembling material to lead the musical part ourselves. Michelle, who later became “Paloma Devi” and toured with Deva Premal and Miten as part of The GuruGanesha Band, sang and played percussion. Allison sang and played guitar and I sang and played harmonium. We called ourselves “Treysha” because it refers to the three qualities of GOD: generator, organizer, deliverer. It was this partnership, and this support in my yoga practice, that led me to attend Winter Solstice Sadhana in Florida, which is a smaller and more intimate version of Summer Solstice.
That event was filled with more music making, more personal challenges to work through, and more awakening to who I really was.
Remember when I said I had lost that sense in my teenage years? It was coming back. I was experiencing first hand how this yoga thing works!
At Winter Solstice I reconnected with my friend Sat Darshan, who I had met on the Summer Solstice sound team. We ended up meeting in New York City for a New Year’s community event. That was when I had this idea that seemingly came out of nowhere: we should make an album together. And we did. It is called “The Music Within,” and to this date neither of us can fathom the scope of its success in relation to our expectations, or the tiny budget from whence it came.
One of the songs on the album was so well received, it paved the way for every opportunity that would follow. The song was called “Bliss (I Am the Light of My Soul)”, which I jokingly refer to as my “hit single.” It was played all over the world (on repeat!) during the breaks for an all-day meditation event called White Tantric Yoga. I continue to receive emails from people reporting that even seven years later, they enjoyed hearing it during their Tantric experience.
Thanks to my album with Sat Darshan, I had a fan base to speak of, and I was able to raise all the money for my first solo mantra album, “The Cosmic Gift.”
Everything after this was just a progressive stairway to more and more miracles. Or at least, it seems that way in retrospect. I know I had many things to complain about and stumble on as this all unfolded. That realization of seeing the contrast between the long view of what happened – miracles, more miracles – and the day to day feeling of no apparent movement toward my goals, is what led me to the next phase of my spiritual development. This involved an intention to enjoy each moment of the journey, rather than striving for an end result.
About two years ago, I discovered the teachings of Abraham-Hicks. In listening to hours upon hours of recording I have effectively brainwashed (read: mind-washed) myself into appreciation of every moment, not just when looking back on the so-called successful ones.
I realized that things were working out for me all the time, and I was wasting too much energy on noticing the small hurdles along the way.
Once I realized that the things I want do come to me, and they come all the more easily when I am relaxed about them, I am keenly aware of my relationship to the Source of all things.
I now teach a workshop called “Reclaim Your Happiness” that explains how we are vibrational beings who create our own reality. I explain how happiness is the most productive state of being. I also explain that it took a lot of unhappiness for me to want to be this happy. I explain that it is a choice, which takes enormous focus. And we chant a lot.
I have had to retrain myself to seek the good in every experience, which creates a momentum of positivity that becomes self-fulfilling.
I am deeply appreciative of my childhood, my teenage years, my parents, and all of the unwanted experiences I’ve lived. They have showed me what is possible, and I feel so privileged to know that I can choose from among these options or create new ones. My so-called misfortunes have shaped the intentions I hold for myself today, as well as a strong desire to use the tools I have been given (such as meditation, chanting, yoga, etc…) that continually support my wellbeing.
Growing up I felt like I had no home because I traveled back and forth between two very different places, France and the USA. I gravitated towards music as a vehicle for communicating my emotions, but it was not until I saw how it could be used as a mindfulness practice that I really understood its power. It feels magical to me.
Yogi Bhajan, who founded Kundalini Yoga, said “vibrate the Cosmos and the Cosmos will clear the path.” I can say that I only fully comprehend the depth of this quote when I chant. I chant and I not only affect my own vibration, my own emotions, my own heart; I affect the entire planet. And the beautiful thing about it is, it isn’t just true for me, it is true for everyone who chants.
Our energetic contribution to this planet matters. Chanting “tunes” us to the frequency of our Source because in the process of chanting these repetitive words in another language, we forget our small self and align with the part of our Self that is infinite. Because it is infinite, it is constantly expanding, and so we must keep “tuning” to it, or we will be like the guitar that has been left in a closet for months. Musicians know you can’t just tune your instrument once. It needs to be every time you play.
Instruments must be tuned so they can resound harmoniously with other instruments. We must “tune” our minds so we can live harmoniously with others, beginning with our own Self.
*** Sirgun Kaur is an Arizona-based sacred songstress and Kundalini Yoga instructor. She was raised moving back and forth between Los Angeles and Southern France, and spent her adult life attending Brown University in Rhode Island, living in Connecticut and is currently based in Arizona. In the midst of constant change, one element has remained consistent in Sirgun’s life: Music.
Sirgun developed her own sound by listening to her favorite artists, turning poems into songs, recording her music on a karaoke machine, and taking jazz piano lessons while studying at Brown. It was not until she discovered Kundalini Yoga, chanting, and mantra, however, that she understood the transformative and healing potential of music. Sirgun believes that our bodies and minds are both malleable and miraculous. Her music is designed to put listeners in a state where healing can naturally take place. By listening and chanting along, the nervous system is soothed, the mind becomes less chaotic, and the world seems a little less overwhelming. It was a gradual process of observing and listening to other chant artists, mixed with her own songwriting experiences that lead to this spiritual path. Since then, Sirgun has released five albums of sacred chants: -8, Reclaim Your Happiness, Dayaal, The Cosmic Gift, The Music Within.
Sirgun has performed in Europe and across the United States, leading conscious festivals such as Bhakti fest. She currently resides in a yoga community in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband and two children.