Interview by Tami Simon
Tami Simon: In a recent interview, you mentioned that you practice ninety minutes a day, and that it’s something that you really stick to. For many people, that’s very hard. Yet here you are—a mom, a traveling musician, and under a lot of stress with your career and the demands on your time. How do you do it?
Snatam Kaur: Well, I figured out what my bottom line was. About two years ago, after having a baby and being on the road, my daily practice just kind of evaporated. As I was holding my baby or nursing, I would take the opportunity to chant and meditate. Then, as I was fixing meals or cleaning the house, I started to integrate the chanting into that.
I did experience a loss of control, which a lot of new parents talk about. But it was a spiritual experience because I realized that having this child was divine—that I could incorporate my practice in many new ways. After my daughter was about two, I said, “Oh my God, I need this.” I figured out my bottom line. I’ve got to have a half hour of yoga every day. That was amazing — I made the choice and it was like time and space moved for me.
Whatever it was, my daughter would not wake up—or I was able to wake up before her and get my half hour in. Or I was able to do it while she was playing. From that experience of, “Oh my God, time and space can move once I make a decision,” I was able to move my daily practice back up, up, and up, and now I’m back to ninety minutes in the morning and a good practice at night.
My family and I don’t go to sleep without chanting. I don’t do it because I think I should. I do it because it’s a cleansing experience. My spiritual teacher used to talk about it a lot. He said, “Having a meditation practice”—sorry for saying this, but it makes a lot of sense—“is like cleaning the toilet bowl.” Whether from traumas and dramas of the day before or twenty years before or maybe lifetimes before—you’re literally cleaning out the subconscious. It’s not only a service to your soul, but also a service to your family and to everything that you do.
You asked me about being a touring musician. Yes, the stresses are definitely there. But that’s how I create a home. If I’m traveling, I chant until I absolutely feel surrounded and protected by love and light in some hotel room. And it works. I do feel that sense of sanctuary and sanctity.
Some people talk about a daily practice like, “Oh, I should be doing this, or I should be that.” It’s more like: once you’ve experienced the lightness and the joy that a daily practice brings, you’re addicted, you’re hooked. Why would you want to live life any other way once you’ve experienced that?