By Bhavanjot Kaur
“It is useless to ask in prayer, “Give me a car.” That’s not a prayer. That is projecting a desire. Don’t ask it. Just say, “God, God, God.” I mean, if God doesn’t know what you need, who knows?”
I attended a very hip theater show recently at a local playhouse in Ivoryton, CT. It was a tribute to the late American rock, soul and blues singer and songwriter, Janis Joplin. Homage was paid to many of the blues artists that inspired her music—Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Odetta, Nina Simone and Bessie Smith. As a girl who lived in Texas for a short time and travelled to New Orleans often, I had a feeling this was an experience that I could not miss.
While enjoying the show, I flashed back to my early childhood when I was about nine years old. I was sitting in the back seat of my then best friend’s mom’s light blue two-door Honda. I was likely eating a giant Nerds blizzard ice cream from Dairy Queen while laughing with my dear friend in the back seat without a care in the world. Her mother was driving and likely smoking her slender cigarettes while she was belting out the words in her raspy voice to the first Janis Joplin song I recall ever hearing, "Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz.”
What I did not know about the song “Mercedes Benz” back then was that Janis Joplin actually began the song with the words, “I’d like to do a song of great social and political importance. It goes like this.” It sort of changes the whole meaning, right? It has been said that this song was actually considered to be a rejection of consumerism. Silly me, I thought she really wanted that Mercedes Benz and had the rest of us praying with her. Ha!
“You have to understand the purpose of life, the purpose of life is to do something which will live forever.”
As I watched the story unfold in song on stage, I became inspired. I recall the late Wayne Dyer saying that the word ‘inspired’ actually means ‘in spirit.’ I was feeling inspired or ‘in spirit’ by all of these miraculous women singing out these powerful and deeply moving songs from what felt like the depths of their hearts and souls. I was pulled into their world and the characters were so captivating and real that it felt as though I was in a time machine and really there with Janis Joplin and her counterparts.
What really grabbed me was the truth of it all―the blues, the rock and roll, the unwavering authenticity of Janis Joplin’s being. She (the character playing her) threw back Southern Comfort like it was water and dropped f-bombs left and right―not a show for the easily offended. But somewhere in all of this character was just a woman finding her voice, singing her heart, living her song. It's as though her life served as a living prayer for the authenticity and love and acceptance of the light and the dark within us all; that our voices, our hearts, our songs are in fact our prayers to God and to our higher selves.
Watching this show made me question myself. Who am I really? Who am I not? What am I? What am I not? The character playing Janis said that the icon made a choice one day to be true to herself and to her truth and her voice. Instead of looking for ‘the one,’ she identified herself as ‘the one,’ and everyone else is the ‘other one.’ This resonated. I thought that it was so amazing that she seemed so certain of who she was and so secure in it, that when she said it, it hit my soul and sent a prayer out from my heart: ‘I want to be more like that.’ Then I was slightly blue, because somewhere inside of me I am still looking for that ‘other one’ that will be ‘the one.’
Because I had gone into this show with very little background on Janis Joplin’s life, I did not know that she had died at the ripe age of 27 from a heroin overdose―something two lovely ladies shared with me in line to the restroom during the intermission. A woman shared, "I was supposed to see her at Woodstock, but my mother didn't let me go." The glow in her eyes said she was getting a second chance at her dream of seeing Janis Joplin after all, only decades later and not the original Janis, but the one that was standing in her place now to sing her songs and share her story and keep the prayer and her dreams alive.
It kind of reminded me of how I feel when I am in the presence of teachers who knew Yogi Bhajan. It sort of makes me feel like he is right there in the room. I was at White Tantric Yoga® recently and a teacher said that Yogi Bhajan didn’t want those of us who didn’t meet him to feel sad about that because he said we would be more in tune with his spirit rather than his physical being. This warmed my heart and it felt like he truly understood how we would feel someday: that his spirit was his prayer and what has lived on through each one of us.
I came home and did some research on Janis Joplin because I was shocked how little I knew about this woman who made such an impact historically and musically. I learned that she recorded “Mercedes Benz” in one take on October 1, 1970 and it was one of the last tracks she recorded, as she died three days later. The song was later released in 1971 on the album ‘Pearl,’ which happened to be Janis Joplin’s nickname.
“Asking somebody higher to come in―you have been taught this in the Piscean Age. That’s why religion has failed. Religion should have taught you to call on your higher self in prayer.”
Within a hardened shell covered in salt, mud and barnacle is a pearl waiting to be seen. Our prayers to our higher selves can guide us to that space where we are the one that we have been seeking. This pearl may only be seen in its brightest and truest form for what may seem like the blink of an eye, leaving behind a message, a song or a prayer that lives on.
We are here to find that pearl within us and trust that it is enough and that we are enough. We have to find our true selves and build upon that truth by seeking our higher selves through love, compassion and prayer. Kundalini Yoga is the bridge from thinking you might be the one, to a deep inner knowing that you are the one. Even if we question it sometimes or look outside for the ‘other one’ to be ‘the one,’ we can draw ourselves back in again with these teachings and living prayers.
There is a beautiful practice called Meditation to Teach You to Pray, which can give you the experience of real prayer and a sense of your vibration and your boundlessness. Our practices and our prayers are possible because these teachings were left for us. We can, in turn, leave them behind for others and this is what lives on. This is the prayer and the life purpose of the yogi. We leave behind something that lives on forever no matter what else we do in this life. This whole thing is one big living prayer, isn’t it?
I was driving along in the car with my seven-year-old daughter the other day. I was naturally playing Janis Joplin for her and teaching her the little I had learned about ‘the blues.’ I enjoy our little car chats as I look at her in the rear view mirror asking her questions, and I'm always eager to hear what comes out of her mouth. On this particular day, I asked her what she thought the most important thing about life is and without a moment’s hesitation she responded, “Your spirit."
“Learn if you want to live in this Age of Aquarius. Learn to call on yourself, learn to be yourself, learn to vibrate. Let us become prayerful in attitude. Then God will bless us in every field.”
Bhavanjot Kaur is the owner and founder of Hamsa Healing Arts located in Centerbrook, CT. Bhavanjot is a Kundalini yoga teacher and Radiant Child Yoga Teacher. Bhavanjot is a Reiki Master practitioner and Teacher, Craniosacral therapy practitioner, Raindrop therapy massage practitioner and she also offers sound therapy with a 32" Paiste Symphonic Gong. Bhavanjot is a consultant for essential oils, medicinal mushrooms and CBD oil. She is mother to a delightful seven-year-old little girl who overcame a rare childhood kidney cancer, which inspires her work with Lucy's Love Bus and the Connecticut Cancer Foundation.