Songwriting As A Spiritual Practice

Fiona Kernaghan

As a week of heavy rain and wind lashes the unusually grey east coast with a last taste of winter here in Australia, I’m turning inward. Along with a hankering for some Kokopod Turkish Delight and an occasional Cognac, I’m loving the pull inward and cocoon of home. I love letting the wind rattle the windows as I write this in bed, knowing my guitar is waiting for me in the other room and feeling new ideas getting ready to sprout inside me.

At the same time, and I’m sure these things are all related, in the wisdom of my body seeking balance (and thanks to some beautiful Instagram accounts I follow) I’ve been really inspired to get back to my daily yoga and meditation practice!

I know what lies ahead is good and magical. I had a profound meditation experience a few years ago that can only be described as Kundalini awakening… I think that, and marinating in The Gayatri Mantra among others, triggered a series of huge events in my life. Meditation and mantra music helped carve out an energetic space within me to feel a willingness to accept those changes, which were undoubtedly painful and for my greatest good. I’m so fortunate to tell you the end result is a lifestyle of daily bliss.  Oceans of gratitude. Grace at dinner. And always remembering to invite the universal intelligence behind all things to help run the show. Whether it’s looking for a parking space, calming a conflict of opinions or accepting the global unrest I know is still broiling somewhere always. Meanwhile, in my world love reigns supreme.

So sitting down to stretch then meditate may not seem exciting or life changing on the surface. It may seem downright boring. The truth is it’s not for the faint of heart. It can be a tipping point. Into the void where miracles are born and new growth begins.

I don’t believe any one yoga or meditation technique is particularly superior to others, but I am a long time devotee of the simple sun salute yoga cycle done in a Hatha yoga style – for exercise and all important preparation for meditation. And I am a long time off and on practitioner of Transcendental Meditation. I have tried numerous other techniques over the years but always return to this, my first technique and mantra taught to me by a lovely teacher in Sydney when I was 21. What a gift that was – actually paid for in part by my brother, Lee. He found TM through Deepak Chopra and enthusiastically swept my sister and I along for the ride as he learned to meditate and excitedly shared how great this would be for my creativity. My big brother was right!

When I make time to meditate on a regular basis the yield for me is abundant inner peace, love for the world around me – and heightened creativity for sure. Over the years I’ve noticed it has changed the basic nature of my mind and thinking which is generally less reactionary, more contemplative and almost in a permanent, subtle meditative, mindful state. And it gets even more interesting.

In turn, songwriting and recording have become my spiritual practice beyond my vocation. The Art Of Being, for example, is an album that’s hard to categorise and full of my favourite pearls of wisdom from a deliberately wide range of spiritual traditions. The new songs blend instruments and styles of playing from the East and West. I tell my story about a vision of St Mary in Oh Mary and also sing in Sanskrit on Sing Your Prayers. I want to illustrate the unity at the heart of all belief systems, reveal the quiet truth beyond the colour of our skin, hear the harmony that exists regardless of the language one speaks and share more about our true nature that’s always there underneath our cultural programming.

That kind of mash up might not be commercial or a safe professional choice, but I honestly no longer care! I’m driven by something more altruistic. Creating music as a vehicle for healing and transformation. This may seem selfish to say, but I do it to remind myself first. Then hope to create a ripple effect that touches other people who are ready to hear the ideas in the music. Ready to soften, to turn within, change their outlook and and bring their natural state of peace back into the world around them – and so the ripple continues.