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Pranafest

I walk the “Good Red Road” as our Native American teachers describe…the path of the One Hearted people. Walking One road, yet in Two very different worlds! This became evident to me after attending a special ceremonial weekend up in Jackson Well Springs, Oregon at the first ever Pranafest Yoga and Kirtan music festival. (www.prananfest.org). My friends Paul Andrews and Janet Marley produced the festival and my retreat company, Red Road Retreats,(www.redroadretreats.com) was one of the sponsoring companies.
The festival drew together a divergent group of people from all over the world… divergent, yet each one sharing a common bond of love for humanity and fostering a spirit of universal good will. The common bond was quite simply, come together to express that LOVE through sound, through yoga, through community.

The setting for the festival was on 35 acres of Native American ceremonial land, on which one could feel the sacredness with the first step. The property, owned by a Harvard educated MD, is truly a model for sustainable community living, including organic gardens, bee aviaries, a Goddess Temple, Lakota Sweat
Lodge, multiple healing natural spring water sources, a profoundly sacred Mikvah, nestled up against a mountain with gallons of alkaline PH waters flowing from ancient stone rock formations.

The music stage was naturally set under an umbrella canopy of old, old oak trees still green yet with hints of early fall colorations, emerging under the crisp night air. Days were warm under the blazing sunlight and nights were cool under the powerful full moonlight of the Harvest Moon, also known as the Wine Moon or Singing Moon. And sing we did! With kirtan artists and talented musicians
including Andres Salcedo, (www.powersoulyoga.com) C.C. White, Deepak Ramparian, Donna De Lory, Ena Vie and Howard Lipp, Govindas and Radha (www.bhaktiyogashala.com), Jai Uttal, Wah and many, many more talented singers and avid yogis converging together to chant around the clock for three very full days, as sacred mantra music filled the air in akanda fashion (unbroken chanting).

The owner of the land took me on a special tour, which included the Mikvah natural spring at one end of the property, behind the Goddess Temple. The water there felt like liquid silk to the touch and came straight from the rocks at the perfect temperature. The tour ended there as we sat in the healing waters
talking about plans and goals for this very special property, including the addition of more sustainable housing. With the end of the Mayan Calendar near, and the last quarter of 2012 literally a breath away, our conversation turned to the state of global world affairs and the conflicts in Iran, Israel, the Middle East. I was so enthralled with the Mikvah that I blurted out, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could
invite President Obama, Netynahu and Ahmadinejad to the Mikvah, take their clothes, dunk each one in the healing waters and not let them have their clothing back until they solve that which divides them, hence dividing us all. The invitation remains open, gentlemen.

We touched on the fact that each of us has a deep faith and what some would describe as non-traditional spiritual practices, yet we each also walk in corporate worlds; his the conventional medical establishment, as a local emergency room physician, and I, immersed in the Los Angeles commercial real estate world. While we probably didn’t solve the problems of the world that afternoon in the Mikvah, we certainly agreed that the world needs more sustainable communities like the one at Jackson Well Springs and more festivals like Pranafest!

After this immersion in nature, yoga and music in an idyllic setting up in Oregon, I flew back to a day of very intense yang meetings – corporate guys in suits. I now fully understand the inherent rift between the creative types vs. the “suits” in Hollywood, having experienced it firsthand today in a meeting attempting to pitch a very unique and totally untested idea on bottom line driven men! All this having spent those sacred days in the “womb” at Jackson Well Springs!

My walking in two worlds analogy manifested fully at a VIP reception afterward that I attended at City Hall, with California Governor Jerry Brown. I was asked to be part of a small group of 5 people selected to welcome him to the event in the lower rotunda of the Tom Bradley Room atop City hall. The Gov exited
the elevator and everyone jockeyed to meet and greet, shake hands and get in their 5-second sound bite pitch. Everyone but me. I hung back, finding the whole scene surreal. A pleasant, yet very focused businesswoman, clamoring to get in front of me representing a prominent healthcare provider, extends
her hand and introduces herself and thanks the Governor for signing a recent piece of legislation that had keen impact on healthcare providers. I was next. I introduce myself, “ Welcome Governor, I am Lori Tierney, we have met before, it’s a pleasure, etc”. A look of panic crosses his face as he firmly shakes my hand saying, “Napa Four, what bill is Napa Four?” Like he had missed an important piece of legislation. I kindly corrected him by saying, “I said, sir, that we had met before!” Looking relieved that he had not missed something legislatively important to the State of California, he tells me to speak more clearly since he is “getting old” and can’t hear well! It was right out of “Who’s on First”!

We proceed upstairs and share a glass of wine as a throng of politicians, clamoring to talk to him and have their pictures taken, surround him like a pack of wild dogs! Politicians, rock stars….kirtan musicians, pretty much share all the same issues when a touch of fame and some notoriety are involved.

Seems so many are searching for the answers to the myriad problems inherent in life, and magnified more intensely during these times. It’s human nature to look for those answers outside of oneself, from others in society that have risen above the fray and are thought to carry the wisdom of the tribe.

It reminded me of one of the key principles of yoga, Pratyahara, or turning the senses within to find the answers. A simple concept…to still the mind, to listen and find peace inside oneself. I mentally gave thanks for the reminder. Namaste!

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