We are in for a serious treat at Sat Nam Fest West this year as Crown of Eternity’s Mike and Gallina Tamburo, also known for their spiritual names Harnek Kaur and Harnek Singh, join us to bathe us in the transcendent healing power of the gong. This premiere Kundalini Yoga and Sacred Chant Music Festival in Joshua Tree will astound and uplift you on every level. The caliber of artists and teachers convening to co-create this experience is beyond magnificent. Crown of Eternity adds an element that may just transform your life beyond what you thought possible. What the Harneks bring when united in the sound current is nothing short of bliss, pure…strong, vibrating, resonant, deep heart and soul changing, magical…healing…bliss.
In this interview, Mike Tamburo of Crown of Eternity takes us on a journey into his heart and mind…deep into the passion, wisdom and purpose that fuels his inspired creativity.
Thank you, Mike for your sharing your energy and brilliance in these responses! You are an amazing being!
What are you most looking forward to sharing at Sat Nam Fest West 2015?
We are sharing an All Night Gong Bath which will be a profound experience for us. We love working with the gong over long periods of time. It is such a healing experience for us. The all night gong is such an incredible opportunity. Yogi Bhajan told Don Conreaux that ten 45 minute gong baths will leave an imprint on a person’s self healing systems – strengthening the nervous system and balancing the chakras. This can jump start the healing process in a whole new way. The all night gong really gives the nervous system a chance to recharge and reset.
We are also really looking forward to sharing our path of the gong in our Gong Techniques workshop. There is so much to share about the gong experience and how to hold the gong space fearlessly. It is such a profound instrument and it is an honor to share our experiences with it and to guide others.
What has been your most profound, most memorable Sat Nam Fest experience?
We have so many memories so we will just share a few since it is hard to choose.
First and foremost, we got married the day before the first Sat Nam Fest in 2010. It was the beginning of our honeymoon and it just felt amazing to build upon the vibration we were still riding from our wedding. It was just perfect to share our love with so many friends.
We have worked on the sound crew several times at Sat Nam Fest East. It is really a great honor to be able to serve in this way. It is mind-blowing to find out that just a little more than a handful of people are responsible for organizing such a multi-faceted event. The ease, smoothness, and joyfulness of how everything flows together goes to show the love that the Spirit Voyage crew pours into these events. We are so happy and honored to have been a part of helping to make the festival run smoothly. When we serve on the sound crew we spend quite a bit of time back stage and can’t always participate in the classes or see our friends. Even though we can’t see what everyone else is doing, not only do we get an up-close-and-personal serenade from the artists on stage but we feel this flood of sheer prana, vibration and love pouring back from the main hall. It is an indescribable experience.
This past year Crown of Eternity gave a gong bath at the end of the first day of Sat Nam Fest East. There was a 2.5 hr sadhana of Dhan Dhan Ram Das Guru that morning and we knew everyone was exhausted by the end of the day. We were humbled that so many people stayed awake for us. When the curtain opened and the audience saw our multiple gong set up, there was a collective gasp and then tons of camera flashes started going off. It was a surreal moment for us. We were cracking up inside. It took a moment for everyone to settle and we began our entry into the gong field of vibration. We usually play the gong acoustic. We have only had to mic the gong a few times for a live experience. We had definitely never used sub-woofers with the gong before. When we made our first contact with the gong that night, there was so much low end coming through the speakers, it felt like our clothes were going to fly off. The whole experience was so visceral and powerful for us. It was truly special.
Why do you think people should attend Sat Nam Fest West 2015?
It is just wonderful to bring such powerful intentions together. Everyone who comes to Sat Nam Fest is in a beautiful process of transformation and working on themselves in positive ways. It is really inspiring.
What would you say to encourage someone who’s feeling the inner call to attend, but has never been to a Sat Nam Fest, and is concerned about whether or not they’ll fit in?
Coming together in a group energy like Sat Nam Fest allows us to experience oneness on multiple levels – personal oneness, group oneness and planetary oneness. Yoga is about connecting to the highest consciousness. For years Yogis went off into the woods to have these experiences alone. In the Aquarian age, we are meant to transform together. We are meant to realize that we can do this together. That we are the Planet Earth and that we are a part of the continued creation of the universe. It is not about fitting in. It is not about what we are wearing or our asanas or even what we are chanting. It is about coming together in oneness. Everyone has a part in this. Everyone has something to share.
Favorite Yogi Food and Favorite Juice Blend?
Cucumber, Green Apple, Celery, Lime, Parsley Ginger Juice.
Yogi Bhajan’s beet-carrot caserole recipe from the Foods for Health & Healing book.
Most Deeply Loved Morning Sadhana Practice?
Long Ek Ong Kar
Most Meaningful Musical Influence?
Listening to every sound as if it were a symphony.
Which meditation are you doing right now?
Yogi Bhajan gave Dev Suroop a deep listening meditation that she then shared with me. Essentially you listen and begin to name each sound that you hear and then listen deeper and deeper naming sounds to yourself. Eventually for me it just becomes complete sensory hearing. This has become one of my greatest allies in connecting to my sensitivity with sound. When I am home I do daily self massage with oil and then steam myself in our steam sauna. Then I take a long bath. Bathing is another of my most important practices. I do a daily practice on the gongs and singing bowls and bells and whatever exercises or meditations I need to make sure that my heart is connected and open while playing. I do breath of fire, standing spinal twists and the Star Exercise with the Pineal Wave. I tone Hum or MMMMM and listen silently to those sounds as well. Generally I do whatever feels like I need to do to put me on level with the day.
What’s playing on your music device right now?
I spend a lot of time driving so there is a lot I have been getting into.
I have been listening to the Evolver series on How Sound Heals. It is very informative.
In my weekly rotation, Brian Eno is one of my favorites and he stays in rotation. His music has been with me for a long time now and it is an influence I wear pretty strongly on my sleeve. I love his 70s rock albums and the first few Ambient albums he did are just huge for me.
There is a wonderful soul in Oakland, CA named Sean Conrad who does a project called Ashan (not to be confused with Ashana). He makes some gentle and beautifully joyful music that is really easy to lose time to. I also have been into Braeyden J Mckennaa’s work with Kaliska, WYLD WYZRDZ and softest. He makes very heart centered and joyful music as well. Sean and Braeyden run the wonderful Inner Islands label. I like pretty much everything that has come out on that label. They released my double cassette Presence last year.
I have also been listening to Laraaji’s ‘Celestial Music’ compilation that spans like 30 years of his career. It is very inspiring. Bjork’s Vespertine Live has gotten a lot of rotations lately and I am digging her new album quite a bit as well. I watched Jodorowsky’s Dune recently and it made me start listening to the ‘Holy Mountain’ and ‘El Topo’ soundtracks once again. Both are weird and great and very inspiring to me.
I got asked to contribute to a Robbie Basho Tribute album recently. He is one of my favorite guitarists and I have been revisiting a lot of his music trying to figure out what piece I will record.
I have been listening to Bill Fay on a lot of our long drives. I have been digging his alternate takes and demos ‘From The Bottom of an Old Grandfather Clock’ a lot lately because the songs are stripped down and very passionate. His ‘Time Of The Last Persecution’ has been a favorite for awhile now.
I chill out to Deuter a lot, especially his first few albums. My friend Ken Camden also released some pretty great space music that I have been returning to a lot lately. I also meditate a lot to Frank Perry’s singing bowl recordings. Michael Bettine (Gongtopia) has made some great gong and metal percussion music over the last few years that really puts me in the right place.
I listen to a lot of Ragas – Shivkumar Sharma, Ali Akbar Khan, Allaudin Khan, Nikhil Banerjee, Pandit Pran Nath, Ravi Shankhar, L Subramaniam and Asad Ali Khan are my favorites.
I had read a David Bowie biography last year, which led to me purchasing most of his albums. I have been really into him lately. Also Leonard Cohen has been a companion for years.
I have a lot of really talented friends that I spend a lot of time listening to – Eric Carbonara, Lac La Belle and Nick Schillace, Sagas, Landing, Windy and Carl, Hunted Creatures…
I have been listening to a lot of German psych rock from the 70s too – Faust, Kraftwerk, Can, Ashra Temple, Popul Vuh – good driving music.
I watch a lot of You Tube videos of Sri Chinmoy playing music. He started all of his performances by rolling his eyes to the top of his head, bringing his hands into prayer pose, smiling and letting the creator flow into him. He then plays like 15 or 20 instruments. Some of it is great and some of it is bad, but it is always super inspired.
Also on You Tube, I have fallen in love with Mark Pulido’s music. He performs on 50 Bilas (sound Plates). Sometimes I just listen to it and weep.
I work on a lot on my own music. At any given time I might have 2 or 3 albums I am figuring out. This leads to me listening to myself a lot. I am pretty good though :).
Share a profound practice or music creation experience with us?
I had spent a month getting very turned on in Espanola followed by a month of touring with some of my best music. I had learned the Tattva Siddhi Meditation For Presence Like a Beacon during the first 21 Stages of Meditation course in Espanola. There was a major shift that happened for me during that one. I started practicing it when I got home and felt like it held a very special wisdom for me. I taught the meditation in one of my classes and improvised a zither piece while the meditation was going on. It was pure in the moment creation, like everything I had experienced in the meditation was coming through the music into the meditator. I got a good recording of that class that I released on a double cassette called Presence (on the Inner Islands Label). Each time I listen to that recording, it brings me back to that space.
Best advice or insight for a new yogi?
Be sensitive. Learn how to live fully in each new level of awareness that you open yourself to. Don’t push too hard too fast. When you are ready to reach a new level, your nervous system will take you there.
What’s the most treasured spiritual inspiration book in your library?
I end up lending a lot of books to people so I feel like I am never certain exactly what is in my library.
Right now Frank Perry’s Himalayan Sound Revelations is my most important book. It is full of wisdom and I am slowly making my way through it. I also just randomly open it to different pages and do a hukum with it. There is so much great information on every page that directly affects the way I am relating to my non-melodic instruments as well as how I listen to them.
John Cage’s Silence is pretty huge for me. I read it over and over.
The Untold Story of The Source Family was a catalyst into much of what I do now.
Science and Being by Baron Eugene Ferson is also incredibly important to me (though I loaned it to a friend and have not seen it in over a year).
Sneak peek at your creative process?
I usually just give myself permission to begin and then I let my creative force take over. I play a lot of different instruments and have my own style on each instrument. Each instrument brings something new for me. I am an improviser and a composer and I blur those lines quite a bit. I do a lot of work with scales that are pretty specific to a mood or feeling. A lot of my instruments are fixed scale instruments (hammered dulcimer, zither, swarmandal, shahi baaja) where I am working with open strings that can not be changed during the piece. It is a great creative limitation that opens up a lot of possibilities for me. The tuning dictates a lot of what I will be playing/writing. I am very attracted to drone sounds and long sustained tones as well as creating clouds of overtones.
With the mantra music, I am probably working the most intentionally. The mantras that work for me are like keys that unlock different spaces within my consciousness. The music is like a soundtrack for that space. My idea is to allow the music to support the state of consciousness that the mantra is producing within me. The music shifts and builds and develops as the mantra builds and develops within me.
I like to create an experience with each mantra where I am finding what it really means to me through immersing myself into it and not necessarily through the English definition. I think that is where a lot of the vibe of our sound comes from. I try to work with melodies that anyone can sing. I do not want to go out of anyone’s range. I work with a lot of looping techniques with the mantras. I hear so many accompaniment parts when I start working with these melodies. The looper really frees me up compositionally. I have been working with looping since 1993 and I use it like another instrument. Through tone combining and layering the music, I can make sure that there is always a thread of how the mantra began and still have it develop into something much denser and hopefully be a sound that has taken you on a journey of some sort. Also with the looping, I like the way our voices sound layered on top of each other. It creates a chorus effect. When we are chanting with a group of people, our voices blend together with everyone else’s. It is like there is no lead singer. We are all the singer.
The gongs and bowls bring me into a different place completely. It is more like I am holding space for the experience to happen for the listener. The instruments tell me how I should be playing them. I just connect to my intention and then listen and respond to what I am hearing and feeling. I have spent a lot of time learning about the gong and various strokes and techniques and experimented with how my nervous system responds to these strokes and techniques. It is sort of like I have learned everything so that I can forget it when I am playing and be in the moment. I have practiced for countless hours and I feel like I am always working on deepening my relationship with each of the instruments and how they sound together.
When did you first start creating sacred chant music?
It was one of the first classes that I taught. I put on a mantra cd and during the practice, it dawned on me that it is kind of weird to do this sacred practice to a cd when I play so many instruments. I started chanting and playing music in my own practice and realized quickly that it would be more of a direct experience for my students if I shared the mantras with them live. I started working out basic arrangements and playing them on my nylon string guitar or a shruti box. I was sharing my classes with a small but very encouraging group of people in Pittsburgh, PA. I would also play my instrumentals during the classes. One of my students suggested that I try to merge the instrumentals and the mantras. For a while my wife and I had very different teaching schedules. We wanted to expose as many people to this practice as possible and often found ourselves teaching in separate parts of town. After a while we decided to remodel our house and turn it into a home studio where we can have a devoted space to build a conscious community. We began holding daily sadhana for our community and more workshops and classes that we can teach together. The more we taught together and chanted together the more we realized that adding our voices together became a key part of our sound and the spaces we could enter together. Our shared personal and teaching practice and our sound evolved for a few years until we finally felt that we had something special that we really wanted to share with a larger audience. Our first mantra CD – ‘Vibrate the Cosmos” was released in March 2014 and the sequel ‘The Cosmos Shall Clear The Path’ followed in September 2014.
How did you come to Kundalini Yoga…or how did it come to you?
On my best days playing live music, I reach a very heightened level of awareness. It is like the sound is just pouring out of me. I often feel like I am the sound or that I am leaving my body or dematerializing into the sound current. I had spent about 4 years on tour playing this ecstatic instrumental music almost daily. I was having so many beautiful and unexplainable (for me at the time) experiences. In the midst of this tour I had come into contact with the music of Father Yod and Ya Ho Wha 13. It was pretty wild and I did not know much about him other than that he had a “family” and made some really crazy psychedelic music. I was staying with someone who had the early printing of the Source book and I checked it out and knew I needed to read it. I bought it and it was like I was remembering something – not so much about being in a spiritual hippie commune but more about the exercises that they were talking about in the book. I started practicing Breath of Fire and the Star Exercise and all of my past experiences became much clearer. More importantly, I became clearer. The Source book introduced me to the teachings of Yogi Bhajan and to Don Conreaux. I got a few books on Kundalini Yoga and started watching Yogi Bhajan videos and taking video classes. I found a few local classes and I was hooked. I eventually spent time with Djin Aquarian, the guitarist of Ya Ho Wha 13, and he showed me a lot of practices in a very short period of time. He suggested that I read and practice the exercises in ‘The Science Of Being’ as well as my Kundalini Yoga exercises, which actually made it a lot easier to understand what was going on with Yogi Bhajan’s Kundalini Yoga. I still do the star exercise now.
What led you into teaching Kundalini Yoga?
My Heart and Soul
What inspires you most about teaching?
The group vibration
What reflections from class participants really stand out to you, based on their experiences of this yoga?
I am always humbled by the deep changes that people open themselves to.
If you could only practice one kriya for the rest of your days, which would it be and why?
It would either be Kriya for Awakening the Ten Bodies with a very long Laya Yoga Meditation or The Subtle Body Kriya from Nirvair’s Ten Bodies Book. Meditation for Overcoming the Fear of Death aka Shanmukhi Kriya is one of the most powerful meditations I know. I feel that every gong player needs to practice that one.
Share what’s new and up and coming for you?
Lots of music and lots of travel. Crown of Eternity are doing a National Tour in April to and from Sat Nam Fest West. We are excited to share our sounds for the first time live on the West Coast. After that we have 2 to 4 Group Sound Therapy events a week booked throughout the East coast pretty much through the end of summer.
We are starting to develop and teach our own Gong Training. Putting these courses together is teaching us so much and we are really looking forward to how this will grow. We are introducing Module 1 this May in the Agni Ashram in Asbury Park, New Jersey. We will most likely offer another course in the fall as well.
I am about to release a new solo album of hammered dulcimer music called ‘The Way To Be Free’. I also just finished a cassette of ambient music called ‘Emperor and Penguin’ that will be out in April. I have been working on a more song based album called ‘When The Music’s On’. I have put a lot of love and time into this one. There are some similarities to the mantra albums I have been making, but perhaps it is a bit further out there. I am hoping it will be finished for a summer release. I am beginning to work through my archive of live recordings, demos and odds and ends that never fit on any of my albums for Bandcamp’s new Subscription service. That is turning into a very fun project. I am looking forward to getting that up and running.
For Crown of Eternity I have been conceptualizing a meditation album using our gongs played very quietly along with our sound plates, bells and singing bowls. It will be a very subtle album kind of an entryway into meditating on the spaces between the notes. I am still trying to figure out the best way to record this. We have been working on an album of 22 minute long versions of Long Ek Ong Kar, Laya Yoga and melodic Ek Ong Kar that will hopefully be ready for a fall or winter release. Finally I am also composing a 62 minute Ma meditation album that I might get to before the end of the year if I am lucky.
Anything else you’d love all future Sat Nam Fest’ers to know?!
Listen with every part of your being (sensory system).
Thank You Mike!
Wow!! Gratitude flowing BIG time for your heartfelt presence and energy in these responses, Mike! Sat Nam Fest West attendees will be so blessed by yours and Gallina’s sharing!
Crown of Eternity Schedule at Sat Nam Fest:
Crown of Eternity Bio:
Crown Of Eternity spend their lives serving people through vibration, sound and music as well as with relaxation and energy movement techniques. Through their workshops, classes, therapy sessions and concerts they have helped thousands of people connect to their life energy, to deeper relaxation and to self healing. Over the past 20+ years Mike Tamburo has become well known as a multi-instrumentalist and polymath, performing and recording ecstatic and transcendental music as well as folk, ambient and sometimes unclassifiable sounds. He is also an artist and a film maker. As he worked deeper and deeper with the sound current and his own self healing practices, he discovered the healing power of the gong and other tuned metal instruments (singing bowls, bells, sound plates) as well as the healing power of mantra and toning. In 2008 he met Gallina Tamburo, who was on her own journey of healing. Their shared love of ecstatic music, kundalini yoga, the gong, sound therapy, and sacred chanting set the foundation of their relationship, marriage and eventual musical collaboration. They currently live in Pittsburgh, PA where they both teach sound therapy and kundalini yoga and run their own yoga and vibrational healing center (also called Crown of Eternity). In addition to completing their Kundalini Teacher Training at the mother ashram in Espanola, NM and Yoga For Youth Training with Krishna Kaur they have studied with Gongmasters Don Conreaux and Sotantar and trained in the Peter Hess Method of Sound Massage using Himalayan Singing Bowls for healing.
The duo have released 3 CDs together and also run the Sounds Eternal record label that has released many of Mike’s solo recordings. Together, Mike and Gallina have developed their own style of relating to the therapeutic vibrations of the Gong, incorporating ancient wisdom and infusing it with creativity, playfulness and joy. Crown of Eternity offer a unique sonic experience that is as much grounded in tradition as it is groundbreaking. There is an expansive, blissful, ethereal and epic quality to Crown of Eternity’s music. They are truly immersed in vibration. They are touring in 2015 in support of their Gong CD: “Earth in Space” and Mantra CDs: “Vibrate the Cosmos” and “The Cosmos Shall Clear The Path” which were released in 2014 and Mike’s newest hammered dulcimer release “The Way To Be Free’ released in 2015. Whether they are bathing you in the complex harmonics of multiple gongs, ecstatic instrumentals or their cosmic renditions of sacred Kundalini Yoga mantras, Crown of Eternity delivers a heart centered experience that you will deeply appreciate and remember.