Archive - 2014

1
Welcoming winter!
2
Super Food Cards debut! (+ giveaway)
3
Moms keep up the fight against climate change and for clean air
4
Return to Great Falls Park
5
Fall wellness recap!
6
Waldorf schools host magical fall events
7
Freedom for Family Wellness Summit returns to Reston this weekend
8
Paleo Parents release third book: Real Life Paleo (+ giveaway!)
9
Take Back Your Health Conference returns to Arlington in November
10
Kirtan performer Jai Uttal brings family-friendly experience to Arlington

Welcoming winter!

The winter solstice is coming on Sunday, December 21, and there are lots of great opportunities for reflection. So many that we haven’t even had a chance to put them all in our calendar yet!

So here’s a quick compilation of solstice and winter events. Be sure to follow the links for information on prices and registration. Most of these events are not free.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Yoga Nidra: Relax and Renew at lil omm yoga in NW DC, 6:15-7:45 p.m.

Winter Solstice Hike at Long Branch Nature Center in Arlington, VA, 3:00-4:15 p.m.

Winter Solstice Shakti Flow with Jeneen Piccuro at Local Motion Studio in Alexandria, VA, 1:00-3:00 p.m. Note – this class has been canceled. Look for it to run in January!

Winter Solstice Celebration (ages 3 and up) at Locust Grove Nature Center, Bethesda, MD, 4-6 p.m.

Winter Solstice Celebration at Brookside Nature Center in Silver Spring, MD, 1:00-5:00 p.m.

Winter Solstice Yoga class for donations to ASPAN, Sun & Moon Yoga, Arlington, VA, 4:00-5:30 p.m.

Note that the Fairfax County Solstice Event for Sunday was canceled due to low numbers, but there will be some discussion of the solstice at the Friday, December 19 Wintertime Warmth Campfire at 7:00 p.m. 

 

Other ways to welcome winter:

Lay out greens for an Advent Garden, a magical spiral that children at Waldorf schools annually walk in silence toward a candle.

Host a Solstice Party of your own. You could do crafts related to dark and light, make special snacks, sing songs about cold or about sun, do things by candlelight.

Read books like Winter, Awake!, The Winter Solstice, and  Return of the Light: Twelve Tales from Around the World for the Winter Solstice, or make up stories in the wordless Gerda Muller Winter board book.

December 28: Warm Up to Winter Dance Party,  lil omm yoga, 6:30-7:45 p.m.

December 31: Family New Years Eve party at  lil omm yoga, 4:00-5:00 p.m. for ages 0-3, 5:30-7:00 p.m. for ages 3 and up.

And of course, for more winter fun beyond the solstice, consult all the other great websites that feature lists of children’s activities around the DC area. Scroll to the bottom of our Around DC page for all the ones we know about.

Be sure to tell us anything we’ve missed! Add an item to the calendar, email us at jessica (at) mindfulhealthylife (dot) com, Tweet to us @MindfulHealthy or comment on our Facebook page.

Super Food Cards debut! (+ giveaway)

Long before launching the new Nourish Schools Super Food Cards this past October, Katherine Sumner has been an inspiration on the Real Food front. While a parent at George Mason Elementary School in Alexandria, she organized Farm to School events that inspire me today, now that I have two kids in elementary school. We met seven ago during a cooking class after which Katherine went on to complete her holistic health coach training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) in New York and then to co-found Nourish Schools.

Katherine and Nourish Schools co-founder Casey Seidenberg (whose great nutrition articles you’ve probably seen in the Washington Post’s Local Living section) are both moms. Katherine has two boys who have adjusted well to life in Colorado, and Casey has remained local with her two sons and daughter. After a few years of helping schools assess and improve their health/wellness scorecards, the two decided that the time had come for them to create the product their clients needed to help them be successful at implementing wellness protocols.

Katherine Sumner Casey Seidenberg

Katherine said, “Over the years when I would do either cooking classes or we’d do talks, we just kept hearing people say there was so much information out there. The people we were working with, this was so new to them; they hadn’t heard about soaking grains. They just felt overwhelmed. So we started putting together these cheat sheets, and one of our clients said to us ‘you need to get these out there.’ We realized there was a need for a resource that was both user-friendly and sustainable.”

And thus were born Super Food Cards.

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For this first set of cards, Katherine and Casey decided to focus on basic categories of nutrition – Greens, Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts & Seeds, Beans, Whole Grains, Protein, and Stocks (broths) – and to keep the product to a card with a front and back. The cards are geared toward wide audiences; they can be used by people new to nutrition and as cheat sheets for those who already soak their grains and beans.

The cards are folded so that they have four sides, each 7.5 x 10″. Each card includes how-to (prepare, store, etc). information as well as explanation of why you’d want to eat each food and quick tips for integrating them into your diet. On the back of the Greens chart, for example is a chart describing which stems to eat (or not), which are good in a smoothie, and which to eat raw. Read More

Moms keep up the fight against climate change and for clean air

Climate change has been all over the news in recent months, and moms are leading the charge. This summer, Moms Clean Air Force, the country’s largest group of moms working on climate change with over 400,000 members, organized a play-in on the Capitol in early July and later that month brought the same energy to a rally supporting the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.

Recently, the Keystone XL Pipeline failed in the US Senate. This is good news, says MCAF. If passed, the Keystone XL Pipeline would have dramatically increased production of Canadian tar sands oil, one of the dirtiest fuels on the planet. MCAF argues that approval of the pipeline would have endangered our country, our children’s health, and the lives of many, all while worsening our dependance on fossil fuels and accelerating climate change. The issue is now to be decided by the Obama administration.

But the fight continues. On Monday, December 1, Moms Clean Air Force staff and volunteers, including local mom Jessica Huntdelivered 175,000 comments to the EPA to ask for the strongest possible regulations on carbon pollution under the Clean Power Plan. Right now, there are no limits on the amount of carbon that can be released from coal fired plants. Our children’s health is depending on us to protect them from carbon emissions that pollute the air they breathe and lead to our warming planet.

MCAF Dec. 1 EPA

But the Clean Power Plan is under attack in most every state legislature next year with model legislation designed to kill or gut the carbon rules. MCAF is calling on its members to join the group in demanding that states work to protect our children and communities from toxic air pollution and climate change.

An easy way to learn about local events and actions on climate change and clean air is to request to join the Facebook group for Moms Clean Air Force DC, the Facebook group for the Maryland MCAF chapter, and the Facebook group for the Virginia MCAF chapter.

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Return to Great Falls Park

Great Falls Park seemed like the perfect excursion on a sunny day during a long holiday weekend when we’d all eaten too much and not gotten outside nearly enough. Each pairing in our family of four needed to be broken up every 20 minutes. I hoped watching the water tumble over rocks would be good for all of our souls.

It was. The trip even garnered my son’s “favorite part of Thanksgiving” when asked today by the dentist. But that doesn’t mean it was perfect. My daughter, aged four, is not one to go long without whining these days. She’ll turn it off on an instant if we find the right antidote: a race, a “look over there,” and sometimes things I don’t care to share! She’s spunky and opinionated, and not accustomed to the kind of long hikes I thought I might take my kids on all the time if I hadn’t had so many postpartum (and lingering) health issues. Fortunately, her older brother has more stamina than he did when I read and wrote about the memoir Up: A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure, but I still marvel to think about how long Patricia Ellis Herr’s 3- and 5-year-old hiked with her. And how often!

Unlike those treks to peaks in New Hampshire, our short excursion in Northern Virginia was alternately beautiful and blissful and incredibly annoying. Mostly due to the finicky nature of my four-year-old. The path was fun until her brother outpaced her and me.

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The reflection of a tree north of the falls was pretty cool until she complained she was hungry (which will happen if a child doesn’t eat her lunch and her parents don’t give in to piling her with snacks instead as they might on weaker days).

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The view of the kayakers was impressive and garnered lots of commentary, but once we left the overlook, it was all downhill, so to speak.

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I thought we might last more than 90 minutes and actually get a little ways down the River Trail. I recalled her brother scrambling over rocks at not quite her age and enjoying it. But alas, she had to pee. And we didn’t learn until later that further into the park, just before entering the woods, was a building with a flush toilet. Read More

Fall wellness recap!

This fall I’ve had the opportunity to attend several events at which I’ve learned great information on health and wellness that I’m using at home and at my children’s school. My reaction to these learning opportunities tends to be first elation, then the heavy weight of responsibility, thinking about all the things I need to research and do for my health and my family’s health, and then the desire to write about what I’ve learned, both to process it for myself and to get up here on the site.

And yet, what most of those events have had as their fundamental lesson is the importance of reducing stress! And the importance of cultivating an atmosphere of gratitude. So rather than bemoan the fact that I haven’t yet done in-depth reporting on all of these events, I’m going to shift my perspective to consider it a gift that I got to go to them and that I can share them with you in this fall recap.

Okay, I’ve rolled up my sleeves so here we go!

The fall health and wellness season launched for me at the end of the summer, when I gathered five other panelists to address the topic of “Supporting Children’s Emotional Health” with me at Holistic Moms Arlington/Alexandria’s August meeting.

Holistic Moms Arlington Alexandria Children's Emotional Health panelWe talked about positive parenting, calming ourselves and modeling healthy coping strategies for our children, food as trigger or healer, energy healing modalities (Reiki, Accunect and hypnotherapy) and bodywork (craniosacral therapy, chiropractic and massage), spiritual coaching, and more. We then did a daytime meeting repeat in October, at which got another demo of Accunect, read the children’s book Anh’s Anger and talked more about our challenges and shared strategies.

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Waldorf schools host magical fall events

There may be a lot of fall festivals and holiday bazaars, but there’s nothing quite like an event at a Waldorf school. Even the classrooms — with their soothing pastel colors, soft light and natural materials — make you feel like you just curled up with a candle and a cozy blanket.

But then there are the activities that fill those homey rooms. Potomac Crescent Waldorf School in Arlington recently held its Fall Festival, the last at its home near Crystal City before the school begins a 10-year lease at Fairlington Presbyterian in Alexandria in 2015. Despite the chilly weather, there were plenty of children enjoying the marble run and other outdoor fun, including a visit with a blacksmith. Inside children enjoyed crafts with wool, leaves and silk.

Potomac Crescent Waldorf School Fall Festival 2014 marble run

And oh, the puppet shows. Waldorf schools may be the one place where art is so sacred that no one is going to snap a photo during a marionette show or a puppet play. It’s like against a silent code that you’re only allowed to pay attention to what is in front of you and to hold it in your head — not on a screen — for eternity. So I have n o image, but trust me, these performances are truly magical – slow, patient, pentatonic, and dreamy. If you’ve ever doubted the ability of children to sit still if something is not blinking and buzzing at them, see one of these shows for yourself and become a believer.

This Saturday you’ll have the chance at the Washington Waldorf School annual Fall Bazaar, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.. Celebrating 45 years of educating children in pre-K through high school, the Bethesda-based school puts on an amazing event with a wide variety of crafts and activities for children as well as vendors and artisans. Click here for a full listing of the offerings, which include a children’s shop where little ones can purchase treasures for others using tickets.
Washington Waldorf School Childrens ShopTickets for activities ($1 each, activities vary in number of tickets) are available at three locations throughout the school in addition to at the main entrance. However, tickets for the puppet plays are only available outside on a first-come, first-served basis.  “The Magic Gourd” is geared toward children ages 4-8 and will be performed in the library at 10:30 and 11:15 a.m. “Mouth Finds His Winter Home” is for children aged 2-3 and will be performed at 12:00 and 12:45 p.m. Tickets sell out, so be sure to arrive early to get yours.

Click here for a map of the day’s activities. The school even has a newsletter with reflections by bazaar contributors and organizersNew this year this year is a woodworking room and the making of thumb pianos with the help of NeighborWood‘s Bill Merkel.

Also debuting is a vendor preview night on Friday, 7:00-9:00 p.m. so you can shop without children in tow! The array of artisans is always impressive and includes Washington Waldorf School beeswax candlesvendors selling beeswax candles, ornaments, textiles, jewelry, wooden toys and art, and much more. You could really spend all day there and never take your child to a single activity. So instead, go Friday night! Tickets are limited and cost $10.

On Saturday, refreshments will be available in the Snack Shop 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the Bistro Café and Patisserie 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be coffee in the auditorium for the whole 10-3 event.

The school even produced a video to showcase the event and let you know what to expect. Enjoy!

Washington Waldorf school photos courtesy of the school.

Freedom for Family Wellness Summit returns to Reston this weekend

When the Freedom for Family Wellness Summit came to town in 2010, it was an impressive gathering, to say the least! For anyone interested in health and wellness, and especially the connection between healthy birth and future health or between a sound physical structure and optimal energetic wellness, this conference is not to be missed. The event is the third of its kind organized by the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA), which runs 150 seminars a year for 4000 members and publishes the Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, reaching an audience of some 35,000.

I attended the 2010 summit with my two-month-old daughter, who had been born at home (a home VBAC, or HBAC) four years after her brother had been born via c-section. I had my mind blown by the summit speakers, and while I was staffing the Holistic Moms Network table, I got to talk with midwife extraordinaire Ina May Gaskin, who was at the table next to us with Safe Motherhood Quilt project and who also got her first chiropractic adjustment at the event!

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The HMN table was also right behind the table of Dr. Jennifer Mercier whose knowledge about women’s pelvic pain helped me to understand that it was my c-section scar that was causing me discomfort since my daughter’s vaginal birth.

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I’m excited to go back this year to the large gathering for lots of reasons (including to watch Dr. Jennifer’s new movie about fertility, which I hear she will be screening at her exhibit hall booth), and I hope to to cover at least a slice of what I learn this weekend to share here.

But with more than 30 speakers and 50 exhibitors, the possibilities are endless. If you’re into family wellness, this is a stellar conference to attend! There’s no telling when or if an event of this magnitude will return. Ina May is coming back this year and is joined by numerous other speakers including Business of Baby author Jennifer Margulis, Karen Brody, author of Birth the play and founder of the BOLD method, and Jeffrey Smith of the Institute for Responsible Technology and Genetic Roulette.

I had a chance to speak with ICPA Executive Director Dr. Jeanne Ohm who referenced the event’s subtitle: “Celebrating the Shift to Conscious Choice.” She said she senses a powerful shift of people wanting to reclaim their right to informed choice, and she hopes the event will empower parents and practitioners to believe that we have the right to make informed choices for our children.

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A chiropractor, Dr. Ohm says the event promotes respect: “Whatever you want is what’s best for you and your family,” she says. When parents approach her unsure what to do about a medical decision, she tells them that a state of fear is not the place from which a parent should make any choice. She recommends you ask yourself what resonates with your highest core value.”IMG_0058

And she also recommends having a respect and trust for the intelligence of life. She’s written about the paradigm called “vitalism,” which she wants to describe now simply as “life is intelligent.” She referenced a saying of Einstein’s that the most important decision we’re going to make is whether we live in a hostile universe or a friendly one. “It’s a friendly universe when you trust that the universe knows what it’s doing,” Dr. Ohm says. “If you think your body doesn’t know what it’s doing, you live in fear. When you believe it’s friendly, you can let go and enjoy life a little more.”

The purpose of the event is to bring together groups of people who are all saying the same thing but from different perspectives, that of holistic practitioners, psychologists, parents, educators, and more. “In chiropractic,” Dr. Ohm says, “we call it the above down inside out lifestyle. There is intelligence inherent in all of us. So respect the child and let her educate herself, respect the body in birth instead of trying to regulate and control it, respect the body that it will do the right thing rather than subject it to unnecessary intervention.”

What this weekend is about, she says, is that there is a sense of order and intelligence in life, and how can we respond accordingly in our personal choices. See registration information here.

See this full roster of speakers and the complete schedule of the event that opens Thursday, November 13 and runs through Sunday, November 16 at the Hyatt Regency Reston. In addition to these presentations will be a packed exhibit hall with practitioners, businesses, organizations and authors. See this list of sponsors and exhibitors.

Exhibitors include the following:

Also exhibiting are One More Page Books and authors: Maria Gavriel, Tara Gesling, Kathleen DiChiara and Nydia Kastra.

Photo credits (except Dr. Mercier demonstrating pelvic self-assessment): Christine Zichittella-Heeren. 

Disclosure: I’ve been offered a complimentary press pass to attend this event.

Paleo Parents release third book: Real Life Paleo (+ giveaway!)

Different diets work for different people, but there is certainly a growing interest in grain-free eating these days, especially for issues related to inflammation and autoimmune conditions. I remember thinking that a cookbook for gluten-free kids sounded like a great idea when I first saw something about Eat Like a Dinosaur shortly after it was released in 2012. Since then, authors Stacy Toth and Matt McCarry, the Northern Virginia-based couple behind PaleoParents.com, have become rock stars in the health and wellness community and the Paleo world. Their personal story of transformation is incredibly inspiring.

After I ran into Stacy and her family a local farm event on a recent weekend, I decided it was high time I gave away the copies of Eat Like a Dinosaur and Beyond Bacon.

Eat Like a Dinosaur is a cheery delight with a story about kids who feel better when they change their diet, family-friendly recipes, and everything you need to get started on a life without gluten.

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Beyond Bacon shows just how much diversity there is to be found in cooking with pastured pigs. The photography is beautiful, and in addition to the amazing recipes, it really lays out a vision for sustainable farming and eating.

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I am humbled to note that in the time it has taken me to execute on this Mindful Healthy Life concept I had when Beyond Bacon was released in the summer of 2013, Stacy — a mom of three with a full-time job — has done a bunch of speaking (including to the Arlington/Alexandria Holistic Moms chapter in December 2013) and won the title of NOVA’s Strongest Woman, and she and her husband Matt McCarry have penned a third book, Real Life Paleo.

rlp-book-finalI can’t wait to get my hands on Real Life Paleo on Sunday at the Take Back Your Health Conference and will do a giveaway on the new book at some point down the line, probably with a recap of the conference talk. But for now, I wouldn’t want to stop you from ordering your own copy or buying one in person! Every writer knows how important early sales are. So the winner of the giveaway can get started with the first two Paleo Parents books, Eat Like a Dinosaur and Beyond Bacon.

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Meet Stacy this weekend at the TBYH conference. Sunday morning, November 2, Dr. Sarah Ballantyne of ThePaleoMom.com (author of The Paleo Approach) speaks at 9:00 about using diet to manage immune and autoimmune diseases, Stacy Toth speaks at 11:00 about a three-phased approach to going Paleo, and there’s a panel at 12 noon with both women and two doctors (click here for the full schedule).

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If that’s not enough for you, check out the Real Life Paleo book release event on November 4 at the Barnes & Noble in Bethesda. We have to be out of town and would love to hear how the Election Day event goes!

Stacy and Matt write in their newsletter of the November 4 event that they will be signing books and giving out door prize packs valued at over $300 each featuring some of their favorite vendors: Pure Indian GheePaleo TreatsExo Protein Bars, and treats made by Out of the Box Bakery from the book. Let them know you’re coming by RSVPing to Eventbrite at bit.ly/RLPreleaseparty or to via Meetup at the Paleo Parents & Friends group. More info on the whole U.S. book tour for Real Life Paleo is at http://TVPBookTour.bit.ly/

Also through the Paleo Friends Meetup group is Stacy and Matt’s annual costumed no-candy Halloween party on November 1, which this year features Sarah Ballantyne as special guest at the Toth/McCarry Northern Virginia home. If you are not nearly-concurrently on a soccer field, at a birthday party or at a housewarming like me on Saturday, get yourself into the group to RSVP for this not-to-be-missed event.

We’ll run this giveaway of the Paleo Parents’ first two books for a full week, concluding on Friday, November 8.

 

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Take Back Your Health Conference returns to Arlington in November

The local conference phenomenon known as Take Back Your Health is coming back to Arlington on November 1 and 2 before it makes its Los Angeles debut next April. Conference founder and NoVA native Robin Shirley has followed her dream of moving out to Santa Monica but is keeping a foot firmly in the DC health & wellness community.

When I first interviewed Robin back in 2011, I was pretty amazed at how much she’d accomplished at such a young age, just 23 at the time. Creating a widely successful conference just a few years after leaving college to reclaim her own health from Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and chronic Lyme disease — and way younger than I did anything noteworthy — seemed pretty impressive.

And all the conferences have been great. I’ve attended each of the TBYH events and have learned, roughly, a ton. Most I’ve attended on my own, but in April 2012, the hotel was a weekend escape for me and my kids from home renovations. My son got his Ayurvedic pulses read (and my kids got their photo taken – scroll down here for the blue eyes and redheaded mullet of my youngest). My whole family then somehow managed to spend three hours at the TBYH holiday market last December (thank you, iSchool for the Future and Kreative Kids for the crafts!)

The speakers Robin has brought through over the years have been pretty amazing, including Dr. John Douillard of LifeSpa on Ayurveda, Sally Fallon Morrell of the Weston A. Price Foundation on traditional diets, Lisa Wilson from the Raw Food Institute on juicing and Ann Marie Michaels from Village Green Network (and formerly of Cheeseslave blog) on healing from food allergies.

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This November, the tradition continues. For parents in particular, the talks may be life-changing. Dr. Teresa Fuller, a pediatrician who joined the staff of National Integrated Health Associates earlier this year, will be speaking on the topic of “Raising a Brain-Healthy Child” on Saturday morning at 10:00.

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Then, on Sunday morning, two huge names in family-friendly Paleo eating take the stage. Fairfax-based food star Stacy Toth of PaleoParents.com and the Northern Virginia Paleo Parents & Friends Meetup group will talk about “Paleo for Real Life: an Easy 3 Phased Approach for a Lifetime of Health” at 11:00 a.m.  (based on The Paleo Parents’ new book Real Life Paleo) and her podcast partner Dr. Sarah Ballantyne of PaleoMom.com and author of The Paleo Approach will address “The Paleo Approach: Using Diet to Manage Immune & Autoimmune Diseases.”

 

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Click here for the full schedule and topic titles. Children 17 and under may attend for free with a parent, but there is no special space or childcare, so parents are asked to keep them seated and quiet. If they need to move, the exhibit hall should provide a welcome distraction. Tickets are available for the weekend and for each day individually.

I’m running a giveaway for one free conference registration, closing at 12 noon on Wednesday, October 29. To get more entries, sign up for the Mindful Healthy Life email list (for blog posts delivered to your in box and a quarterly seasonal newsletter), like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. You can also gain entries by following TBYH on social media and commenting below.

And for anyone who doesn’t win the giveaway, Mindful Healthy Life readers can use the discount code “mindfulhealthy” for 20% off the conference registration through October 31.

Edited to add our referral code for those who want to attend future editions of Take Back Your Health. Please use http://www.profcs.com/app/?af=1636700 to register, and a portion of your ticket sale will come back to Mindful Healthy Life. Thank you for your support!
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Kirtan performer Jai Uttal brings family-friendly experience to Arlington

To hear Takoma Park mom and strategic consultant Grace Ogden talk about attending a kirtan with Jai Uttal, one gets the impression that not taking your child would be like shielding her from a rainbow.

A kirtan is a participatory music event that can simultaneously calm and energize the spirit.  The experience of chanting, usually in Sanskrit, is aimed to be a healing one, helping participants connect to their heart and more generally to a shared vibration and bigger sense of spirit. A father himself, Jai has a joyful spirit, Grace says, that creates an inclusive and loving vibe for the musical chant-dance experience.

On Thursday, October 23, Grace’s event-planning firm, Grace Productions, is partnering with BuddhaFest to bring Jai Uttal and mantra performer Gaura Vani to the Spectrum Theatre at Artisphere in Rosslyn, Arlington. The event runs from 7:00 to 9:30 p.m.

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Grace says that a kirtan typically becomes more energetic toward the end, like most any concert, but that it’s completely normal for people to leave when they need to. She’s seen children come to kirtans in pajamas if they have a long drive home. Children under age five get in free. Tickets for children ages six to seventeen are $10, and adult tickets are $30, but Grace emphasizes that the event welcomes everyone and that no one will be turned away.
Kidkirtan1Grace has brought Jai to DC twice before, once for an evening performance suitable for all ages and in November 2013 for two events, including a Kids Kirtan geared to young children. Jai includes children’s voices in his Kirtan Kids CD, and DC-area parents wanted a child-focused event that would include the funny stories about Hanuman. Stories about the mischievous monkey help children connect with their understanding of themselves.

headlineWhen Jai performs for a mixed-age crowd, he begins the show by inviting children to come to the front where they can dance, usually layering themselves naturally with little children closest to the stage and the taller ones in back.

For those who have never attended a kirtan, Grace says not to worry if you’re not familiar with Hindu traditions or Sanskrit words. The music, she says, “lights up the heart, connects us universal qualities that are present in all of life. It’s just like singing about the sun or the moon or a radiant flower.” The chants evoke feelings of “joy, beauty, safety, love, healing, forgiveness, and inspiration,” Grace says, adding that Jai has a “natural awareness of and connection to children’s energy.” Being so loving and respectful of children and approaching his work with such joy helps children feel at ease participating in the experience, which is not a quiet one. In fact, it’s loud and interactive, Grace emphasizes. Jai studied in India and was led on a spiritual path that includes concerts and retreats, but he also is a Grammy-nominated artist with a varied background in jazz and many forms of world music.

At the kids’ kirtan, Grace’s daughter, Julia, aged 11,  hung back as one of the older children in the crowd. But at the all-ages evening event like the one happening Thursday, Julia “danced her sweet self into a state of bliss.” It was exciting for a child to see talented musicians so happy to play to her, just six or eight feet away in a very immediate experience unlike most concerts. Julia was “seen and touched in her heart and inspired” to be invited into participation, Grace says, adding of watching all children at a Jai kirtan: “I love that they are awakened into the light of music.”

Grace says that Jai’s performances inspire joy. “It’s hard to just get joy straight off” in the midst of our complicated and stressful lives, she says, so Thursday’s kirtan is just the ticket if you’re looking to be in a space of joy with your children.

The kirtan is part of a larger bhakti tradition that aims to create “a dynamic flow of energy from the heart chakra,” according to The Expanding Light.

Click here to purchase tickets to Thursday’s event.

To see a video of last year’s Kids Kirtan in Silver Spring, see the Willow Street Yoga Facebook page.

Photo credit: Christine Alicino

Disclosure: I was offered free admission for my family to attend this event.

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