For episode 108 of the Metta Hour Podcast, Sharon sits down with her Director of Operations, Lily Cushman.
Lily Cushman is a teacher, musician, and author, and for nearly a decade, was the Owner and Director of the Brooklyn Yoga School, a lineage-based school run entirely by donation. Her work is a synthesis of the practices of Classical Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Insight Meditation and her first book “A Little Bit of Mantras: An Introduction to Sacred Sounds” was released in March 2019 from Sterling Publishing.
This episode begins with a conversation with Sharon and Lily. Subsequently, is followed by a live recording from the launch of Lily’s book at Deepak Homebase in New York, NY in the Spring of 2019. This live-recording features call and response chanting led by Lily and special guest Krishna Das, as well as an in-depth interview of Lily by The Moth’s longtime artistic director, Catherine Burns. To learn more about Lily’s teaching and music, you can visit her website at lilycushman.com.
Cooking with High Heat
Lily speaks with Sharon about her introduction to spiritual practice through yoga. She describes how being opened to the broader spectrum of yoga beyond postures by her teacher, Dharma Mitra, led to a deeper personal practice and her own path as a teacher. Sharon and Lily talk about the foundation of the Brooklyn Yoga School, whose donation only model removed the financial barrier to entry into yoga for her community.
“Having the Brooklyn Yoga School for almost ten years was really a crash course in living these teachings. I essentially lived a donation based life the whole time. It is not easy to do something like that, for anyone, but especially in New York City. A lot of that was a personal practice for me of deeply living the teachings, of staying connected to this bigger aspiration I had. To live with a certain quality of faith and confidence that support would come when it was needed.” – Lily Cushman
Call and Response (12:55)
Sharon and Lily talk about the practices of kirtan and the repetition of mantra. Lily delves into the powerful potential that mantra has to bring ourselves into balance. She talks about writing “A Little Bit of Mantras: An Introduction to Sacred Sounds”, her recently released book which explores the history and science behind mantra practice and offers instruction for different ways to practice with mantra. Lily shares a kirtan performance that was recorded at the launch of “A Little Bit of Mantras” at Deepak Homebase in New York, NY.
“I have had some big health challenges in my life. Those were moments where all of my tricks didn’t work, to get me to a place of more balance or health. The thing that really worked was mantra practice in those moments.” – Lily Cushman
Working with Sacred Sounds (36:40)
Catherine Burns joins Lily on stage for a post-kirtan conversation about “A Little Bit of Mantras”. Lily reads an excerpt from the book which leads to a broader discussion about cultivating a regular spiritual practice, working with mantra and navigating the spiritual path.
“Mantras serve as a way to steady the mind and open the heart. The literal translation of the word mantra is crossing over the mind. What does it mean to cross over the mind? What lies on the other side?” – Lily Cushman, A Little Bit of Mantras: An Introduction to Sacred Sounds
Om Namah Shivaya (1:18:35)
Krishna Das closes the show with the chanting of “Om Namah Shivaya”.