The true refuge is the heart,
Carrie Grossman (Dayashila), MA, is a devotional artist and lifelong student-practitioner of the mystical traditions.
At the age of 21, she first traveled to India where she was introduced to kirtan (call and response mantra chanting). The beauty of the practice inspired her to sing, but due to shyness and self-doubt, 10 years went by before the music within her emerged. It wasn’t until a difficult life period that she began to write songs and play the harmonium. She has since produced several albums, including Soma-Bandhu: Friend of the Moon (2010), The Ram Sessions (2016), and Pranam (2017). She is currently working on several new music projects, online courses, and meditations to be released in 2019.
For over 20 years, Carrie has immersed herself in contemplative practices and explored the connection between personal and social transformation. She began her journey as a scholar, earning degrees in Religious Studies from Brown University (BA) and Naropa University (MA), but ultimately she longed to experience the teachings directly. This desire led her to study with some of the world’s great masters and to receive further training and certification in yoga, mind-body medicine, and the healing arts. Carrie is deeply influenced by her longtime spiritual teacher Amma, and the many guides and mentors she’s had along the way. Years ago, Amma gave her the name Dayashila, which means “one whose nature is compassion”.
Also a writer, Carrie spent eight years as the Senior Editor of Common Ground magazine. She shares her love of bhakti (the yoga of love) through her heartfelt kirtans and workshops.
I am paradox embodied,
formed out of the most beautiful nothing.
My body is made of sap and songs, red earth, musk, and morning light.
My mind is a flaming windflower. My soul: the sky.
I have seen clouds in the sea.
Tossed on the potter’s wheel, I am supple and shriveled, resistant, surrendered,
forever destroyed and re-made.
I know blossoms born of burning, and I also know rain.
I am the dawn, dreaming and determined,
a young girl and quiet crone.
I am melting snow—ruby-eyed and terrified—awed by my own mystery,
I am the story of a slow burning star.
My yearning is rebellion, my pleasure unmoored.
I am the wound and the medicine, protestor and protested—bound and ever-free.
Beneath the painted masks of personality, I am consort of eternity.
Loved and rejected, respected, subjected, praised, and put down—
when all of this fades, I am what remains.
Who writes these words?
Who thinks these thoughts?
Woman of tides and bones, her full potential still unknown.
Ripening, I am.
As a child, I absolutely loved to sing. Before being drugged with a potent dose of pubescent self-consciousness, I was more than happy to serenade anyone, anywhere, with earsplitting melodies of my own creation. When adolescence arrived, however, all of this changed. Terrified of what others might think, I stuffed my voice deep down where no one could hear it. There it sat, gathering dust, until difficult life circumstances summoned it to the surface many years later.
Worn out from a prolonged, mysterious illness, I was exhausted to the core. Not knowing what to do, I learned to play the tamboura, an Indian drone instrument. For hours every evening I strummed the resonant strings and surrendered into sound. As each note rang out in space and broke me open, my grief began to flow. It was as if the rich harmonics reached deep inside my being and exhumed everything I had suppressed and rejected up until that point. Years of self-betrayal, sadness, and shame poured out of my heart, and I had no choice but to feel the pain and let it go. Soon, my tears turned into music and I sang with wild abandon for the first time since childhood. As I freed my voice, I freed so much stuck energy—and my illness began to heal.
Having spent a lot of time in India and studied with different teachers, I was familiar with the devotional practice of kirtan, but I had never explored it on my own. Without a background in music, the whole idea of singing and learning an instrument was intimidating, but I bought a used harmonium and eventually taught myself to play. Little by little, these sonic experiments morphed into music and my debut album, Soma-Bandhu, was born.
These days my passion is spending time with people—sharing stories and singing. I often wonder: Why is it hard for so many of us to genuinely love ourselves? Why do we live in separation, constantly comparing and competing? How can we find the thread of truth in our lives instead of conforming to some "norm" espoused by the media? Who are we, beneath the masks we hold up for the world? These are questions that intrigue me. I'm fascinated by the 'poverty of the heart' that so many of us experience in the modern world and I hope to explore this epidemic through my art and offerings.
FOLLOW YOUR INNER MOONLIGHT;
DON'T HIDE THE MADNESS.
Vaclav Havel once said, "The salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart." These words reflect my deepest belief that peace begins within. In today's turbulent world, we are facing a spiritual disconnection that is both subtle and pervasive. While our intellects may be sharp and strong, our hearts are withering in the harsh glare of our smartphones. Many of us no longer have a sense of belonging in the natural world, and our existence grows more fragmented with each passing day.
It's no mystery that we're at a critical tipping point. The pain of our collective grief, fear, and rage is coming to the surface in the face of environmental destruction, racial inequality, corruption, greed, and so much more. Surely we are missing something as we numb our discontent with an arsenal of techno gadgets. It's as if there is an ambient angst that so many of us feel, exhausted by the fast pace of modern life with its endless distractions and tensions. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed by it and find myself falling into anger and despair. It's at these moments that I call on the wisdom traditions for insight and support.
No matter the path, spiritual teachings point us towards our fullest human potential, even when it seems completely out of reach. Perhaps this is why stories of great saints, sages, artists, and social reformers have endured through millennia: they are beacons of light, reminding us that positive qualities like love, creativity, and generosity are possible. Indeed, these qualities can shift the very structures of our society.
While on the surface meditation, chanting, and prayer can seem self-indulgent and unproductive, in my experience practices like these don't exist in a vacuum—they are the tools that help us see the sacred in everything so that we can take inspired action. The truth is that none of us is powerless. We all have the inner resources, courage, and power to transform this world by transforming ourselves. Inside and outside—mind and world—are one.
I've been incredibly fortunate to study with and sit at the feet of so many remarkable teachers. How can words express the depths of my gratitude? In truth, the entire cosmos has conspired to support my gradual blossoming and there’s nothing in existence that hasn’t contributed to my growth. The earth has held and nourished me. The wind has carried my prayers. The sun, moon, and stars have lit up my life. And the presence of countless saints, sages, mystics, musicians, poets, renegades, healers, and visionaries has set my heart on fire with love.
All I can do is say thank you to every single thing that’s ever blessed my life.
Thank you to the spiritual masters who have moved me beyond measure and to the creative geniuses who rock my world with your nonconformist ways. Thank you to the Buddha for your truth-soaked dharma, and to Ramana Maharshi for guiding me home. Thank you to my body for always being present and to the ancient rhythms that beat my holy heart. Thank you to air and rain and soil and sky and strong hands that work in gardens and with clay. Thank you to all women who embody the wise, warm, flowering, fierce feminine, and to all the men who love them.
Thank you to healing plants and honeybees, to car mechanics, candlemakers, comics, shamans, scribes, and symphonic birds. Thank you to my bona fide bodhisattva parents, and to all of the ancestors who toiled so that I could sing. Thank you to weathered books, midnight blossoms, mountain salt, and mixing boards. Thank you to my human wounds for unveiling hidden gifts, and to sorrow for speaking the secret language of surrender. Thank you to Rumi and Neruda for your nectarous words, and to Amma for shining the bright beauty of the Self through your form.
Thank you to rose-drenched skies, to loving eyes, and to the rich, red wine of life; you are—and have always been—my ever-present, ever-perfect guru.
May this website and whatever I do be of some small benefit to others.
WHEN IT'S OVER, I WANT TO SAY:
ALL MY LIFE
I WAS A BRIDE MARRIED TO AMAZEMENT.