Barbara Brewster talks to Prem and Jethro of Sacred Earth about how they’re making a difference in the world through dedicating their lives to conscious communication, immersion in nature and music.
Queenslanders, Prem and Jethro Williams, are the creators of the exquisite music of Sacred Earth. Having sold over a quarter of a million albums, their sublime music and inspirational way of life is touching and changing lives across the world.
As I park in the driveway of the Eumundi Queenslander, a 4WD pulls up behind me. Sacred Earth, all five of them – Jethro, Prem, 17 year old Minjahra, nearly three year old Jai, and 7 month old baby, Jasi–bundle themselves from the car. They’d had a quick run to the beach for “a much needed respite in nature.” This is the first indication of their total commitment to being conscious of, and honouring, whatever the heart whispers.
BB: How did it all start? How did you meet?
Prem: We met 14 years ago at party at Crystal Waters Permaculture Village. It was a very strong heart connection. Immediately we both felt very happy, alive, inspired –turned on to life. The music was the glue, a medium for us to communicate on a much deeper level, and so comfortable that we could explore, talk, sing, dance and laugh without any inhibitions.
Jethro: There was a soul recognition…A comfortableness. Then there was a sense of this seems a bit too comfortable, how is it possible? However, rather than questioning what the Universe was putting in front of us, we dived in and said ‘yes’ because it felt like a great big YES.
BB: Was there a specific point when you realised that you were going to be creating and presenting music together?
Prem: We hosted music nights where friends and family came and we all played music together–for no ‘outcome’; just for the pure joy of it. In a few months we started performing together. Actually, at one point we decided to give up music. We saw that the life of musicians within Australia wasn’t supportive of our life of family because, basically, the only venues we could play in back then were pubs, bars, clubs and markets.
Jethro: We said “no, we won’t be musicians. We’ll be yoga teachers”. We didn’t realise that by going more in depth with mantras, yoga, and retreats the two would come together and our yoga would be our music.
The evolution of our musical journey was as natural as breathing. It deepened as we deepened; through our spiritual practice, studying to be yoga teachers, following the path of Bhakti yoga. Sacred Earth became our sharing of yoga – sharing our devotion and love of God through our music.
BB: Tell us about your practices and what it takes to adhere to them.
Jethro: Our personal practices include qi gong, meditation, observance of silence, prayer, talking stick, mantra singing and yoga asanas, immersion in nature and honest, harmonious communication. These practices cultivate connection to our inner selves, to each other and to our need to open, energise, move or still the body or mind, and enable us, despite our many demands, to maintain a connection to our inner selves.
BB: You recognised the healing power of mantra for you. How did you come to be sharing it with the world?
Jethro: I remember going to my first kirtan at 21. For weeks afterward I felt somehow changed through chanting the mantras and I wanted more of it. I remember that moment, walking around noticing; I feel amazing and it’s because I did that singing. How did that work? In 2002, we started playing our music in markets, sharing mantra, singing to people who had never heard mantra before. It was a huge journey in trust. We did it, and we had the most unbelievable experiences. The results were profound.
People would come with tears in their eyes and say, “I have no idea what you’re singing, but I want to take it home with me.” Or people would meditate spontaneously or be with us in this really deep space. To watch the effect of mantra on people has been wonderful. Our fans use our music in their lives to help them sleep, to calm nervous energy, in challenging times, in joyful times, for birth and death, for yoga, and massage… It’s more than music. It’s a healing – transformative – presence.
BB: Do you have a story about anyone who might seem to be an unlikely person to show up and receive?
Jethro:Yes, many. Going to markets was always like a social experiment. The people who you would think looked really hippy and cool would walk by and not even notice, and then a big tattooed bikey would approach us with an enormous beard, and tears streaming down his face, barely able to speak because he’s been so moved by the music. These experiences have always blown us away.
BB: How does your music come to you?
Prem: Our music is a gift from God. The songs arrive as though they are floating on the wind and land in my heart. Often we’re creating musical interpretations of ancient yogi prayers. Also, some songs are our interpretations of Australian indigenous stories shared by a dear friend and Gubbi Gubbi elder, Aunty Minnie Mace. I listen to my heart, to the songs that are stirring in there, and express through tones of what I call my own ‘heart language,’which I believe we all have. This language of my heart is singing the feelings of the moment, or the land, Spirit calling, the songs of the trees, rivers, oceans, mountains and rocks. The mantras also must stir my heart for the connection to be made and for the song to therefore be relevant to opening the heart.
BB: Can you share some things you do that can help the rest of us remember how to access the heart’s calling?
Prem: Yes. Qi gung, yoga, meditation, grounding in nature. I love to run in the forest. Jethro loves surfing. At the same time, because we have a baby to feed and a 2 year old using our downward dog as a bridge our practice has to be very fluid, with no attachment to how it has to look. It’s about being in the practice amongst life.
BB: Tell us more about how what you share through music is grounded in how you live your private lives.
Prem: We’re able to connect with, receive, create and serve our music because our life is focused on always coming back to the inner space and how we’re faring on the inside. It’s making sure every day we’re doing some sort of practice, something that is honouring the inner self, and nurturing our being in some way. It’s listening to everyone’s need in the family. It’s being kind to each other. It’s being willing to have the courage to say YES to follow the heart, and listening to and trusting the NO when it comes.
Jethro: There’s also a certain maturity. Four years ago we returned from touring Europe, very keen to go back. But we realised we needed to consolidate what we were doing in our home country. We stepped back and said “this doesn’t serve our family right now. We have a daughter in high school who needs us and we really haven’t created a concrete connection here in Australia”. So we’ve moved into that process, developed a rhythm, a connection, and we’ve worked out how it flows for us, and we’ve come to that place of maturity. No and yes is all just connecting with what’s right. It’s knowing how to pause and to make contact with your own knowing. This is the basis of our music –to help bring people into contact with their inner space and then make contact with that knowing–which we all have if we choose to go there.
Prem Yes, it is the basis of our life and life work… really listening, honouring the heart’s calling. Every day.
BB: How are you, Prem and Jethro, making a difference?
Prem: We are making a difference by choosing to live as a conscious family and share the music of Sacred Earth from this place.For us there is no separation between family life and our spiritual life. Sharing patient, loving kindness with each other and our children is our spiritual practice. We strive to flow together with connection, peace and harmony.
Our yoga practice is done on the deck in the early morning sun while the children play around us and sometimes under or on top of us. Our asanas become part of their play. By being included in this morning practice our children are learning to be in their own gentle focus and flow each day. It is sacred time when we model self-love and self-inquiry. It becomes their daily rhythm. Our 17 year old now wakes at dawn and journeys through her own self-loving practice of yoga, surfing, running and green smoothies.
Another way we make a difference, both in family and in the larger community, is by practising acceptance for what is happening right now and going with the flow. We may make pancakes in the middle of our asana flow or help a little one with the potty. We’ve learnt that when we embrace the present moment life becomes fluid, nonresistant and full of joy.
BB: Tell us about your new album.
Prem: We’ve called our new album “kuTumba”- Nepalese for family. It represents the life we are currently walking. It sings of the joy, love and depth of our hearts as we walk fully immersed in love with each other and our family life. And it’s very exciting, because I haven’t sung on an album for three years now. I was busy creating children. Jethro and I recorded Breathing Space together but I didn’t sing on that album.
BB: Having children you needed to rest your voice?
Prem: No, I needed to put my creative energy into growing my babies. I was not prepared to go into the studio during this precious time because recording is a whole other birthing. In fact, the music wasn’t actually there. You asked earlier do the songs ever not come. They didn’t really come in that time.
BB: Surely you were singing to the babies in your womb.
Prem: Singing all the time. I sang the Gayatri mantra to each one just as they took their very first breath.Songs come to me from spirit. In the time I had my babies in my belly songs weren’t coming. Once the babies were born the songs started coming again; not immediately, but after several months.
BB: What I’m hearing is that you make a difference as a couple, raising children, during a retreat, in the community, and via your music because your practice is not separate from, but IS your daily life.
Jethro: We are constantly asking each other to grow. That‘s the blessing of consciously relating – focusing on growing through and accepting all the changes in ourselves, with children, evolving our work, while holding to that fundamental focus of consistently coming to a space of clarity and harmony. How is all this contributing to making a difference? We are living and breathing love, commitment, respect, and this is what our audiences connect with when they hear our music. Love, Love, Love. It helps us all to remember who we truly are. We are constantly receiving feedback that our music has touched people’s lives and given them deep peace. It offers a peaceful resting place; an opportunity for people to breathe deeply, to connect with the quiet, still place that is our innate nature.
Prem: As we walk together as family and a married couple, we’re displaying to people that it’s actually possible to have a really, really, beautiful married family life. That it can be as rich and as beautiful as you want it to be. It’s just how much energy you want to put into that, to making it beautiful. Then, through our music, our intention is to touch the heart of the listener in the deepest place – and remind them that they are a manifestation of the divine …love, peace and stillness.
BB: Driving home from the interview, I notice that I’m calm! – after weeks of fracturedness. These two live so totally aligned in their truth that, by simply chatting with me, I’m changed.
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