Bliss Encounter: Deva Premal and Miten by Vanessa Finnigan
“Be a light unto yourself, be a light unto yourself….inescapable love….”
These were some of the empowering words from Miten’s most recent album “Inescapable Love” running through my head for days before interviewing the globally adored couple, Deva Premal and Miten. Not only have they been world music and new age chart toppers, if you have had a massage or gone to yoga over the last two decades, they have also contributed to the soundtracks playing in the background.
It was quite extraordinary watching the loving way they were in each others company (as I sat on the other end of my computer via Skype experiencing the energy between the two). They gave each other the space to express themselves, listening patiently and when their eyes met each others there was a certain magic that was hard to put to words but it’s the same feeling you have when you listen to their music.
“Somehow we have been cosmically chosen to share these sounds. When I first hugged Deva I felt she was an old soul. We met at Osho’s ashram twenty-five years ago and it’s led us on this path. We didn’t know what would happen when we first started, it was just an organic flow and the music has always had its roots in meditation,” Miten shared.
It’s no secret they are consummate artists. Miten grew up in England in the 60’s and went on to have a successful career touring with the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Lou Reed, Hall and Oates and others in the 70s but eventually found spiritual music to be more meaningful. Deva grew up in Germany, given classical training as a singer with parents who introduced her to spiritual music from birth. So it would be misguided to say they are performers offering an entertaining show. Their work is far deeper. It’s an experience of oneness in action, where the energy of the whole group is involved and transformed.
I asked them how mantras actually work to bring about peace and freedom on a personal level. Deva replied, “mantras are an energy phenomena, sound is energy and it molds and shapes us. Mantras are totally refined sounds that have been received in meditations from the ancient wise ones in India and translated in a way humans can repeat and utter them. Miten added, “they allow us to access the space those wise ones were being.”
Deva and Miten create universal sounds not affiliated to any religious teaching and their work (18 albums) has become ‘sound medicine’.
And Deva mentioned their music has evolved, “Now we can just sing, we don’t need to talk anymore or know more concepts. They are only concepts until they are experienced. We are singing our great mystery together of ‘we don’t know anything’…and that’s something to be celebrated.”
I shared with them that after seven years of creating Holistic Bliss, we were finally devoting an edition to ‘bliss’ and so I was keen to hear what bliss meant to them:
Miten said, “Bliss is feeling grateful, so if you are in a state of bliss, you have true gratitude which is not superficial. And when you understand the awesomeness of that, you just feel wow, how did this happen.”
Deva shared, “I had a strong experience with bliss years ago at Osho’s retreat. Bliss has no opposite, it’s something beyond and I didn’t know what it meant until I had this experience and it was triggered when I was extremely angry with Miten. I was on a spiritual search with a readiness to look at myself and in an ashram where we were meditating together. So I let that anger be there without fighting it, acting it out or trying to get away from it. As soon as I surrendered to it, it changed into bliss. There was no fight with it and so there was no split. I thought to myself, that’s a really interesting emotion, that’s another colour in the rainbow of our emotions. What’s wrong with being self-conscious or angry or fearful? I am just an ordinary person, I feel things like everyone else but now the split isn’t there. Accepting everything and experiencing bliss has a sparkly quality, it’s like a hue or colour and it’s part of life, it’s not a separate thing. It’s more like an ‘enhance button’.”
Together they captured the essence of bliss, which left me with energy running vibrantly throughout my whole body. I went on to ask them what it’s like to live blissfully on an average day. Miten said very calmly, “What we do on a daily basis is pretty ordinary. We shake.” “Shake?” I asked curiously. He went on to explain that they wake up in the morning and shake their whole bodies for 15 minutes which helps to move any stagnant chi and they also incorporate this guided shaking practice into their retreats.
On most days they also incorporate the ancient practice of oil pulling, warm lemon water and apple cider vinegar on rising. Miten does shiatsu stretches he was taught from Deva many years ago back in the ashram and Deva practices yoga. They like to sit in silence before eating lunch but don’t have any other set routines. Of course a big part of how they spend each day is singing and chanting and having a very close connection on all levels with each other which they said is ecstatic. “We found a way to exist beneath a certain level of social communication and we quite often know what each other is thinking without speaking. We haven’t worked at it, it’s just easy,” said Mitten.
And with a busy touring schedule, singing and chanting and being in 14 countries at times in a month Miten explained, “If you are the space underneath the busyness you don’t feel busy, you just feel at home.” Their music triggers an avalanche of transformation and they receive letters of thanks from people all over the world, “people write to us saying, ‘I was ready to take my own life but now I’m connected to the joy of living’,” said Deva.
“Wherever we go people bring a readiness. There is a wave of energy and people are becoming more open but we don’t have much time left on the planet, we are destroying it so fast. More and more people are procreating so we have an overpopulation problem and there is less land available. Everything becomes extreme. We have religious separatism. We are heading into more chaos in coming years,” Miten shared.
They believe mantra singing is not directly going to change a war torn situation but it can change an individual and then that has a ripple effect throughout the world.
Miten said if we ask ourselves, “How am I living my life?” just asking that question gives you a new experience and a way forward.
Well this interview connection time was definitely a ‘bliss encounter’…..there was a presence between the three of us and acceptance of each other in each moment. My only regret was not being able to meet up with them while they were staying in Mullumbimby, NSW; a place they describe as auspicious, where they have visited each year for the last 16 years.
They said this year it’s time for us all to take a few risks and make some shifts. Even starting something like a mantra practice is a great first step. And, if you want to ‘save’ yourself you have to know and love who you are.