(iskconnews.org) – ISKCON News | Leadership Parenting Launched in Maine with Kirtan
On Tuesday, October 17, Gopi Gita Schomaker, aka Mother Gopi Gita, Founder of Leadership Parenting, presented a western song, bhakti mantras and Leadership Parenting to a full concert hall at the Portland House of Music. This was the culmination of many months of internal work. A live band with drums, two guitars, keyboard, trumpets and more, accompanied the performance. Gopi Gita is a leader in ISKCON, coaches parents and educators internationally, and has served children directly in the classroom for over 20 years. We have included her reflection on the experience below:
“Did you know when you speak, there’s a hush across the entire room?” Danika Zoe whispers in Gopi’s ears, as she wraps her arms around her in love. Danika is an executive and leadership coach, guiding overfunctioning women in corporate spaces for more than 10 years.
Those were the first personal words Gopi heard as she started her preparation at Rockstar Camp, a leadership empowerment program directed by Megan Jo Wilson, inspirational coach to thousands. For years, Megan Jo has pushed American women to be seen, to step out of their comfort zones, and to process powerful emotions through somatic movement. It is transformational.
Kelley Provost’s big squeezable hugs are the first ones Gopi experiences as she enters the cozy home where the rockstars will prepare. Kelley is owner of a Montana Life Coaching company, and has also triumphed over cancer. She’s been Gopi’s cheerleader from day one – “I can’t wait to meet you,” she said repeatedly in Zoom sessions. All the sisters hug Gopi one by one.
During the show, Megan related ‘facts and figures’ – a long list of statistics highlighting the real world pain of women all over. Percentages of rapes, assaults, suicides, and more. Gopi bawls, unable to remember any of the words of her song anymore. Rebecca Simmons, Leadership Coach helping burned out women, wraps her in a big hug – ‘what can I do, how can I help you?’ she whispers.
This is a problem. Every time Gopi feels the pain of others, she forgets her words. And pain is everywhere. In order to break through this, she decides to ask two drunk musicians on the street if she can practice singing with them. Their homeless state hurts, but she pushes through and sings her song to them. When they hear her voice, the musicians sob, tears dropping from their eyes onto their instruments. Even bystanders pause to listen, as her words reach the core of all hearts. These are actually not her words, but the words of Spirit, God, Earth, and Hare Krishna Themselves.
It’s almost Gopi‘s turn to go up on stage. She remembers Susan’s constant cheerleading for the last three months. Susan Pitkowsky, an attorney turned coach is a mom to four, and has so much wisdom for mothers of the world. Without fail, she has lifted Gopi up with her comments on every single post. “I am in awe of you and your wisdom and power, and I want to learn more!” “You’re a super manifester!” and more.
Now it’s Gopi’s turn to sing on stage. She’s introduced by queen Megan Jo as “real special to me.” Gopi walks on the stage in her elegant Indian outfit, complete with the white shawl magically given to her by a stranger she had just met, the owner of the Taj Indian restaurant in South Portland. Though she’s never shown this much skin before, she releases her body shame and stands proud. After all, is not a basic tenet of bhakti release of identification with the body? She follows the lead of all her rockstar sisters who are pushing themselves out of their comfort zone as well.
Although she’s nervous, she grabs the microphone. She introduces her tradition releasing her shyness. In a room full of white people, she emphatically states, “Today, I bring to you a culture of kirtan, or glorification from ancient India. Today we create a temple in this space, on 25 Temple Street. We will install the patron saints of love and learning Saints Gaura and Nitai.” She asks everyone to recite the five mantra words, and they open their hearts to receive her message, beyond space and time. They call out the Sanskrit names as the hall reverberates.
She’s shy, but totally authentic. Her voice falters and cracks like never before. She has previously sung mantras to thousands, accompanying her superstar sister on many stages. Why is her voice faltering today? Is it because she’s got the most powerful message in the world? Is it because she’s reaching her own American people? She knows her message will solve that long list of statistics and monumental pain that was shared earlier. When she remembers this, she takes off the mask of insecurity and the crowd goes wild.
“When you started singing, immediately I wanted to cry,” says fellow author Kimberly Allen. The song, Memories by Maroon 5, is a call to a spiritual realm, a realm beyond all dualities like pain and pleasure. Amy Jones, an ayurvedic earth healer, an astrologer, and Founder of Women as Wolf, has shared some of her dualities in the past few months. She lost her momma earlier this year, and Gopi remembers her heartfelt realizations during Zoom calls.
Gopi also remembers those in her life who have entered that spiritual realm, a place where every step is a dance, every word a song, every living being full of divine love. This spiritual realm is where all who have been lost will be reunited; where all who are broken can find relief; where all who are in pain can trust that they will be okay. And the mantra she shares is the way to get there.
“Everybody hurts sometimes, everybody hurts someday ay ay, everything will be alright, go on, raise your arms and say! Hare Krishnaaaa…” The mantras belt out of Gopi’s heart as everyone follows her lead.
Earlier that day, she noticed that Lauryn the photographer had the mantra tattooed on her arm. Immediately, like a powerful explosion, they connected. They had the same bhakti childhood! Their parents have the same guru – Srila Prabhupada! They lived in the same communities with similar lifestyles! Lauryn, aka Mohini, is the daughter-in-law of Hare Krishna dasi, the famous mother from the Gita Nagari community in Pennsylvania who wrote a monthly column in the BTG magazine. Now Lauryn lives with her family in a hand-built cabin in the backwoods of Maine. She worships enchanting Rajapura Jagannath Deities – the same ones that Gopihas worshiped her entire life! Krishna directly connected them today. Lauryn is now dancing in the audience, calling out wildly. These sounds of her childhood are the sounds of her daily meditation. “I can’t even believe you’re here in Portland! I have envisioned this so many times – mantras with hands raised. I can’t believe you’re doing this. You have guts.”
Stephanie Redlener, founder at Lioness, and a powerful spiritual leader in her community is also singing loudly with abandon. Everyone wants to be like Stephanie, with her vivacious confident energy. As one of our guides, she cheers us on, with her arrow-like advice that gets us out of the mental space and into our purpose. She has chanted this mantra at the Bhakti Fest, and is being carried by its sweet energy.
Gopi notices so many more in the audience saying the words with her, and calls to each person. They’re saying it too! They know the mantra! No one will be alone forever-more. This mantra is Gopi’s very best friend, makes all the arrangements for her, and now others are sharing it within their hearts. She’s giddy with excitement about this, and it shows.
She continues the Memories song with a few mistakes, but the drums, guitars and keyboards don’t miss a beat. What a full showing of support by the guys in the band. Regardless of the missed words and stumbles, her inner strength shows. The tune, the rhythm, the missed words – does any of it even matter? Sacred transcendental sound has taken over. “There’s a time that I remember, when I never felt so lost. When I felt all the hatred, too powerful to stop. Now my heart feels like an ember, that’s lighting up the dark, I’ll carry these torches for you, that you know I’ll never drop.” Come on everyone, lets raise your hands and say, Hare Krishnaa…”
Yes, she knows the path beyond the realm of dualities. Yes, she knows how to get out of this cycle of samsara. She knows the way for every parent, every teacher, and every leader to step into their own magnificence and connect deeply with the divine. She will no longer falter. Her fears are peeled off, her insecurities dropped to the side.
At the end Gopi proudly promotes the successes of Leadership Parenting. “When I hear your mission, I have full body goosebumps. I know that it shall be so, as you desire, and double and triple more.” blessed Libby Bunten, Vice President at Arbonne. She’s one of the guides, and is deeply connected to the unspoken needs of everyone in this space.
As Gopi steps down the candle-lit staircase, Barrie Brian, the VP at Akili Interactive, with decades of leadership under her belt, pulls her into a big hug. Barrie was the first one here to break through Gopi’s discomfort. “We’re in this together.” One by one, all her new Rockstar sisters lift her up with their hugs and encouragement as she collapses into their cozy arms.
“You are so deeply connected to spirit. We can all feel that,” says Natalie Surmeli, Founder of Feminine Rebellion, a powerful guide to females around the country.
At the end of it all, gorgeous Liz August, organizational strategist and founder of Simplify, Simplify Me, pipes up with her sweet southern drawl. “I consider myself (maaself) an atheist, and even I was totally moved by your song.”
The night ends with a personal message by Dr. Angela Lauria, who coined the term Leadership Parenting and promoted her as Mother Gopi Gita. “Watching you own this stage! Incredible presence. Stage presence offff the chain! The Leadership Parenting shout out was legendary. So proud of you!”
This experience changed Gopi’s life forever.
This five star review is part of the Rockstar Camp Homework. It is an offering to Queen coaches, Angela Lauria, Jesse Johnson, Megan Joe Wilson, Angela Reindl and their teams. It is an offering to all the rockstar sisters, who were hand chosen by hare krishna to be present for this monumental unveiling of a powerful mission.
And it is an offering to the world’s most powerful spiritual teacher, Srila Prabhupada, Founder Acharya of the International Society for Krishna consciousness, my grandfather.” – Mother Gopi Gita
To subscribe to her newsletter or learn about her new book, “Leadership Parenting: Empower Your Child’s Social Success,” visit her website, and to get on the waiting list for her upcoming Connection course, visit here.