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Lions Roar : September 2015
wanes, and I get caught up in other things. But that, too, is part of the path—to watch yourself be human. Lama Gyatso would always say, ‘Have confidence and don’t be too hard on yourself. Just re-supplicate.’” Occasionally, lang makes trips to India and Nepal, where she connects with both Buddhist masters and young monastics, and they help her recharge her practice—to get back on track. That said, lang doesn’t feel the need to formally commit to another teacher. “I feel like Lama Gyatso gave me everything I need to fulfill my dharma practice in this lifetime and possibly the next,” she explains. Lang feels that she and Lama Gyatso’s other students are slowly but steadily accomplishing his aspirations through Ari Bhöd and Tools for Peace. As a member of both organiza- tions’ board of directors, she defines her current role as being a spokesperson or ambassador. One project that she likes to draw attention to is the award-winning Tools for Peace app called Stop, Breathe, and Think. There are, she says, over 500,000 peo- ple of all ages and backgrounds who are now using it to guide them through mindfulness and compassion meditations. At her home in Portland, Oregon, lang has a shrine with statues, water bowls, butter lamp offerings, and photos of her teachers. Lang, however, practices wherever she finds herself in the early morning hours—in a hotel room, in an airport, on a plane. “My number one priority is to do my daily practice,” says lang. “And—through my continuing commitment to dharma and my teacher—to affect my music.” Meditation practice has revolutionized the way lang sings. “I don’t know if I can define it exactly,” she explains. “It’s more ethereal or elusive than saying something like, ‘My voice is enriched by the lower register.’ It’s not that simple. My relation- ship to the control and fear of singing is gone. I don’t mean breath control. I mean control as in forcing myself into the music and feeling that I’m controlling the music, rather than feeling like a vessel or a vehicle. I trust my teacher so much, and I trust the path so much, that I also trust that I can do this work and simply be a vessel for something larger. Just to know that there’s a greater purpose to my music, a real purpose, has taken all the work out of it. That’s emancipating.” Lang ponders the trajectory of her life—from her humble beginnings on the Canadian Prairies to her catapult into fame and, finally, to her discovery of the Buddhist path. “Buddhism,” she says, “can have this amazing capacity to destroy your care- fully placed structures of thinking and make you reorganize them. Fame does this, too, but in the completely opposite way.” There’s nothing wrong with success, with being famous and rich. The problem is our relationship to these things. What’s important, according to lang, is our motivation and how we utilize what we have. Fame is confusing, she concludes. It’s diffi- cult to talk about; it’s wonderful and frustrating. But, at the end of the day, it just isn’t the point. “The bottom line is that I love to sing,” she says. “I was meant to sing.” ♦ PHOTOBYJERRYLAMPEN/REUTERS Lang’s breathtaking rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” opened the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2015 55