By Josh Gladstone October 22, 2018
With a hefty travel backpack digging into my shoulders and my guitar bag gripped firmly in hand, I stood before the enormous gates to the castle in Germany and took a deep breath.
I had always intended on volunteering at a Yoga Castle in exchange for room and board—one of the many travel tricks savvy backpackers use to venture economically. And yet, standing before this behemoth of medieval brick and mortar, I felt the enormity of the situation. And it wasn’t just the gigantic iron gate handle I was trying to press down with my entire bodyweight.
You see, as a matter of secular North American upbringing, I’m not naturally spiritual. And when it comes to yoga, my lacking spirituality is matched only by my crippling inflexibility. I can barely touch my kneecaps, let alone my soul. How was I going to fit in at a Yoga Castle?
Plus, there was a matter of the other volunteers. Five strangers from around the globe, all congregating in this strange and mystical place in the heart of Germany. Would we get along? And which one of them would snore at night in our dormitory? (Natural traveller angst, of course).
Luckily, I had a trick up my sleeve: my new KLOS Travel Guitar. And nothing breaks down barriers quite like music. The play Les Miserables is testament to that.MUSICAL FRIENDS
Within two days, I had bonded closely with a couple from Sweden (Måns and Matilda), both of whom play guitar. Despite the language barrier, we all spoke the universal language of music (as cheesy as that sounds) and harmonized / jammed over Fleetwood Mac and Neil Young. At one point, we even discovered an out-of-tune piano nestled deep in the castle. I hopped on the keys and pretended like I paid attention to my piano teacher Mrs. Himmel when I was 13, while Måns grabbed my KLOS guitar and Matilda sang.
In broken English, and with a smile on his face, he turned to me.
“This guitar. What is it made of?”
“Carbon fibre,” I said, bragging a little.
He turned it over in his hands, feeling its lightness. “I keep it, yes?” He said, winking.
My KLOS guitar would be the staple addition to our group, coming with us to barbecues, walks through the vast German countryside, and bonfires, where I could really flex my Canadian camp fire prowess. At one point, we were playing and singing near a bus station with the bag unintentionally dangling open, and a kind stranger dropped a single euro in. My busking career was officially blooming, although we had to split that euro six ways.
THE POWER OF MUSIC
Turns out, Yoga and my musical flair got along quite well. And apparently, that more than compensated for my inability to do downward dog. Some mornings, while the Yoga class was in session, I had the privilege of playing guitar for everyone, especially during the integral yoga chants. It brought a liveliness to the class and gave me an incomparable satisfaction. I’ve always loved playing guitar for myself. But playing for others, and in a mystical environment? That’s something special entirely.
I may not believe in a Universal Life Force, or that Buddha exists within us all.
But after making fast friends and incredible memories with my travel guitar within a few short weeks, it’s hard not to believe in the power of music.
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