Jo’s Story

Pic - Jo Kelly - creator of Cafe Mantra Music for Yoga 2“I have been singing all my life and have enjoyed a fun, varied and successful music career for over 30 years.  I began singing at 4 and wrote my first song and piano composition when I was 14, so it’s no surprise that the calling to compose and publish my own music came … eventually! I lived in the ‘fast lane’ for those years, so it’s also no surprise that I got very sick and had to find a way to slow down and heal myself.

In 2003, after living the high life in Sydney running a busy cabaret restaurant and riding the wave of success and excess, I crashed and burned in a most spectacular fashion!  Of course I was an entertainer and had to do everything this way!

I was caught up in the vicious cycle of drugs and alcohol to fuel and maintain the incredibly high energy work that I did and eventually I had to stop if I was going to survive.

On one morning after a very lonely, pointless, all night bender, I had a spiritual awakening.  It was a moment of clarity, like a window in my mind opened and an awareness, pure and loving said to me “You need help. Go home to mum and dad and tell them everything. Tell them you want to stop but you can’t on your own”

So that was what I did.  I went home to my parents and a few days later, on my 40th birthday arrived in rehab eating cake WITHOUT champagne! Outrageous!  That was the longest and most difficult six weeks of my life and the most rewarding.

After rehab I experience severe physical, mental and emotional burnout, suffering from chronic fatigue, severe body pains, digestive disorders, anxiety, depression, brain fog and an extreme inner restlessness. I had retreated from life and was looking for peace of mind and relief.

For three years I limped along trying different ways to get well.  I tried chiropractic, naturopathy, homeopathy, Chinese medicine and acupuncture, deep tissue massage, vitamins, positive affirmations, anything and everything, but none gave me lasting relief.

In 2006 I was introduced to a breathing and meditation course with The Art of Living Foundation, which eventually lead me to India and Ayurvedic healing, meditation and chanting.

Participating in the Part 1 meditation course was extremely difficult, because I was so tired and had so much pain in my body that I nearly left the course.  I persevered, along with the support and encouragement of our teacher Meggan, and by the end of that week I felt more peace and ease in my mind and body that I had for a long time and my anxiety and depression was immediately reduced. What a shift! In just a week! I couldn’t believe it. I began to do the practice everyday and then signed up for the Part 2 course too!

The second course was even more challenging than the first, so much so, that I wanted to leave after the first day. Again the pain, both physical and emotional, was so great I didn’t think I could cope. I went to the teacher and she said in her beautiful Indian accent… “Jo, what will you do if you leave? Go back to the chiropractor? I think it is better you stay and learn to heal yourself”

Oh my goodness! Those words of wisdom changed my life! I knew I had to continue on this path and learn to heal myself. The teacher suggested I go to the Ashram in India and in my heart I knew this was exactly where I wanted and needed to be.

The journey to India brought another life changing experience. Not only did I deepen my practice in meditation and chanting, but I began playing music again and writing songs.  Now I had plenty of inspiration and it was all welling up inside me and bursting forth.  I would walk for hours everyday humming melodies and tapping out rhythms to go with the words that began to express my feelings.  I also discovered the Ashram’s Ayurvedic Clinic where I received deep healing therapies and guidance so profound that I knew I had discovered my path back to health. Music and Ayurveda!

Upon returning to Australia, I knew I wanted to record my own album so I spent the next 2 years writing songs, walking in nature and travelling and in 2006, release my debut album “Letting Love In”.  I had learned to meditate in India and I had recorded my album, but I was still very unwell.

I continued to think about Ayurveda and what I had experienced in India at the clinic.  I wanted to study to see if I could help myself more and started looking for a teacher.  I left Sydney and relocated to Byron Bay and very soon after I was guided to find Dr. Ajit of the Australasian Institute of Ayurvedic Studies and studied with him for two years.

My health had improved, but I was not fully well as I still had anxiety, brain fog and pain. So I went into a ten day Panchakarma retreat with Dr. Ajit at his clinic, Planet Ayurveda, in New Zealand. Under his expert guidance, I underwent a Panchakarma programme of cleansing and rejuvenation therapies, to remove the deep seated toxins that had accumulated in my body and mind. The treatment was extremely successful. During those 10 days the pain vanished from my lower back and neck and my headaches disappeared over the following weeks. I felt deeply relaxed yet focused and energised. I was also going deeper into meditation and music was coming forth with ease.

I began to feel more joyful and positive. I had made a substantial improvement in my health in such a short time that I knew I had also found my purpose, which was to heal myself with Music and Ayurveda and share this wisdom with others.

I discovered ways to continually improve my health and maintain it by using a program of diet and lifestyle routines, massage, Ayurvedic herbs and cooking and regular Ayurvedic treatments.  I continued to do the meditation practice I learned in India and began chanting with a local group in Byron Bay where I now live.

As my health improved, so too did my concentration and stamina to learn and absorb and after two years, I successfully completed and passed the course.  I also began to learn more about mantra and chanting and how it relates to Ayurveda.  I was inspired!

I then returned to India to receive more Panchakarma treatment and to become immersed in Vedic traditions further deepening my healing process and spiritual search.  At the ashram we took part in Pujas that are sacred ceremonies for healing and connecting to spirit.  The spiritual energies invoked through the chanting cleansed my mind and body energies leaving me feeling deeply peaceful and content.  After these sessions I always felt inspired to sing and had a lightness of being that came gently and naturally to me.

India and Ayurveda has changed my life! It has has helped me heal on all levels, mental, physical, spiritual and emotional.  It has inspired my music, the way I live and relate to others and how I look after myself.  I continue to chant, sing and practice Ayurveda and further my studies of mantra.

I am blessed to have my health and my journey of getting well has connected me with such loving people. Those who have helped me and inspired me along the way to not give up.  The teachers, doctors, healers, students, family and friends. The beautiful singers and musicians I chant with.  They all have been a constant source of compassion, joy, wisdom and belonging.

So… it is my intention to continue to use my voice, my songs, life experience, wisdom and knowledge to create music.  Music that will bring you deep peace and make the practice of yoga and meditation joyful and easy.

Thank you for reading my story.  I wish you peace, health and happiness through music and Ayurveda!

Warm wishes and Namaste!

x Jo

-Jo Kelly (CertIV ALC)

Singer, Composer, Sound Healer, Ayurvedic Practitioner

“When I first met Jo 5 years ago, she was constantly tired, suffering from chronic fatigue and was in a lot of physical pain. After doing the Art of Living Breathing Course she took up the practice of Suddarshan Kriya, spent some time at the Ashram in India and began her journey with Ayurveda. The changes that I’ve noticed in her are incredible. She has become an inspiring example of how these practices can heal and strengthen you. I am so proud of her. Now she is sharing what she has learnt with others and supporting them in becoming their healthiest selves. Go Jo! We Love you!”

– Meggan Brummer, Art Of Living Teacher