It’s rare to witness a couple, a team…soul mates, who were so clearly placed on Earth to serve humanity not only as individuals, but as a united force with a vision to express freedom, unity, peace, and love through their work with sacred music, quantum healing and Kundalini Yoga.
This husband and wife duo, composed of Sukhdev and Akahdahmah Jackson, make up the otherworldly band Aykanna. Although, calling them a “band,” doesn’t seem to be enough, as they don’t just create and share soul-moving music, but offer transformational wisdom to international seekers in Central America, Europe, and throughout the United States. Their presence is truly captivating, and the extraordinary teachings they share is unlike anything we’ve ever experienced.
One of the topics Aykanna explores that we find particularly interesting is the process of resolving and healing ancestral karma, a topic that many haven’t heard of, but we’re all impacted by. During their virtual workshop at our upcoming Virtual Speaker Series on April 17, they will explain the intricacies of ancestral karma and offer clarity on next steps for freeing one’s self from the bondage of this intergenerational patterning, tethers to past lives and family healing. To introduce you to this dynamic pair, and familiarize you with the concept of ancestral karma, we had the pleasure of interviewing Sukhdev and Akah. Check out the full interview below.
Living Wholly: In your words, how are you serving the world and contributing your gifts?
Sukhdev Jackson: From where I am right now, it’s all about tapping into the stillness of knowing what the gifts are, and accepting them and seeing them and relating to them as divine gifts. I’m in a deep, transformative, alchemizing space right now, where I’m looking at how I’ve been sharing my gifts for the past decade and listening deeply to where the ego comes in and where the space is provided to allow my true gifts to flow.
My personal mission is to work with and uplift women, and to share the gifts of Kundalini yoga to help move them through difficult times. I’m also passionate about helping women stay healthy during this technological age we’re in – an age that promotes speed and can be immensely overwhelming.
And then there’s Aykanna. Over the past 20 years we’ve cultivated a space of listening to the creator and figuring out how to harmonize ourselves and our family life now to be in harmony with that which created us. It’s a refining of listening and patience and kindness and compassion. We would like to represent that family of consciousness that brings awareness to raising a being, and ourselves, from an evolved space. We want to move into the transition of the Aquarian age, which is in many ways about the radiance and light within, speaking the truth, and dropping the ego and false ideals. Through it all we’re committed yogis on the path of raising consciousness.
Akahdahmah Jackson: I’m also in a deep place of transformation as our family moves through the process of transformation through tragedy, which also comes with an expansion of truth awareness, meaning, where does one apply their attention with this energy we’re given to live with. So for me, my contribution flows from an inner service of my soul, which was what led me on the path from tragedies in childhood to figure out what I’m here to do, and how I can have some inner peace, and emotional tranquility. That path led me to West African drumming and Native American ceremony. It led me to be invited to these things and meet a man who taught me how to holistically live. I was also invited to become a Qigong teacher, Kundalini teacher and spiritual counselor at the Passages addiction care center. This is all in service to my soul. It also allows me to offer care-giving for my family and offer them the teachings I’ve learned along the way.
I’ve really been growing in the awareness of the importance of family holistic health, with an emphasis on spiritual health. I’ve also been considering that as an awareness of who we are as vibrational or energetic beings, rather than the stories of our lineage that hold this ancestral karma that we live through as trauma or drama. We instead lean in to our dharma, our destiny, and collective family.
I also lean on an awareness that I’m more than just my five senses, creating sensations that causes me to tell a story. I can expand beyond that and use yogic, esoteric, and spiritual teachings to be infinite and in service to my soul. As a spiritual counselor there is a blueprint within me that has brought me to the place of serving my family’s soul rather than my story of tragedy. Yogi Bhajan talks about the power of the voice and how the words you speak you become. So my service is in alignment with educating people about the power of their voice and connecting to the voice that is linked to their soul. I do that as a spiritual recovery coach for people who are dealing with the label of addiction.
I’m also charged with carrying my family medicine, so I’m talking to young people in my family to see how we can collectively come together and create ways to uplift and educate. Family can be the catalyst of harmony in the community can be expanded into the world.
Living Wholly: What inspired each of you to follow the path of music and Kundalini?
Sukhdev Jackson: Music has been in my life since I was five or six years old. I’ve always loved it and was fascinated by how it was created. I was a dancer for many years before I found I was an MC and then I became a singer in my 20s. Music moved me so deeply; it was my saving grace and always has been. It’s been the thing that has kept me really curious about life - like, “Wow, I wonder how songs are made? I wonder if I could do this with my voice?” Music has been a path of awakening in its own way.
I’ve also had many moments of being surrounded by the right people who placed me in the position to become “the next thing.” But it never worked out - it wasn’t my full destiny. I then discovered mantra through Akah. That was the beginning of discovering the sacredness of music. He took me to my first Kundalini class and asked me to play music with him. I then started doing sadhana at Yoga West every morning and the mantras healed and worked on my psyche - my emotional and physical body fell in love with it. It became a dance in discovery, and wondering what mantras do - and the rest is history.
For the past 10 years we’ve been rolling together as Aykanna. It all happened by organization of the universe – we never planned to be a band. It started with Kia Miller asking us to play in her class and make two hours of music for a yoga DVD – that was our introduction into making mantra music. She told us what mantras she thought she’d like and all of a sudden we had all this music. At the time we were heading to a festival and figured we might as well press a CD and call ourselves something. It was such a fun, innocent beginning – it was an act of service. We never devised a plan to become Aykanna; it was the path lain before us and we answered the call.
We’ve been on an amazing - yet sometimes very difficult – journey ever since, because as musicians, every dime we’ve ever made has been poured into making albums. We’re finishing up our seventh album now, “Song & Spirit.” The love and passion that is there to share, and this medicine music that’s all around our home and our lives, continually inspires us to keep making music.
Akahdahmah Jackson: I was born on the East Coast in an urban setting that was concentrated with nutrients that helped you get stronger and grow. But it could have also been viewed as oppressive. Music was my way to be infinite and move beyond the oppressive, political strangle hold that was perceived when I was growing up in the 60s and 70s – very transformational times in our country. Music, as I was introduced to it – in church and on the streets – was always a way to create a sanctuary where one could experience their own inner peace. So I journeyed through the various invitations of self-renovation music offered me.
As a healing minister I was connected with a gentleman who got me involved in a medicine music research project that really stimulated my awareness of the healing power of music to uplift and help one transcend the challenges in their life. It was around 2000 when we created the Herban Shaman music project, which you can check out on iTunes. That got my head in a particular awareness.
I’m also involved in Qigong, spiritual counseling and quite a bit of energy work, so my head is holistically oriented towards the use of energy to regenerate and heal. So when I was invited to a Kundalini class in April 2004 at Yoga West I thought Kundalini was some kind of sexual thing, so I had always been turning down the invitation. But when I got into it and heard Guru Singh’s lectures, tears started rolling down my face. And when he quoted Yogi Bhajan at the end of the class, saying, “Come not to gain followers, but to create teachers,” I was like “Wow, what a concept.” It just hit me. Along with this quote was the idea that the mind is there to serve your soul and this practice will help you do that - it will help you prioritize service to your soul.
Through this I had an invitation to be with the music and discover that the music has a personality that can energize you and elevate your awareness to a concept of serving your soul. And then the practice – the sadhana. Having a continual practice that required I get up early, and caused me to be washed over by this vibration, it would give me chills and tears would melt away thoughts that weren’t productive for my health and wellbeing.
When we were eventually called to be Aykanna, and I had the opportunity to play with my wife, love washed over me when we would play together – it felt so comfortable, allowing this sound current to come through and figure out what kind of rhythm needed to come through. Service to this music that wanted to express itself was a large part of my motivation and inspiration to be with this music – this call to be of service calmed my heart.
Living Wholly: How did you select the band name Aykanna? What’s the meaning behind it?
Akahdahmah Jackson: Aykanna is an Amaraic word that is part of a meditation called the Lord’s Prayer. During ancient middle eastern times there was no religious connection to these words like there is today – this meditation was used for spiritual attunement. These sacred sounds were used as a way to tune into the inexhaustible power of the Great Parent of Creation, a power that is available to all. It was recited as a way to open the door of peace, health, prosperity and an understanding of our oneness with the Source of Life.
The word Aykanna, first appears in the 4th line - the literal translation in Aramaic is, “just as.” To us music is alive, intelligent and has a harmonizing purpose. We have learned to release the need to create music. Instead, we allow music to reveal what it needs to be. Being the instrument for music to express through gave us the experience of Aykanna as the communicating link between Heaven and Earth. A link or channel that is delivering life energy from Heaven to establish harmony on Earth.
It also comes from the idea behind a collective family, and is a metaphor intended to transcend physical living - the metaphor of thy will be done on earth just as it is in heaven. Considering that metaphoric thought, and what that has the potential to do - to help one transcend the trauma and drama that’s experienced in the moment, and transcend that with an awareness of their soul’s destiny - we also see Aykanna as an evolving catalyst for families to heal and regenerate and radiate.
Living Wholly: What is the most profound challenge you’ve each experienced and how has that supported you with exponential healing and growth?
Sukhdev Jackson: One of the most profound challenges I’ve experienced has been my ancestral lineage, which has been steeped in suicide in the women, and recently my brother about a year ago. Really learning to frame that, relate to that and process that beyond the human self, has been my biggest challenge. The first step has been acceptance, and the second step has been to deal with the emotions, fear and paralyzed state it left me in for a long time. These tools gave me a pathway to digest, reframe and relate to this path that I choose, but forgot everything about. It’s about clearing and dealing with my ancestral karma.
So I’ve been relating to this life lesson and path that I agreed to take on, and transforming and relating to it from a place of “how can I let this empower me, and how can I let it fuel me.” The piece Akah has been instrumental in supporting me with is how to communicate with my ancestors and ask them for help. I’m figuring out how to navigate that path and lineage, and my current family system in Europe that continues to be challenging. But I’m supported with an incredible family dynamic, system and consciousness with Akah, his mom and our daughter.
It all keeps me devoted to the unseen - my infinity, my soul and my daughter; I’m teaching her that she has her own power and is her own entity.
This all keeps me very focused on my sadhana and my path of service. I find immense joy in serving through teaching and playing music.
Akahdahmah Jackson: I experienced early childhood trauma. Tragedy hit our family and caused my household to be a single parent household. Yet the idea of the trauma was a stored trauma – a carryover of what my mother went through, and what her mother went through, and what her mother went through. The mother of them all was the one who was born a slave. For me, this showed up as posttraumatic stress that expressed itself through anxiety and certain neurological disorders, in terms of cognitive ability.
At the same time, these experiences that resulted from the trauma turned into a cause that motivated me to figure out the way to calm my heart. I moved inward to the solution and to figure out the ways to unfold what I had been given.
I am a being that was created; I’m not a result of what has taken place in my life and the experiences and stories I can tell. There’s a purpose and mission to the soul I represent – once I surrendered to exploring my culture (like being invited to Native American ceremony, which is part of my heritage), and where I came from, I started figuring out who I was and what life meant to me.
The structure of my family wasn’t really bringing that in beyond “education is valuable.” I came from a family that was very focused on being professionals – that was the way to make it. That was the way to success.
But the issues from my past that I could have about my family have been quenched by my soul, as far as my ego is concerned. I no longer lean on blaming my family. My Great Aunt Mame said that at three years old I was the one that had the mark to carry on the family medicine and spiritual tradition. So now I’m responsible for connecting with my younger cousins, or those from my generation, who want to listen or hear about holistic practices that can help emancipate us from this ancestral karma. This has all led to spiritual freedom and a connection my voice.
Living Wholly: How would you explain the process of resolving ancestral karma to someone who's never heard of it?
Akahdahmah Jackson: It’s the process of looking at our family history, and the stories within our history that have to do with tragedy or trauma or drama. Then we look at how these stories get passed on from generation to generation through parenting – especially trying to discipline with parenting - and how the language of the family gets established because of these traumatic situations. We look at how the generation at that time processed it, and the language they used to process it.
Many times when we talk about ancestral karma – “karma” being unfinished business – and the tragedies and trauma and dramas that the family has experienced as a lineage, there are aspects of it that have gone untended to, that hasn’t been resolved.
Sukhdev Jackson: To deal with the family lineage - the karma - that we’re all carrying in some way, we must learn how to be still, and by still I mean learn to experience their own sense of self. Because much of what we need to do to clear and liberate the seven generations in front and behind us is really about our self realization with our soul, and our relationship with our soul.
That’s why we find Kundalini yoga meditations so effective in this day and age when everybody is dealing with the technology syndrome – very short attention spans, and difficulty concentrating and being still. The Kundalini meditations give you mantras to focus on while you’re moving and breathing - it fully engages you – it helps you find the thread to your sense of self. And during this, what needs to be healed in the lineage begins to reveal itself.
In Kundalini they say that when the being gets on the path, they have the capacity to liberate the seven generations before and after them. That is the prophecy we’ve been taught. We’re witnessing it with our daughter and seeing the transformations in our own families. This can be joyous work, it doesn’t have to be heavy – it’s such a part of the human experience.
We’re not commonly taught about this ancestral healing, but many indigenous cultures have you lean on your ancestors, pray to the ancestors, make offerings to the ancestors. It’s an integral part of these cultures. In the West we’ve lost that connection. This is why we love these teachings and want to help people unhook from the karma they may be bound by.
Living Wholly: What are the specific elements of Kundalini you each practice daily?
Sukhdev Jackson: I’m often prescribing 40-day meditations to women groups that I lead, so I’m usually doing those with them. Right now I’m preparing for the first Shakti School teacher training – a woman’s Kundalini teacher training – I’ll be leading in Zion in May for 60 hours. Right now we’re doing a sadhana together that consists of the trinity of Kundalini yoga, which is 11 minutes of Kirtan Kriya, 11 minutes of Sodarshan Kriya, and 11 minutes of Sat Kriya. I’m a big fan of those meditations and have been doing them for 15 years.
I also love Nabhi Kriya in terms of movement; I think it’s a very powerful Kriya because it’s all about naval intelligence and the naval center, which is the center of our being and where we can operate from our true power.
I’m a big fan of awakening the 10 bodies, which I rotate in here and there.
And then there’s other Kriyas - I prescribe myself whatever I think I need. Right now I’m really working on kidneys and adrenals. Most mornings I’ll end my sadhana by chanting on my harmonium. I love chanting Ra Ma Da Sa or Wahe Guru. I like to keep it simple and listen. There are mornings where I just want to do one thing, and maybe I’ll just do 31 minutes of a Kriya, or maybe I’ll feel like going for two hours – this often depends on time as well.
Akahdahmah Jackson: I often work with the second chakra, particularly to promote creativity. Our lives are focused around being in a creative flow – parenting is a creative flow – relationships have creative flow. So I tend to lean into working on the naval point, as Sukhdev mentioned.
Nabhi Kriya is a daily movement that I do, as well as 10 bodies. 10 bodies was my first 40-day practice and it was transformational, particularly because it brings awareness to the different aspects of our makeup. We’re made up of a physical body but we have these subtle energy bodies that are also part of our design. For me, being aware of that – especially because of the trauma I went through in the womb – helps me have a present awareness of how I’m put together. They enhance my sense of self-awareness.
The Sodarshan Kriya is also something I’ve grown to love. I also appreciate the Layer (name?) Kriya because I’m balancing my nervous system on a daily basis, and this Kriya prioritizes our actions to be in alignment with serving our soul – it’s something I engage in every day.
In regards to healing, the Ra Ma Da Sa chant is important to me. Some people focus on the names, but it’s all about the vibrations. These practices help to put us in this vibration.
I also drink warm water in the morning and activate my voice by chanting native And I practice Qigong. It feels like they all fit together for me.
Living Wholly: What does living wholly mean to you?
Sukhdev Jackson: To educate yourself so that you can take care of yourself. Educating means to know what foods fuel your body. To begin a daily meditation practice in your life. To surround yourself with wholesome people. To connect deeply with others. To receive, to give, to Love.
Living Wholly: What are the books, podcasts, teachers etc that inspire you?
Sukhdev Jackson: I love the works of Hazrat Inayat Khan on sacred sound. Yogi Bhajan of course. And then there’s my beloved teachers Guru Singh, Krishna Kaur and Gurmukh.
Snatam Kaur is my inspiration for music.
I love Kundalini yoga books and manuals – I’m all about continuous learning.
I have also been digging Oprah’s Master Sessions podcast.
Living Wholly: How can people learn more about your albums, offerings, and work with you?
You can learn more about Aykanna at http://www.aykanna.com
Sukhdev’s offerings can be explored at http://www.sukhdevjackson.com
You can learn more about Akah at Akahjackson.com
We also highly recommend saying yes to an audible expedition into Aykanna’s ethereal tunes by checking out one (or all!) of their critically acclaimed albums, which include "Livelight,” “Mother,” "Mantra Mala” and “Seeds of Love.” Their new album “Song & Spirit” is due out in May 2019.
If you’re ready to drop into the realm of your ancestors, clear the stories that are no longer serving you, and move forward with joy and elevated consciousness, join us for this LIVE complimentary webinar on Zoom, Wednesday, April 17 at 6pm pst. This 75 minute virtual workshop will offer you opportunities to engage with Sukhdev and Akah, ask questions and receive support in resolving your unique ancestral karma. For those intrigued by this compelling journey, click here to register. See you on the Zoom!
And if you’ll be joining us for our four-day Attune wellness retreat, you’ll be treated to the music and wisdom of Aykanna, in addition to the teachings, music and nourishing edible creations of other incredible humans. If you’re not yet registered for Attune, click here. There is limited space and we are selling through accommodations quickly. See you there!
with great love and reverence,
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