The Space of a Soul

I decided finally after so many days of wanting to write and so many days (okay, weeks) of not getting to it, that a short post is better than no post at all.

Yesterday afternoon/evening a group of us had a sweet gathering and send-off for our dear friend Shin Ae Tassia who departed this world on April 22, 2017. Her work as a "connector" continues as she brought more of us together still on this occasion, so many of us whom had not met before.

So much sweetness, so much heart. Worlds bumping up against each other, rubbing elbows. Artists, musicians, mechanics, social activists, healers and others- all extraordinary in their own unique ways. I am always astounded when a dear one passes how many lives they have in touched in so many different ways. And how we continue to get to know them long after they're gone.

A body doesn't take up that much physical space in the world but a soul? That's another matter. This thought is leading me down a windy river. A soul is like a miracle- and a soul is a miracle. I want to substitute the word "soul" right now in this sentence: A miracle is never lost. It may touch many people you have not even met, and produce undreamed of changes in situations of which you are not even aware. (A Course in Miracles- Text, 45th Principle of Miracles)

And the curious question that is sometimes asked about people "What are they worth?" Wow! Obviously meant on the most material mundane level... but what an odd question. How do you determine the value of a human, the value of a life, the value of a soul? Soul currency... There's something to think about.

The night before last I did a Sound Journey for some of Shin Ae's closest friends, highlighting her favorite instruments, the gongs and Himalayan bowls. Last night I put it on when I got in bed. It must have been dreamy because I fell asleep within about 5 minutes. I slept deeply, woke up 5 hours later fully refreshed and restored, unfortunately forgetting my dreams within minutes of waking; nonetheless with a heart full of gratitude for the sweetness of this life and the continuity of it all.

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Esperanza and the Bird!

Watching this fabulous video- live music and conversation with Andrew Bird and Esperanza Spalding. I myself am only 12 minutes into it but I am so totally turned on by it that I had to share NOW!!! The way they play, the way they hear, the way they think, the way they converse about music- and their glow, their excitement as they talk about it. It's absolutely wonderful. Enjoy!!!

Everything New Under the Sun

Hmmm... I think the expression is "There's nothing new under the sun." I'm not buying it.

Every day I hear new music- combinations of instruments, tones and frequency I've never heard before, and it constantly blows my mind. I see things I've never seen before and even on a rare occasion I think something that I have never thought before! I have been thinking about this a lot lately, especially since I went to hear Claude Bourbon last week for the second time in two weeks. He is such an amazing guitarist combining jazz, flamenco, classical, blues and some nice folky styles that make me nostalgic for the folk music of the 60's and early 70's. In some odd way he (or his music) seems reminiscent to me of Donovan and his sort of gypsy troubadour style- but he is extraordinary and one of a kind. He also has a really unusual and interesting vocal sound.

Here is a video of him playing some pretty incredible blues guitar at the Pump House Music Works, an unbelievably cool and beautiful venue in Wakefield with a totally great vibe.

Then I heard David Crosby's newest album "Sky Trails"- the guy is brilliant- so creative and such a unique way of putting together words, music, melodies and harmonies- and again, I feel knocked out by the expansiveness and endless creative potential of the human mind. This probably all sounds totally cliche but somehow there are things that suddenly take our (or my) awareness to a new level. How can people just continually come up with a new sound, a new song, a new style, a new anything?!

Billions of people with trillions of cells and from that the possibility an infinite number of configurations and combinations I suppose with the continuous potential for new creations, new ideas, new technology.

Anyway, the point is really this:

Rocking the Kirtan!

Okay, I'm making this short and sweet as I have just spent two hours updating my website and adding a new page- Kirtan Kindergarten! Please check it out!

And in light of that, I would like to direct your attention to a cool and rocking kirtan by Jai Uttal at the Jerusalem Sacred Music Festival! It was actually performed in a 2,400 year old cave and is gorgeous just to look at- but you won't want to just look at it- turn up your speakers!

Renewed, Refreshed, Restored

Wow, I thought I had saved a draft I started writing about my ten-day stay aboard the 3-masted schooner Victory Chimes and somehow apparently I deleted it. I was all set to go ahead and post it tonight! Whoops. Oh well, apparently I was supposed to write something else!

Well, the title kind of speaks for itself. That was the end result of five days on a Wellness Retreat aboard this beautiful old schooner and another 4 days on board with the geologist and climate change expert, Dr. Harold Borns, who started the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine in the eighties. He was totally fascinating and we made a great connection. I was able to relieve some fairly severe pain in his neck quickly with my tuning forks shortly after he came aboard the boat and he told me a lot I didn't know about my great great (great great?) uncle Louis Agassiz, the famous geologist, glaciologist and paleontologist. (He has since sent me a whole packet of information about him!)

What a great and much needed ten days to unplug and relax. No phone, no internet- I didn't even have to make my own coffee in the morning- and I had no idea how badly I needed it!

The word stress has somehow found its way into my language. I don't really like that. I have never been one to talk about how stressed out I am- but the truth is I had gone through a pretty challenging 2-3 months prior to suddenly hearing about this Wellness Retreat at the very last minute. There is nowhere I love to be more than on a wooden boat and as soon as I heard about it I knew it was the perfect remedy and solution. I am so glad I followed what was really a deep desire for me as it turned out so much better and more powerful on a very deep level than I could have imagined.

I slept so well, ate so well, dreamed so deeply, read a lot, played music, did some minimal amounts of healing work and laughed a lot. One morning I played my tamboura on deck for the yoga class as the sun came up. Another day I did a sound journey on deck with a few select instruments.

Tonight I am too tired to write any more so I'll let some photos speak for themselves!

Thoughts on Healing (One Anyway)

Yeah, I don't have that many- but I do have one. An observation that came as I was working with someone on the Soundweaver recently. Holding a sort of witness consciousness, watching as my hands slowly came into their energy field, gently resting on either side of their head and after some minutes very slowly, almost imperceptibly releasing, hands moving away in slow motion. Moving to the next place on the body I was called to. Could have been the heart, the solar plexus, the knees, the feet, one shoulder or the other- or both. Listening, observing, waiting, letting go, moving on. What is happening in these subtle delicate moments- these listening moments which are full of power, intention and awareness?

At some point during the session I wrote this note: "The trick is to match the client's energy and hang out with it til a total synergy is apparent- then LEAN INTO IT- gently- enough to allow their energy/physiology to shift."

In other words, you hang out until you become ONE with their energy. No pushing, no forcing, being fully present- WITH INTENTION. Using a sound analogy, it is the difference between crashing a mallet against a gong so that the volume is almost unbearable and a shock to the system, or playing the gong so that the sound slowly builds, as if you are coaxing the sound forth and allowing the waves to wash over the listeners and then to recede like waves on the shore.

I used Estas Tonne today for my inspiration and therapy while I was doing some stuff in the kitchen. I wanted to escape but there were things I needed to complete on. Once I put this music on I was captivated and happy to be right where I was.

Finding My Way Home in the Summertime

In the process of purchasing the house which has felt like home for the past two and a half years! Never bought a house before- been oh-so-stressful, angsty bringing up all my stuff and finding it ultimately empowering as in the end I only have myself to fall back on. Told a friend the other day, when I was in somewhat of a freak out mode, that I felt like Tippi Hedren in "The Birds" when they are all swooping down and attacking her!

Meanwhile looking forward to some music therapy for myself. Tonight bought tickets for Chuck Prophet for this coming Saturday night- who I only discovered a few years ago when he was featured on Live at Daryl's House and did this really cool song )which also happens to have some very sweet guitar in it)...That was it. I'm a fan of Chuck's.

Part Two- Then I bought tickets for Jesse Colin Young and while revisiting his beautiful song "Darkness, Darkness" I came across this great version of Eric Clapton and Stevie Winwood playing "Can't Find My Way Home". The wonderful thing about musicians is that if they don't either die or lose their marbles (as many of us aging hippies are starting to do) THEY JUST GET BETTER!

So life is good. I'm buying a house and getting my music fix.

Ideas and Inspirations

Inspiration: go to bed earlier so I can get up earlier in the morning since that is my most creative time.

Idea: A summer solstice party- Kirtan, Cookout and Croquet. This is definitely going to happen! Most likely Sunday, June 25 at 4 pm. :-)

Inspired Idea: Kirtan Kindergarten! For folks who want to get together for to share, learn and teach their favorite chants or ones they have perhaps never heard before!

Idea: Make short weekly sound meditation videos.

Inspiration: Finish sound healing book!

Idea: Make smaller workbooks for different courses.

Inspiration: Ongoing sound healing meditation group

Inspired idea: Offer one on one sound healing retreats... Very healing!

Idea: Advertise sound healing sessions to Airbnb guests

Inspiration: post post post (thank you Sparky!)

Inspired Idea: Monthly workshops- this is a must!

Idea: Make video of a sound healing session complete with inner vision

Now: Sleep sleep sleep... Goodnight...

Shin Ae, Sound Evangelist

I have been trying to write this blog post dedicated to my beautiful and brilliant friend Shin Ae for almost two weeks now. This is as far as it's gotten so I am letting go of all the other things I wanted to express and publishing it.  What I really want to share here is my love for the beautiful strong radiant and joyful being that she was and gratitude for our deep connection.

Shin Ae, August 2015- Oncology Retreat, Exeter, RI

Shin Ae, August 2015- Oncology Retreat, Exeter, RI

Last night [May 8 at the time of this writing] my friend Lynn and I celebrated the life and memory of our very dear friend Shin Ae who passed away on April 22, after a 2 1/2 year struggle with metastatic breast cancer. We both met her as a patient and quickly came to know her as a dear friend. She did not take her diagnosis lying down. She was a ninja warrior and activist to the very end. This picture was taken almost a year after her diagnosis, at which time she had been given 9 months which she enthusiastically refused to accept- which I'm sure has a great deal to do with why she was able to stay with us for as long as she did.

In February I came to her house to have a visit with her and give her a sound healing treatment. She was a metal worker, a welder, and she loved instruments made of metal- Himalayan singing bowls, gongs and tuning forks- so I brought them all. I set up the gong in her living room, laid bowls on her spine and played them which always gave her great relief and played the tuning forks for her to help re-balance her nervous system.

She was getting ready to head out to California for the Wisdom Conference and told me that she was hoping to get me out there to do a Sound Journey. She had just come back from walking the fashion runway in New York for NY Fashion Week and although she was not feeling well and was fairly weak she powered through it with her indomitable spirit. She told me that day that she was a "sound healing evangelist" because the sound healing had helped her so much in her process for relieving pain and restoring peace when it was most needed. Although I do what I do because I know it is effective it is always another miracle to me when I actually witness the relief that people get from this modality.

I always felt honored and grateful both to work with Shin Ae as a patient and also to connect with her on such a deep level. And I know that's not about me- it was a gift that Shin Ae had, to be able to enter into the space where another human being was coming from, no matter their background, their source point or their operating procedure. She could step in and connect in a way that superceded the mundane and went straight to the heart of things. That was Shin Ae, no bullshit, all heart and a brilliant mind and a gift to all who knew her.

Weightless

My friend Walter sent me an article a while back about music therapy. In it neuroscientists said that listening to this song by Marconi Union results in up to a 65% decrease in overall anxiety and 35% decrease in the usual physiological resting rates. After reading the article I decided to test the theory and play it for myself at bedtime. It worked like a dream! I was asleep a few short minutes into the song and slept soundly. 

Not only a great song but a very cool and beautiful video- and for sure the best use of drones! It also reminded me that I need to get some of their music for VibroAcoustic Therapy. I have one compilation CD with a track by them that I use on the Soundweaver, "These European Cities", very effective for deep relaxation and transporting one quickly to an altogether different realm of consciousness. It's one of my favorite pieces for the Soundweaver.

If you missed the link above click here to see full article: Neuroscience Says Listening to This Song

Soundweaver VibroAcoustic Environment. Client is lying on a Somatron Body Mat with 4 speakers built into it, overhead speakers and a subwoofer underneath the table as well for extra clarity and surround sound experience. She is literally receiving a cellular musical massage through the vibrotactile effect of the speakers in the mat. VibroAcoustic Sound Therapy is not only deeply relaxing and enjoyable on the physical level, but can also be life-changing. Contact Wholistic Sound for more information or to book a private session or weekend sound healing retreat.

Soundweaver VibroAcoustic Environment. Client is lying on a Somatron Body Mat with 4 speakers built into it, overhead speakers and a subwoofer underneath the table as well for extra clarity and surround sound experience. She is literally receiving a cellular musical massage through the vibrotactile effect of the speakers in the mat. VibroAcoustic Sound Therapy is not only deeply relaxing and enjoyable on the physical level, but can also be life-changing.

Contact Wholistic Sound for more information or to book a private session or weekend sound healing retreat.

Late Night Groove

Have not yet un-jetlagged from 12 days in Hawaii. Staying up late at night and shaking myself loose in the morning. Tonight spent a couple of hours integrating ukulele chords and tunes into my nervous system, then fell into the deep soundscape of Himalayan singing bowls as I was organizing and packing them for my upcoming road trip. Next up, decided to write a short post on my blog. Opened up computer, caught a glimpse of Facebook and a few words about the devil-in-chief which set my heart a-pounding! This song suddenly came into my mind which I haven't thought about in years. At one time- more than 40 years ago?- yikes!- one of my very favorite songs by Fairport Convention.

"Just a roll, just a roll
Just a roll on your drum
Just a roll, just a roll
And the war has begun."

It's not really my thing to be a negative Nellie, but I pray DT doesn't get us in too deep before we can get him out.

Meanwhile, turn your speakers up loud. It's a great song. It's serious sound therapy!

Inspiration Experiment

A few days ago I finished reading Patti Smith's book "M Train", one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read. It's sort of a stream-of-consciousness journal that seems to have been compiled from various pieces of paper and napkins on which she wrote random thoughts- frequently in cafes- thoughts which lead to other thoughts, observations and memories. And a lot of sweeping, tidying and putting flowers on the graves of artists and writers she admired...

Something about that really struck me.

March 15, 2017
I started this post on September 29, 2016. I have not forgotten where I was headed with it. The point of this was that it seemed to me that Patti Smith is directed by her inspiration. She seems to find magic in the mundane and that she is moved by a simple inner guidance or compass. She aligns herself with a very particular frequency of the magic of ordinary things and suddenly nothing is ordinary. Life is inspired. She does not waste time. Even if she's watching TV it seems to be a conscious choice, a favorite show, or movie or actor who feeds her in some way. I loved this. I loved the idea of living a life that is moved by inspiration and I decided, when I had finished this wonderful book, that I would consciously make the choice to do at least one thing every day that inspired me.

I did it for a while and then got distracted once again by the busy-ness of life- holidays, visitors, work- also very much emotionally derailed and drained by the results of our presidential election. For the first time in my life I think that I actually lost my general sense of optimism and became deeply saddened. It has been a really challenging time and I have had to be vigilant about my internal state. I have seen the places where I have become complacent and know that I am being called to be the change I want to see.

I am glad that I didn't actually complete this post because it allowed me to revisit it and be reminded of my "Inspiration Experiment" which perhaps I need now more than ever. So, today I reaffirm the commitment that each day I will find at least one thing that inspires me and attend to that, whether it be a bird, a song, a piece of writing- or in this case, taking the time to do some writing myself and revisit a rainbow over Maui.

Deep Listening and the Sonic Art of Pauline Oliveros

I was excited today to pick up last week's New York Times magazine and find a short and inspiring article about Pauline Oliveros. My teacher Silvia Nakkach speaks of her often as one of her great teachers and mentors. Up until now I had just seen one short performance by her on YouTube. The only thing I really knew is that she seemed to think about and experience sound in much the same way as I do- but with a far great understanding aligned with wisdom and the gift of being able to articulate her understanding most eloquently!

I have a ridiculous number of short recordings on my iPhone. Most are audio recordings and some are video- for example the "murder of crows" I filmed a few nights ago in Newport when they all came flying into a tree next to where I had parked. Or the recording of sheep in Holland, the day I discovered that they all have different voices! And countless recordings of bird sounds, different configurations of running water, cicadas in Sedona and other interesting sonic wonders I come across. I am frustrated that I do not have enough of an understanding of current technology to be able to upload these recordings onto my website or to layer them and expand on them with other instrumentation. Hopefully the right person will come along who can help me with that.

The Healing Sound Journeys that I perform evolved from my sound healing workshops, the intention being to stimulate, deepen, enhance and expand the process of listening- to naturally and organically take one beyond the experience of passively hearing to actively listening. What I have discovered through my own experience and observation is that the listener can enter into a state of deep relaxation due to the nature of the ambient acoustic frequencies and also have the rare experience of becoming fully present with no effort on their part. The endless mind chatter seems to naturally drop away at a certain point and along with it the tendency to think about the past and project into the future, opening up to the fullness of the present.

Here Pauline Oliveros gives a TedTalk on Deep Listening- it is brilliant. Enjoy...