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!!!
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:
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!
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!
Knocked out tonight by the richness of this life- brought to mind this beautiful, sweet, sad song by Lucinda Williams. On the edge of weeping...
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.
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.
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...
It's bedtime- past my bedtime in fact. I was so tired two hours ago and happy that I would be getting to bed early... not! Too much to do, too little time!
It's also a full moon, the Strawberry Moon. I didn't know that until tonight but it so happens that I found a patch of strawberries in my woods a few days ago that look like cultivated strawberries as opposed tot he wild ones. It looks very much like at one time someone had planted a strawberry patch there which is now quite overgrown. This afternoon I went out and dug up a few of the plants and transplanted them into my garden. I hope they do well- the leaves are huge!
I saw my post about my inspiration experiment that I embarked upon after reading Patti Smith's book M Train. How long did it take me to forget all about it? The intention was to do one thing each day that inspires me. What did I do today? I gardened. I transplanted strawberries. I also accidentally turned on a piece of music on my phone when I had my earbuds in. Team by Bon Iver. My immediate reaction was to turn it off- unlike 40 years ago, I have no interest in listening to music with headphones or earbuds any more. But it came on... and before I could turn it off it grabbed me. And I was moving to the music within seconds. This is it. A lesson in rhythmic entrainment. It seems a little abrasive to me listening to it this way- it was great with earbuds!
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.
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.
In 2005 I opened the Sound Body Wholistic Health Center in St. Petersburg, FL. It was a wellness center dedicated to the study and practice of sound as a healing modality. I was sad to say goodbye to it in 2012 but it was time for me to return to New England and continue my work as a sound healing practitioner up here. I deeply miss the center and the community that grew up around it and enjoy revisiting it in as many ways as possible. I just returned from a trip to St. Pete where I reconnected with some of my dear friends and did a couple of sound journeys. I also taught a workshop on Healing With Tibetan Singing Bowls at Yoga4All in Seminole.
A wonderful sound healing community is taking shape in Tallahassee as well since my first visit there two years ago, so I spent some time there teaching, doing sound journeys, visiting and making more new friends who are excited about the possibilities!
Tonight as I was going through some old files I came across a video that I had taken at the center of a drumming class probably sometime in 2010 or 2011. For whatever reason I wasn't able to upload it on Youtube back then but tonight I revisited it and uploaded it with no trouble. It is the classic rhythm Lamba taught by master drummer Papa Malick Faye from Senegal who taught a regular drumming class at the center for at least a year. It was an incredible gift having him teach in such an intimate space. He was an amazing teacher and I miss him. Tonight I got out my drum and drummed along with this video. It felt so good! If you have a drum you might want to get it out before you start watching the video.
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
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!
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.
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...
“Anatomists today would be hard put to identify the brain of a visual artist, a writer or a mathematician - but they would recognize the brain of a professional musician without moment’s hesitation. ”
— Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia
There is so much being learned about our connections to music, musical memory and how music affects the brain. Neuroplasticity refers to the brains ability to adapt and to change as a result of training and experience throughout a person's lifetime. Active engagement with sound and music enhances neuroplasticity which also has the effect of enhancing learning. I found for myself that when I was actively studying Sanskrit it clearly had a positive impact on my memory and cognitive skills. My sense was that it was not so much through the actual memorization but through repetition of specific frequencies and seed sounds.
The documentary "Alive Inside" is the joyful story of a man who brought new life into homes for patients with Alzheimer's and dementia, reawakening their minds and hearts by playing for them the music of their youth.
One of the many blessings in being human is that we experience inspiration. Yesterday, for me, it was the millions of men and women- and children!- around the world who joined together to drown out Donald Trump's boorish and self-centered voice in one united voice speaking out for the rights of ALL people- all races, all religions and all genders. We ALL have a right to be heard and to be treated with equality, kindness, respect and dignity, and a responsibility to treat others in the same manner. I cruised on that energy all day yesterday and today. It is a phenomenon. It is a movement, a joining of minds, hearts and wills, that we haven't seen since the sixties.
I am also very much aware that Donald Trump's energy is so huge and so frightening to so many people, myself included, that he has brought people out of the woodwork to speak out, to shout back, to say that we will not quietly lay down and disappear or go to sleep. I think he has awakened a giant. I wonder if he knows what he is in for!
And then, just a little while ago, I received a totally different sort of inspiration from a simple video that showed up when I logged into my Squarespace page. John Malkovich- a simple 3-minute video that feels timeless. It is exquisitely filmed and he is such an enigmatic person that it was captivating. There is also a short excerpt from a song that was so beautiful I had to track it down. I am posting both of those videos on this page.
In the end, what I am left with is a feeling of such deep gratitude for the range of emotions that we get to experience in this amazing journey that we call life and this incredible inspiration that has been driving force me over the last two days. Of course it is there for me a lot in varying degrees, but today it feels like I am riding a wave.
Enjoy the videos!
I had been in some conflict over the last couple of weeks as to whether I should go to the Women's March on Washington this coming Saturday. An emotional part of me really wanted to go. The less reactive part of me really did not. I am very tired of divisiveness and gender separation and, generally speaking, I feel more comfortable being a part of causes that are pro-humanity, rather than pro a specific race or gender. I am also totally against everything that Donald Trump stands for, which from my perspective are antagonism, misogyny, racism, bullying, posturing, self-aggrandizement and intolerance- with the frightening potential to take all of those "qualities" (or lack thereof) to the nth degree. The prayer is that there are truly enough checks and balances in place that he is unable to bring us all down with him in the next four years.
The inspiration came quickly a few mornings ago when I was practicing a Hare Krishna chant- something that resonated through me and which produced no conflict. Have a kirtan- for people who either can't or choose not to go to Washington but wish to be a part of creating the change they want to see and to be. Singing together is one of the most beautiful and powerful ways of creating community, something we need now more than ever. It is a scary time. What I know for myself is that I need to remember to choose love every chance that I get and singing, playing and listening to music are one of the easiest ways for me to change my emotional state.
Kirtan is a practice from the tradition of Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of devotion and the path of the heart. Through singing Sanskrit mantras that have been chanted throughout the ages and across the far reaches of time we invoke the attributes of the many gods and goddesses. As we chant, feelings and emotions are drawn forth from our innermost places and we become the chant- we become the change we want to see.
So there is a potent heart-rending aspect to kirtan, as well as the very basic tendency that we have as human beings to be easily swept away by sound and music and planted gently down in a place of stillness and surrender. It's one of the reasons it is so attractive to us. From the perspective of someone who uses sound as a tool for healing and balancing on a very pragmatic level, there is much to be said about what happens to our physiology when we chant or sing for extended periods. Chanting recharges the brain and is a restorative for the nervous system. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system, releases stress and boosts the immune system.
We all have special gifts, our personal attributes and talents which we nurture and share in our own unique way. I realized as I received this inspiration to host and lead a kirtan that, as a sound healer, I have a gift to share and in my immediate community is where I felt that I could be of the most service and have the greatest impact. There is tremendous upheaval on a global scale and some difficult emotions are coming up for many of us on a deep personal level. My intention for this kirtan is to create a space through the sharing of sound and music where perhaps a few other people can also find some peace within themselves in the midst of tumultuous times.
Click on this link to read more about the science of mantras- http://isha.sadhguru.org/blog/yoga-meditation/demystifying-yoga/mantras-explained-mantra-to-transformation/
And if you don't feel like reading, just enjoy the beautiful mantra posted below!
To find out more about Friday evenings kirtan please click here http://www.wholisticsound.com/new-events/2017/1/20/kirtan-power-chants-for-healing-change-and-transformation
First of all, I can't believe I haven't posted anything since November 22. That's crazy! There is so much in my head all the time about sound- thinking, listening, hearing, experiencing... and intending to write about it.
I am exhausted so I will share just one amazing thing that I learned today. I was just listening to a program on NPR (the Radio Lab- here is the link http://www.radiolab.org/story/267124-speed/) and they were talking about how fast information travels- for example, when they used telegraphs it took a message about 1/4 of a second to travel from New York to Chicago. In the body, information travels at different rates of speed. Pretty much a lot slower than the speed of a telegram although I don't remember the details. The delivery system from the reward center was definitely slower than for pain.
But here is where it got really exciting. They began talking about what it takes to be totally present and in the NOW. They spoke with Seth Horowitz, a neuroscientist who studies, among other things, the biology of hearing. What he said was that the body responds more quickly to sound than anything else- it takes only 50 milliseconds to respond to a loud noise. What this means to me is that sound is the premier tool for mindfulness and meditation. It affords us the possibility to BE PRESENT with little or no effort.
The truth is, I have known this for a long time. This is clearly one of the aspects of sound that makes it so very powerful as a tool for both healing and for personal transformation- because it allows us to drop in to the PRESENT, a rare event unless we have cultivated a dedicated and steady practice over many years. With sound however, we surrender to the vibrations and are taken there immediately with virtually no effort on our part. What was exciting to me was to hear the science behind what I know from experience- from my own practice of working with sound and from the private sessions that I give where I observe the responses of others on a daily basis.
Okay, that's my big excitement for today. Getting up early to drive up to Eliot, Maine to do a Sound Journey.
Need to make this short and sweet- limited time on a free wifi server since I'm not at home. Actually am in Minneapolis right now visiting my kids and grandkids which makes me very happy! Plus my son Nic and my grandson Jonah flew out here so we are all together minus my son Ben who is tying together the last loose ends of his PhD. so he is done by Christmas.
My most interesting sound experience of late... Sitting at my desk at home, everything quiet, and I start hearing this weird little sound, like water running very quietly? It sounded like it was coming from the woodpile near the woodstove. Insects coming out of the wood? I nervously crept closer and closer to it, not having any idea what was in there. Finally I realized it was the sound of the wood drying out! It was a steady constant sound but so interesting and subtle, reminiscent of when you hear caterpillars chewing leaves in the woods. I felt like I had stepped into a different reality, to be able to hear so loudly this very small sound. I listened to it intently over the next two days. Okay, maybe that's a little odd but I was fascinated by the sound and by my ability to hear it.
Here is an interesting little piece on "enhanced hearing". http://powerlisting.wikia.com/wiki/Enhanced_Hearing