Vibrational Healing With the Sound of Your Voice

We all have two powerful tools for healing- our hands and our voice. This May I will be teaching a workshop in which participants will learn to use their voice for personal transformation and as an application for healing others as well. We will learn toning and overtoning focusing on how to balance the bioenergetic system and do body scans with the voice, learn sacred mantras for transformation and healing and learn Sanskrit seed sounds, "bija mantras", for aligning and balancing the subtle body. We will also learn some simple and beautiful sacred songs and chants from a variety of traditions.
Giving my friend Ine a toning session in Holland, 2012
 This is simple powerful effective work that we can all do. You do not have to be a musician, you do not have to "know how to sing". (The good news is, you already do!)

I am excited to offer this workshop in my home where I have room for 2-4 people to stay. The rest will have to find other accommodations if they are not local. Before I opened my sound healing center in Florida I used to teach workshops out of my home. It was so wonderful during breaks to be able to keep the energy flowing between us all by gathering around the dining room table or outside and sharing food, stories, laughter and music together. Once again I have the perfect environment for this! It's been a while...

I do not have the link set up yet for people to sign up but it will be there soon.

Touched by the Warmth

Update: Leading a chanting group in Newport, RI early tomorrow morning.

It is an interesting challenge to try to recreate the feeling in my home that I had at my sound healing center; such a very different venue in all ways except the intention, which was and is to create a warm and welcoming space for all lovers of sound and music to experience and explore the healing power of music, sound and frequency. I guess I am succeeding. This is the very sweet message that was sent out by Carol Dutton, the organizer and host at Emmanuel Church, as a reminder about tomorrow's group. I was really touched by her warmth and sincerity.

Dear Friends
I am happy to say Rosie Warburton will be leading our chanting session tomorrow in the All Saints Chapel, Emmanuel Church from 9 am to 10:30 am.  I met with Rosie last week at her beautiful log cabin  in the woods in Tiverton.  When I walked in her door I felt at peace as I looked around her living room which was filled with singing bowls and musical instruments.  Rosie has a separate room for her sound healing sessions.  I felt so very fortunate to be in her presence, chanting with her.  I am truly blessed to have her in my life as I learn and experience healing through the power of sound.  I hope you can join us for a very special chanting session.  May today and every day bring you peace, joy and happiness.  Namaste, Carol

Letting Go In Trust

Yesterday morning pretty much from the moment I woke up I had the Durga Stuthi in my head, a beautiful Sanskrit prayer to the Divine Mother in all her different forms and manifestations- as sleep, as memory, as abundance, as compassion, as peace, as power... I was preparing to teach the second day of a workshop on Sound Healing for Balance and Joy. Day number two, Sunday, was all about joy- I had a sense of how we were going to begin the morning, doing some exercises to open the voice. I am also always open to inspiration and guidance while trying to stay within certain parameters.
I started to wonder if for some reason I was supposed to share this prayerful song with the group but it didn't make any sense. It just didn't fit. It was too long and we had an important piece to start the day off with. We had to do the vocal warm-ups before getting into anything else. A different workshop, on chanting perhaps and it might be a nice fit but this just felt like something stuck in my head that I needed to let go of.

I started the class but almost as soon as I began I had to go upstairs to get something I had left up there. On my way down I suddenly realized it was Mother's Day! Ah- that's where the song had come from- Durga was tapping me on the shoulder giving me a reminder! It had taken me about an hour to realize it, so when I got back downstairs I wished all the mothers a happy Mother's Day and told them the story about the chant that had been in my mind since I woke up.

Now that I had gotten the message I shifted gears, got out the guitar and played the Durga Stuthi- there are many verses but there is also a beautiful chorus they were all able to sing along with. Everyone present had powerful experiences of their mothers. Some of them including me had lost them fairly recently- within the last 2-3 years- one woman over 40 years, but we all felt their presence and their love. As it turned out it was such a beautiful, moving and intimate way to start the day. It was also a way for us to connect very deeply which created a beautiful setting and mood for the rest of day.

It was a reminder for me, once again, to trust my guidance and not second guess. Things show up- ideas, thoughts, inspirations, people- for reasons we cannot know. We just have to trust and let things unfold and be revealed in their own time and their own perfect moment.

Musical Notes

The truth is that I am sitting here at the computer at the end of the day and have no idea what I will write about. I also know that I made a commitment to blog every day and if I miss one day I know where I go- down the slippery slope. If I miss a day, one day at a time my blogging will slowly become a thing of the past. This is just how I am. So, without further ado...

Some of the musical notes I have been reviewing in my mind today:
  • The fact that sound/music strengthens the body. I have been putting this into practice the last week or so since I read that and posted on this subject. When I feel a little edgy or when I am too much in my head I either put on some music, pick up the guitar or play one of the singing bowls to restore my equanimity.
  • An invitation to do a sound journey and possibly play music at the Unity Church in (or near?) Carlisle, PA by someone who experienced my work over ten years ago in St. Petersburg, FL. I did a Healing Sound Journey and played during the devotional service at the College of Metaphysical Studies in Clearwater.
  • That has led me to looking at the possibility of setting up a series of Sound Journeys and workshops in the northeast since I may be doing a road trip with my instruments anyway.
  • Reviewing last Friday's Healing Sound Journey in Woonsocket with a group of ladies who I think were mostly new to yoga and definitely new to sound healing. Many of them had pretty extraordinary experiences. I played for about an hour and many of them said it seemed like no time at all. They were shocked when I told them how long it had been. I think this is because when you drop into the present and everything else falls away, there is no time.
  • One woman said that she had a very sexual experience. She shared with me that she as she had gotten older she was feeling less attractive and very "unsexy". She said that during the sound journey she reconnected with her femininity and it totally shifted her relationship to herself.
  • Loving playing my new guitar and exploring new sounds on it, making up chords and playing with different rhythms.
  • Chanting, chanting, chanting. Next week I am leading a kirtan at my friend Kerstin's yoga and art studio. So looking forward to it. Today on my way to yoga class I was chanting intensely and drove right by the house where I do yoga. Realized it a couple of blocks past my destination.
  • Playing with brain tuners- using them for concentration, relaxation and deep meditation. I have been sleeping really well lately so I haven't needed them for that!
  • Thinking a lot about the upcoming workshop in Holland. A little nervous and also very excited. Still contemplating the process and what it will all look like- how much I want to plan and how much I want let unfold organically. Sometimes when I get to hung up on the structure it doesn't go as well. So I am searching for the balance in that process.
  • I have Tibetan bowls all over my living room floor! Tomorrow that will change and they will go back in the sound healing room. I was contemplating what ones I want to bring to Holland so I got them all out.
  • Still thinking about the amazing concert last night with Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn. That will be something to hold on to for a while!

Diverging Directions (All Roads Lead Home)

My mind is going a few different directions with what to write about tonight and I am also very focused on changing my blogging and sleeping pattern so my plan is to keep it short tonight.

One: Still enjoying the energy of the gathering of sweet friends here last week.

Two: My brother came by my house last night and gave me a beautiful new guitar that plays so sweetly. I feel like we have been friends forever and she is inspiring me to play better and try new things that I have never done before.
Three: Yesterday I wrote up the outline for my weekend workshop in Holland that I will be teaching on May 8-9. The course is Sound Healing for Balance and Joy. The realization for me was the same tools that will first serve by restoring balance are also the tools that will bring you joy- not the tools themselves but the effect of their use.

Sound Healing for Balance and Joy
A Two-Day Workshop utilizing Vocal Expression, Singing Bowls, and Tuning Forks

Sound Healing for Balance
Chakra Tones
Body Tuners (C & G Tuning forks)
Brain Tuners
Singing bowls

Sound Healing for Joy
Chakra Tones
Overtone singing
Body Tuners/Brain Tuners
Singing Bowls

The same tools that are used to bring balance and harmony to the nervous system and the mind-body-spirit can also elevate us to states of great joy. The first task is to clear away the clutter and excess chatter. Sound has the capacity to sidestep our left-brain linear thought processes and allow us to drop fully into the present without fear, projection or anxiety. Once we have arrived, we are in a place to access the fullness of our being.

This is a fully experiential workshop. We will immerse ourselves in sound, produced from within and without. What you will take from this are simple, accessible, powerful tools that can assist you in managing physical, mental and emotional pain so that you can tap into the true potential of your being.

“The opposite of love is fear, but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite.”
Holland- 2012

Moving Forward

I am very happy and grateful to be feeling relatively settled in my house so that every day now I get to spend a fair amount of time either playing music or doing something related to sound healing- instead of just unpacking and organizing! One or two days a week I am off to South County to give massage and sound healing treatments to oncology patients, which is really an incredible gift for both them and for me.

Today I spent several hours practicing my harmonium, combining a couple of different chants to Shiva, the transformer, for the yoga and chant class tonight. The icicles are melting, spring is around the corner and with that transformation is in the air! I am starting to figure out the chords with relative ease now which is really a big step. Also, for some reason that I don't really understand, my guitar playing seems to have improved dramatically recently even though it seems like I don't play that much. I feel like it has something to do with the pretty constant immersion in some form of sound that, even though my actual technique isn't nearly as good as it was when I was younger (since I took about a 15 year break from it), my sensitivity to sound has greatly increased and by virtue of that, so has my creativity. Whatever it is- I'm liking it!

Benefits of Chanting Sanskrit

Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati (Ramamurti S. Mishra, MD) my teacher's guru
My beloved teacher, Swami Sivananda Sarasvati
Reasons for learning Sanskrit through chanting, according to Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati:
  • You learn Sanskrit naturally and effortlessly.
  • You enter your being through discipline of meditation, relaxation and concentration.
  • You experience natural unity and integrity with the world.
  • You receive natural and holistic healing, unifying body, mind and spirit.
  • By the radiation of natural health on all levels you help others in the same direction.
  • You experience the integrity of all world languages through the vibration of Sanskrit language with chanting.
  • You enter into meditation in a natural way.
  • You experience natural and spontaneous revelation of freedom and enlightenment, the light of natural awareness.
The Sanskrit language, known as “The mother of all tongues” is one of the oldest known languages, if not the oldest, on our planet. The written alphabet is called “devanāgari”. It is said that the language derived from the cities of the devas, “the shining ones” (“nagar” is the word for city). Each letter was derived from an icon of one of the many diverse Goddesses. The great Devi created 50 subforms of herself, the mātrikas or “little mothers” whose names are still recited daily by devout shakti worshippers. Each letter has its own meditative quality and vṛtti (perturbation of the natural mind) associated with it. 

Because each phenome in the Sanskrit language has its own vibrational quality, with the proper pronunciation one can attain states of mastery- theoretically even if you did not know the actual meaning of the words! This idea has another level of importance, because if the language is mispronounced one can inadvertently be bringing in unwanted vibratory energies. For example, “the pigeon”... rājakapotāsana... the word “rāja” means king or sovereign. Leave off the long “a” and the word becomes “raja”- which translates as either pollen of flowers or menstrual excrement! Properly pronounced it really translates as “the royal pigeon pose”. When one is teaching [yoga] one can be adding to this energy of excellence through the correct pronunciation of Sanskrit.

In 1786 Sir William Jones, one of the first people to seriously study the language outside of India had this to say about it:
The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and in the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong, indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists.
My personal experience of studying and chanting Sanskrit is that it charges the brain, balances the nervous system, creates new neural pathways and improves memory. 

This short video is from an introductory Sanskrit class for yoga teachers that I taught at Living Room Yoga in St. Petersburg, FL several years ago. The actual devanagari letters are below so you can chant along.


Yoga, Chant and Vibration

Major piece of work done today! Met with my friend Morgan and we hashed out the details for our upcoming class on Yoga and Chanting. The name is actually much jazzier- Mindful Yoga & Sacred Chant. The format- about an hour of yoga followed by a half hour or so of chanting- very exciting. The idea is that opening with yoga clears and balances the nadis, or energy channels in the body,  allowing for sound then to flow forth with ease, and taking the work that has alre ady been done to another level.

The discussion led me to looking for a picture for our flyer. I found two gems in my files. The above is where the different seeds sound in the Gayatri Mantra emanate from the subtle body. If you don't know the Gayatri then this may not make a lot of sense. They are just a bunch of different syllables floating around. However, if you know the chant then you can look at the picture and follow the path of sound.
Bhuh bhuvah svah
Tat savitur varenyam
Bhargo devasya dhimahi
Dhiyoyonah prachodayat
Then I found this gorgeous drawing by my Sanskrit teacher's teacher and guru, Dr. Ramamurti Mishra, known to many as Sri Brahmananda Sarasvati, which I believe is inspired by a drawing from an ancient text. It is a drawing of the subtle body with the major chakras and nadis. In the drawing, the nadis seem to flow outside of and around the body but they are actually all contained within the body.  The different nadis and chakras respond and correspond to different frequencies which are designated by the Sanskrit writing on the chart. The writing in larger Sanskrit letters on the top right says "Pranayama" and underneath the drawing (not shown) it says, "The cosmic state of meditation of I-AM." Thus, we can infer from this that control of the breath, pranayama, will lead us to the perfected state- or to the awareness of our own perfection. Even in a simple black and white drawing we can see how the subtle body is illuminated and vibrating at a very high frequency. 

Every Sanskrit syllable (seed sound) has a very specific vibrational quality and by chanting we experience the effect of those sounds. The vibrations charge the brain and travel through the nervous system and the subtle energy system. In the Vedic tradition, all of the different deities in the Hindu pantheon carry the vibrational qualities of the seed sounds contained within their names.For example, the vibrational quality of the sound "Ga" or "Gam" (the "a" is pronounced like a short "u" in English, ie "gum") is that it removes obstacles. Hence, Ganesha, the Hindi deity with the head of an elephant, is the Remover of Obstacles. If we want to remove obstacles in our life we can chant, "Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha". "Gam" is the seed sound for Ganesha- so we chant that sound first which is packed with potency and potential. "Ganapataye" is another form of Ganesha's name- the vocative. We are calling on Ganesha... and "Namaha", we bow down to him.

1.13.11 Sound Adjustment

One morning last week Henry and I were sitting in bed having coffee. I had kind of a crick in my neck and was some what uncomfortable not having much range of motion when I turned my head to the left. For whatever reason I suddenly remembered how when I was little, about 5, that when I would get sent upstairs to take a nap I would stand on my bed with my blanket over my shoulders and shout over and over, "When can I get up? When can I get up?" I would repeat it very rhythmically and loudly and really I wasn't unhappy at all. I just didn't want to take a nap! Eventually I would tire of it and wrap my blanket all around me like a cocoon and lay down on my bed and fall asleep. I told Henry about it and began laughing and said, "That was my first chant!" I began repeating it again just like I did when I was little and suddenly my neck adjusted and I had no more pain! Once again, healed by chanting!