Saturday, July 5, 2014

21st Century Musical Healer--Cedar Songs

Peter Ali
On the Solstice, I felt exhausted, but I wanted to check out the Fairhaven District Art Walk.  So I dragged myself by bus to the event.  When I stepped into Village Books, I heard Peter Ali talking about his introduction to Native American and other traditional flutes.

While I was only planning on staying for one or two songs (since I wanted to see as much art as possible), I ended up staying much longer.  I found Peter engaging as he shared stories about his life experiences in relationship to his flute.  One of those stories involved performing for the 14th Dalai Lama and another story revolved around surviving cancer and its brutal chemo treatment.

However on that particular evening, I felt drawn to the soothing qualities of Indigenous flutes and Peter's healing stories that went along with his improvised songs. Coming from mixed heritage, Peter could call himself a true world citizen and one with a healing heart.  So let's celebrate another 21st Century Musical Healer.

Whole Music Exp: You had mentioned that a loss (divorce) brought the Native American flute into your life and that the flute brought healing to you. Will you describe briefly this experience of the flute bringing you healing and how the flute came to you at the right time? 

Peter Ali: The hurting of going through a divorce was being separated from my kid and not understanding why my then wife refused counseling. I was extremely stressed from also working fewer hours due to lack of work and having no family in this State to reach out to. The Native flute came into my life just in time on a summer day during an annual art festival in Poulsbo. I could hear the sound of the Native flute being played and I was drawn to the vendor booth that was selling them, hence meeting the Stewart family/Stellar flutes. 

WME: Please tell me the story of how you discovered additional healing powers of your flutes when you were undergoing chemotherapy and that you now play flute for cancer patients to bring them stress relief. 

PA: Prior to being diagnosed with cancer I played the flute as way to connect with my ancestors and create community (I and an old girl friend hosted several Native flute circles at one time). I found that playing the flute had a calming effect and that sometimes I could tune out everything else. The idea of playing while undergoing chemo was my way of calming everyone else around me in the infusion area, including patients, staff and me. Cancer changed my outlook on life to where I feel everyday is a blessing. I'm glad that I get to stick around so I give back by sometimes just dropping by the cancer center where I was treated and play a few songs to encourage the patients to stay positive and that they will be okay through all this. 

WME: You teach students Native American flute and when you give presentations you include history and other information about each of your unique flutes. Do you ever feel like you are an ambassador of traditional flutes? 

PA: Yes, I totally feel like an ambassador as you mention. I'm glad for my mixed ancestry and it allows me to share who I am, having parents from different countries, languages, belief systems, etc.  I have played in many spiritual communities. Playing for the Dalai Lama (Seeds of Compassion Tour) has been the highlight of my short career, next to playing for cancer patients, tribes, multicultural events, foster Native youth programs and.....just sometimes giving a flute to someone who is hurting. 

WME: Finally, how has your unique heritage brought the flutes into your life? And it seems that the flutes have also led you back to your deeper roots too. 

PA: Somehow, I'd been playing flute for some time and not knowing that flute playing was in my blood as it came very natural to me having no musical past really. (I did take trumpet in grade school but dropped out as I found having to read music was frustrating). 

Imagine the surprise when I learned from my father after I played a song for him on my Native flute when he told me, "Your grandfather was a flute player, he played at weddings and ceremonies." So I asked him why didn't you tell me this when I was young? His answer was, "I didn't think it was important." Now when I'm doing my presentations especially with tribal youth I tell them how important it is to ask questions, such as, “Who am I?” 

In closing, the Native American flute as well as, the Middle Eastern and Norwegian flute I play, brings me peace in many ways. It helps me connect to people from all walks and paths of life, it keeps me humble and grounded, it creates community and it is how I meditate. It’s how I pray and talk to the ancestors. 

Find Peter on Face Book: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Peter-Amar-Ali-Native-American-flutist/267421233298094



Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Practice--Song Manifestations

Wikipedia
One question we hear a lot from metaphysical teachers comes up, "do you like what you experience in your world?" And I would add, "do you like what you hear in your world?"  Do you believe strongly in the lyrics of your favorite songs or even your least favorite songs? And be honest, what type of reality are your favorite songs creating for you to experience?

Now, I'm not going to label experiences as negative or positive. I'll let you decide.  What I will ask is this, what pleases you more, living a life of drama or one of joy? Again, you decide.  But maybe you don't believe a life of joy is possible or maybe you tossed out your dreams in favor of fitting into the status quo and not rocking the proverbial boat.  A small life seems comfortable on the surface and only requires a knack of putting up with situations, people, and events.

What if I told you that the songs we listen to provide mantras in our lives? And what if I told you that we walk around in an altered state, often in a dreamy state with a slower brainwave so we absorb and digest those song mantras into our life experiences? And if this is true, which I believe it is from my experiences, then why do some of us listen to break up instead of love songs? Why do some of us listen intently to protests songs (not saying that doing this once in a while leads to negative states)? Why do we listen to songs with hateful or vengeful lyrics? Though I doubt anyone reading this post fits that description.

Songs have the power to manifest our dreams and our nightmares.  And we control the tuning dial based on the choices we make on an unconscious and conscious level. I launched this blog to spread consciousness around sound vibrations and music. I wrote a book for the same purpose.  I did this because I've noticed that we have no problem jumping on board the quantum physics and Law of Attraction trains, but we do face challenges deleting songs from our lives that don't serve our desires and wishes.  We do this because of sentimental and nostalgic reasons.  We do this for the same reason we crave food with fat, salt and sugar, because it goes down nicely, but then digestion problems occur. 

But if we're honest, we would choose songs with lyrics that bring us life-affirming mantras.  This list includes Disney tunes like "When We Wish Upon a Star," as well as jazz classics such as Louis Armstong's "What a Wonderful World."  I mentioned American soul music from the 1960s through the 1980s that provide mantras for love, spiritual awakening, and setting boundaries in our lives as we honor ourselves.

So if someone wants to attract love and romance in their lives, listen to songs with loving lyrics, and not breakup songs.  As much as I enjoy Carole King's "Too Late," for its chordal progressions and sentiments, this song won't attract love into my life in the way I would like to experience it.  However, Carole King's "I Feel the Earth Move" will attract what I desire. 

If someone wants to attract their wishes such as wealth, prosperity, a new home, or a vacation, then wishing upon a star might do the trick.  If someone wants to feel at one with the world or feel joy, then head over to the Louis Armstrong classic, not to mention countless jazz classics.  Why not listen to George Gershwin's show tunes or his jazz-classical Rhapsody in Blue which has upward moving scales that uplift us?

However, if what you desire is to get in touch with your shadow or what's lurking in your subconscious that keeps you stuck, listen for song motifs or lyrics that stick with you.  Then use some sort of access or clearing tool to release those stuck emotions and integrate your shadow.  I recommend spiritual teachers such as Rikka Zimmerman and Cari Murphy to help you with this process.  Emotional Freedom Technique also works for some people as far as a clearing tool.

So take stock of the type of songs that attract your attention and ask yourself if those song lyrics create your reality? Do those song lyrics cause limited and fearful thinking? Do those song lyrics lead to feelings of self-righteousness or dualistic thinking? Do those songs lyrics bring you hope, faith and a sense of peace? Some people listen to songs for the same reason that they read thrillers or adventure novels to experience an adrenaline rush.  However, consider that every time we engage in fight or flight experiences, we release cortisol in our body which leads to inflammatory diseases.  While the diet and nutrition industry gazes deeply at how food leads to disease, musical vibrations attached to word vibrations I would argue also leads to dis-ease experiences.

In the end, I won't choose your musical menu for you.  I make tons of suggestions on this blog for anyone who chooses to read the hundreds of CDs reviews or browse through interviews and articles.  Sadly, traffic to Whole Music Experience has declined over the last year and this saddens me not because I want anyone to stroke my ego, but because I channel this important information to bring healing to the planet.  If the message goes unnoticed, then what type of healing takes place?

Of course, for anyone who seeks spiritual transcendence, stick with the sacred chants from whatever practice.  Kirtans, toning, Gregorian Chant and Buddhist chants have spiritual power no matter our personal beliefs.  Just being around these chants has a purifying effect that sends us in the right direction.

If you find any of this information useful, please forward to friends, post links on your social media or blogs.  Thank you for helping me to deliver my musical messages.


 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Practice--Indulge Your Soul with Music

Wikipedia Soulful lions
Often we feel empty and we look to food to satisfy our craving or we escape into another type of addiction. Sometimes we feel disconnected from the life around us or we lose our connection to our Divine Source, whatever name you want to call it.  During those times, I recommend indulging in soul music, a term that came about in the 1960s or 1970s that categorized songs of African-American musicians.

Roots for soul music vary going all the way back to the Mandinka and other ancient African kingdoms or most recently to the African-American Church or "Black Church" while finding inspiration from African-American spirituals, blues, jazz, and gospel (not be confused with spirituals).  Some of the favorite artists to come from the genre include Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Earth Wind and Fire, the Commodors, Bill Withers... The songs reached deep into our souls allowing us to feel an array of emotions from defiance, sensuality, spirituality, sadness, and joy.  With soul music we feel our emotions more deeply, which has led to the popularity of this genre.  Many young people listen to the soul music classics from the 1960s through 1980s when the genre all but disappeared or transformed into syrupy pop music dripping with sentimentality.

So let's dig some deep soulful songs.  I'm including some of my favorites here and if you have trouble watching these YouTube videos, check out your local library for the entire albums by these artists.

The first two songs remind us that no matter how hard life seems, there is sunshine behind the clouds and soon we'll find our way back into the light.




Johnny Nash, "I Can See Clearly Now"

Many people enjoy soul music as a route to seduction and often this type of music played in the background of bedrooms or a candle light dinner.



 

Soul songs also found their way into Civil Rights situations or provide an act of defiance



Finally, soul music helps us get in touch with our spiritual destiny 



Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Practice--Music and Memory

By Patricia Herlevi
Every song we've ever heard has a memory or memories attached to it.  Some songs remind us of first loves, choosing a partner to dance with at a middle school sock hop, or college graduation.  Some songs remind us of weddings we attended or scenes from favorite movies, while other songs cause our hearts to ache with the memories that surface.

As to be expected, we gravitate towards songs with happier memories or that relax us some way or lull us into daydreams.  But, the songs with painful memories attached claim treasures too.  In fact, they act as a treasure map to our wounded places where we shed new light if we choose.  When we head over to these wounds, we give ourselves the opportunity to clear away old beliefs, patterns and the root of grief and depression.  Perhaps, these songs lead us to the releasing of repressed anger or sadness.

I recommend working with a music therapist when dealing with deep wounds or deeply repressed emotions.  In the meantime, we can listen for the songs that trigger those painful, even tragic memories.  Listen for these songs when they come on the radio or online while we work at our computer.  Listen for these songs playing on movie soundtracks or listen for topics in songs that relate to your wounds.

For instance, anyone enduring a divorce or romantic breakup would do well to listen to ballads by Chicago, Earth, Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder or Carole King.  In fact, Carole King wrote the most powerful healing from a breakup song of all, "It's too Late".



Another way to work with music and memories is to find a particular album that reflects back to a period in our lives.  For me, Astor Piazzolla's Zero Hour comes to mind.  I recall listening to this album in my early thirties when I lived in Seattle's Queen Anne District and I was beginning my journey into world music.

So I listen to this album and write down any memories, emotions, thoughts or physical sensations that come up in my journal or music diary.  I ask myself the following questions:

1) Who does this album remind me of?

2) What events occurred around the time I discovered this album?

3) What successes and failures did I experience during that time?

4) What were my hopes and dreams? Looking back did I manifest any of them?

5) How did the music initially affect me emotionally and physically?

6) Are there any issues that requires healing coming up when I listen to this album?

 

Finally, what feelings come up for you when you hear this famous album?
 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Announcement: Whole Music article appears in The New Spirit Journal

An excerpt from the introduction of my book Whole Music appears as an article in the May 2014 Issue of The New Spirit Journal.  Read the article, A Healing Music Journey.

NSJ is also free at various locations throughout Washington State.

The Practice--Creating a Power Song Kit

Does Wonder Woman have Power Songs? Wikipedia
The phrase "save it for a rainy day" comes up when I think of Power Song kits.  This phrase refers to putting extra money in the bank, but it can also refer to having a list of songs to fall back on when a bad mood strikes.

I actually came up with the idea of creating a Power Song kit post 9-11 when I had trouble sleeping at night.  Like many others, I wasn't just dealing with my fears, but all the fears around me which I soaked up like a sponge.  At that time, I found myself reaching for particular recordings, usually featuring world music and usually featuring women vocalists, but not always.  From these recordings I put together a list of songs to listen to during stressful times.

On the list, I included Sharon Burch, Monica Salmaso, Arianna Savall, R. Carlos Nakai, Nawang Khechog and others.  Oddly, Mozart hadn't appeared on my radar yet so classical wasn't on my original list.  That list transformed over time to include, jazz, folk, some 1970s funk and soul, as well as, classical.  If it feels good and if it uplifts a mood or relaxing tension or calms fear, it goes in the kit.  Think of it as having a musical emergency kit and this kit goes nicely with the Bach Flower Rescue Remedy too.

Here is the step-by-step process:

  • Prior to an emergency or stressful situation, keep a music diary and track emotional, mental and physical responses to songs.
  • Making note of the songs that calm nerves, relax and invigorate moods.  Write a list including these songs and albums.
  • Explore music from different genres and cultures then add these to the kit
  • While 5 to 10 recordings suffice, I have a music library as my Power Song kit
  • Research types of music with healing potential including sacred and secular music
  • Add these to the kit too
  • Then when a stressful situation shows up, visit your Power Song kit
This exercise combines both keeping a music diary and building a Power Song kit which I mention in my book, Whole Music.  Experience has shown me that Power Songs expand over time and the top 5 albums rotate with new music.   Or as we evolve spiritually or otherwise, our musical preferences change.  We might find ourselves adding Gregorian Chant and more Chopin, for instance.

I have a fun saying, Power Songs make you strong.  These songs certainly make us more resilient and keep us in good moods when the blank hits the fan. But just as the name Power Songs implies, we can also build kits that empower us, make us feel more courageous, prosperous or more joyful.  If you do this right, you raise your frequency and attract a more joyful life no matter what happens in the outer world.  I'm living proof.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Practice--Hiring Sound Healers & Psychoacoustic Experts

I spend a lot of time at Hay House Radio and listening to free spiritual webinars, usually in the realm of energy healing and intuitive coaching.  Often, the spiritual teachers and coaches provide guided meditations or other mp3 programs that lack sound consciousness.  While I understand that production costs of online videos, online courses and mp3 affirmation or meditation giveaways could hinder bottom line profits, cutting corners on soundtracks or background music actually deters from the healing potential of the programs.

Oddly, many of the spiritual teachers refer to Dr. Masaru Emoto's work with music and water crystals.  Yet, they don't apply the power of sound to their own projects.  It's as if hiring a musician, psychoacoustic expert or sound healer costs too much.  And the irony of this reflects on music treated as a cheap commodity and that it's not worth giving a musician a paying gig.  So the spiritual teachers deliver their powerful messages under splashy synthesizers  with high-end electric guitar (screechy) and repetitive medium tempo programmed drums.  This does not represent a conscious or mindful approach to working with frequency! It's jarring at best.

Yesterday, I received a free audio visualization in the form of a mp3 and I was unable to follow the exercise because of the programmed drums and synthesizer which played a strange pattern of notes that left me feeling disoriented.  Needless to say, I stopped listening to the download and then deleted it from my computer.  To say, I felt disappointed is an understatement.  I mostly feel disappointed with the lack of music consciousness among some of the top spiritual healers in the world and if they're not working with music consciousness, how can I expect the rest of the population to grow mindful of the power of music.

On the other hand, Sonia Choquette has used sound mindfully on her online videos including the Manifesting Your Heart's Desire course and the Grace Guidance and Gifts course.  She provides a soundtrack with either acoustic guitar and vocals or a mallet percussion instrument.  Some astrologers have used sound healing tools to provide their background music for their YouTube videos and of course the sound healers often provide the most mindful use of sound, but not always.

So my request for both emerging intuitive coaches and spiritual healers as well as, the established ones, don't cut corners with audio production.  Go the distance and hire a sound healing specialist or musicians versed in psychoacoustics. Stick with acoustic instruments and sound healing tools. For shamanic audio programs, use indigenous drums and instruments.  Native American flute, acoustic guitar, harp, and singing bowls provide relaxing background music. Combine these instruments with bird songs, frog songs, sound of waves or other nature sounds to provide the most welcoming atmosphere for your audio messages.

Also consider public domain classical music played by chamber musicians or just hire a chamber musician orchestra or pianist such as Lisa Spector who has worked with psychoacoustic expert Joshua Leeds.   Or hire new age musicians, harpists, or therapeutic musicians.

It's better to cut corners with clothing and makeup than background audio. And in fact, the frequencies of the audio not only stay with the bodies of listeners throughout the day, but resonate to everyone the listeners come in contact.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Practice--Listening to Nature Songs

Wikipedia
For as long as I know, humans have bonded with the natural world through songs.   This includes a human-non-human musical interaction or the human grabbing inspiration from bird or frog songs.  Within my own time, I've encountered musicians who either play music in a natural setting as an interaction with non-humans (David Rothenberg) or collect natural sounds to wed to sound healing recordings (Marjorie De Muynck).  And let's not forget indigenous musicians who play flute, drums or didgeridoo in the wild.

While I could provide an exhaustive list of such recordings, today I prefer to focus on recordings of natural sounds such as birds, whales, and wind.  Okay, I sense a few yawns from readers of this post.  We remember those early new age recordings of nature sounds that we used to induce sleep or ease tension, am I right? And I prefer to spend time in a wooded or marine setting listening to nature in the raw.  However, that's hard to do when I'm sitting in front of a computer typing a blog post about natural sounds.

So I'm heading to YouTube.  Want to come along?

Bird Songs



Surf/Wind

Frog Songs

Didgeridoo (an instrument made from eucalyptus wood hollowed out by termites)

Bees

Whale Songs

Find either short videos or long-play videos of nature sounds.  Listen to these videos as audio for as long as needed. Then write down emotional, mental and physical reactions in a music diary.  Next, head out the the woods or marine setting to experience the real deal in real time.