Saturday, January 29, 2011

FYI: Free Music Education for Vancouver's Inner City Youth

I read an article on Canadian songster Sarah McLachlan in a back issue of Yoga Journal and learned about Sarah's music outreach program.

Here is the website

I applaud these sorts of efforts.  Music also saved my life and I would have never survived my childhood without music lessons and music.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Essay: 3-PT Series--Lifting the Body's Vibration Through Sound

Distinguishing Low from High Vibrations PT 2

So now that you've unblocked your chakras, you'll want to hang out in a higher vibrational environment...

I know that I’m in sync with the world when a CD that arrives in the mail matches exactly my energy level and vibration. This happened to me recently when an advance copy of Mamadou Diabate’s “Courage” arrived in the mail (I’ll review this CD in February). And since I was contemplating my essay on vibration (high and low), I thought that the recording came at the perfect time. Not only that, I enjoy griot morality lessons.

Not long ago, I thought of vibration in a dualistic way. You have high vibration which equates to love and low vibration which equates to fear. Now, when I talk about low and high vibration, I’m not talking about bass and piccolo. I’m talking more or less about negative and positive energy, but again, I’ve learned that there’s a lot more to it than raising your vibration by showing up in a high vibration environment. If your vibration is low, then showing up in a high vibration environment is going to frighten you and it will not feel like home. A high vibration person showing up in a low vibration environment might suffer from a headache, dizziness, brain fog, and a bad mood.

First of all, the average person isn’t even aware of vibrations and few people where I currently reside can engage in a conversation about quantum physics (this isn’t Seattle after all). But the learning curve nonetheless has been steep for me as I’ve witnessed how people (unwittingly) gravitate towards certain vibrations and run screaming (practically) from others. Personally, I’ve grown intolerant to lower vibrations, don’t feel tempted by them, and do my best to distance myself from this harmful energy. But it’s hard to avoid in a city that’s home to people in despair, on drugs, trying to kick the drug habit, or simply don’t care about themselves or anyone else. Just taking the bus feels like a harrowing experience on some days.

It’s not only that but it seems that darkness in the world in general has been turned up a few notches in the past three years. Am I imagining this? The news seems grimmer, (I avoid it), and this economy is either putting people in deep funk or I’ve seen people seeing the current economy as a challenge to create something more sustainable. Again, it’s a matter of perspective; a matter of vibration. A high vibration person possesses a can-do attitude on most days. This person enjoys pitting him or herself against obstacles that frighten others. Many entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, documentary filmmakers, teachers, designers, and organic farmers fit into this category. And when you think about it, with everything crashing around us, this is the perfect time to create new structure and a new world. What do we have to lose?

So what’s my definition of low and high vibration? Can a person feel the vibration? And why do some people feel the difference between low and high vibrations while others just walk blindly through both without consciously noticing? Why are some people attracted to low vibration (violence, war, profanity, thrillers, horror movies, evening news, talk radio (the hateful stuff), racism, sexism and power play), and others are attracted to high vibration (world music, music festivals, classical music, meditation, sound healing, drum circles, yoga, and sacred events)? What determines whether we are attracted to low or high vibrations? We’ve all been wounded so that can’t be the only determining factor and I’ve met refugees from war torn nations with high vibration.

Sadly, I don’t have any answers. But for those of you who prefer high vibration and healing environments, I can make a few suggestions of how to lift your vibration after exposure to low vibrations (again, I’m not talking bass guitar) when I mention low vibration.

Here are some musical practices that help with lifting the vibration:

Dance to African music
Chant to Sanskrit Kirtans or other sacred text
Listen to Gregorian chants
Listen to sound healing recordings
Hum, sing, or whistle
Play your favorite upbeat recordings

Unless you’re burnt out then listen to the sound healing CDs
Listen to Mozart
Play drums (traditional or acoustic)
Listen to bird or whale recordings

Non-Musical Practices that lift vibration

Take a walk in a quiet place
Meditate (if you can) or chant if you’re feeling more active
Yoga, Tai Chi or Chi Gong
Surround yourself in gold light

Take a warm bath with sea salt and sage
Burn sage or use a spray bottle with sage oil (mixed with water)
Eat high vibration foods (super foods), organic, or food you grew yourself
Emotional Freedom Technique
Dr. Zhi Gang Sha’s Soul, Mind, Body Medicine
Read self-help or spiritual books
Sit near a large body of water
Call a loving and supportive friend (but don't rant)

I hope this information proves helpful to you. It is crucial that we raise our vibrations because the world is in a dark place (half of it anyway). I have an image of a room full of people lighting a candle until the darkness fades into the shadows. Think of raising your vibration as lighting another candle in the room of the world.  If you're reading this essay, then you are already holding a lit candle.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Essay: 3-PT Series--Lifting the Body's Vibration Through Sound

Lifting Vibrations (Series)

The 7 Chakras

I decided last night at 2:00 a.m. to write a three-part series on lifting the body’s vibration through the use of music and sound. Granted, I’m not a sound healer so if you wish to delve further into clearing chakras and balancing your aura with sound, I recommend visiting a sound healer who will teach you self-healing and balancing chants and use vibratory instruments such as tuning forks to clear stuck energy from your chakras.

In the first essay of the series I will discuss the 7-chakra system of the West, the only one I’m familiar with and comfortable mentioning. It’s also the simplest to understand because it only involves 7 energy centers starting at the base of the spine (root chakra) and stopping just slightly above the head (crown chakra). The first 3 chakras refer to the material realm (root, sacral, and solar plexus), the heart and throat chakras refer to the bridge between the material and spirit realms, and the third eye (pineal gland) and crown chakra represent the spiritual realm.

Spiritual teachers at various workshops I’ve taken over the years and from books I’ve read on clearing energy, tell us that most of humanity is not balanced with the chakras. Most humans we meet have issues and stuck energy in the first three chakras and we can definitely see this played out in the “material” world. While humans who have devoted themselves to a spiritual path and follow some kind of spiritual discipline diligently open their heart chakra, but might have trouble communicating their epiphanies and contact with the spiritual realm (throat chakra blocked).

Some people aren’t grounded in the first three chakras, but have clear and open channels in their crown and third eye chakras. They experience spiritual epiphanies, attend spiritual workshops and might possess shamanic gifts, but without the ability to ground themselves and clear their first three chakras, these people suffer from survival issues. Though they tend to thrive at spiritual conferences, conventions and psychic fairs, eventually if they don’t ground themselves, they will burn out. And at best, others might not take them seriously because they don’t back their intuition and insights with logic or discernment. These people, though compassionate they might be, frighten me. They can see an expansive view of the world, but are unable to deal with the details of their daily lives or explain the simplest of concepts.  They often end up confused or they confuse others they are trying to enlighten.

Those people who experience blocked energies in one of the first three chakras (root, sacral, and solar plexus) deal with financial difficulties. The root chakra represents the foundation and when it is blocked, we feel unsecure and unsafe. When the second chakra, sacral is blocked (usually along with the root chakra), we experience challenges manifesting our good in the world. We might strive for prosperity and abundance but not obtain it, or obtain only a small portion of it. When the third chakra (solar plexus) is blocked we might feel stubborn, willful, and demanding. While it is healthy to have a will of our own, we must balance that will against the whole of humanity. When the third chakra is blocked a person might seem ego-oriented, and take on an “us-verse them” attitude, or their might be a “just me verse everyone else” attitude. The US as a nation appears to suffer from a blocked solar plexus chakra. This however doesn't imply that all Americans experience blocked third chakras because more enlightened people reside here too.

So what are the 7 chakras and what do each of them represent? To answer this question, I’m referring to Margaret Ruby’s book “The DNA of Healing” (Hampton Roads). The following chakras and references come from Ruby’s book. While many books including Ayurvedic medicine and quantum physics books refer to chakras, I especially like the chart and description in Ruby’s book.

First Chakra: Root, Innocence
Archetype: The Magical Child
Location: Base of Spine (tailbone)

“Through the first chakra, we learn how to create security and safety in our lives.”

Second Chakra: Sacral, Creation
Archetype: Goddess
Location: Sexual organs

“Through the second chakra, we learn how to nurture ourselves.”

Third Chakra: Solar Plexus, Wisdom
Archetype: Sage
Location: Above the sexual organs and below the heart

“Through the third chakra, we learn how to become an individual.”

Fourth Chakra: Heart, Love
Archetype: Enchanted Lovers
Location: The Heart

“Through the heart chakra, we learn how to love ourselves.” (And the world).

Fifth Chakra: Throat, Truth
Archetype: Liberator
Location: Throat (and thyroid)

“Through the throat chakra, we express who we are.”

Sixth Chakra: Third Eye, Clarity
Archetype: The Seeker
Location: Pineal Gland

“Through the sixth chakra, we see who we are.”

Seventh Chakra: Crown, Divine
Archetype: Angel
Location: Above the Head

“Through the seventh chakra we feel connected to who we are and the higher source.”

The above description of the chakras refers to balanced chakras. So if you’re chakras are unblocked and your energy centers are in working order, then you would experience the above descriptions. Other books with explanatory charts and information about chakras include Marjorie de Muynck’s “Sound Healing” (Lemiscate) and Ted Andrew’s sound healing books.

Energy healers can see or feel blockages in your chakras. They can also get a feel for which chakras are blocked by listening to a patient’s mental, physical and emotional complaints. If the main complaint is financial difficulties and problems with the lower spine or kidneys, this indicates a blockage in the root chakra. This patient will feel unsecure and unsafe in the world. Of course a diagnoses is more complicated then what I describe.

Music and the use of sound healing tools aren’t the only devices used to unblock chakras. Some people employ meditation, chants, yoga, and other energy self-practices in their lives. Ted Andrew and other sound healers recommend the use of toning (different vowel sounds for each chakra) and Andrew recommended singing the “Do, Re, Mi Song” from “The Sound of Music” although many people feel uncomfortable singing this song because it’s not an easy song to sing and if the chakras are blocked, the song is even harder to sing. 

So why is unblocking chakras so important to lifting the body’s vibration? Low and high vibration can’t co-exist. So what ended up happening with me is that I would attend a sound or energy healing event, get some work done on my body and then feel sick the next day. This wasn’t because energy medicine doesn’t work, but that in order to create well-being, the toxic energy or substances must be removed from the body to unblock low vibration energy. In fact, the more powerful healings practically left me bed-ridden for a day or two with a headache or nausea. Some people catch a virus after receiving a powerful healing and then they assume that the healing didn’t work. Just the opposite is true.

I recommend picking up metaphysical and energy healing books and familiarizing yourself with the chakra system. Then once you tune into where blockages occur, I recommend visiting an energy healer who can get you started in unblocking the chakras. And if this isn’t possible, attend a sound healing workshop or see if your library has sound healing CDs in its collection that you can check out. Please note that not all sound healing CDs are the same. Some were produced by sound healing professional/experts and others by musicians who know little about sound healing, but have an interest in it.

The next essay in the series will discuss the sources of high and low vibration.

Image from Wikepedia (search word, chakra).
Information on chakras from "The DNA of Healing" by Margaret Ruby, Hampton Roads, 2006.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Essay: Mama Mia Mozart! (From my PNW Author blog)

Mamma Mia! Mozart and other Goodies
A Musician Rediscovers Classical Music

“I played all types of music for all three of you when you were children,” boasts my mother, “even the highbrow music.” And it’s true, up until about the age of 10, when I rebelled and would listen to nothing but rock and pop, I had heard jazz, Latin music, classical music, Broadway show tunes and children’s songs. At school, though our district had little funds, we still experienced a solid music program. And I took pride in naming instruments correctly when the teacher would play samples from each of them. I relished the idea of orchestras filled with so many unique voices and how they all fit together.

But by the time I was in high school I had forgotten all about classical music in the favor of rock music. I was familiar with Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin and all the big name composers, but I knew so little about them. I didn’t realize then, that they weren’t just historical figures placed on a pedestal for society to drool on, but were real human beings who felt the same things that I felt as a teenager and of course, now.

By the time I was preparing to attend university, I told my mom and a friend of her’s that I couldn’t stand listening to classical music, that I had no room in my life for it. Then I took two classes at college featuring classical music. One day on a break, I shuffled through my mother’s classical records (yes, we had records back then), and I placed Claude Debussy’s “Prelude to the Afternoon of the Faun” on the turntable. I nearly fainted. The music felt so familiar to me and it swept over me leaving me in that timeless place of enchantment. “Wow, so this is classical music?”

Then I played Felix Mendelssohn’s music for “Midsummer Night’s Dream” and then Peter Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake,” which incidentally was the same music that played on my mother’s musical jewelry box. I realized that classical music was familiar to my ears, mainly because it played in the background of many cartoons that I watched and had watched in the past. I didn’t know my mother played this music for me when I was in the womb or as an infant.

What I didn’t know then was that by the time I reached my late 30s, I would walk away from rock and pop music, embracing the world of classical music (not just European), to heal myself. And I found plenty of evidence both in the metaphysical and scientific fields boasting the healing power of classical and other types of music. Nor did I know that I would become fascinated with musical composers of the past and how they viewed the world and how others of their time perceived them.

Patricia Herlevi, 1986 photo by D. Cuizon
Last night I woke up with a sore throat, which I had fought on and off throughout the day. I made myself a cup of slippery elm tea and listened to “Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto K622 in A major” through my head phones. I visualized Mozart’s face while I listened to the music and I felt my body’s vibration rise–I felt loved by the music.

Now, I wonder if musical composers such as Mozart who was Masonic played around with metaphysical ideas. Did he know that by combining certain instruments, composing in specific keys (he favored A major) and building musical architecture would result in healing music? Did he know about quantum physics before the rest of us or that musical vibration is energy that can either heal the body through harmony or cause illness through chaos or dissonance?

And what did Bach, Beethoven or Debussy (who was known to dabble in the magical side of life) know about the power of music? I’ve read enough scholarly biographies on the composers that mainly delve into the personal lives of the composers and then toss music theory at me, as if that means anything to me. But what I want to know is what these composers were thinking at the time or even feeling at the time when they composed the music that we now find healing.

Most composers suffered from serious illnesses. Could they have been composing music as a balm for themselves? What about Debussy when he was fighting a battle with cancer or Mozart who died of TB and who knows what else at the age of 33? And perhaps Beethoven composed with such extreme dynamics because he was losing his hearing and he felt angry, helpless, but still hopeful about his situation. So through the compensations these composers made, they ended up creating something that would heal others down the line.

And should we discern when we listen to classical music? Is all of it healing or just the music that had healing thoughts behind it? Is the music of Wagner healing? Some experts say yes, but I have my doubts. How can music composed by an arrogant, even meglomaniac act as a healing balm? Or was there a side of Wagner that has been kept hidden from us, a more vulnerable side in need of deep healing and his music could have provided that for him?

But getting back to my mother who was ahead of her own time and instinctively knew that playing music for her unborn children as well as, for their developing brains would prepare them for life. Perhaps this caused an addiction for music in me or just led me on this wonderful path of discovery. But I would not have survived this long without music. And I have returned to my origins in a way, and now classical music comforts me in the middle of the night and sings me back to sleep.

Mamma mia! My mother was right. Mozart and the others can bring healing and we as a planet, can certainly benefit from that now.