Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Practice: Music—Soul Food for Developing Higher Consciousness

Imagine yourself eating a ripe orange. Imagine the tangy taste on your lips and tongue, your teeth biting into the orange’s texture and the feeling of your grateful heart. And if you ate that orange with conscious thought you might feel your body radiate with the essence of the citrus fruit throughout the day. While we don’t think of food as containing vibration, everything we touch, taste, feel, hear, or see possesses a vibration and when we connect with those vibrations, an alchemical process takes place within our bodies.

Now, imagine listening to a Bach composition played on a cello. Imagine the low and throaty sound of the instrument vibrating in your chakras.  Allow your mind might wander to a memory associated with that piece of music. Your feet might tap in time and if you have developed consciousness in regard to your body, you might feel subtle vibrations moving through you and you might feel a slight crackle of energy in the room. And what if you were listening to a live cellist? If you connect with the cellist, it might feel like a sacred experience of Oneness. Again, you absorb vibrations and an alchemical process takes place in your body.

The reason why I gave food and music scenarios, is to point out the obvious of musical vibration. I wish to emphasize the importance of tracking your bodies’ responses to sounds and music you expose to it. Collectively “music” seems like too generic a term because it hails from every tradition, every nation and was created with a specific purpose in mind, including community-building, work songs, prayer/meditation songs, educational and entertainment.

We still sing lullabies to restless children and to ourselves when we feel frightened. Circus music transports us back to childhood and the blues might stir our repressed emotions leading to catharsis. But those are obvious scenarios and I believe that there needs to be a greater purpose and consciousness behind the music we choose to have in our lives. We need to spend more time tracking our emotional and physical responses to music. Then we use music purposefully in our lives.


That Magical, Musical Carpet Ride…

So how do we do that? The ultra sensitive people will experience the most fun with this task which involves the art of listening to music. I took a college course with that exact title, The Art of Listening to Music. The professor had us listen to the same Bach Fugue in G for every class, but I was immature at the time to hear the subtleties in Bach’s fugue. And sadly when it comes to appreciating music, I find that many people (outside of musicians, scholars, and music reviewers) have not developed the art.

We play music in the background and multitask or worse we hold a conversation instead of listening to the music. So then why play the music at all? Or worse, we attend symphony concerts because we need to fulfill a subscription or it’s a great place to run into colleagues.

But what if people came together as a community to actually celebrate the beautiful music presented, to sit quietly (no fidgeting, coughing or whispering to your colleague) and allow yourself to meld into Oneness with the orchestra musicians, the dead composer, the concert goers and the spirit of the music itself? If you allow the music to transport you to that place of Oneness then for that moment you have experienced higher consciousness.

Steps to Developing Musical Soul Food

Perhaps attending a symphony concert does not appeal to you, but reaching a state of higher consciousness through sound vibration does. The quickest route involves listening to sacred music from any spiritual tradition, as long as the performers set the right intention. Sound healing tools (although not melodic music), can clear blockages in chakras and provide an avenue for higher consciousness. World music, jazz, classical and some folk music traditions might also lead to higher consciousness especially if some kind of movement such as dance is involved.

I’ve melded with Oneness dancing to West African music and I’ve also experienced Oneness sitting quietly listening to Indian ragas played during the right season and right time of day. Musicians experience Oneness while they’re composing, recording and performing.

Step 1: Experiment with different kinds of music while learning the history and purpose behind the musical tradition. (For best results use instrumental or music sung in a foreign language).

Step 2: Enter a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted, make yourself comfortable and with or without headphones listen to the music. When I say listen to the music, I’m not asking you to theorize or analyze the sounds, rhythm and texture or to even get lost in the lyrics, but to listen with your heart/emotions.

Step 3: After you have listened to the music while sitting quietly, try adding movement (dance) and allow the music to take you on its journey. Lose your sense of time/space and bond with the music.

Step 4: When you have completed your listening, thank the music for its gift.

Conclusion:

Think of music as soul food with specific intent and purpose. Learn the roots (cultural and historical) of your favorite music genres and try to align the right music with the right purpose for best results. As you practice the above steps, you will gain a deeper understanding for sound vibration and empower yourself in the process. Not only that, you will allow music to transport you on the highway of higher consciousness. Bon voyage!

Originally published in New Spirit Journal.

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