Friday, February 21, 2014

The Practice--Make Way for Super Music

photo by Patricia Herlevi
(Conclusion of the book Whole Music Soul Food for the Mind Body Spirit)

Super Music verses Junk Music (Excerpt)

Like many other Americans, I spent my childhood eating junk food and listening to pop music.  Both the junk food and commercial music provided quick fixes and temporary comfort followed by agitation and hyperactivity later.  While food allergies and sensitivities increase in our society, I developed sensitivities to heavily programmed music without a strong melody or natural rhythms (in sync with the natural heartbeat).  I escaped into the worlds of jazz, classical, folkloric, and indigenous music.  However, some pop music, such as the Beatles with strong melodies and interwoven harmonies provides its own type of healing.
In my twenties, I gravitated towards alternative rock. 

It’s as if I needed to evolve spiritually, physically, and intellectually before I could appreciate music genres from other cultures and traditions.  Fortunately, when I was in my late thirties, the WOMAD Festival presented by Peter Gabriel came to Redmond, Washington and left me open to more healing music possibilities.  WOMAD accomplished this mission by preserving music traditions, building a community among global musicians and new audiences, and presenting music events in natural settings.

At the same time when I first attended WOMAD USA, I had also started eating whole foods and eliminating all junk food from my diet, a process that would progress through a decade.  I found this transition challenging since like others, I experienced an addiction to certain sounds and foods.  A comparison between whole foods and holistic music seemed obvious to me at the time.  As I ate whole grains and vegetables, I started researching the effects of various types of music on my body.  I created a de-facto music lab in my small Seattle apartment and I started an elimination process of electronic and most rock music.

Vibration + Intention = Music

One of my favorite food and cooking books at the time was Paul Pitchford’s Healing with Whole Foods, in which the author spoke about “vibrational cooking” while referring to Macrobiotics and Chinese medicine in regard to diet.  Pitchford devoted a section of the book to the types of healing that each food (fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds) could provide.  And in each section, the foods were listed by temperature (cold, cooling, warm, and warming).  Later, when I created a workshop for balancing Ayurvedic doshas with music, temperature surfaced again, but this time with different ragas I brought to the workshop.

I focused on ragas because this music connects to a specific season, time of day, or mood.  Each dosha represents qualities such as air, space, fire, water, and earth and certain qualities balance each dosha.  For instance, a Vata dosha (air and space), grows tense and overly sensitive when out of balance.  In the realm of a food diet, warm and heavier foods balance this dosha; slow, soft, and warm music balances this dosha too.  Finding the right raga for each dosha proved challenging, so I also brought in western music (classical and jazz) to help balance doshas.  Using the Vata dosha as an example again, a slow cello piece by J.S. Bach would also balance this dosha, especially during the Vata hours of 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.; 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Kapha people benefit from the opposite scenario and balance their dosha by listening to music that begins softly and slowly then picks up speed and intensity.  Since Kapha hours fall between 6:00 and 10:00 a.m. (and 6:00 p.m. and 10 p.m.), Kapha people need music that will roll them out of bed, rather than allowing them to hit the snooze button.

Pitta’s with their tendency towards fiery tempers balance their dosha with soft, cooling and intellectually-stimulating music.  I know one woman with this dosha who prefers listening to harp music upon waking each morning.  Harp music varies in complexity.  The Pitta hours of the day are 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 2:00 a.m....

Copyright Patricia Herlevi, 2014