Tag Archives: meditation

Sound Baths, Music and Coping In The Time of Rona

I’ve had a tension headache for three days. Today, the fourth day, a Thursday, I feel it starting to subside. Anxiety is a fucker. And it can’t be the way I continue to move forward at this time.

I don’t want to focus on the endless volume of negativity that has poured out of this pandemic in an ugly rush of mismanagement and lack of care for human life.

Instead, I want to share how I’ve been using music and sound to calm my nerves and de-stress while practicing social distancing while not going stir crazy.

Sound baths

I learned about sound baths from Evelyn on The Internets, one of my fave YouTubers in a video where she talks about practices she applies when she’s overwhelmed. First of all, the words sound bath already sound amazing to me. Who wouldn’t want to bath in sound right now? Better than Purell right?

What a sound bath sounds like initially is something like white noise but with a more concentrated composition of layers of sound. At first it may sound like a humming but as you sit and immerse yourself in it like a meditation you begin to hear much more. The first track I ever heard that I feel is similar to a sound bath is by Bjork the mad sound engineering genius herself. I can’t remember how I came upon it but when I heard it it was if I had fallen off of a cliff of “traditional” sounding remixes of her music into something pure and raw that resonated with parts of my body rather than an attachment to melody or song structure.

It’s the Patten Rework remix of her song Stonemilker from the album “Vulnicura.” I thought it was an accident, that maybe my streaming service was skipping the track like a scratched album and something had gone wrong. But no, this was a controlled piece of experimental beauty that not unlike much of Bjork’s work just reached down into my guts and pried open my emotions.

I promise sound baths are 100 times more gentle. LOL!

Here is a layman’s definition:

The sounds are created by a variety of overtone-emitting instruments including tuning forks, gongs, shruti box, Himalayan and crystal singing bowls, chimes, and voice. When you sink into a Sound Bath and guide your awareness to your listening, you allow your brain waves to slow, shifting from a more active state to a more relaxed state, or even a dreamlike state.

There are many varieties of sound bath tracks available. I’ve found the majority that appeal to me on Spotify.  There are sound baths that range from 1 minute to 5 that resonate for the chakras and for different parts of the body and even some that are for each astrology sign. I find them to be very calming, allowing me to slow down my busy brain and focus on an underlying silence, a great expansive space. I’m sure sound baths must be derived from ancient spiritual meditative practices.

Also

I’ve also been watching things that make me happy like Carpool Karoake which is an instant happy maker for me since the only thing I love more than music is traveling in a car listening to and singing to music I love. The latest episode with Billie Eilish is just amazing. I can’t say I’m a super fan of her music but I do think that at 18 years old, she’s a pretty authentic human being, one of a kind and fully immersed in the joy, emotion and deep catharsis of her work as an artist. And she puts on nothing. She just is who she is. I don’t see that very often.

Chris Martin’s recent #togetherathome IG live was also very sweet and soothing and is also available on YouTube along with the Coldplay Tiny Desk performance I just watched this morning. Man, talk about a human who could never live without music! It’s just infectious to watch people who make music light up inside when they share it. There’s nothing like it.

I’ve also been forcing myself to get out and walk even if it’s just for a short while. I get cabin fever easily and thankfully there are a lot of beautiful parks where I live. I need the fresh air and the nature, to be able to see that life is still thriving and blooming.

Next week I start working from home proper and I hate the idea of the toxicity that surrounds that work seeping into my sacred space so I’m hoping that fortifying myself with calm and focus and positivity now will make that transition easier.

Who even knows what will happen tomorrow.

Stay safe out there. And stay connected even in the distance.

 

Satori

silence_good_anwerEvery sound is born out of silence, dies back into silence, and during its life span is surrounded by silence. Silence enables the sound to be. It is an intrinsic but unmanifested part of every sound, every musical note, every song, every word. The Unmanifested is present in this world as silence. This is what it has been said that nothing in this world is so like God as silence. You cannot pay attention to silence without simultaneously becoming still within. Silence without, stillness within. You have entered the Unmanifested.-Eckhart Tolle “The Power of Now”

As I mentioned in my last entry, I had the honor of co-hosting a Creative Arts Night event, at my job of which centered on a panelist discussion about the ways in which the lives of organizers and grassroots workers among many others intersect with and influence the art they create.

My friend and co-editor kicked it off with introductions of the panelists and their bios. I came up to moderate the Q&A, pass around the mic and then kick off the open mic. Our first and only open mic performer was a young guy, a writer and student who works on our IT staff and had submitted several poems to our Arts and Culture section. The first one he read was one we had published. The second was a poem which concluded with an observation on the death of Michael Brown.

I don’t remember what words came before the last word said in that poem: silence.  After that, everyone became completely silent. I know now after speaking to several attendees that we thought he was asking us to take a moment of silence and we went with it. A minute went by and I thought how powerful and beautiful that we were all so supportive in taking this moment of silence together for the slain Michael Brown. After another half minute, he looked around and asked if he had offended anyone. I thought he was still performing. Performance art often uses confrontation to break the fourth wall and bring the audience into the moment. But  then another minute went by and I became aware that something very immediate was taking place inside of me because I was open, expecting that the silence would eventually be filled with more words but receiving only more silence and feeling stillness.

I heard police sirens in the midtown streets just outside. I heard the ding of the elevator bell in the hallway. I felt the hard chair beneath me and up on the podium I began to understand that what we were witnessing was a young man experiencing performance anxiety yet not running away, not filling up the silence with panicked chatter, but examining it and watching it while we watched him. I spoke to him afterwards and he was absolutely not performing. He could not have planned it if he tried. It was for me, a deeply rewarding and unexpectedly meditative experience. I had entered an umanifested space of pure energy, the moment of stillness before anything, any thought, movement or sound takes place. There was such an immense space there.

In “The Power of Now” Eckhart Tolle talks a lot about present minded living and about the moment in meditative silence when thought stops. The Japanese call it Satori, “when attention rests in the present moment, when the body is alert, sensitive, relaxed and the emotions are open and free.” That’s where I was all of a sudden on a Friday night at my place of work no less after the stressful hours that followed as a part of planning something into which much expectation was invested and then just letting it go. Before that I admit I was stressed out, irritated, embarrassed (the turn out was not what we expected) worried, not to mention sweaty from doing not only clean up from the previous group but also doing a chair set up that building staff was required to do. So I was holding back a lot of negative energy and pressure and taking a lot of deep breaths. In the end all I could do was execute the plan. That unexpected moment of presence made me realize that this was all that really mattered. Not what could have been or might have been or even what might be when we do this again.

Now is always happening now and it is the place where we as human beings reside in our lives the least! We define progress by a great deal of activity and business and running in place and competition and comparison and judgement and keeping up when in reality what we really need, we have already. And it’s not necessary to become a different person in order to see this. It’s only necessary to become who you truly are.

My Gyn Has Candles in the Examination Room

candle_Candle_light_4009

Well not real candles. I’m guessing that would be a fire hazard. They’re those fake candles that are actually like flickering electric lights in candle holders. My gynecologist has those going on the table across from the examination table and no overhead light ever.

Whenever I’m there on the table with the sheet wrapped around me, waiting for Dr. Simmons to come in, I’m usually pretty relaxed and at ease, the light from the faux candles have a very calming effect on me. Naturally, I’ve had several gyns before and it occurred to me while I was there last, that this is not the usual examination room experience. Simmons tells me that this was the intention of her and her partners when she opened the spa, and that this room and the candlelight effect was intended to decrease anxiety and lower the heart rate. I love it when women put thought into creating spaces that evoke warmth, relaxation, calm and insulation, particularly in any medical capacity. This is not a room that you want to hurry away from but one that allows you to really settle and be present. In situations where you need to be vulnerable and be examined in intimate ways, this is very important. Plus my gyn has a great bedside manner. The candlelight room is like an extension of her attitude so I never feel like I’m being handled, treated roughly, being rushed in and out like cattle or being neglected or forgotten. I’ve also never witnessed crowding or even remotely heavy traffic at the practice. When I arrive there are never more than three or four women in the waiting room which is also softly lit with low music playing always.

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