Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Healing Sound Retreat with Christine Stevens and Silvia Nakkach, August 29–September 1, 2014.
Christine Stevens is on a musical mission to introduce people to the most ancient and transformative vehicles to support healing and release joy: Voice & Rhythm. Through guided sound-centered contemplative practices of drumming and chanting, students gather an original repertoire of medicine melodies to use personally and in shamanic, psychotherapy, and wellness sessions. In this interview, she shares her inspiration, discusses her journey, and leads listeners/viewers in a healing exercise.
Watch our interview with Christine below, or scroll down to stream/download the audio.
If you’d like to download the audio file, CLICK HERE and find the “Download” button. Otherwise, you can stream the audio below.
Christine Stevens is the founder of UpBeat Drum Circles and author of the Sounds True books Music Medicine and the Healing Drum Kit. She has appeared on PBS, NBC, and led the first drum circle training in a war-zone in northern Iraq. Learn more on her website: www.ubdrumcircles.com/
Sound as vibration has the ability to permeate all things. Sound originates in space. We live in space, breath air, receive energy from the sun and the earth at every moment, and yet, the awareness of the essential relationship with these primal elements only happens during heightened states of consciousness, when we become sensitive to the gross and subtle dimensions of these essentials. Sound travels through us, activating our bodies and our imagination, and modulating our mood in the process. We connect and process sound as information. Everything we do, think, sense, and feel, carries a vibrational frequency that creates and can change our circumstance at every moment.
The most ancient cultures on the planet believed that material reality is the manifestation of primordial vibration. Even the Bible teaches that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” – John 1:1
Early and contemporary spiritual traditions, the mystical experiences of sages and shamans, and scientists alike propose that vibration (spandam, the first sound) is the beginning of all creation. Both the material and the absolute realities are nothing but pulsations and at every level there is sound component of the universe. Through the finesse of their yogic practices and meditation, the sages as well as the scientists distilled the microscopic and molecular stratus of sound in detailed scales. The ancient Bön and Dzogchen teachings, which predate Buddhism in Tibet, also state that sound is in the basis of all manifestation. In a newsletter of the International Dzogchen Community, Costantino Albini writes:
“In the most ancient Tibetan mythological cycles, sound is considered to be the original source of all existence. Sound, which from the beginning of time has vibrated in ineffable emptiness, arises through mutations of light and then differentiates into rays of various colors from which the material elements that make up the entire universe originate.”
Albini is describing how sound gives birth to light, and how light shines out in rays that become the elements—quite literally the physical matter of the universe. In many ancient traditions, sound and vibration are present as a gateway to contemplation, divination, and spiritual development. In the Vedic tradition, derived from texts originating in ancient India, the “Word,” as it is conceived of in the Western Bible, is called the Nada Brahma.
The primordial and transcendent sound is considered the seed from which all of creation evolved. This is the Nada Brahma. Nada, or vibration, is the first audible sound, the primordial roaring, the resounding flow that heralds the beginning of the evolutionary process from which energy and matter radiate. Brahma, the creator God, is the creative power that animates one’s divine consciousness with the power to move the heart.
The original, eternal Nada vibrates at the highest rate of frequency. In physics, when an object vibrates at an inconceivable speed, it appears to the eye that it’s not moving. It’s fascinating that the highest point of vibration is stillness; in the dimension of sound, this is experienced as silence. Above a certain level of high frequency, sound becomes inaudible and can only be perceived subjectively. The ears cannot perceive sounds that are vibrating at such a high rate. Thus, Nada is both the beginning of all sounds and manifestations, and, in the realm of consciousness, Nada is the vibratory rate of silence.
Whatever way you look at it, even as meditation or contemplative practice, an experience of Nada—savored in the intimate union of sound and silence—becomes the super-highway to the therapeutic process. As practitioners of sound as yoga and transpersonal music psychotherapy, we consider Nada the beginning of the boundless healing power of sound. The journey to wholeness starts with awareness, clarity, and a moment of suspension.
It is interesting to see that creation and sound have, in most religions and civilizations, enjoyed a cosmic relationship. In the Indian philosophy, sound, dhvani or nada is the basic substance from which the universe of music and expressive utterance and indeed the entire universe has emerged, the Nada-Brahman. The nada is linked to the source of creation, to space and time, to the senses, to symbols, melodies and structures in music, and to sonic design in terms if resonance and acoustics.
The Hatha-yoga-pradipika 3.64 says that the mind absorbed in nada does not crave for sense objects. The unstruck sound, anahata nada, is heard in the anahata-chakra, the psycho-energetic centre located at the heart, the seat of transcendental consciousness. In this seat of the divine can be heard the immortal sound not produced by anything. It is the divinity inherent in music that connotes this sound of the soundless, and endows the yogis with super sensuous sound, from the audible to the inaudible, transcendental sound. They stir the depth of the ocean.
The above text was excerpted from Silvia’s upcoming book Sound and the Subtle: Transforming Emotions through Mantra & Raga Yoga.
Silvia Nakkach, MA, MMT, is a musician that has cultivated a voice that transports the listeners into heart of devotion. An award-winning composer, former psychotherapist, and a leading authority in the field of sound and consciousness transformation, she is on the faculty of the California Institute of Integral Studies, where she has created the world premier Certificate in Sound, Voice and Music Healing established in an academic institution. She is also the founding director of the Vox Mundi and the Mystery School of the Voice, a project devoted to preserving sacred musical traditions, combining education, performance, and spiritual service, with centers throughout the USA, Brazil, Argentina, and India. As an internationally accredited specialist in cross-cultural music therapy training, Silvia has pioneered the integration of microtonal singing and the ragas of India with integrative medicine applications, contributing an extensive body of vocal techniques that have become landmarks in the field of sound and music therapies across the world. She has released 12 CD-albums, and her last book, FREE YOUR VOICE, is making history among musicians, vocalist, healers, yogis and spiritual seekers. Her thousands of students across the world refer to Silvia as the Minister of Transportation and Transformation. Meet her here: www.voxmundiproject.com
Listen to her recent interview with Tami Simons from Sounds True: The Sacred Sound
We use the language of rhythm all the time. I feel “off-beat.” Happiness is called “up-beat.” We talk about feeling like “we got our groove back.” But dive deeper into this rhythm metaphor to the deep pulsing heartbeat that defines life itself, and you’ll discover that rhythm exists within and all around you. Playing drums and percussion can become a sacred invocation of this healing life force.
Four Rhythms of Life
We all have rhythm within us. This rhythm is so natural that we hardly notice the drum of who we are. The following are just a few examples of four rhythms we know from being alive that define the movement of life.
1. Heartbeat. The heartbeat rhythm is primal—the mother of all rhythms and the rhythm we first heard inside our mother’s womb. The groove of life ranges from a resting heart rate of seventy-two beats a minute, or adagio, which liter- ally means “at ease,” to andante, or moderate, like a walking pace. When you question your own innate rhythmical sense, just remember this inner beat pulsing within you always. If you are alive, you’ve got rhythm.
Video to practice the heartbeat:
Watch hundreds of people playing the heartbeat together at the Sounds True Wake Up Festival: CLICK HERE
2. Breathing. The beat of breathing is a natural balanced pattern of inhale and exhale. Breathing is the rhythm of life that gives the body the chance to receive and release. How we breathe creates great impact on our health, and our breath is a barometer of our state of being. Relax, and we breathe more deeply. Under stress, our breath becomes shallow. Become aware of this breathing rhythm, and you will be more present and connected to your body.
3. Walking. Walking is a two-beat pattern, a double beat, which in music is called “duple meter.” The walking beat has a masculine energy, like marching forward, feeling a sense of linear movement, straight ahead. Military chants are formed to this rhythm, but so are samba grooves in Brazilian street parades. In the walking beat, we learn the subtle contrast between downbeat and upbeat. In the downbeat, we feel a sense of grounding, like steps walking on the earth. In the upbeat, we feel lifted in the magical space between each pulse.
Learn the walking rhythm in a labyrinth practice:
4. Rocking. Rocking back and forth or swaying creates a soothing, more feminine groove.
We all know it from the motion of being rocked as babies. Rocking inspires the hips to move in the sensuality and circularity of undulating motions. Rocking is a triple meter or three-beat pattern. We hear this rhythm in many world beats, from Africa to Brazil, and in cultures that live in more connection to the feminine energy of Mother Earth.
The Groove—The Pocket of Life
The groove in music is the feeling that calls our bodies to dance easily and effortlessly. It’s the underlying essence of the rhythmical force that holds music together. Good drummers learn to establish the groove and then fall into it, maintaining a consistent energy. The groove is a pathway, a portal, a secret spot that drummers call “the pocket,” a place of rhythmic alignment where playing becomes effortless.
Being in the groove also happens in life when we create the groove that is our essence; it’s our way of moving through life, sharing our gifts, growing, and dancing. We can tell when we’re in the groove. Life lines up, and we feel a sense of being carried by the rhythm of our daily movements and interactions. Gradually we learn to trust the groove and take risks; and we do so more and more effortlessly. Life becomes a dance to the beat of our own drum, building the “mojo” upon every beat of our life as we step forward, sometimes in uncharted compositions orchestrated by our own heartbeat.
Tune in to your own life’s groove and notice the tempo changes. Be courageous and share the beat of your own heart. Notice how you create the pocket of life—the place where your gifts line up with the opportunity to serve, grow, and create.
When rhythms line up in life’s magical moments of perfect timing in an unplanned way, it is synchronicity. Synchronicity is an awareness of the rhythm of seemingly coincidental events occurring in perfect timing. Synchronicity in life’s magical moments reflects a perfect timing beyond our own planning. Chronos, the root of synchronicity, literally means “timing.” When we recognize these synchronicities, we experience an even greater groove of life. It seems that things come together beyond our own personal efforts. Perhaps you have had an intuition to call a friend just at the moment she needs your support. Or maybe you are in the right place at the right time for a new career opportunity. When this happens, you are playing your life like a drummer in the pocket, the groove—and this is your rhythm.
When we live according to our life’s purpose, synchronicity grows. The key to this is to practice recognizing synchronicity, like a drummer listening for moments when the beats align perfectly, effortlessly. Then we can receive the magic and trust the effortless unfolding of our rhythm.
Think of a time when you experienced synchronicity in your life that was an amazing moment. Be aware of this rhythm in your life and celebrate the deep pocket of this sacred groove.