Healing Sound: A Conversation with Christine Stevens (Video/Audio)


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.

Related posts on the SMC Blog:

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Christine Stevens

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 and the Subtle

By Silvia Nakkach

Silvia Nakkach will be co-leading Healing Sound Retreat, along with Christine Stevens, August 29–September 1

Silvia Nakkach -BiaSound 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.

Related posts on the SMC Blog:

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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

More:

Listen to her recent interview with Tami Simons from Sounds True: The Sacred Sound

 

Floral Notes and Bardo: Explore Bananas

By Travis Newbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

Cody is beaming, going to Rainbow gathering.

Last week sitting on a bench in the sun, with Heather, a few days after I’d decided not to attend Kasung Encampment, Cody approached and introduced the idea of me going along with him to the Gathering.

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“Hippe Encampment,” Heather remarked.

Exactly. The idea appealed to me because it was so funny, but what I really need to is settle.

“The seasons are not theoretical here.”

Acharya Lyon said that a while ago, and it haunts me, in a funny way.  Summer is bananas.  There are so many people here and so much going on.  It’s really impossible to keep track, challenging to keep in touch.  It’s a buzzing hive.

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I slept a bit last night, after spending beautiful time with Heather.  This morning, rainbows on our faces, sunlight refracted by crystals hanging in her east-facing window.  Heather’s birthday is this weekend and she’s off to Seattle.  She’s famous in the community for making these extremely beautiful birthday cards for everyone.  I tell her she could go into business with them.

Last night, before heading up to her house, I ran into Mimi, who always has art supplies.  I made a lil’ card for Heather.

This weekend, I’m going to work on a piece of music for her.

I feel the need to sit and meditate for a few days, and also the need to get into artwork.  It’s summer, karma energy, active time.  It’s a wild wave to ride.

– June 27, 2014

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PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center.  His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community. 

 

Floral Notes and Bardo: Until I Sing

By Travis Newbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

Mental combustion in the middle of the night, fuming while the mist hung cool over the peaks in the morning.  Soft, and myself, dense — until I sang.

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Last night a mime appeared at dinner.  Then we held a Sukhavati ceremony for distant friend.  As the ceremony was beginning, a tremendous thunderstorm rolled in.  Hail came pouring down onto the shrine tent.  Acharya couldn’t speak over the noise, so we paused.  We sat while the storm raged.  Then, continued the ceremony.

Afterwards, I realized that my shoes were soaked.  I walked barefoot on little balls of hail and dirt trail beside Acharya and we enjoyed how the whole thing had unfolded.

I woke up the in middle of the night, angry, resentful of my commitment to Kasungship.

Basically: I have to devote hours of my life to helping others, rather than doing what I feel like doing, and I’m throwing a tantrum about it.

One of my storylines is that there are plenty of ways to serve, and one of them is Kasungship.  And Kasungship is not the one that I feel most naturally inclined towards.  I’d rather be arranging flowers, making music, nurturing the Delek System.

I think that story is valid.  And, it doesn’t matter.  I took an oath.  So, it’s my job to do my duty without complaining.  Seems like a positive thing to do.  Seems like I may grow through the experience.  But, man, it’s a pain in the ass.

This is the nitty gritty of the path.  This is the pickle of devotion.  My inspiration is low.  If catastrophe were to strike, I would be singing a completely different tune.  I want to not drift so far before remembering.

My heart is calling for a refresher: retreat.  Re-connect.  When will the window open?  What will it be like on the other side?  Will I look back with clarity and shake my head, with humor, for having allowed myself to drift so far, become so worked up and muddled-dumb, before taking a step back so that I may enjoy the beauty of the whole display?

Methinks: yes.

– June 25, 2014

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PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center.  His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community. 

 

 

Floral Notes and Bardo: Musical Self, Peachy

By Travis Newbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

Heavy clouds, a bit of rain — like sitting on a bench and reading dharma.  Then, cooler and calm.

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I like to sit in this chair, in “my” “front yard” (yurt yard).

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I felt so dense yesterday, edgy.  Almost vicious.  Critical.  Arrogant.  Even with reminders all around me that gentleness is the way… how to shift?  Finally before dinner, I walked into the Japanese garden behind Sacred Studies Hall and read some teachings — reminder.  The result was that I felt less vicious.

The world became almost entertaining.  Non-threatening.  I’ve noticed myself comparing myself to others recently, and feeling less-together, less-clean, less-vibrant.

I sat down at the dinner table and Heather asked:

“How’s your head?”

“Stuffy.”

“How’s your heart?”

“…”

“How’s your heart?”

“…soft.”

“Like a marshmallow?”

“Like a peach.”

And Kate, across the table, had a peach on her fork.

“You’re about to eat Travis’ heart,” said Heather.

She paused.

“Bon appetite,” I said.

Kaleigh, Eric, Heather and I went up to Dhyana (K&E’s cabin) for the evening.  We sat in the living room and had tea and Japanese sweets that Kaleigh picked up in town.  A nice, civilized and hilarious scene.  I get a wild kick out of all of those characters and how they interact, how we interact.  I seemed to be the quickest to crack up, fall out of character.

Maybe feeling so dumb and exhausted after the day of mental rage that all I could do was observe and enjoy.

After tea and snacks Eric and I went out on the porch — damp, dark, moist mellow night, and played music.  Eric on the cello and myself on the guitar.  Improvisational, expressive… It was such a joy, and nourishing.  I’ve been missing artistic engagement.

Bhanu advised me (long ago now, when I had just arrived): “Be your musical self up here.”

– June 24, 2014

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PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center.  His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community. 

Floral Notes and Bardo: Good-life Immersion

 

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

A week of staff retreat–so, so good…

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Meditation in the mornings, talks from our teachers, a beautiful lahsang on day one, cooking meals for each other.  In the afternoons–activities: music group, art, nature, physical movement, study…

So, peeps chose a track, grouped up, and got deep into those activities.  Some of us peeps got into music.  I facilitated the group and encouraged deep listening, space exploration, improvisation…  edgy spots, sweet spots, unexpected things.   And after we bravely improvised together, becoming braver as the days went on, we’d spend some time just hanging out with some tunes–Irish tunes, Brazilian jazz tunes…  everyone in the group was coming from a different place, musically, and so the improv was interesting and also the hangout section was lots of fun and varied.

The first night of the retreat we held council practice for the whole community.  People sharing from the heart in a sacred space.  I felt such deep love for everyone.  It set the tone for the rest of the retreat.

Such immersion into what it is to live here.  Time spent together–practicing, playing, just being together.  Lots of spontaneous, long conversations.  People staying after meals just to hang…  Ahh, so good.  Time with the land.  Time enjoying living in this amazing situation together, free from the day-to-day complexities and stresses that go along with trying to keep the thing afloat, and progress towards greater operations.  Of course (of course!), the greatest operation is ever-happening.  This was a nice reminder of that.

In the evenings there were various activities–dancing, movies…  Nathaniel and I hosted a sound bath.  People laying on cushions in the center of the shrine room–heads together in the center, huge speakers all around, dimmed lights, and an hour and forty minutes of washy, lush, beautiful music curated by Nathaniel, who has exceptional taste.  I offered a bit of my music into the mix, which he blended nicely.

Milarepa Day on day 6.  Oh, wow!  A full day of reciting, singing, chanting “The Rain of Wisdom“–spontaneous songs of our Kagyu forefathers.  So, so, beautiful.  So deep.  We began at 9am and went until after 10pm.  A very rich, traditional Buddhist day.  We drank chai  and nettle tea on breaks.  Sho mo! What a joyful, good experience!

The next day we went to the Great Stupa for Sadhana of Mahamudra.  I was so glad for how everything lined up/unfolded.  We spent a lot of time planning and preparing for the retreat, and then it seemed the magical forces kicked in and carried it to better places than we could have imagined.

We ended with a feast at which we practiced the Shambhala Sadhana, dined, and had libations, toasts, and made offerings.  The music group performed, others sang and shared things about their experience throughout the retreat, the art group had everyone throw colorful paper airplanes…

Rejoicing the Container: Our friend Tara–who was here and then left–asked us to put this nice thing into place: a box which collects ‘thank yous’–to people, from people.  We did so and offered the thank yous at the feast.  Everyone read one from the box.  Touching.

So… Ahh!  Such a deeply beautiful immersion into the magic of living here together.  That’s the thesis.  That was the intention and it really hit nicely.  So grateful.  Now onwards into the springtime…

–March 24, 2014

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PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center. His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community. 

Floral Notes and Bardo: All Textures, Musical

 

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

Jump–out of my body
Be–in my body
Shuffle
Grasp, oh, leggo
Pop, shine into a room
Crystal-air fingers sweeping across body–floor, air
waiting for nothing, all textures holy

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Storytelling, all the time.

The story of my weekend:

Friday evening–long journey through the snow to Elkhorn house, jamming and arts and crafts. A fun scene. Beautiful free-music and glitter all over the place culminating in a multi-person hula hoop molecule moving to the sounds of ragtime piano music (funky old out of tune piano at Elkhorn house).

Slumber party in Heather’s room. In the morning, Dorje Kasung color-guard, hoisting the flags. We stood in our pajamas and saluted out the window, joined them in singing the anthem, then:

“As you were!”

Back into bed giggling.

Chores at the Stupa, deep cleaning. Felt great. Some practice afterwards. Later group haiku valentine creation–lots of tea, chocolate and laughs in the Shambhala Lodge lounge–such a nice space. VIP.

After dinner ROTA with Heather, I was a bit antsy to finish the shift, leaving some pans dirty, getting out of there on time. She good-influenced me to relax and enjoy the shift.

Buddhism 101: There is no better place to be.

Thich Nhat Hanh: “There are two ways to wash the dishes. The first is to wash the dishes in order to have clean dishes and the second is to wash the dishes in order to wash the dishes.” (which is posted on the wall of our dish room)

While we scrubbed, the Monarch Retreat (intense retreat for Shambhala leadership) were having their closing banquet. Being in the right place at the right time (in the dish room beside the kitchen immediately after banquet prep) we tasted some amazing food while we washed dishes. The best stuffed portobello I’ve ever had and then some ridiculous gourmet desserts made by Matt Crow and Adam.

Adam is a really fun musician to jam with–a fiddle player. He was in the mix on Friday night, along with Cait, who is really into crafts, as Heather is. It all fit together nicely.

Anyway, ROTA was a good time. We stayed twice as long as we were scheduled to and sang lots of wholesome American and Gospel songs. It turned out being a really fun date and good practice.

Trungpa Rinpoche said that the point is to feel good all over the place (can’t find the source, maybe not exact quote…)

…Rather than waiting for the elusive “good parts.”

I felt so fond of Heather for having such a genuinely good attitude about washing dishes. So much so that it was contagious and doing chores became a fun activity. That’s magic. That’s bodhisattva stuff.

Sunday morning I wrote a song about it. It was the first time I’ve sat down and wrote a song in months. Heather aspires to help me sing more. She’s doing a good job of that, just by being how she is. We have fun singing together, and she inspires me to sing while I’m in my own space. I’m glad about that.

This morning Tara and I were talking about relationships while walking from breakfast over to meditation. We crossed paths with Heather. I told her how my relationship with Heather has tremendous “path” quality. How after several years of avoiding exclusive, intimate relationships, I feel so inclined to engage.

It is said that by the virtue of all the great masters who have visited here and all the practice, rituals, and blessings that have occurred, that this land is “well processed”–which means that peoples’ minds and hearts are quite available here. That doesn’t make things easier, necessarily, but potent and workable. I see that. My mental and emotional world seems to be more tangible, visible, here. I can see my mind unfolding almost in slow motion. I feel like Neo in the Matrix.

It’s a rich experience–this lil’ love thing. It’s only in the beginning, so… I sense a lot of twists and turns ahead. Sparkles and tumbles. Bruised knees, ice cream cones, and cradling.

Tara brought up the question of losing one’s individuality. I think that’s an interesting point. The play between individuality and being connected to something larger. I feel that dynamic, or tension. I feel it in relating to Heather, and also in relating to the community, the SMC organization, and the world.

I feel a sense of surrendering my territory. I feel that whatever danger there is of losing my perspective… I feel that my practice and devotion to the path will protect me against that.

Devotion to the path, for me, means that everything is path. Acharya Hessey told me:

“Practice and enjoy. Those two things.”

What is there to be afraid of? Death?

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PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center. His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community. 

Floral Notes and Bardo: Building the Plane as We Fly/One Love!

 

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

Ital food!!! Awwww, yea! (In celebration of Bob Marley’s birthday). What an amazing surprise at lunch today. Few substances on the planet lively up myself like Ital food. Irie!

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In other news:

Most of the SMC leadership people (upper tier of the hierarchy) are in an intense retreat this week: Monarch Retreat. It’s secret sort of stuff. I don’t know what’s going on in there, but I feel confident that it is good stuff. I’m glad they are all in there. It’ll be good for everyone for those folks to be even more tapped-into their wisdom-ruler-mojo.

Meanwhile, I lead the weekly community meeting yesterday. It didn’t go as planned. It turned into a group check-in–everyone had a turn to share from the heart. It was great, except that I didn’t set it up right. From time to time we do something called Council Practice. That’s kinda what this meeting turned into, almost accidentally, except it was missing some key components–mainly the set-up.

In Council Practice, a sacred space is created and everyone participating agrees to treat the space that way. No one responds to what other people say, everything that is shared is confidential, and nothing leaves the space. You can’t follow-up with someone afterwards. A talking-stick of some sort is passed around the circle and everyone has a turn to share. The emphasis is on deep listening. We go around three times.

Yesterday, we all shared intimately, but without the sacred set-up, though I did begin with a contemplation on deep listening. Anyway, in the meeting and afterwards, because I didn’t create a good container (I believe) there were some emotional flare-ups. Some people got hurt. It was kind of a karmic oops on my part. Mostly though, people seemed to benefit. So, it may have been close to neutral.

Many of us feel now that there needs to be more gatherings like that. Something I feel inspired to work on as Head Dekyong is cultivating more warmth and togetherness in the community. Some folks are reporting feeling isolated, and not much community-togetherness these days. Maybe it’s part of the winter-blue season.

We all see each other a lot. At least everyday at meals, and throughout the day all over the place. Yet, we can feel so distant from one another.

This is the stuff. This is the real experience/experiment. How to cultivate a culture of kindness? Of empathy and friendliness? I’m right here in the thick of an experiment. I’m so glad for that! We’re all here. How can we set things up so that it works? This is training ground. This is the petri dish. We have to be able to get it right here if we (humanity) are to have any hope of doing it on a larger scale.

We have to figure out how to exist together, and sustain ourselves in various ways. We’ve got to pay the bills and we’ve got to enjoy life also. We need to achieve financial and emotional well-being. We need to balance work, community, and personal lives. How to do it?

The Shambhala Teachings say a lot about this. So, we have some guidance. Still, it is so experimental. There is no recipe to follow. It is often said here: “We are building the plane as we fly.”

How great is that?!

–February 6

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PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center. His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community. 

 

Finding Your Rhythm

Christine Stevens

Christine Stevens

By Christine Stevens

Christine Stevens leads Healing Sound Retreat, along with Silvia Nakkach, August 29–September 1 

The following is an excerpt from Music Medicine, the Science and Spirit of Healing Yourself with Sound (Sounds True, 2012)

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.

Synchronicity
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.

Related posts on the SMC Blog:

 Christine Stevens leads Healing Sound Retreat, along with Silvia Nakkach, August 29–September 1. To learn more, CLICK HERE

Floral Notes and Bardo: Nine Minutes Well Spent

 

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

Squealing demon racing through rib-cage forest
care
and when I’m scared
care
when I’m scared of the dissolution of my constructed character-dude
care
care about more than my story
(Characters; care-actors)

I’m not able to be the way I was.
I’m growing suspicious of the effort to find the right way to be
Care less about it turning out right
care more so I’m not so uptight
Care about others
Amen.

P1080075

The Mahayana is sneaking up on me, maybe. Last night we danced–“open to others”

Nathaniel is an amazing dancer, teacher, and he has exquisite taste in music. So glad for his existence and friendship…

We have a lovely shrine room with a great sound system. Last night–blues dance class. I love it. Nathanial teaches along with Kaleigh (my boss). Kaleigh is teaching me a lot, including how to blues dance. When we accomplish something big and sparkly–marketing-wise–we crank up tunes and have a five minute dance party in our office.

Partner dancing–fun and awkward… Blissful to harmonize with someone in that way, in a stream of music. And good practice for relaxing into friendly engagement. We step on each other’s toes, tense up, and remember to smile, striving towards mutual delight.

After dancing for a while, Heather made a fort out of meditation cushions and Nathaniel and I pulled Molly around in circles on the smooth wood floor. Beautiful tunes from Nathaniel’s library–a few originals, Radiohead… So lovely.

It’s somewhat rare here for me to be in a room with speakers… to enjoy music acoustically (I listen in headphones in my room some nights). It was nourishing. Ahh… We all laid on the floor at the end and bathed in lush Sigur Ros.

Nathaniel: “Nine minutes well spent”

Amen.

I feel friendship relaxing my boundaries, freaking me out, inviting me to be more playful.

AND

Today for lunch we had burritos! Man… I love burritos.

~~~

PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center. His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community.