Archive for February, 2010

Hello world!

February 17, 2010

I started actively exploring sound 10 years ago, because I have heard musical sounds all my life with no identifiable external source. The first sounds were a high pitch “ee” sound, very linear in nature.  I wanted to create a relationship with these sounds, so I began to listen more and look for ways to communicate with them. As a result, the sounds have changed over time, in shape, size and even musical range. This journey has also led me to ancient Tibetan singing bowls, gem crystal alchemy bowls and tuning forks. The harmonics created by these bowls are extremely relaxing and certainly relieve the stress of everyday life. So I have been taking these harmonies out into the world and playing for people in nursing homes, spiritual retreat centers, yoga studios, hospice, public libraries, etc.

Feb 23

As I re-read Hazrat Inayat Khan’s work, I am impressed with so much of his expression about how utterly central music is to our lives. In Chapter 3, he writes, “Music as we know in our everyday language is only a miniature: that which our intelligence has grasped from that music or harmony of the whole universe which is working behind us. The music of the universe is the background of the little picture we call music. ”

He could have ended the paragraph there, but he extends this. He says, “Our sense of music, our attraction to music, shows that music is in the depth of our being. Music is behind the working of the whole universe. Music is not only life’s greatest object, but music is life itself.” 

In addition to Hazrat Inayat Khan’s book, I have been reading Russill Paul’s The Yoga of Sound. His book is a wonderful in-depth study of sound and practices that I would highly recommend to anyone wanting to explore sound. As his subtitle states: “Tapping the Hidden Power of Music and Chant.”

Feb 17

I was very fortunate that Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882 – 1927) is in my direct Sufi lineage. Inayat Khan was a famous musician in India and was directed by his teacher to take Sufism’s message of “love, harmony and beauty” to the West in 1910. He even came to Cleveland, OH in his travels. His grandson Pir Zia Inayat Khan is now part of my lineage. Hazrat Inayat Khan (Hazrat is an honorific title I use for this master) wrote a book I note on my web site called The Mysticism of Sound and Music. Here are a few passages to offer some of the wonderful wisdom available in that book.

Chapter 1 offers: “The beauty of music is that it is the source of creation and the means of absorbing it. ”

Later: “The true use of music is to become musical in one’s thoughts, words and actions. One should be able to give the harmony for which the soul yearns and longs every moment. All the tragedy in the world, in the individual, and in the multitude, comes from lack of harmony, and harmony is best given by producing it in one’s own life.” 

I am grateful that Hazrat Inayat Khan talks of how we can manifest harmony in our lives. Whether we are trained in music or not, music’s importance lies in its beauty and harmony and what these qualities offer. He speaks later in the book about how carefully we must use our voice and language and even our thoughts to truly be harmonious. The influence of vibration is profound.

Chapter 2 begins: “According to the esoteric standpoint, music is the beginning and end of the universe. All actions and movements made in the visible and invisible world are musical. That is: they are made up of vibrations pertaining to a certain plane of existence.”

I don’t know that any comments I make do justice to this writing. He explores the esoteric aspects of this statement, and I will continue to provide some of these passages as thoughts to consider.

I started on these notes today, because I had opened the book to Chapter 17 – The Effect of Sound on the Physical Body and the statement: “Sound becomes visible in the form of radiance.”  Since I’ve been working with this sense of sonic aura, that statement leapt off the page. I do not see auras, but radiance is a form of energy we know from all living beings. I can feel the vibrant glow of living beings, even stones and crystals. Recently, I’ve been trying to tune into the feeling/vibration my arms, palms and dan tien achieve in certain Tai Chi/Qi Gong moves.  I have no doubt about feeling the chi, and the only way I can be doing so is through vibration. I am in awe that we live in a time when so many of us can link between the mastery of Tai Chi and Sufism for greater awareness.

Feb. 10

So, here’s a story. I’m playing at a hospice yesterday as a sort of interview, not long, a few minutes maybe. And this workman comes over to see what is making these sounds. He’s absolutely mesmerized. Then he tells me about how his brother would love this, his brother in a wheelchair and how he loves music. And I think all the stories we could never guess that people are traveling around with, right under their skin. We would treat people so much richer if we had even an inkling or could regard them in this way without the inkling.

My other observation is how my Tibetans love to play with the gem crystal bowls now. They pour their voices into them, literally like water and wait for it to rise out of the crystal bowl in a whole new way. And I am most enjoying the 5 stem bowls that love to play together. All sorts of combinations, and when I begin with them, they just want to go on and their resonance rises. They are making room for the 6th and the beautiful mending 7th. Ahhhh, the mending one. If you could see him, you would know why I love him so. Old, old, old and the work of an old monk or artisan. Thinner walled than the others I have and the shape elegant. Finely tapped all around the inside of the rim, and sanded clean, only to be mixed over the years by corrosion and patinas of all sorts. A small void occurs at the base where solder should have melded the joining, so now it rings sometimes when it should only hum. But each time I look or hold him, I couldn’t be happier or graced with a better bowl. I could describe each of my bowls in a similar way. They are such a relationship. The bowls have voices beyond the ones we hear.

Feb. 5

So for the past week since I posited this idea of the sonic body, which I doubt by the way is new, I have been listening and sensing.  Here’s what I’ve discovered so far. I seem to sense sound from my abdominal area — the dan tien, hara, around the solar plexus, but a bit below and above the navel. I am noticing a sense of pulse there, which is my pulse, but seems to radiate out from my body much stronger than I’ve noticed in the past. I’ll note here that I’ve been doing Tai Chi for the past 6-7 years and Qi Gong before that, so I have been aware of my dan tien for a while, but this sense of sound there as well as chi or perhaps as chi, is an interesting exploration. Of course the martial arts have worked with the power of sound for years. I may not be saying anything new here, but inviting you to explore this avenue. Since I initially had sounds come through my head, I thought I might find the transmitter or receiver there, and it may well be there. What this abdominal signal sense is telling me is that there may be more than one portal and this may simply be my strongest. In the same way some of our chakras have stronger senses than others, perhaps I am just experiencing sound the same way.  

Feb. 1

A great deal has been written about “light” in the metaphysical world and its connection with energy and its ability to inform us. Much valid information exists for that medium. Here, I would like to begin discussing the importance of sound in the arena of energy.  Many of us have read some of the writings of sound healers. Some of us have worked with chanting or toning or playing tuning forks or singing bowls. When we work with sound, we feel sound. We feel its physical manifestation, its incarnation into our world of being. To me this denotes a form of consciousness and a different experience from seeing light or image. Some people also feel light (warmth or presence), but often light is about seeing. So let’s go a step further and start considering that just as we have an auric body usually seen as light and colors that same body might be experienced as sound. What if we started focusing attention on the sonic body, and started to try to feel sound or use our own sonar the way dolphins and whales do?  I’ll leave you with that question and jump in with questions or comments if you like.