All posts by Dudley Evenson

Breathe In and Meditate with the Sounds of Nature

The Music of this World. Guest blog by Madisyn Taylor, DailyOM co-founder.
The tool most commonly used to focus our minds in meditation is the breath. When we sit down to meditate, drawing our attention inward counteracts our habitual tendency to be scattered. Meditation on the breath helps us gather our energy into our bodies, centering and grounding us in the present moment.

Almost as readily available as our breath are the sounds of the natural world. From rain to wind to the ocean and birds, meditating on these aural manifestations brings us not only a sense of peace, but also an experience of connection to the physical world.

Dudley Evenson meditating oceanIt is easy to get stuck inside our own heads and our individual lives. We get caught up in our goals and plans and almost forget that we live in a world that is always there, humming away in the background. There is an internal shift that occurs when we tune into that background and really give it our attention. It’s as if we are discovering a more expansive world, because we are. We are also experiencing ourselves in relation to something larger. This discovery makes us feel rejuvenated and more expansive.

The vast and ceaselessly churning ocean is an ideal place for meditating on the sounds of nature. Sit quietly and surrender to the sounds of the thundering, crashing waves. Let go of your ambitions and listen. Rivers and lakes also sing their own songs. Even if you live in the middle of a city, the wind howls and whistles and the rain taps out a variety of sounds depending on where it falls ~ on the sidewalk, a tin roof, a car window, or a muddy slope. Tune into these sounds next time you hear them instead of letting them fade into the background. Stop and listen as if you are hearing a sublime piece of music. Let the music of this world take you on a journey of natural sounds.

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Note from Dudley: I hope you enjoyed this guest blog. It was the article I was going to write but then it appeared in my mailbox from DailyOM, one of our favorite sites where we offer several online courses. For years, my husband, Dean Evenson, has recorded the sounds of nature. In fact, Desert Dawn Song, the very first album we made in 1979 included the sounds of dawn in the desert along with our peaceful music and helped to launch a whole new genre of meditation music.

Recently we put together an album and video that are just the sounds of water from four different eco systems.  You can find out about them on our website soundings.com.  Here are links to those projects and special discounts apply.

4 Earth: Natural Sounds of Ocean, Stream, River, Pond (CD)

4 Earth: Scenic Vistas of Ocean, Stream, River, Pond (DVD)

And if you comment on this blog, I’ll send you a free mp3 track of our music. Enjoy!

 

Happy Pumpkin Day!

I love pumpkins and not just at Halloween. I am probably one of the few people who actually saves the meat from the pumpkin before carving a Jack-o’-lantern so I can make a pumpkin pie. Yes, it’s a lot more work, but the benefit is a food treat that is actually good for you. And of course the health benefits of pumpkin seeds are well known.

It turns out that pumpkins are perhaps the oldest domesticated plants on Earth dating back as far as 10,000 years B.C. according to Cindy Ott, the author of Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon. When Europeans first arrived in North America, they relied on pumpkin as a survival food and they even made beer from it. The large orange globe is rich with nutrition and will store well in a root cellar providing food through the winter. Of course that was when we had root cellars and people even bothered to preserve and store food in the days before super markets and quick stops.

The appearance of a smiling or spooky face carved on a pumpkin is only a recent occurrence, supposedly an old tradition to frighten away evil spirits who might be lurking. The roots of Halloween go back 2000 years to the ancient Celtic holiday of Samhain when the spirits of the dead supposedly walk the Earth for a night. The word Samhain actually means ‘summer’s end.’ Much later in the 8th Century that Pope Gregory III designated November 1st to honor saints and martyrs. The holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain and the evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween.

Pumpkin pieSo now you know more than you probably need to know about pumpkins and Halloween. But do be sure to carve up a pumpkin and actually eat it. If you think of it as a big squash or gourd, you’ll prepare it in a similar manner. Cut it in pieces, scrape out the pulp and seeds, and bake in the oven at 350 degrees F for about an hour, depending on the size of the sections. Once it’s cooked and cooled, you can cut of the skin and your pumpkin will be ready to use in pies, soups, or as a yummy side dish. You can see in my pumpkin pie, I added raisins or dried fruit and pine nuts to give it an extra oomph. Enjoy!

I love hearing from you so for those kind enough to comment on my blog, I will send you a free mp3 music track.
To learn more about our music, please visit soundings.com and check out the albums we have on sale.

Honoring Mother Earth and our Native Communities

We love nature! Ever since we were young, Dean Evenson and I have enjoyed camping, hiking and just being in nature. Dean was an avid bird watcher and even achieved the honor of becoming an Eagle Scout with its associated merit badges. I used to explore the trails in the woods behind my house, imagining the Indians who walked there in a long ago age before cities, suburbs and super highways.

Dudley Dean mt lakeIt seems that time has only increased our love of the natural world and it doesn’t take much to get us out into wilderness areas. Last week, on a warm sunny day, we found ourselves high up on Mt. Baker near our home doing what we love to do – photographing, videotaping and sitting quietly on the mountainside with its vast vistas and sense of peaceful stillness.

It was our early exposure to the philosophy of Native American cultures that inspired us to consider the planet as a living body, our Mother Earth. In 1972, a couple years after the very first Earth Day, we attended the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment and met 15 Native Americans who had been sent over by Stewart Brand, founder of the Whole Earth Catalog.2 UN Earth SummitsHe had arranged for them to offer their influence on diplomats and environmentalists, to share their wisdom about Mother Earth. Dean and I videotaped them and were profoundly impressed with their powerful message, so different from the others at the conference.

This week, four decades after that first exposure, we were honored to participate in the Indigenous People’s Day celebration at the Lummi Indian Nation, a nearby Native American tribe. 

It was inspiring to see how far our Native brothers and sisters have come back to their traditional ways and how proudly they carry the message of the Earth. This beautiful mother planet that we all share was the initial impetus for the music Dean and I create through our label Soundings of the Planet. Nature was our first inspiration and many of our recordings include the sounds of the natural world. May we learn to care for this Earth, our living home, and find ways to give back to the planet and to the original people and all who struggle here.

Thanks for reading and I welcome your comments and thoughts. When you comment here I will send you are free mp3 music track!

And please check out these albums and DVDs on sale at soundings.com.
Native Healing
4 Earth CD

4 Earth DVD
2 U.N. Earth Summits: 1972 & 1992

 

Manifest Your Dreams Through Intention & Consciousness

We can best create the life we want when we come from a place of intention and tap into our higher consciousness for guidance and direction. Acting with a sense of purpose, our lives then unfold with meaning rather than as a random series of events that ‘happen to us.’  We make our lives meaningful when we live with intention and purpose.
Dudley Evenson prayer hands
In Dr. Wayne W. Dyer’s book The Power of Intention, he recognizes that everything in the universe operates with intention. This is much greater than simply focusing all our energies in one direction with dogged determination but rather, intention exists all around us inherent in all things. The intention of the acorn is to become a mighty oak. We can discover the meaning and purpose in our lives by tuning into universal intention. This concept resonates with the way we create our music with its high level of intention for the purpose of healing and reflecting the beauty and wonder of nature. The music transports the intention on carrier waves of sound. And from what people tell us, it seems to work.

In terms of the chakra system, I recently took a class with master teacher Anodea Judith on Manifesting Through the Chakras. What struck me profoundly was her process of starting at the 7th or Crown Chakra level when imagining the kind of life we want. It is here at our highest, most spiritual level where we set our intention.  Here is where our dreams begin. From this place connected with universal consciousness, we work our way down through all the chakras to gather the energies and tools to make our dreams come true.

I welcome your thoughts and ideas. When you comment on my blog I’ll send you a free mp3 music track!
And we have a special sale going on in October for Chakra Meditations & Tones and several other albums so hope you will take advantage of these discounts on soundings.com.

Positive Attitude Affects Cardiovascular Health Research Shows

Dudley Evenson AttitudeWe’ve all heard about the mind-body connection and many have a vague idea of what that means, but it’s significant to find scientific research that actually validates how the mind affects the body. Imagine my delight when I came across stunning research illustrating clearly the concept that a positive attitude actually results in better cardiovascular health, supports cancer healing, and even helps with weight loss.

In a 2015 study published in the Health Behavior and Policy Review, 5000 people were studied over an eleven period according to their positive or negative attitude about life. The research clearly showed that those who had a positive outlook on life actually had better cardiovascular and general overall health. In other words – a happy heart equals a healthy heart!

The other research that caught my eye was a report I read in Mother Earth Living by Ellen Langer, a psychologist who was trying to understand the relationship between mental projection or suggestion and the physical body. She studied a group of hotel maids who were concerned about losing weight. One group was told that the work they were doing in the process of their job such as vacuuming floors, changing the beds, and cleaning bathrooms, actually exceeded the minimum guidelines for good physical activity that would contribute to weight loss. The people in that group actually lost weight compared with a control group doing the same kind of work who hadn’t received that information. Wow, can the mind actually help you lose weight?

Yet another study involved women who had been treated for breast cancer and had been deemed ‘clean and clear’ of cancer. Of two groups studied, the ones who felt they were ‘in remission’ didn’t fare as well as those who considered themselves ‘cured’. So this isn’t just about talking yourself into something. It is about the reality of what your mind perceives and then how it affects your physical body.

LaughterSo take this Chinese character of ‘Laughter’ to heart and enjoy this blessed life we are given. See yourself being well and happy and of course do all the other good things required for staying healthy like good diet and exercise. It all works together.

And let me know how you keep up your health and positive attitude. When you comment on my blog I’ll send you a free mp3 music track from Soundings of the Planet.

9/11 Fourteen years after. What have we learned?

911 blue lights Twin TowersI took this picture of the Twin Towers blue tribute lights several years ago while riding along New York’s West Side Highway. The two light beams were being projected to honor those who died in that tragic event. I remember noticing all the moths flying in the light and at the time feeling they represented all the lost souls who perished on that sad September day. My camera was still pointing out the window when we started through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and it was almost confiscated by a guard, as if I might be using it to plan another attack.

I wanted to write about 911 but also wanted to steer clear of political commentary. There has been enough of that. What I hope to call attention to is what we have or have not learned since then and how can we prevent a continuation of the violence and wars that have followed. The current state of affairs in the Middle East is overwhelming and to read the news, it doesn’t seem like we are making any progress toward peace in the region. But maybe we are and we just don’t hear about it. True peace takes time and commitment and if we look behind the news media, there are many examples of people trying to come together with a true intention of peace. That is what I would like to focus on.

We each need to act in our own realm, relating to the people we interact with. With that intention of peace building, a few years ago my husband, Dean Evenson, and I decided to put together an album that would bring together musicians representing the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths. These are the groups in conflict but when you look deeply enough, you realize they are all descended from the same source – grandfather Abraham. So in reality, the conflict is about cousins not getting along. We called the album – Healing the Holy Land: A Musical Journey of Faith and you can imagine why.

Healing the Holy LandI remember after 911 realizing I knew very little about the Muslim faith and Dean and I made an effort to study and learn more through books and videos and talking to people. In the process we realized we had our own prejudices that needed to be addressed because they were based on misinformation. So if I could suggest one thing people could do, it would be to learn about each other, get to know people who are different from you and your family. Try to understand other faiths and be tolerant. We are fortunate to live in a country where supposedly we have freedom of religion, but if we continue to criticize those who believe differently from us, we are not practicing what we preach.

Here’s an excerpt from a review from Natural Awakenings of Healing the Holy Land: A Musical Journey of Faith:

What do an Iraqi woman from Baghdad, a Jewish peace advocate living in Jerusalem, a Palestinian oud player, an Iranian singer, a Lebanese Christian and a Turkish nez player all have in common? They all appear on Soundings of the Planet’s release, Healing the Holy Land. This stunning collection of songs and sacred chants from the Middle East represents a profound union of Jewish, Christian and Muslim music in a spirit of harmony and peace.

Dean and Dudley Evenson, following a long-held dream, have brought together musicians from the three Abrahamic faiths or ‘People of the Book’, as they are known. Because they are three groups that are often in conflict, what better way to bridge the chasm than with an album that honors and features each of their unique spiritual contributions? This album is a continuation of the Evensons’ mission of building cultural bridges of Peace Through Music, which they have pursued since founding their label, Soundings of the Planet, in 1979…Click to learn more about Healing the Holy Land.

Please comment here and I’ll send you a free mp3 music track.
Also, in September we are offering a super discount on Healing the Holy Land. Only $8.99 each this month at soundings.com.

 

 

 

 

Tribute to Dr. Wayne W. Dyer (1940-2015)

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
WayneDyer_DeanEvenson
Dean Evenson playing flute as Wayne Dyer autographs a book for one of his many fans

As many of you may have heard by now, Dr. Wayne Dyer passed away a few days ago, but not without leaving an amazing body of work as a legacy. Dean Evenson and I were privileged to be with him many times over the years when he was a keynote speaker at the Hay House I Can Do It conferences where we would sell our music and sometimes perform with authors and presenters. We also became friends with his daughter, Tracy Dyer, who founded a great company called Urban Junket which makes stylish handbags using eco friendly and recycled materials.

“You’re not what you have and you’re not what you do; you’re an infinite, divine being disguised as a successful person who has accumulated a certain amount of stuff. The stuff is not you. For that reason, you must avoid being attached to it in any way.”
Wayne Dyer Dudley
Here he just signed one of his children’s books I had purchased for my niece or nephews.

The last time I heard Dr. Dyer speak was in Denver in April and he was in high form. He has always woven his personal life stories into his talks and this evening was no exception. He talked about growing up in an orphanage and his challenge of finally being able to forgive his father for having abandoned his family. Even after listening to his many talks over the years, this last time I felt a greater sense of peaceful clarity from him. For the first time though, he delivered his talk sitting down which led me to believe that he was beginning to wind down and lose some of that remarkable stamina that had led him to write over 40 books including 20 New York Times bestsellers.
Wayne Dyer sitting

“Being healthy is a natural state, and the means for achieving it are within the grasp of each one of us. I believe that a judicious mixture of hard work, clear thinking, humor and self-confidence are the ingredients of effective living.”  He said this in Your Erroneous Zones: Step-by-Step Advice for Escaping the Trap of Negative Thinking and Taking Control of Your Life which was his first self-help book written in 1976 and has sold over 35 million copies making it one of the best-selling books of all time.

In 2009 Dyer was diagnosed with leukemia. He dealt with his illness mostly using a combination of good diet, exercise and positive thinking, but a few years later he was treated remotely by John of God, a Brazilian psychic healer. About five months after the treatment, he felt that he was actually healed. He continued to write his books, make films and travel extensively as a keynote speaker. When I saw him in 2015, because he delivered his talk sitting down, I assumed that the leukemia had reappeared and when he died a few days ago, I and many of us who knew him supposed that it was the leukemia that took him out. Just today, however, I heard that his autopsy revealed there was no trace whatsoever of leukemia in him and that he had in fact died of a heart attack. So what to think of all this? Dyer shared John of God’s simple message “I do not cure anybody. God heals, and in His infinite goodness permits the entities to heal and console my brothers. I am merely an instrument in God’s Divine hands.” I guess that makes as much sense as anything so I pray we can all be instruments of God and do what we can to make this world a better place. Wayne Dyer certainly did.

For a limited time, you can watch The Shift Movie that he made.  Here’s the link to view.

Let me know which of Wayne Dyer’s many books you have enjoyed and what has most inspired you of his writings. For those who comment here, in gratitude I’ll send you a free mp3 track of our peaceful, healing music.

 

Tips for Peaceful Parenting by Dudley Evenson

Guidelines for Parenting

Parenting Tips by Dudley

I am honored to have my article printed in several Natural Awakenings Magazines recently  (Especially cool since one is from Knoxville, TN where I graduated from college!)  These Guidelines for Parenting tips are something I wrote many years ago when my children were young.  It was published in 1986 in a wonderful book called Children of the Dawn by Joshua Halpern. I have a feeling that these parenting tips are universal and I sure hope that they provide parents out there with some guidance for having a wonderful family experience.  My sweet husband and father of my children, Dean Evenson, and I had a lot fun with our three wonderful kiddos.  Our daughter’s daughter just turned 21 and she’s a treasure who was raised well too. I hope you are having fun too.  And if these ideas resonate with you, please share this post.

So here they are to put on your fridge!!! Click and print this PDF

• Stay clear!  Your children are mirrors of your moods and attitudes.  You will quickly discover how you are feeling by how your children are acting.  If they are upset, don’t get upset at them.  It will only make things worse.  Try to find out what is really bugging them.
• Be consistent.  Always changing your position on things will create inner turmoil and confusion.  Mom and Dad or the primary parental figures should try to establish a unified program and mutually support each other.
• Work at being positive.  Try to build up your child’s sense of the good in life.  Don’t look for faults or be unduly critical.  Praise your children often.
• Be honest in all your dealings.  Children will pick up at an early age what is truth.  Help them to be honest by being completely honest yourself.
• Be reasonable and understanding.  Explain why you choose a certain path.  Don’t use anger as a regular practice.  It is a powerful tool and used rarely will be much more effective.
• Provide meaningful boundaries and restrictions.  Kids will usually push to find their limits but they really appreciate knowing how far (how late, etc.) they can go.
• Be flexible.  You don’t have to be unbending and hard-nosed to keep it straight with your kids and being flexible will keep everybody on their toes.
•  Accept their point of view.  In fact, encourage their opinion and involve them in the decision-making process of the household.  Enjoy the harmony consensus can bring.  Rules will be more readily obeyed if they help formulate them.
• Trust your children.  Believe in them.  Be on their side.  Let them feel your support.  Let them start life knowing they are loved.
• Don’t nag.  Help them develop their own sense of responsibility so the burden of their homework, clean room, the chores, and other have-to-do things is not on your shoulders. Let them hear the firmness in your voice.  Once should be enough.
• Develop good habits.  Regularity can be healthy, but of course allow for deviation from time to time. Aim toward a consistently healthy lifestyle in all that you do.
• Be available.  Don’t get so caught up in your own reality that you neglect your communion with your children.
Balance your love for your own children with your love for all children.
They are your special ones but don’t forget to be loving and fair to others.
• Don’t put your kids on the spot in front of other people.  Try to work out your thing with them on a one-to-one basis unless of course a group interaction is more beneficial.
• Help direct your children toward a creative exploration of life.
Support them in opening up to their unique potential as human beings.
• Be a shining example of love for your children to follow.  Don’t gossip about your neighbors or play favorites.  Everyone will benefit by your unconditional love.
Inspire in your children a reverence and respect for all life.  Instill in them an attitude of thanksgiving, and open them up to exploring their spiritual path.
• Be patient with yourselves.  Avoid feelings of guilt even when you feel you aren’t measuring up to your expectations as parents.  No one is perfect, but you can try your best.
• Guide, console, discipline, and above all, keep a sense of humor.

May the Spirit of Harmony & Crystal Clear Communication bless your family.
Dudley & Dean Evenson, www.soundings.com, Blog: www.HealthyLivingDreams.com
Find us on Facebook and YouTube – Search Soundings on the Planet

Let me know what tips you have that have helped you be a better parent. Comment here and I’ll send you a free mp3 music track.

Peace Through Music Helps Local Vets

Dudley Evenson dogtags

Recently I was invited to do a presentation for veterans at the Bellingham Vet Center. Several years ago, Dean and I had visited there and dropped off some of our music and videos and it turns out they had been showing our Eagle River DVD at their gatherings and potlucks where people really enjoyed the relaxation effect of the images of nature and the peaceful music. Eagle River was actually created after our first visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, DC where we did a presentation on music and healing to the patients, many of whom were wounded in combat or suffering from PTSD . We received feedback from the commanding officers that they really needed that video of eagles and nature along the Nooksack River as it would help people dealing with their flashbacks and nightmares from the trauma related to their combat experiences. PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which is what many people suffer after extreme combat situations.
Walter Reed dog tags 2These are the dog tags the chaplain at Walter Reed gave us when we visited there a few years ago.

I was pleasantly surprised when I got a call a few weeks ago requesting a presentation about music for one of the local PTSD men’s groups.  I wasn’t sure what to expect but found a group of older Viet Nam era vets as well as some younger ones from more recent wars who were ready to work on dealing with their issues. As the leader said later, the men appreciated being able to step out of their comfort zone. I actually had them breathing, toning, singing a mantra and doing ‘I am’ affirmations. I also shared the RELAXATION TRAINING GUIDE we created for Walter Reed so they would have an overview of how to use music in their process.

Then a few weeks later I was invited back to work with a group of women dealing with PTSD, either as veterans themselves, or because of being married to a veteran who was suffering form PTSD. I found this group of women very open to what I was teaching them and much more able to express themselves through the singing, toning and affirmations I had them doing. It is interesting to me that what I am actually teaching these military folks is based on the yoga of sound and it really seems to work. The women want me to come back and go deeper into the process so I am excited to be able to share what Dean Evenson and I have been learning and teaching all these years about the healing power of sound and music, meditation and self-expression.

Here’s a link to the Eagle River DVD and also to Healing Sanctuary, an album we created after 911 to help people deal with trauma. Both of these were among several of our albums used at Walter Reed and given out by the chaplain there to the wounded.

Please add your thoughts about this important issue and especially if you have or know of anyone dealing with PTSD and I will send a free mp3 healing music track to those who comment.

The Healing Power of Music

AARP Healing MusicIt’s wonderful when big organizations like AARP are communicating to their 37 million members about the healing power of music. This is what Dean Evenson and I have been talking about and teaching for over three decades and it feels like the ‘mainstream’ is finally catching up. An article in the recent AARP Bulletin shares advances in helping Alzheimer’s patients by using music and the results are amazing. In his book Musicophilia, neurologist, Oliver Sacks, states that music can be very much like medicine for Alzheimer’s patients. “Music in no luxury to them, but a necessity, and it can have a power beyond anything else to restore them to themselves, and to others, at least for a while.”

In a study at George Mason University, Jane Flinn, a behavioral neuroscientist along with graduate student, Linda Maguire, tested a group of patients with various forms of dementia who regularly sang familiar songs like ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ and ‘Isn’t It Romantic.’ In observing them over four months, the researchers discovered that the mental acuity of those who regularly sang went up considerably. With the ineffectiveness of many pharmaceutical drugs to deal with dementia, it is exciting to witness the benefits of alternative approaches.

A group in Minneapolis even formed a choir of people living with Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases and their caregivers. Since people with these diseases have difficulty navigating through many phases of their lives, being able to laugh and be joyful through singing can lift the spirit and improve connectivity and engagement.

Some of you may have seen the recent film called Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory. Or maybe you were one of the 11 million people who watched the clip from the movie that went viral on YouTube. It showed an Alzheimer’s patient named Henry who was reawakened listening to a favorite song by Cab Calloway, clearly showing the power of sound to reconnect the neural pathways of memory.

Dan Cohen, founded Music and Memory initially to provide iPods with personalized music for elderly patients in nursing homes. He started by donating 200 iPods and now the program has expanded to hundreds of facilities throughout the country. One of the states that has picked up the ball and is running with it is Wisconsin where two-thirds of the state’s nursing homes use personalized playlists of music as part of daily caregiving routines. Here’s a statement by Deb Jacoby of the Rocky Knoll Health Care Center that attests to the benefits of personalized music for patients ~ “iPods are making a huge impact here in Wisconsin. I have about 30 iPods in use at this time. Families are excited about how some of their loved ones are more engaged in conversation, in better moods, and actually awake and more engaged throughout the day.”

So the blessings of finding Peace Through Music continue. We are glad to be part of this important movement and look forward to learning how we can contribute more to the healing of people and the planet. Visit us at soundings.com to learn about the part of the universe we are playing in.

If you are interested in learning more about the healing power of music you might want to check out our DailyOM online course called EXPERIENCE MUSIC AS MEDICINE. It’s practically free (you just pay what you want to or can afford). Also available as a ten DVD set called SONIC HEALING: MEET THE MASTERS VIDEO COURSE. A bit more expensive but then you have the videos and they include Public Performance Rights so you can show them in public.