For most of us reading this, there is much to be thankful for. For many around the world though, gratitude is a challenge in the face of daily struggles for food, water and shelter. Even today in this country, many fear an uncertain future as we sort through a shifting political landscape. Yet, when we look back in history, we see that past eras have been fraught with much greater issues of injustice, discrimination, and conflict. We, as a society, have come a long way and despite what may appear on the surface, there is no turning back.
“In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.”
~ Elizabeth Gilbert, Author Eat, Pray, Love
Fortunately, we do have tools available to us that can help us get through hard times, whether we are dealing with First World problems or Third World problems. Keeping an ‘Attitude of Gratitude’ is one of the most useful principles that can help us navigate the changing times we live in. Even being thankful for what we do not necessarily like or agree with can be very powerful. Needless to say, this is not an easy task because our natural reaction to any form of suffering is often denial and resistance.
So today, we offer this idea – Gratitude for Everything! The good, the bad, the sad and even the suffering. When we can keep our perspective focused on gratitude, we will be able get through life’s challenges much more easily. Being grateful for what is and not always focusing on what is not, will likely help move us in the direction of our dreams and allow us to manifest the best possible future. No one says it will be easy, but by really learning the lessons in each situation, we can move on much more quickly to a better future.
We wish you a peaceful Thanksgiving and hope you are able to enjoy it with family and friends. We wish the people at Standing Rock, North Dakota a safe time. May they stay warm and protected as they protest to protect their water and land. We thank the Native Americans who graciously welcomed and fed the Pilgrims so long ago. May all beings find peace and support as they go through the experiences and lessons life has to offer.
As always, we appreciate hearing from you. What are you grateful for? How do you cope with challenging situations? When you comment here we will send you a free mp3 of our music in gratitude!
Are you feeling stress? Well, it sure seems like the times we live in are getting more and more crazy. With so much bad news (or even fake news) coming toward us, we tend to stress and get caught up in worrying about what did happen or what might happen to us and our world. Watching too much television or reading too many political posts on Facebook can get us quite worked up and even cause us to lose sleep at night. So, we’re here to remind you of some very basic tools to help overcome stress, whether it involves personal issue stress or stress based somewhere ‘out there’ in the world beyond.
For almost four decades Dean Evenson and I have been involved in creating peaceful, healing music. In the process of following our spiritual and creative path, we have learned of many simple, easy to use techniques that can help reduce the stresses in our lives and many of them involve music, our life passion. We are especially interested in accessing the power within us that is available when we close out all that busyness, the apparent conflicts and dichotomies pulling us in one direction or another. We are looking to get to that place inside where there is absolute stillness and a sense of inner peace and quiet.
Simple Sound Tools to De-stress
Most of the tools you are probably familiar with. Some of our favorites include breath, meditation, music, mantra, chanting, toning and affirmations. We recognize that quieting the mind is easier said than done, especially today when we are instantly aware of events occurring all over the world, many of which have nothing to do with us. What goes on in your mind is really the key. It is what forms your perception of your world. So having some tools or systems to tune into can carry us through troubled times. These are tools that we use to bring us back into that inner stillness, the quiet place within. And just so you know, we are rooting for humanity to thrive in this next coming time but more on that later.
The Basic Sigh
Probably the tool easiest to access is the breath. Simply taking a deep breath in, holding it a moment, and then letting out a long, slow exhalation is a good place to start. This basic sigh can help you reset your mind and body to a more peaceful vibration. Often when we are stressed or afraid, we are practically holding our breath, or at the very least, taking very shallow breaths. With conscious breathing, we are really bringing in the life force. Call it air, oxygen or prana, but know that without it, life ceases to exist. So take those long deep breaths and enjoy the calmness it brings. Focus on the breath and let the random or worrisome thoughts drift away.
Modern life is structured to get us geared up and ready to be productive members of society, or so they say. Drink the coffee and get the treadmill of the fast-paced world. Unfortunately, after all that gearing up we often find it difficult to unwind and settle down or are unable to fall asleep at night. So we need to develop practices that help us to slow down and bring ourselves to that place of inner stillness.
Repeating a short affirmation or mantra can help clear the mind. Simply saying (or singing) to yourself ‘I am. I am. I am,’ or another such positive phrase, can help to ground and center yourself. Getting the whole body to relax helps as well. Doing yoga or some stretches relaxes the body and at the same time, releases tension in the mind. In fact, one of the most important functions of yoga is not just to make your body strong and flexible, but it is primarily to ‘still or calm the whirlpools of the mind’ according to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Walking is another simple way to move the body and calm the mind and conscious walking in nature takes one even deeper.
Often when you’re getting ready for bed and trying to fall asleep, that’s when all the mental chatter comes in. We recommending playing quiet, peaceful music in the hour or so before bedtime so that you can start to calm down from all the gearing up you have done all day. With a regular meditation practice you can develop control over your mental thought processes leading to a more relaxed and peaceful state of being. You can read more about chanting, affirmations, toning and mantra in other blog posts or articles at soundings.com. These are simple tools that will benefit you in the long run and make you a more calm and peaceful person. I believe that whatever peace we have inside us will extend out and when we touch the people around us with our peaceful nature, and they touch the people around them with their peaceful nature, we will surely have a more peaceful world.
Keep in Touch
I hope you watch my video. You can hear the fun story about singing my prayer song for Dr. Larry Dossey. I’m sharing these simple possibilities so you’ll know there are some easy and meaningful things you can do to make your life better. Let me know what resonates with you. I love to hear how others navigate their own turbulent waters. And when you comment on our blog, we’ll send you a free mp3 of our music in gratitude.
Do you start your day with a dose of news and then find it’s hard to get all that negativity out of your head? Or maybe you feel overwhelmed by a massive ‘to do’ list and can’t seem to complete all the tasks you have set up for yourself. I recently read a great book called The Miracle Morning: The 6 Habits That Will Transform Your Life Before 8 am and I have been implementing the practices that the author, Hal Elrod, has suggested.
Even if you’re not a morning person, you can still have a miracle morning!
I like the idea of starting my morning with a miracle, but since I am not a morning person, I wondered if it would work for me. When I looked more deeply into the idea, I discovered that there is a lot to be said about starting your day off in a conscious, mindful way and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time. For many years I have had a simple practice of doing eye exercises and a prayer before I even get up so I have at least started my day before it officially begins. My next ideal practice after drinking some water and making my tea is to do a half hour of yoga. Then if I am not in a rush, I like to sit and meditate. Often, however, the phone would ring or I would get up and move toward my computer, emails and get caught up in the outside world. Of course for most people, even taking that much time starting their day would be too much when they have to get breakfast for the family or run off to work.
Here’s my video further explaining the Life S.A.V.E.R.S. System so you can have your own Miracle Morning
Life S.A.V.E.R.S. System
With so much to do and so little time, I wondered how could a slight change in one’s morning procedure make a meaningful difference that would last all day. That’s where Hal Elrod’s system called ‘Life S.A.V.E.R.S’ comes in. It’s a very simple system that is easy to remember and simple to implement. I like that he says you can do each one of these practices for only a minute and you will still experience a beneficial effect. The main thing is to actually do the practice. I am still trying to implement it into my morning and find that when I don’t start my day with this practice and instead let myself get caught up in computer work or the outside world, my day does not go nearly as smoothly and I feel that I accomplish less.
Here is his magic formula for a Miracle Morning. He calls it ‘Life S.A.V.E.R.S.’ You can do each one of these steps for as little as one minute and still feel the benefit. Five minutes or more for each one is better of course. You can also do them in any order. You may exercise at the beginning or at the end. Remember, it’s your morning practice so it needs to work for you.
SILENCE: Sit quietly, let go of busy thoughts, and focus on your breath AFFIRMATION: Affirm what you want in life to set the tone for your day VISUALIZATION: Picture yourself living your ideal life and it’s ok to be specific EXERCISE: Moving the body benefits physical as well as mental and emotional selves READ: Read something inspiring and uplifting to start your day SCRIBE: Journal your thoughts and dreams or add to that great book you are working on
Be sure to pick up a copy of the book to gain a much deeper understanding of how you can create your own miracle morning. We would love to hear your ideas of how you begin your day so you maximize your full potential. We love to hear from you so when you comment, we’ll send you a free mp3 music track that can be a perfect accompaniment to your morning meditation.
No, this isn’t a picture of a new Soundings of the Planet artist, but this musician has such a sense of freedom and great energy that we wanted to share his image. We met him in the desert outside Las Vegas after one of our spa shows and he had such bright energy we couldn’t resist snapping a pic. He fit the bill as a Peace Through Music troubadour and it seems appropriate for our July 4th post.
Now is a great chance to ponder the freedom that we do have in our country and honor the hard work and sacrifices it has taken over many generations to maintain it. In the midst of a fractious presidential campaign, we are called upon to reflect on our unity and the many things we have in common, rather than focusing on our differences. As you enjoy the holiday of this long 4th of July weekend, we hope you will take some time to appreciate our great nation with its rich diversity of cultures and acknowledge the many contributions that immigrants as well as natives have made to our country. In fact, most of us are immigrants unless of course you are a Native American!
May we all become more compassionate and understanding of our neighbors and especially of those who are different from us. We are after all one human family and hopefully we can outgrow our sibling rivalry and find peace within and even amongst those who are different from us.
WORLD PEACE Meditation
I recognize the world for all its drama as a reflection of my own inner experience. As I work to change my perception of the world, I realize I am actually affecting the world around me. As I change how I am seeing the world, the world changes with me. I see beauty around me. I see the goodness in people and honor them for that goodness. I even practice seeing our own national/political world in a different light. I see it as a process and I focus on the evolution of human consciousness as we move toward greater awareness and compassion. I see the world becoming more peaceful and just every day as I myself become more peaceful and fair within.
I 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.
I 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.
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” 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.” 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.
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.
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.
Worst Day Ever or Best Day Ever? It’s all a matter of perspective. Read this to the end and then read it from bottom to top and see what an optimistic message it contains.
This poem was written by a Brooklyn high school student and submitted to Poetry Nation. It somehow ended up tacked to a wall in a London pub. A local man named Ronnie Joice took a picture of it and posted it on Twitter. Now it’s taking the world by storm illustrating the amazing power of social media. It especially calls attention the importance of our perspective and how we look at things.
Today was the absolute worst day ever
And don’t try to convince me that
There’s something good in every day
Because, when you take a closer look,
This world is a pretty evil place.
Some goodness does shine through once in a while
Satisfaction and happiness don’t last.
And it’s not true that
It’s all in the mind and heart
True happiness can be obtained
Only if one’s surroundings are good
It’s not true that good exists
I’m sure you can agree that
It’s all beyond my control
And you’ll never in a million years hear me say that
Today was a good day
I love this message. It is so inspiring to us who have dedicated past four decades to sharing Peace Through Music. Here’s the quote written out so you can read it better.
I AM MUSIC, most ancient of the arts. I am more than ancient; l am eternal. Even before life commenced upon this earth, I was here in the winds and the waves. When the first trees and flowers and grasses appeared, I was among them. And when Man came, I at once became the most delicate, most subtle, and most powerful medium for the expression of Man’s emotions. When men were little better than beasts, I influenced them for their good. In all ages I have inspired men with hope, kindled their love, given a voice to their joys, cheered them on to valorous deeds, and soothed them in times of despair. I have played a great part in the drama of Life, whose end and purpose is the complete perfection of man’s nature. Through my influence human nature has been uplifted, sweetened and refined. With the aid of men, I have become a Fine Art. From Tubalcain to Thomas Edison a long line of the brightest minds have devoted themselves to the perfection of instruments through which men may utilize my powers and enjoy my charms. I have myriads of voices and instruments. I am in the hearts of all men and on their tongues, in all lands and among all peoples; the ignorant and unlettered know me, not less than the rich and learned. For I speak to all men, in a language that all understand. Even the deaf hear me, if they but listen to the voices of their own souls. I am the food of love. I have taught men gentleness and peace; and I have led them onward to heroic deeds. I comfort the lonely, and I harmonize the discord of crowds. I am a necessary luxury to all men. I am MUSIC. ~ Allan C. Inman
*Let me know your thoughts and experiences about music and what it means in your life. And for those who comment here, I am giving away a free mp3 track of our peaceful music. For more about the music we have been creating since 1979 and more free downloads, visit: soundings.com
A few years ago Dean Evenson and I were privileged to be invited to present our music and sound healing workshop at Walter Reed Army Medical Center to help returning combat troops and those suffering from PTSD and wounds of war. To support the visit we created a Relaxation Basic Training Guide that would help soldiers with the daunting task of unlearning their fight or flight syndrome and learn a new skill – relaxation. Since we know how much music can help the relaxation process, we were glad to provide tools for people to unwind from their intensive military experience and begin to calm down their instincts and prepare to live in a world without the stresses of war. In essence we were teaching them the yoga of sound and how to use breath, toning and affirmations to change their mental state and allow the body to calm down. For years we had heard the phrase – Support the Troops – and although our motto is Peace Through Music and we have always been opposed to war in general, we still wanted to help those who are called upon to fight. The challenge for many is the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that often appears after combat. This can be an issue for anyone who has experienced a traumatic event (accident, loss, death of a loved one) so the information we compiled is relevant for those who haven’t been in war.
This will be a short post but Dean and I are very excited to be getting on a plane tonight for Costa Rica where we will take part in a week long Chant and Tantra retreat with our dear friends Deva Premal and Miten and their fabulous flute player Manose. This is literally the first vacation we have taken that wasn’t part of a business trip. The setting will be at the exquisite Blue Spirit Resort in Nosara, Costa Rica. We are all packed and ready with our various techno tools, cameras, recording devices, iPad, etc. Oh did I say vacation. Well we are ardent videographers and photographers so that part of it is fun. Along with yoga, meditation, swimming in the ocean, walking on the beach – this will be a welcome respite for us. Stay tuned for more pictures and videos. We hope to come back with renewed energy and with lots of media and musical inspirations to share with you.