Category Archives: Meditation & Yoga

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.

###

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!

 

My Sacred Laundry Room: Creating Personal Sanctuary

Sacred Laundry Room

To keep your sanity with a busy, fast-paced life, it’s important to take a break for personal quiet time. When you set aside time and find that place for sanctuary, your physical and emotional health will benefit. It is helpful if you can define a physical space where you can devote yourself to inner healing work. This can be anything from a room devoted for meditation, to a small corner in your bedroom or living room or a spot in nature.

I have made my laundry room into a sacred space where I do yoga and meditate. I used to do my yoga in the living room but having this separate space is much better and doesn’t interfere with my husband, Dean Evenson’s morning process. My laundry room had been a place where junk collected but now I treat it with lots more respect.  I painted the walls a golden color and added, plants, an altar and put sacred art on the walls. Of course, it’s set up so I can play music to create a soothing ambiance. I love the privacy and peace it provides. Whatever place you choose, this is your special sanctuary where you can do your morning exercises or sit quietly and meditate, free from distractions as you let go of any worries or cares of the world or whatever is going on in your personal life. In this sacred space you can focus on bringing harmony and peace into your life.

Years ago I read an inspiring book called The Magic of Findhorn by Paul Hawken. In it, Eileen Caddy, the founder of Findhorn, lived in a trailer (in Scotland they called it a ‘caravan’) with her husband, three children and another friend. Of course there was no privacy so she chose to go into the public bathrooms to meditate.  And it worked.  She had profound meditations and visions there and gained deep insights about how to garden working with the nature spirits of the land and the result was the flourishing spiritual community of Findhorn, in balance with nature.

I am fortunate to actually have a laundry room but I know many people live in small spaces with other people so don’t have the option of a separate room.  In those cases, I recommend finding a quiet place in nature, in a park or any place where you can ‘get away from it all’ and sit quietly, close your eyes and go within.  Earphones and quiet music can help create peaceful space, even in the midst of external distractions.

I would love to hear the kinds of sacred spaces you have been able to find or create to support your meditation.  Comment here and I’ll send you a free mp3 meditation music track from Soundings of the Planet.

Taking a break in Costa Rica at Deva Premal chant retreat

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.

Love love love Dudley and DeanDeva Premal Miten D&D

How to Meditate Using Mantra

Mantra is a tool that can help us focus and quiet our minds. In Sanskrit, the word mantra means mind protection since using a mantra or short spiritual phrase or affirmation can replace and overcome incessant tape loops and negative thoughts, thus clearing the mind and bringing it to a calm quiet space.

I like to use mantra to clear my mind and prepare for meditation.  Typically, we have a constant dialogue going on within our minds. This inner conversation can range anywhere from the news we heard on the radio, to making a ‘to do list’ or replaying an unpleasant interaction with a friend, co-worker or relative.

It is very difficult to get these thought patterns out of our minds and they especially tend crop up when we are trying to meditate.  This is why in meditation we use several concentration techniques to overcome the busy monkey mind and allow for the one-pointed concentration of the meditation process.  In addition to focusing on the breath as a concentration device, we can use mantra, chanting and affirmations to help clear the mind of unnecessary clutter and allow us to enter a deep state of inner quiet.

A mantra is a short sound or phrase, usually with a spiritual significance which carries a vibration and frequency that extends beyond the simple meaning of its words. In the highest sense, mantras carry thought waves that can energize the prana or life force through constant repetition and they can reach deep into the subconscious mind.  More simply, they can help overcome the mind chatter and prepare the way for an expansion of consciousness.

By becoming aware of the rampant mental processes that we wish to control, we can learn how to use our minds and our voice in harmony to stay focused.  We need a guardian at the gate of our awareness to keep the demons of our mental processes from distracting us and a mantra is one way to do this.

I would love to hear  how you use mantra or affirmations in your own meditation process so post a comment here.  I am also giving away a free mp3 download to people who post comments.

Oh and here are some of the recordings I have created that include my guided affirmations.  Enjoy!

MeditationMoment 1Meditation Moment: 52 Weekly Affirmations
A Sound Sleep 1A Sound Sleep: Guided Meditations with Relaxing Music & Nature Sounds
ChakraMeditations&Tones 1Chakra Meditations & Tones

A New Day, A New Year, A New You

I let go of the old and open myself to the new

This is the first in our series of 52 weekly meditations and a good place to start after the busy holidays.

I sit quietly and center myself, breathing deeply and fully. I feel myself firmly connected to the earth as I let the spirit flow through me. I let go of busyness and of anything that may be overwhelming me. I open myself to the new, to new possibilities, to a new day, and to the fresh new cells being constantly created in my body with every breath I take. I feel the refreshing inspiration of new opportunities coming my way. I welcome this new and wonderful time in my life and see it filled with goodness, creativity and peace. I let go of the old and allow the new to come gently into my life.

Often, we tend to cling to old patterns and habits that may be holding us back. It is these attachments that can keep us from living fully. In this centering affirmation, we allow ourselves to open up to the many blessings that exist within the vast sea of infinite possibilities surrounding us. When so-called negative experiences present themselves, we frequently tighten up and form an armor of resistance around us, thereby closing ourselves off from the magic inherent in the unknown. By always being open to new possibilities, we allow the Universe to harness all its forces to help us in the best ways possible. This affirmation is a wonderful way to begin our year of weekly wisdom meditations.

We hope you will take advantage of the 52 Weekly Affirmations and go through your year focusing on these universal principles.  They are guaranteed to make your life happier, healthier, more prosperous and even improve your relationships.  Below are the several different formats available to suit your needs.  And coming soon is an iPhone App.  We will let you know when it’s ready.  But no need to wait as you can begin now with the CD, DVD, download or DailyOM online course.

AYearofGuidedMeditationsDVD

A Year of Guided Meditations (DVD high quality nature videos with affirmations & music)

A Year of Guided Meditations (DailyOM online course, pay only what you can afford for the streaming videos)

Meditation Moment: 52 Weekly Affirmations (CD with affirmations & music)

Meditation Moment: 52 Weekly Affirmations (Digital Download with affirmations & music)

 

We Are What We Think

Buddha gardenI am not a Buddhist but the words here are so inspiring and relevant for modern times and our busy lives and busy minds.  See if you can get through this long poem and let me know if it resonates with you…

Choices From the Dhammapade translated by Thomas Byron

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with an impure mind
And trouble will follow you
As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.
We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with a pure mind
And happiness will follow you
As your shadow, unshakable.
“Look how he abused me and hurt me,
How he threw me down and robbed me.”
Live with such thoughts and you live in hate.
“Look how he abused me and hurt me,
How he threw me down and robbed me.”
Abandon such thoughts, and live in love.
In this world, hate never yet dispelled hate.
Only love dispels hate.
This is the law, ancient and inexhaustible.
You too shall pass away.
Knowing this, how can you quarrel?
How easily the wind overturns a frail tree.
Seek happiness in the senses,
Indulge in food and sleep,
And you too will be uprooted.
The wind cannot overturn a mountain.
Temptation cannot touch the man
Who is awake, strong and humble,
Who masters himself and minds the dharma.
If a man’s thoughts are muddy,
If he is reckless and full of deceit,
How can he wear the yellow robe?
Whoever is master of his own nature,
Bright, clear and true,
He may indeed wear the yellow robe.
Mistaking the false for the true,
And the true for the false,
You overlook the heart
And fill yourself with desire.
See the false as false,
The true as true.
Look into your heart.
Follow your nature.
An unreflecting mind is a poor roof.
Passion, like the rain, floods the house.
But if the roof is strong, there is shelter.
Whoever follows impure thoughts
Suffers in this world and the next.
In both worlds he suffers
And how greatly
When he sees the wrong he has done.
But whoever follows the dharma
Is joyful here and joyful there.
In both worlds he rejoices
And how greatly
When he sees the good he has done.
For great is the harvest in this world,
And greater still in the next.
However many holy words you read,
However many you speak,
What good will they do you
If you do not act upon them?
Are you a shepherd
Who counts another man’s sheep,
Never sharing the way?
Read as few words as you like,
And speak fewer.
But act upon the dharma.
Give up the old ways –
Passion, enmity, folly.
Know the truth and find peace.
Share the way.

The Dhammapada, an anthology of 423 verses, has long been recognized as one of the masterpieces of early Buddhist literature. Buddhist tradition has it that shortly after the passing away of the Buddha his disciples met in council for the purpose of recalling to mind the truths they had received from their beloved Teacher during the forty-five years of his ministry. Their hope was to implant the principles of his message so firmly in memory that they would become a lasting impetus to moral and spiritual conduct, for themselves, their disciples, and for all future disciples who would seek to follow in the footsteps of the Awakened One.

Chakras Explained in Children’s Cartoon

I love the chakras and use the psychology of the chakras frequently to help people understand the issues that they are dealing with at different levels in their lives.  This children’s cartoon is actually quite close to making sense of the chakras and how we can clear blockages and open up the flow of the life force to gain greater health in the physical, mental and spiritual realms of our existence.  I have recently completed a course with Anodea Judith, one of the leading masters teaching about the chakras.  Her focus in this class was how to manifest our dreams through the chakras and in future posts, I look forward to sharing more of the skills and tools she taught us in the course.  So, enjoy this little cartoon and stay tuned for more illumination about the chakras.

ChakraMeditations&TonesIf you are interested in exploring more about the chakras, check out my album CHAKRA MEDITATIONS & TONES which has meditations and tones for each of the chakras.

 

Ten Toning Tips to Deepen Meditation

1 Sit or lie down, close your eyes and relax your body
2 Take a deep breath, hold a moment and release
3 As you exhale, allow a quiet humming to occur as you push the breath out
4 Do this several times feeling your hum resonating deep inside
5 Inhale again and slowly exhale pushing out an AH vowel tone with the breath
6 Repeat as many times as you want focusing on love and your Heart Chakra
7 Play with the sound, Change the vowel tone to OH feeling your Power Center
8 Concentrate on the point between your eyebrows
9 Focus on your higher power, your angels, God or Nature
10 Feel the vibration of oneness as you breathe in the life force

Toning is a simple system using the breath and voice that has the effect of energizing and calming the body at the same time as well as centering and focusing the mind.  It requires no musical training, instruments or technology so it is the perfect tool to support your healing and going deeper into meditation.   As we learn to relax and calm the whirlpools of the mind, we are better able to support our well being.  We can use this system anytime we feel stress or want to calm our restless thoughts.

The mind is a very active system and in the busyness of our modern lives, we often need help in letting go of worrisome or troubling thoughts that have a tendency to repeat themselves as incessant tape loops.  Even if the thoughts aren’t negative, by their very repetition, they can wear us down.  We call it ‘monkey mind’ as it reminds us of a bothersome creature constantly nagging us to think thoughts that are unnecessary or harmful to our psyche.  The word ‘mantra’ in Sanskrit means ‘mind protection’ so by toning a sacred mantra, we are protecting our minds from our own negative interference.

Our friend and chant diva, Deva Premal, explains the concept behind the OM mantra which she says is really three tones in one: A-U-M.  The first AH tone is opening up to love and a power greater than ourselves.  The second tone is UH and more like a funnel drawing that energy into us.  The third tone is MM which resonates the sound as a hum deep within us.  So by focusing on each sound separately A-U-M, we create a sacred cycle of breath and tone and with our intention, we enhance our wellbeing.  So whether you prefer vowel toning, humming, chakra toning or the simple Om/AUM mantra, you are likely to experience the healing benefits of toning.

Save

Practice Makes Perfect!

“I believe that we learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same…Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.”   ~ Martha Graham

Have you ever wondered how musicians are able to perform their music with ease?  Perhaps you assume they were born with ‘the gift of music.’  That may very well be true, but I can assure you they didn’t get anywhere on the gift alone.  Most likely it was the ‘daily practice’ of their instrument that allowed them to create effortlessly. 

My husband, Dean Evenson, has played the flute for more that six decades and although he may have had the initial talent, he also loved to practice his flute. His mother never had to remind him to practice, he just enjoyed playing.  The result can be heard in over 80 albums he has produced, many of which feature his beautiful flute music.

Dean’s mother lived almost 100 years and was a very religious and kind woman.  Her daily practice was reading the Bible and prayer.  She did this ‘religiously’ which meant she did it every day with regularity and intention.  Her long life may have been because of her good genes, but it also may have had to do with her daily practice.

What we do every day becomes a habit.  Many of our habits do not serve us well and those habits may become addictions or obsessions.  We create our lives through our habits so we need to develop habits that enhance and not degrade our lives.  What thoughts do you keep repeating in your mind?  Are they supportive life-giving thoughts or are they worries and negative tape loops?  What do you eat everyday?  What do you do every day (or not do – like get enough exercise).  In any event, consider developing a daily practice in all areas of your life and you will be blessed with good health, happiness, and a life worth living.

Here are some simple steps to develop a daily meditation practice –

1 Decide what you are willing to do every day
2 Choose a comfortable place to practice
3 Create an environment that supports your practice
4 Set an intention to doing it regularly
5 Be realistic in what you are able to commit to
6 Eliminate distractions, turn off the phone and computer
7 Let your family or roommates know not to disturb you
8 Start small and let your practice grow
9 Keep a journal and document your progress
10 If you miss a day, get back to it when you can and make a habit of it

Click to hear some of our music that is supportive for yoga and meditation

Have fun and let me know how it goes.  Peace!

How to Use Toning & Breath for Meditation

Vocal toning is not an esoteric practice or exotic form of sound healing, but it is in fact a natural form of expression that may occur throughout our day whether we are aware of it or not.  When we stub our toe we may emit a loud groan as we moan owww.  Or perhaps we are finally able to relax after a busy day and we let out a sigh of relief sounding a long tone of ahhh.  We may hum a tune under our breath and feel the deep resonance of that hum.  Or we may laugh out loud with a big ho ho or ha ha.  All these sounds are indeed aspects of toning.
 
Yet beyond these spontaneous natural vocal tones, we can also use toning consciously to bring more energy into our own bodies or to enhance our meditation practice.  This can work by allowing the tone to put the breaks on our breath and slow down our exhalation which also helps slow down our mental thought process.
 
You can follow these simple steps to deepen your meditation using toning:
• Breathe in quickly and fully
• Hold your breath for a few moments
• Then exhale slowly and completely letting a sound accompany your exhale
• The sound can be a vowel tone or ohh or ahh
• When the exhale is complete, repeat the process
 
Be aware of your diaphragm, which is located just below your belly button.  This is the powerful muscle that causes your lungs to contract and expand acting like a bellows.  Relax into the rhythm of your breathing.  As you become comfortable with the process of expressing yourself vocally through toning, you will be able to deepen your meditative experience and reach a more peaceful state of being.
 
Chakra Meditations & TonesCheck out our album Chakra Meditations & Tones which includes affirmations on each of the chakras and vocal toning for each chakra that you can tone along with.  Toning is a fun, participatory practice that can bring a sense of rejuvenation and vitality.  The good news is toning can be done by anyone and requires no prior musical training.

Dudley Evenson taught a workshop called ‘Toning Up, Tuning In – Chakras & more’ at the 4th International Globe Sound Healing Conference, Oakland, California.  It was an amazing gathering of sound healers.  Sound healing benefits are limitless and the presenters in this conference had a lot to share.

Save

Save