Peace Through Music

Gift of Music Keeps Giving

Music is the gift that keeps on giving all year long. A CD is a small item, but it fills your whole home with peaceful vibrations. When you purchase a full album for yourself or as a gift for friend or family member, you are directly supporting the artist who created it. We thank you deeply for supporting independent musicians.

As you may know, Dean Evenson and I (Dudley) founded Soundings of the Planet to share our peaceful music almost four decades ago. We have grown with each change of technology. We began in 1979 making cassettes. Then in the late ‘80s, we started making compact discs. Then, file sharing came in and thankfully, Apple founder, Steve Jobs, invented digital downloads so people could pay a small amount to deliver music to their computer.

Now, there are new delivery systems such as streaming services like Pandora, Spotify, YouTube, Spa Channel, etc. There, you can create your own Dean Evenson, Dudley Evenson, Tom Barabas, Scott Huckabay or Soundings Ensemble channel or station. We receive a small fee each time you listen so we do benefit somewhat. But the best way to support the musician is by purchasing an actual CD of the music.

In our case, we spend a lot of time putting together a flow of the music, so there is a much greater benefit to owning a whole album versus just listening to one or two songs in random order. Our music is different from Top 40 songs because people use our music for healing and relaxation. We want you to stay in that mood and have no big surprises in the midst of your listening experience.

We are extremely grateful to you for supporting our mission of Peace Through Music.  May your holidays be filled with joy and peace. Remember, when you comment on our blog at soundings.com we will send you a free mp3 track of our music in appreciation. Seasons blessings to you and yours! Take advantage of holiday special.

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Surviving Politics Through Spiritual Practice

Surviving Elections

Democratic elections are interesting.  We need to figure out how to survive divisive elections. At the end of the day, about half the people are celebrating while the other half are feeling devastated. If you are in the first group – congratulations. For those in the second group, this post is for you. I realize many people are still nursing their disappointment with the recent election results. Now the question is how to move forward without completely giving up hope.

We each have different coping techniques. For me, I’m turning off the ‘news.’ This does not mean I will isolate myself from the world and give up. It simply means I will focus on issues and causes I care about and not be led by the news media fanning the flames of divisiveness and conflict. If you have any money or time to donate, now is a good time to support groups who are working tirelessly to build a better world.

Vulnerable Planet

Our planet is vulnerable because of over population and our dependency on fossil fuels. Pollution of air and water, soil degradation, and poverty are problems that need to be addressed. Issues of discrimination, job equity, women’s rights and food security are more important than ever. Those of us who care need to work extra hard to keep moving forward. *See the list at bottom of this post for non-profit groups.

I put together this graphic about how our faith communities might deal with adjusting their attitudes to keep moving forward. Maybe it will resonate with you!
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Helpful words from spiritual leaders

Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön says: “During difficult times like this, I’m feeling that the most important thing is our love for each other and remembering to express that and avoid the temptation to get caught in negative and aggressive thinking. Instead of polarizing, I’m feeling that it’s a time to contact our hearts and to reach out and help in any way we can.”

Roshi Joan Halifax, Abbot of Upaya Zen Center says: “It’s clear we have our work cut out for us. It is the work of love and wisdom in the face of the terrible suffering of war, environmental issues, racism, gender violence, and economic injustice. We have to work together to shift the tide toward what will benefit our children, the natural world, the future. Part of this means that we have to change the mind, move out of harsh negativity, eroding futility and fear, and build toward the good and the wise. We also have to work to shift the mood of the country and of the world through compassionate education, deep practice, and service to others.”

These words from Jan Willis, Professor Emerita of Religion at Wesleyan University also fit – “We must prepare ourselves to defend those hard-won rights and to help to ease the fears of those who now feel threatened. How do we do this? On a national level, by remaining vigilant and by remaining vocal when rights are threatened. On the personal level, by committing to serve as caring and compassionate warriors for those who are experiencing fear.”

Groups Making Our World Better

*In addition to your local food bank, here are just a few groups who will benefit from your tax-deductible donations this season: NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), EarthJustice, Southern Poverty Law Center, Globemed, Doctors without Borders, Planned Parenthood, 350.org, Cornucopia, Friends of the Earth, Nature Conservancy, Organic Seed Alliance, Union of Concerned Scientists.

What groups do you support? When you comment on our blog, we’ll send you a free mp3 of our music as a thank you.

 

 

 

 

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Attitude of Gratitude

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!

Need for Stillness Greater Now Than Ever

We are pleased to announce STILLNESS, Dean Evenson’s latest album. Official release date is November 18. Preorder on amazon.com. Digital downloads available now on iTunes. Dean’s long, slow keyboard tones and rich atmospheric arrangements blend with the pure sounds of his silver flute and the deep bass flute of Doug Tessler. This deeply soothing music connects with the still, quiet place within creating the perfect mood for meditation and going deep.

We realize it has been a challenging time for many people and emotions are running high and deep. Dealing with grief and loss calls for us to lean in on the tools we know work. Any time we are confronted with situations not to our liking, we are reminded that clearing the mind and letting go of attachment to our position can be a tremendous help. This principle works both ways and applies even if we are ecstatically happy about something.


For some peace of mind, join Dean Evenson as he plays his flute and meditates by mountain lakes

Meditation can support us in letting go of negative emotions such as anger and sadness and make way for a more compassionate, joyful and expansive state of being. We can’t always control what goes on around us but we can learn to control how we react to and internalize what happens in our outer world. Meditation can have immense benefits for our spiritual and physical wellbeing. Through listening to calming music and a regular meditation practice, we strive to reach a state of inner peace and move ourselves much closer to the realization our divine nature.

Michael McGillicuddy, Owner Central Florida School of Massage Therapy, had this to say about Stillness: “I love Dean Evenson’s new Stillness album. It is like listening to soft waves of flute while laying in a peaceful place. Very relaxing, peaceful and perfect for massage and other healing modalities. I received an acupuncture treatment today and listening to the CD was very healing to me.”

We invite you to check out our free download this week to listen to a track from Stillness.

And we love to hear from you. How do you deal with challenges when they come up, whether personal or societal? We always like to know what tools and techniques others have to get through difficult times. When you comment here, we’ll send you a free download in appreciation.

pumpkin heaven

Pumpkin Happy Halloween

We love pumpkins and not just at Halloween. They are such a wonderful and inexpensive source of food. What other high quality food sells for 39 cents a pound? Well, maybe that’s not for organic pumpkins, but for people interested in feeding their family on a tight budget, you can’t beat that price. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, pumpkin muffins, roasted pumpkin, pumpkin smoothie, pumpkin seeds, and on and on the list goes of yummy pumpkin dishes. Oh, and did we mention, a pumpkin that is kept in a cool place will last for months without refrigeration so it is a perfect winter storage food.

pumpkins-39-centsHere is some fun early history about pumpkins that I posted last year that you might enjoy being reminded of about this wonderful food source. 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 off 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!

We love hearing from you so for those kind enough to comment on our blog, we 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.

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no more stress

Overcome Stress Using Simple Sound Tools

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.

Mantra Affirmation

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.

Dudley’s Gluten-Free Quinoa Veggie Burgers

Veggie burgers are always popular at potlucks and are great for lunches or snacks when traveling. They are simple to make and extremely healthy and well balanced. I posted the recipe a while ago, but now we have a video that should help you to make your own. They are pretty much a complete meal with vegetables, protein and grain. This recipe makes a bunch of small burgers – vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free.

Since I don’t use exact measurements, I use the texture to determine some of the quantities. The video should help you to get a sense of the consistency you are looking for. Note: in the video I am making a double batch using 2 cups of quinoa. The recipe below calls for 1 cup of quinoa which is more standard for a family.

Basic Recipe for Veggie Burgers

•Take one cup quinoa and add two cups water
• Bring to boil then turn off and let sit with cover for 45 minutes
• Put quinoa in large bowl and mix in finely chopped** 2 carrots, 1 large zucchini, 1 onion, 1 beet or other veggies such as kale or mushrooms. (I don’t recommend using sweet peppers since they have a lot more water content and would make them too moist)
• Mix in sprouted beans, black beans, garbanzo beans or refried beans
• Add in sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds if desired

• Add tomato sauce for extra flavor but not too much
• Stir and season with your choice of herbs, sea salt, or Spike (my favorite)
• Add in flax flour (or any gluten free flour) to create the consistency to form into a patty
• Form into patties like biscuits and place on oiled baking sheet
• Bake at 400 F (204 C) for 15 minutes, turn over, cook 15 minutes more

Eat as a stand-alone snack, main course or like a burger with all the toppings. But no need for bread or bun!

Featured in Non-GMO Cookbook

*This recipe was included in the Non-GMO Cookbook: Recipes and Advice for a Non-GMO Lifestyle by Megan Westgate & Courtney Pineau of the Non-GMO Project.

**I use a Ninja food chopper but a basic blender or sharp knife works too.

Happy healthy eating!  Let me know how yours turned out.  Send pictures. And when you comment on my blog, we’ll send you a free mp3 track of our music!

Deobrat Mishra Indian Sitar Master Tours Northwest

Since the very beginning of Soundings of the Planet in 1979, Dudley and Dean Evenson have been privileged to collaborate with outstanding musicians from around the world. Recently, Dean has enjoyed recording and performing with 11th generation Indian sitar masters – Deobrat Mishra and Pt. Shivnath Mishra. Their popular album on the Soundings label, RAGA CYCLE, is a blend of ancient ragas and modern interpretations.
 
This fall, Deobrat Mishra is touring in the Pacific Northwest and Soundings is pleased to sponsor his Evening Ragas Sitar Concert in Bellingham. His concert tour is a benefit for the Benares Music Academy and the Daya Foundation which empowers people through yoga, two very relevant organizations.
 

Deobrat Mishra brings his energetic and innovative playing style back to Pacific Northwest. He is one of the most creative and innovative sitar artists in India. He was taught by his father, Pt. Shivnath Mishra, who had him performing on stage when he was five years old. The father-son duo has toured extensively in India, Europe and the Pacific Northwest to sell out crowds and more recently, Deobrat is traveling solo with a tabla player. Dean Evenson will join him on flute in Bellingham.

deobrat-mishra-dean-evenson-concert
Sunday September 25 – Evening Ragas Sitar Concert
The Majestic on North Forest, Bellingham, WA.

Saturday October 1 – Raga Singing & Kirtan
3 OMs Yoga.  Bellingham, WA.

Bellingham Concert details here.

Order advance tickets for Deobrat Mishra 2016 Northwest Tour here.
Search by date or location.

Deobrat has received numerous music awards over the years. Selectivity, melody and rhythmic complexity are typical features of his lively playing style. He is Director of the Benares Music Academy on the Ganges whose mission is to keep classical Indian music alive.
 
The Benares Academy of Indian Classical Music provides musical training and home for students ranging from the community of ‘untouchables’ in India, children of impoverished musicians who can’t afford to pass their traditions along, as well as to international travelers. Students have the opportunity to study music that engages the brain, heart, body, and mind toward integration, optimism, and service. Classical Indian music instruction is offered by scholarships made possible by these events.

DAYA Foundation is a change-agent organization based in Portland, Oregon that empowers students to discover their essential life skills through the yoga. Students are from diverse populations, including those isolated by trauma, incarceration, residential treatment centers, or with mental or physical health challenges. Their prison programs train adults in custody to become yoga instructors for other adults in custody.

 

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Peace Music Nature

Peace Through Music & Nature

Dean Evenson has loved nature from his early days as a bird watcher, an Eagle Scout and camping with his family. His peace music began with flute at 10 years old, so as he grew up, the idea of combining nature and music together became a natural course of his life path. In 1979, Dean was one of the first musicians to combine the sounds of nature with his peaceful music and in the process, he helped birth a whole new genre of relaxation and meditation music.

Another influence on his work has been his contact with Native American wisdom that teaches about nature perceiving the Earth as a living being which provides for our physical sustenance. The indigenous people call her Mother Earth and it is this concept that has caught the attention of Dean and Dudley who have dedicated their lives to bringing awareness to the importance of respecting nature. They see nature, not just as a resource for human development, but as having value in itself, for itself. Humans benefit greatly from healthy, natural ecosystems. When nature is out of balance, human populations are affected, not just the animals and plants. It is in all our best interests to do what we can to protect nature and give back to the Earth.

We hope you enjoy this short video of Dean Evenson discussing his philosophy about nature, music and peace.

“When we can relax ourselves into nature and experience the beauty and complexity of the natural world around us, we began to see how we do fit into this amazing system. We realize our responsibility to care for the life that is around us, knowing that life gives back multifold to an energy that’s given into it. You put a seed in the ground, add water and light, and that one little seed grows into a big plant. Some of the plants even have fruits and vegetables that are shareable as food. The natural world is a support system for all life and especially the human population so that we can evolve into greater things. It gives us immense pleasure to be part this beautiful, living system”
~ Dean Evenson

To these ideas of music and nature, Dean adds the concept of peace – both inner and outer peace. For almost four decades, people have been using Dean’s music to support their meditation and healing process. The gentle tones of flute, joined with nature sounds, create a perfect environment of Peace Through Music. When a person experiences inner peace, they will be a peaceful influence on the world around them. Everyone benefits from one individual living in harmony with themselves and their environment.

Thank you for watching and sharing. When you comment on our blog, we will send you a free mp3 track of our music as a thank you. We send you blessings of Peace Through Music!

Riding waves of change

Surfing Waves of Change in Sea of Infinite Possibilities

Change is a constant factor in our world but few know how to successfully circumnavigate unwanted events or issues that show up in life. During our four decades together, Dean Evenson and I have discovered some helpful tips on how to sail through changes of life’s inevitable ups and downs and move forward in a positive way. Today, we share some of those ideas with you.

Years ago, we were living in an old farmhouse in upstate New York with some fellow video artists. We had recently learned the concept of ‘go with the flow’ but hadn’t really had a chance to put this principle into action. Soon we got our opportunity. Our landlord decided to evict us – and we found ourselves facing a cold winter with no apparent place to go. We decided to apply our newly discovered principle and allow ourselves to ‘flow with the changes’.
 
Instead of complaining about our predicament, we said to ourselves ‘there must be something better coming along’ and we prepared to move forward. Our neighbors and friends were very surprised at our attitude and watched us as we approached a big transition in our living situation without knowing where it would take us. Fortunately, we ended up finding another country house near Woodstock, New York that was large enough for us and a few others. We packed up and moved our whole household there just in time to beat the winter snow. From then on, with every change that came our way, we kept a positive attitude and things always got better.

Years later, we heard Dr. Deepak Chopra explaining what he calls ‘the sea of infinite possibilities.’ We were very inspired by his approach to being open to and actually benefiting from change. He said that since we never know what’s in store for us and sometimes so-called ‘bad’ things happen, we often resist them and let our fears rule us. He suggested we imagine behind us a sea of infinite possibilities, ever undulating and evolving that is always ready to present us with favorable choices. He pointed out that fear, worry and getting upset cause these potentials to freeze up and block the flow the universe is able to provide for us.
 

Sometimes our life is out of our control, at least for the moment. Big social events and personal or family issues may sweep us into an unknown not-of-our choosing. Suffering happens. Old age, sickness and death are common forms of suffering first recognized by Buddha. As young Prince Siddhartha, he had never seen such things until one day he escaped the confines of the palace and came across those very conditions. He was horrified and commenced on a quest for understanding how to overcome suffering. In his process, he underwent many trials and tribulations before coming across meditation, the Middle Path and the peace of a quiet mind. The first step in the Eightfold Path he postulated is ‘Right Perception’.
 
When things happen that are not to our liking, often the only thing we have control over is our own perception of the situation and how we react to it. When we can embrace change and tap into the ever evolving sea of infinite possibilities, we open to the opportunity of transforming what we initially perceive as a negative, into something much more positive. By simply keeping an optimistic attitude, we find ourselves working with the universal flow instead of against it. This in not to suggest letting yourself be randomly blown by the wind. Instead, no matter that happens, it is important to stay focused on your principles, values and goals. They are your moral compass and the direction your path is heading, no matter a few swerves in the road. By having a clear sense of purpose, when challenges do arise that you don’t have immediate control over, you can take a deep breath, pick yourself up, face the direction of your dreams and move on.
                                                   
We would love to hear how you have learned to cope with change in your life. Let us know what tools you have used to keep going when unexpected or unwanted things happen in your life. Remember, when you comment here on our blog, we’ll send you a free mp3 track of our music as thank you.