Holiday stress can be overcome using the chakras. With the holidays often comes a bundle of stress triggers and challenges that may take away from the fun and festivity of the season. While we love to get together with family and friends, sometimes the extra tasks and pressures can add up to create situations that are less than fun and definitely not festive. Extra shopping, more cooking, cleaning, preparing, crowds, traffic or traveling with flights delayed or other inconveniences may create more holiday stress and can take the fun out of the season. Then, there are the long-term family patterns replete with buttons that are often pushed right at the dinner table after a few too many glasses of bubbly. Whatever form it takes, the strain and tension of being overloaded can sometimes rise up and ruin our fun, family time.
So how can we deal with this inevitable holiday stress and put the joy back into the season? Here are some simple steps we can take to uplift our spirits and make sure we don’t get overloaded and react emotionally in the presence of habitual family patterns or simply collapse from exhaustion when we should be having fun. These seven steps are actually based on the chakra system and begin with the crown or seventh chakra going down to the root or first chakra. Check them out and see if they resonate with you.
Set Intention (Crown)
Decide in advance how you would like your holiday experience to be. You can use ideas like – peaceful, meaningful, relaxing, fun. Whatever words you come up with, you might want to form them into a simple mantra or affirmation to keep in the forefront of your awareness as you go through your socializing. Remember the aspects of an affirmation are threefold: positive, present tense and repetition. An example would be ‘I am peaceful and relaxed’ or whatever idea you want to remind yourself of when intensity arises. Say it often.
Visualize (Third Eye, Mind)
Use mental images to picture how you would like to see the holidays unfold. You can imagine your home beautifully decorated with family members happily enjoying a home cooked meal and conversing with one another in pleasant tones. Or you might picture young children playing well together with their new gifts. Don’t forget to picture yourself attending to your tasks with ease in a relaxed manner. You may want to focus on the deeper meaning of the holiday you are celebrating and especially the fellowship of gathering together with family and friends. Continue reading Overcome Holiday Stress Using Chakras→
We have much to be grateful for and we hope you do as well. We are grateful for air to breathe, a roof over our heads, food to eat, and friends and family with whom to share our blessings. Dean and I are grateful to have celebrated our 47th wedding anniversary!
This year we are grateful that Dean’s latest album Amber Sky (with Phil Heaven and Jeff Willson) had a successful release launch. We know you will enjoy the beautiful music of flute, viola, keyboards, and bass created by these three really good friends. Phil is Soundings of the Planet’s main engineer and helps keep things rolling in so many ways. Jeff is a good friend and massage therapist so he knows how to make music that all you massage therapists enjoy.
We are especially grateful to almost have finished our book Quieting the Monkey Mind: How to Meditate with Music! You will be hearing a lot more about this project as the weeks go by and look for an early 2018 publication. This book is a distillation of what Dean and I have been learning for many decades about meditation, yoga, and how music can support them both. We share lots of tips, tools, and exercises to help both beginning as well as experienced meditators get more out of their practice. The book is in full color and we share a lot of our history and background in this very important field.
And now we are grateful that our 23-year-old granddaughter, Cybele Olsen, wants to come live here in the woods with us as she does an artist retreat preparing for the next phase of her life. We are really grateful that her dad, David Olsen, is helping her build her very own tiny home so she has a cozy place to live and work. He had a few days break from medical school when he was available to help. So far, four days building in the rain hasn’t dampened their spirit.
We send you blessings of love and peace. May the music and media we create enhance the quality of your life on a daily basis. Whether you buy our CDs or downloads from soundings.com, amazon, or iTunes or from your favorite independent bookstore, it all contributes to our Peace Through Music mission. And of course, you can always listen to our music for free on Spotify, Pandora, YouTube, or any other streaming sites. We do get paid part of a penny every time someone listens and since Dean Evenson currently has over 193,000 monthly listeners on Spotify it all adds up! No matter how you hear us, we are grateful to you, our listeners and fans, for your support for almost four decades. Peace Through Music continues to make this world a more peaceful place.
This summer, Deobrat Mishra, 11th generation Indian sitar master, is touring in the Pacific Northwest. Soundings is pleased to sponsor his Sitar Concert Ragas and Kirtan in Bellingham, WA July 8 & 9 and his workshops on July 10 & 11. His sitar concert tour is a benefit for the Benares Music Academy and the Daya Foundation which empowers people through yoga, two very relevant organizations.
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.
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.
Sitar Ragas & Kirtan
2 concerts, each with different music. Attend one or both! First half Sitar Ragas, Second half Kirtan singing
Saturday July 8 @ 7:30 pm Firehouse Performing Arts Center.
1314 Harris Avenue, Bellingham, WA.
Sunday July 9 @ 7:30 pm
The Majestic on N. Forest
1027 N. Forest, Bellingham, WA
Monday July 10 @7:30 pm
Nada Yoga Sound Healing
Turtle Haven Studio
Deming, WA (leave message at 360/738-9368 if interested)
Tuesday July 11 @7:30 pm
Traditional Indian Rhythms & Melodies for Western Instruments
Soundings of the Planet Studio
Fairhaven/Bellingham, WA (leave message at 360/738-9368 if interested)
Deobrat Mishra 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.
We love the dads of today who carry their babies in a backpack or close to their heart. It used to be this practice was only used by mothers but now fathers get to have the blessings of a much closer contact with their young children. As women have become strong and more empowered of late, we acknowledge that fathers have become softer and more gentle. We see this as a wonderful process that allows men to develop the more nurturing side of themselves and that is surely a benefit to them and their children as well. Dean Evenson got to carry his children in a baby backpack and was always around for family dinner practically every day of their lives growing up.
What is the measure of a man?
Is it by the measure of his biceps? Or the amount of love in his heart? Is it how much he can push his way through? Or how gentle he can be in carrying his child? I once heard the definition of a good ‘husbandman‘ (gardener) as one who knows when to plant the seed. I would add that it is equally important to know how to care for the seed so it can grow to fullness and bear the fruits of its harvest.
I am grateful to have found such a man in Dean Evenson who has been such a good husband to me and father to our three children. He has also been the father of Soundings of the Planet and all the musicians who have come through our studio. The burden of a father can be heavy and we need to remember that fathers need all the love and support they can get. So as Father’s Day approaches, let us remember to honor the fathers in our lives and let them feel supported too.
History of Father’s Day
We were intrigued to learn that Father’s Day was first started in Spokane, Washington at the YMCA in 1910 by Sonora Smart Dodd. Her father, William Jackson Smart, was a Civil War veteran and a single parent who raised his six children there. In 1909, after she heard a sermon about Mother’s Day being started by Ann Jarvis, she told her pastor that fathers should have a similar holiday honoring them. She initially suggested June 5, her father’s birthday, but the pastors did not have enough time to prepare their sermons so the celebration of Father’s Day was deferred to the third Sunday of June. Its first celebration was in the Spokane YMCA on June 19, 1910.
We would love to hear about your father or a dad you admire. When you comment we will send you a free mp3 of our music.
In Appreciation of Father’s Day, all recent Soundings of the Planet releases are on sale for $9. Happy Father’s Day to all the Fathers out there!
This Earth Day, Dean Evenson and I find ourselves in a small coastal village in Mexico with no roads and no cars. It is truly a magnificent experience to be in an eco village where one has to walk everywhere and carry on our backs anything we want to transport. The bonus is that walking is one of the best forms of exercise we can do. In our modern world, we have grown accustomed to relying on cars, trucks, buses and planes to move us from place to place so it is quite refreshing to rely on our own legs and feet to get us where we want to go. Here food gets purchased, meals get made, children get educated, business happens and most of it without relying on the wheel! The other interesting thing about this little village is that strangers greet each other with a pleasant hello and most everyone is smiling.
When one lives in a somewhat primitive system like this, it becomes clear how everything is interconnected. Here, we take nothing for granted and perhaps that is how we might want to consider life on our very own planet Earth. Where does our food come from? In our globalized economy, it may come from halfway around the world. We finish with something and throw it ‘away’ but where exactly is ‘away’? On this finite planet, there really is no ‘away’ so we need to build a more sustainable support system that does not rely so much on petroleum based transportation to supply us with the basics of life.
This is why we love the idea of permaculture. In such a system, there is no waste and everything that is consumed or used is produced locally as much as possible. Permaculture basically means ‘permanent culture.’ It is a system of social design and agriculture that directly utilizes features and patterns observed in natural ecosystems. This may be an idealistic concept today, but in the not so distant future when we have run out of fossil fuels, we may likely be looking at permaculture as a necessity and not an idealistic luxury.
We hope you will take advantage of the nature-based music Dean Evenson and the Soundings Ensemble have been creating since 1979. And when you comment on our blog, we will send you a free mp3 as a thank you. Peace Through Music blessings.
Through May 1st we are offering a special price of $9 for all albums and DVDs that feature nature sounds. Take advantage of this special now as it won’t last long!
With Millions of Records Sold, Bellingham’s Soundings of the Planet Are New Age’s Old Pros
After surviving the rocky MP3 era, they’ve found even more success in the world of digital streaming.
“A little yellow house sits on a patch of land about 30 minutes outside Bellingham. A few dozen feet away, the frosty Nooksack River rushes by. Thick green splotches of moss run up and down tree trunks, and the air is free from cell service. Residing in that little yellow house are Dean and Dudley Evenson, founders of the wildly successful musical business Soundings of the Planet, whose elongated, pastorally soft melodies, such as “Mending Your Own Mind” and “Gentle Season,” you’ve likely heard on a massage table or in a yoga studio without knowing their origins.
Inside the little yellow house are also instruments—a baby grand piano, a harp, and some drums dangling from an overhang. And often music is playing; soft songs rich with strings move almost effortlessly like wind through leaves. On a flat-screen television videos play: birds landing on branches, a frog kicking its legs in clear water. This is the ambient, naturally focused world that Soundings, and its two founders, manifest.
Soundings Success Story
The business began formally in 1979 when the duo created their record label outside Tucson, AZ, which has since gone on to sell millions of albums—the most famous of which include Chakra Healing, Ocean Dreams and Healing Sanctuary—and enjoy a similarly high number of digital streams. But in another way, the project began in 1968, the day Dean moved into Dudley’s apartment building, taking the flat she’d been using as a low-key, makeshift dance and yoga room.
Dean, master’s in molecular biology from the University of Maine in hand, had come to New York’s East Village to learn a trade in the music business. He was already an accomplished flutist, but now wanted to become an engineer—“the guy behind the board reminding Eric Clapton his guitar is out of tune,” explains Dudley, 73, looking fondly at her husband, 72, whose long white beard is marked by a thick dread down the middle.
The day the two met, their relationship took off. Meeting young in the tumultuous 1960s provided a lot of inspiration for a new couple in search of art and spirituality. At the time, Dean, along with the music trade, found himself studying filmmaking and Dudley studied photography. The two were fascinated with the newly invented portable video camera. Its freedom and populist aspect, Dudley says, provided the couple’s first window into a larger purpose. “We were all about trying to put the tools of media in the hands of the people,” she explains. “We believe everyone has a valid perspective and point of view. We wanted to use the video camera to introduce people to each other.
Dean and Dudley began to travel, video camera in hand, finding gurus, speakers, and eventually Native American elders who shared with them messages about the earth as an actual living being. “That’s when we really woke up,” says Dean. So the two began to explore the concepts of balance, harmony, and nature. This search led them to spiritualist Ram Dass, whose lecture Dean and Dudley later recorded. They began selling cassette copies of this lecture at swap meets and craft fairs around the country, learning an important lesson: Cassettes were much easier to distribute than cumbersome reel-to-reel videotapes. Not long after, Dean began recording Soundings’ first album, Desert Dawn Song. He slept overnight in the desert outside Tucson and recorded “the birds waking up just as I woke up,” he says. “That became the base track. We used it as the inspiration to play the music.
Quickly, the Soundings nature recordings became popular at hippie venues and wellness conferences early in the New Age movement, where the couple mostly sold their work to those interested in massage, yoga, and meditation. “Our motto was peace through music,” Dudley says. “People wanted more and more of it. It helped them relax and deal with stress and chronic pain. A lot of music comes from an ego space, people wanting recognition. But our music comes from an intention of peace.
It should not be forgotten that Dean Evenson—flutist, engineer, and tinkerer—is also a scientist. One aspect of the world he most appreciates is the notion of vibrations, his understanding of which has influenced Soundings recordings. It’s a bit complicated, but the basic idea is that all things can be reduced to vibrations. “Everything has its own signature vibration,” Dean says. Using a scientific principle that bodies can vibrate at the same rate together, Dean composes the basic music for the recordings. The melodies rely on a subdued, even inaudible, quality that relaxes the body’s vibrations and puts it in tune with the low, inaudible hum of nature, otherwise known as the alpha state. “It’s very subtle,” Dean says. “You don’t notice it that much.” In this way, the soft blanket-like music (composed without refrains and utilizing tremolo) carries Soundings’ signature soothing resonance.
In the following decades, the founding parents of Soundings eventually released some 80 albums (the most recent in November), some featuring accompanying musicians (at one point Soundings employed 22 people). They’ve also produced countless videos, which they share on their YouTube page. The business grew in part from their regular touring and performances at the conferences (some alongside Deepak Chopra and Larry Dossey); their family did too with the introduction of three children. They all traveled the country in a bus selling tapes and CDs. Eventually, though, the Evensons landed in the Pacific Northwest, where Dean and Dudley bought a few homes, including the little yellow one.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, however, Soundings endured the nearly devastating cratering of the music business, when CD sales plummeted after the introduction of MP3s. “There was a lot of tightening of our belts,” Dudley recalls. But in the last seven years that has flipped, thanks to digital streaming. With more and more listeners finding their music online, Soundings has flourished again—almost beyond belief.
“We’re doing very well,” Dudley nods. Many of the streams come from Spotify and Pandora, which offer sizable direct deposits. And an upcoming project, which will likely see the light of day this year, will feature Bellingham resident Tim Alexander, drummer of famed rock band Primus (which Dudley first called “Preemus” before Dean lovingly corrected her). The project is yet another example of the effort the couple continues to put in well into their 70s. Dean and Dudley, who have always dreamed of helping people relax and heal through art, know success comes not only from spiritual inspiration. “You do a dream,” Dudley asserts. “We were ready and willing to do the hard work.”
Hope you enjoyed reading about Soundings Success Story. If you have a chance view the article in the Seattle Weekly and leave a comment, that would be greatly appreciated. The story is actually in the Top 5 Most Read stories this week!
10 Tips for Conserving Water. United Nations World Water Day is March 22.
Yes, I am a stickler for water conservation but this might be going a bit far even in my open-minded book. Actually, ‘Save Water Shower With A Friend’ was a semi-official campaign in New York City when I first arrived there in 1965 after graduation from college. A lingering drought had resulted in a severe water shortage in the northeast. This was one clever way of calling attention to this issue that affected 20 million people in drought-ridden New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. The other ‘big’ water saving policy was for restaurants not to automatically give you water at your table. You could request it though.
In retrospect, I wonder if large industrial water users were required to make concessions and cut back on their water use as well. We have since learned of the enormous amounts of fresh water that are used for operations of manufacturing, refineries, nuclear and other energy production and agriculture.
Many years later, I lived in the Arizona desert and again became acutely aware of water limitations. I learned to respect and conserve water through our family’s many unusual living situations. For much of the ‘70s, Dean Evenson and I lived in a converted school bus with our three young children and had no running water. I even gave birth to our second daughter in that bus. A few years later, we ‘settled down’ in a 21 by 21 foot cinder block former garage where we had to carry water in buckets from the pump down the hill. That was for all our water needs – drinking, cooking, washing and bathing. No toilet flushing though as we had an outhouse.
So we have had to get used to living on less water. In fact, I learned that I could actually wash my dishes in the equivalent of two cups of water. Not my preference but sometimes necessary. Once, I even washed my baby’s cloth diapers in a mud puddle on a high Colorado plateau because that was the only water available at the time. But it was better than not washing the diapers at all if you know what I mean.
Did you hear about the monastery where the monks drank their dishwater? Well it wasn’t really as gross as it sounds. Basically, when they were finished eating their rice, they poured some tea in the bowl and swished it around, cleaning the bowl of any leftover rice, and then drank their tea (infused with rice flavor). Maybe they then wiped the bowl with the sleeve of their robe, and presto, their bowl was clean.
10 Tips for Conserving Water
1. Don’t let the water run while you are brushing your teeth. Just use it for rinsing your mouth and toothbrush.
2. Don’t let the water run while you are soaping up your dishes. Rinse them all at once in a dishpan to conserve water.
3. Don’t flush the toilet unless necessary (you know what I mean).
4. Install a low flush toilet to conserve water.
5. When possible, use your grey water (water from washing dishes, clothes, people) to water your garden or plants. Two things happen here: you grow more food and you keep water from taxing your septic or sewage system by cleansing it naturally through the ground and plants.
6. Fix leaky plumbing. Even small drips in sinks, toilets and hoses add up and amount to large waste of water.
7. Develop a comprehensive program for reducing your water usage.
8. Get your neighbors involved and make it a community thing. From the one to the many and then it really can make a difference.
9. Support organizations active in solving world water issues.
10. Check out other water saving lists with lots more ideas for conserving water.
4 Earth: Scenic Vistas of Ocean, Stream, River, Pond
Speaking of water stories, Dean and I created the DVD ‘4 Earth: Scenic Vistas of Ocean, Stream, River, Pond’. The video follows the cycle of water among these four eco-systems and shows how they are interconnected. Our aim in creating this beautiful nature video is to inspire people to respect the finite amount of fresh water on the planet and take action to protect it. We invite you to contribute suggestions for solutions to the many issues plaguing water in this era we find ourselves in. It hasn’t always been this way, and it doesn’t need to remain out of balance.
WHEN YOU COMMENT ON OUR BLOG WE’LL SEND YOU A FREE MP3 OF OUR MUSIC.
#waterislife #nodapl #standingwithstandingrock. Have you seen those hash tags about Standing Rock scrolling past your Facebook feed or Twitter feeds? Their story points to Native American water issues and the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Sometimes we get to have personal experiences with big news events and this is one of those times. We want to share a story with you written by our young Soundings videographer, Jon Carroll. We had heard about the grave situation occurring last year and into this year at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota regarding a pipeline being built across tribal lands. The issue became national news, attracting thousands of people from around the country who traveled to Standing Rock to demonstrate their solidarity with the Native people who were to be negatively affected by the pipeline being built.
In our younger years, Dean and I would have been there with video camera in hand to document this historic event. The saga at Standing Rock builds on and expands the legacy of Wounded Knee (1973) which Dean Evenson did videotape. We believe Standing Rock is an important issue that is much larger than just one tribe’s rights. It involves the vision we have for the future of our planet and how we as a society deal with energy while still protecting drinking water. Fortunately we were able to help support Jon to head out to Standing Rock with a carload of people and his own video camera. Here is his story.
My Time at Standing Rock:
Learning from the Sioux Nation
By Jon Carroll, Guest Blogger
A movement to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) came from a grassroots organizations led by indigenous men and women. Thousands of people from every corner of America, representing every faith, race, and class, heard the call of active citizenship to defend the constitutional rights and treaty rights of the Sioux Nation as an unwavering, peaceful force. Native sovereignty rights, national water security, and renewable energy opportunities are threatened. Meanwhile, if the pipeline is constructed as planned, Sioux Nation Indians would have sacred sites destroyed and drinking water threatened.
In early 2017, under the guise of creating jobs, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to speed up the process of approving Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Unfortunately, as it turns out, by finishing the pipeline’s route under the Missouri River, only 40 permanent jobs would be created while drinking water and tribal rights would be seriously jeopardized.
I heard the same call as those many thousands who wanted to support the tribes so I piled into my grandparents’ old GMC Suburban with five friends and we drove for 24 hours to North Dakota. We arrived into Sacred Stone Camp, North Dakota just before sun down on November 12th. The winds were keeping the air crisp and cold even though the sky had been blue all day as we pitched our tents. Then we went up the hill next to camp to view our first North Dakotan sunset. Once atop the hill, we watched the sun fall under the sea of hills that filled the horizon. As the sun sunk to the west, just on the other side of the river to the north, a line of stadium lights flooded our view. There, the line of the pipeline route presented itself to us. It was equally obnoxious to me as it was poignant. Throughout the week, those lights reminded me of my purpose while at camp. All it took was a quick glance up from my camera to see the corporation that loomed over the camp, watching our every move. These lights were, ultimately, one of the many tactics that Energy Transfer Partners used to affect morale at camp. We watched and witnessed these lights to the north, taking one deep breath at a time as we wandered a bit near the hilltop. After a short while, my good friend called for us to get to the top of the hill. In awe of things, I began skipping back to the top of the hill. As we wrapped our arms around each other’s shoulders, we witnessed what he called us up for. To the East, the largest moon I had ever seen was rising. It was beyond our understanding and a most beautiful sight for our first evening at Standing Rock.
As we stared at the rising moon, embracing each other, I pulled a card from my pocket that had been gifted to me by my grandparents before I left. It was a prayer written by a good friend of my grandparents who was for a short time a good friend of mine before his passing in 2000. He was a Lummi Nation spiritual elder by the name of Cha-das-ska-dum Which-ta-lum. The story of the creation of this prayer is a long one, but the shortened version of it is that he wrote it after a journey to San Francisco where he heard a woman recite the prayer of Saint Francis from the opposite side of a tree that he was praying under. He wrote his own version of it on the plane ride back, and that version is what I pulled from my pocket on the hill in North Dakota 1,300 miles from home.
OH GREAT GRANDFATHER!
LET MY HANDS BE AN INSTRUMENT OF YOUR PEACE.
IF THERE IS HATRED SEND YOUR LOVE.
IF THERE IS INJURY, HEAL.
IF THERE IS DOUBT, SEND FAITH.
IF THERE IS DESPAIR, SEND ON THE WIND HOPE!
IF ONE HAS A QUESTION, THEN THEY ALREADY HAVE THE ANSWER TO KNOW TO EVEN ASK.
TEACH US TO LOVE OURSELVES, SO WE CAN LOVE OTHERS.
WE CANNOT GIVE AWAY WHAT WE DO NOT HAVE!
IF A TEAR FALLS, LET IT NOURISH WHAT IT FALLS ON.
LET THE POWER OF THE FOUR DIRECTIONS CALL YOU!
I AM ON THE WIND, RIDE WITH ME, HOLD ON!
WILL YOU LISTEN TO MY WORDS TODAY, OH GREAT GRANDFATHER?
THANK YOU, MY FRIEND.
Upon finishing the prayer, each of us began to weep. Tears of joy, sorrow, grief, celebration, release. Our tears felt more weighted than ever. I knelt and put my hand on the ground below me. I dug my fingers into the soil. I could feel the pain of the earth. I felt extreme sorrow for what the white man had done to this land for so long. This immense guilt fell upon me as I realized I represent, physically, the white men that have persisted to destroy this land. It was difficult to bear this realization. After much wrestling with that concept, I reminded myself of the purpose that I brought with me to Standing Rock. My purpose was to serve, and with my camera, to elevate the voices of indigenous leaders there to a broader audience. I hoped that with attentive ears, a warm smile, and open heart, the people that my embodiment has traditionally oppressed, would see through that and accept my authentic service.
This hope was affirmed over and over again. The days ahead were filled with love and support from every person at camp. The words of those who knew more than me spoke with a forgiving tone and a kind heart. The rest of my time at Standing Rock was spent asking questions and listening.
The next day, we packed up and moved to the Oceti Sakowin Camp where the majority of the people were. As I began walking around, I found that the main initiative through the camp was to winterize the large structures that could keep people warm through the harsh North Dakota winter. The camp was days away from its first chance of snow and once that snow hit, conditions would be much harder to work in. The task was monumental as multiple groups of a dozen or so people tasked themselves with projects around camp. Traditionally, once winter comes, people would find shelter in the long houses, and so those were first on the priority list. Hay bales were stacked, stoves were installed, food was dried, and wood was chopped. All of this was done as a physical act of Prayer and Ceremony.
Truthfully, waking up every day to work with our hands was easy. We knew our work was in service of a cause far greater than ourselves. Hundreds of people woke up to the sounds of the loud speakers and quickly got ready for a long day’s work. With smiles on our faces, we found joy in community tasks even as the bitter-cold wind chipped at our faces.
My main goal while at Standing Rock was to find elders and representatives of the Sioux Nation and hear them talk about their struggle for the recognition of their rights as a sovereign nation. I wanted to share with the rest of the world what it meant to be sovereign and what actions they were taking to pursue justice in the face of threats by big government and corporations. After a few days of meeting people and following leads, I stumbled upon a man by the name of Wasu Duta who is a sovereign Dakota Sioux and government representative of the Sioux Nation of Indians. I was introduced to his cousin, Manape LaMere, just before being invited into his tipi at the base of the Seven Council Fires. Manape is Dakota, Lakota, Nakota, and Ho-chunk. He is a headsman of the Oceti Sakowin Camp. As a duo, they are tasked with presenting a number of sovereignty rights claims to the United Nations. They sat me down and taught me as much as they could.
With the new president siding very clearly with Energy Transfer Partners’ construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, it seems our hope for success is futile. The Army Corps of Engineers has reported that they will be releasing the easement to build under the Missouri River. The pipeline could be completed soon, but, with the hard work of the Sioux Nation holding a peaceful front in direct opposition to the pipeline both legally and physically, we could see this project stalled. This could continue the opportunity for cities and citizens alike to continue to defund DAPL by targeting the banks that are funding the pipeline’s construction. The #DefundDAPL movement is creating waves of change in the pocketbooks of the big banks who are funding the pipeline so we may see this pipeline go bankrupt eventually.
If this pipeline is ultimately completed, the movement is not all lost, nor is it all over. Sovereignty rights are a continuing issue that we must stay attuned to. These pushes take time and effort on the ground by individuals like Wasu Duta and Manape Lamere and they need us to stand with them. That vast numbers of people who have woken up to indigenous issues is the true victory for the Standing Rock movement. The smiles on the faces of the thousands of men and women at Oceti Sakowin camp attest to that. The vast number of individuals marching with solidarity signs in the streets of their hometowns attest to that. The vast number of individuals and cities that have chosen to take their money out of banks that invest in damaging projects attest to that. This is the real success of global movements. This movement does not lose because one pipeline is constructed. This is a battle of minds. In this regard, we have already won. And with the next issue that arises in Indian country, we will stand stronger and know that we are capable of immense power.
Are you ready for a successful relationship? People have asked Dean Evenson and myself what is the secret of our long and happy marriage. Although there are no quick and easy answers, I want to try to shed some light on that question here and spiritual partnership is an important component of our successful relationship. When Dean and I first met in 1968, we noticed that we shared similar values and dreams for life. That common bond is probably what drew us together in the first place as we both wanted to use our creativity to help others and heal the many problems of our world. At the very beginning of our relationship, we had the shared values of spiritual service.
From that initial connection of wanting to serve, we have continued to evolve our consciousness and develop our spiritual path. There is no doubt that the success of our relationship has benefited greatly from our common spiritual practice. We pray together, we meditate together, we dream together and we intend our life to be a certain way together. Also in our case, since we are both musicians, we sing, chant and play music together. Now I don’t expect every couple to be able to play music together, but you can consider singing, chanting, toning, drumming, or playing singing bowls together. Those are musical endeavors that don’t necessarily require extensive musical training. Even listening to certain peaceful music or singing along with your favorite sacred songs together can be a spiritual experience.
The other thing we do requiring no special skill is that we bless our food before eating. A lot of people dive right into their meal, but we find that grace occurs when we take a moment to pause and express gratitude for the food that has come to our table. We honor the Earth from which it came, the farmers who grew it, the system that brought it to us, and the cook who prepared it. This may seem like a small thing, but praying to the ‘God or Goddess of your understanding’ can even make the food taste better. Dean and I grew up with that custom so it comes naturally to us. Our kids put up with it as they were growing up when we would all hold hands and pray before dining, even in a restaurant. Pausing for a moment of silence before a meal can be unifying. In fact, expressing gratitude for the blessings of your life and even for the challenges can keep your relationship on a positive track.
Dean and I each have a personal morning yoga and meditation practice. We often take a walk together, another great way to enhance our connection to each other and nature. In the evening after dinner, we enjoy meditating together. We love to tone and chant and that helps deepen our connection. When we confront life’s challenges and changes, we pray together for guidance and understanding. We see ourselves as spiritual beings in physical bodies and we need all the help we can get to maneuver the trials and tribulations of life.
A shared spiritual path and practice is a positive component of a successful relationship. And it can benefit the whole family, workplace, or collaborative group of people trying to accomplish a goal. Notice that watching television is not included in our daily habits. We often watch a movie or documentary, but then when it’s over, we turn off the TV and spend time just being together. We see mainstream media and network news as a huge distraction from the quality life experience we are seeking.
Here are two final thoughts to consider for a successful relationship. Please know that honest and compassionate communication is probably the most important spiritual principle you can employ that will keep your relationship loving and trusting. And finally, don’t take things too seriously. Remember to laugh and enjoy life and each other. Having fun together will bring the greatest happiness to any partnership.
We hope you are finding creative ways of building a successful relationship with your special friend. We would love to hear from you to learn how you and your partner enhance your successful relationship through spiritual practice. Remember, when you comment here on our blog, we’ll send you a free mp3 track of our meditative music. We send you hugs, peace and big love!
Consider each day the beginning of a new year! What is your intention for how you want your new year to be? How do you want to feel about your life, your goals, and achievements? In your daily meditation, I encourage you to set your intention for the day and at the same time you will be setting your intention for your new year – whether it’s from January to January or June to June. Typically, when New Year’s Day occurs, people make all sorts of resolutions for the coming year. They may keep some of them for a few weeks but then eventually they fall back into their same old patterns. What if you could stay current with your resolutions by renewing them every day? What if you could actually meditate every day instead of just occasionally?
Courage to Step into the Unknown
We all know about the power of affirmations and visualizations but there are a few other aspects to the process of manifesting our dreams to reflect on. One key element is having the courage to take that first step. Do you let fear hold you back from doing the things you want to do? Where is that fear coming from? Often, we are responding to voices in our head that tell us we can’t do it, we’re not good enough, or some other type of limiting belief. When we look deeply into the source of our inner voices, we often discover that those ideas came from someone else who may not have had our best interests in mind. Watch your language. It is helpful to acknowledge the quality of our inner conversation and change it to meet our vision of how we actually want to move forward in our life.
Write it Down Make a List
Journaling can be a big help in defining how we want our lives to proceed. When you write down your goals, you are creating clarity and taking an important step in identifying your vision and dreams for your life. Talking things over with your partner or a friend and making lists can also be helpful. Dean Evenson and I have tons of journals full of our dreams and projects. Some of them we have accomplished and some are still waiting to be birthed. We keep chipping away at our dreams and when we stay focused on them, they actually happen.
Be Patient with the Process
One of the things I learned years ago when my dreams seemed to be taking too long to come into realization was that the timing wasn’t always up to me. Often, there would be other factors at work and I needed to learn to be patient and keep persevering. Dean and I used to sometimes consult the I Ching (Chinese book of changes) in order to gain confirmation on the next steps on our path. So many times that familiar phrase would show up – ‘Perseverance furthers.’ Keep going. Don’t give up. And sure enough, eventually, what we kept our focus on did ultimately become our reality. The universe has its own timeline and we need to be patient and stay the course by taking one step at a time.
I hope you have the best year ever and may all your dreams come true. They surely will if you stay focused on them and keep taking the necessary actions to make them happen. Be fearless in pursuing your highest vision for your life, each and every day and be patient with yourself. Your perfect life is waiting for you. It’s just a matter of time.
You may want to check out our meditations that all focus on staying tuned into your dreams for a whole year. Sale on both DVD & CD.