This video combines three of my creative practices: music, art, and meditation. I used the often accepted premise of colour and sound associations with the seven main chakras of the human body.
I got to thinking- what is the origin of these associations? I mean- the notes are from a modern Western scale. Even thinking about the chakras themselves. They line up with major endocrine glands, and that makes some sense. Sometimes I think every cell might be a chakra- little galaxies dancing around in the dense formation we call our body. It’s useful to have guides of some sort for visualization. When I’ve worked with people’s energies, I have felt different buzzes of energy rather than colours, and not necessarily where the chakras have been traditionally assigned. After all, the body’s nervous system is bioelectrical, and I’ve often thought just as possible to “leak” as a light switch that’s not wired correctly.
Humans are interesting in to what they give value and meaning. I found information that the association of colours with chakras either began with the Tantric association with the elements, in 1927 from Charles W. Leadbeater’s 1927 book “The Chakras”or in the 1970s with Christopher Hill’s book called “Nuclear Evolution: Discovery of the Rainbow Body”. So colours have become associated by mostly universal agreement.
Sound is another matter. There’s been a bit more study from my short stint of looking, around the effect of sound as a healing tool. Also a lot of claims, and again agreed upon parameters.
There’s no doubt that sound can create the opportunity, a doorway, if you will, for the brain and body’s relaxation response to kick in. And I’ve seen videos of people with Parkinson’s have their tremors decrease dramatically when music, especially favourites of the subject is played.
Music- groups of sounds linked together in a deliberate (even in improvisational music) has been a proven tool for people to access their unconscious mind, express feelings they might not be able to with words (emotionally or physiologically), and connecting with the breath through movement, vocalizations, and breath.
I’m less certain of claims, for example, of a tuning fork or singing bowl of a certain frequency being placed on the body will invoke healing. The vibrations feel good, but I’m not certain of the healing properties. Or laying on a vibroacoustic table (I’d like to try that out! For science!) Other than the mind is a very powerful tool on its own. Plus. Singing bowls have a fundamental tone and multiple overtones, so which is the supposedly healing tone?
I do what I call sound experiences, but I wouldn’t call it sound healing. I create a safe and supportive atmosphere with sound allowing the listener the opportunity to relax and allow the body’s natural instinct to rest and repair to activate. I will sometimes invite participants to sense if they feel a sound in their body, and if and thoughts or associations come up that they’d like to explore.
Sound/music has the potential to invoke a relaxation response- which can include a decrease in blood pressure and theta and delta waves of the brain, but it’s not guaranteed. Sounds one person finds soothing, another may find jarring or creates tension. I personally have trouble feeling relaxed around high pitched notes, ocean drums or white noise.
I’m excited for the research to dive into this intriguing field.
I found a piece of writing I wanted to share here today, and while reading was instantly transported to the scene that inspired it. I was driving, and while at a stop sign, saw a man waiting for a bus. As I drove on, a whole story was born, simply from that chance encounter.
Then I thought: Oh! My theme for today is daydreaming. I did a bunch of research on the significance and importance of daydreaming, and was set to write A Big Article, and it didn’t feel right. So I did some dishes and went for a walk, and had my AHA.
This was the practice of daydreaming in action!
The default mode for our minds is wandering, which I feel in part is why so many people who sit to meditate feel they fail. Our minds have a bunch of “apps” running in the background, sorting, categorizing, resetting, and when we take time to sit, it all comes to the surface, it’s named as monkey mind, and we decide we are meditating wrong.
In this mode, we are working against the natural process of the mind. If you choose instead to get curious, you might notice a vacillation between analytic/linear and empathetic/creative processes. This is part of the beautiful syzygy of being human- the flow between opposites.
Have you ever noticed that if you are working and working and working on solving something and can’t, you get a sudden urge to do something else? Sure, it can be procrastination, or distraction. It can also be your mind telling you it needs a rest. To go deep into areas that are not accessed often and maybe even come up with a novel solution to what you were so struggling so hard to solve (or find your car keys).
Give into that urge. Set a timer if you are feeling time pressure. Do something mindless for a few minutes. Sudden remembering in the shower, anyone?
Structured daydreaming is when you select a topic. It’s a rehearsal of sorts, where you envision the entire reality, including all the steps, and any obstacles that might arise. Performers and athletes use this technique to visualize future actions all the time.
Some have described daydreaming as thinking for pleasure. Isn’t that a lovely concept? Allowing your mind to wander without a goal. Kids do it all the time. It becomes a social activity when a group gets together and creates a new reality or fantasy world together. It gives you an opportunity to explore interesting topics in new ways, and there are lots of studies showing that daydreaming can enhance creativity and productivity. It can decrease stress.
This is sounding a lot like instinctive meditation! Why not set aside some time each day to daydream. Twenty minutes is great, as it gives you a chance to really get in there. Start with five or even two minutes if twenty feels daunting. I sometimes ask “OK mind, where would you like to go today?” After things like to do lists or other issues float by, I’m often delighted to find myself remembering a time I was in Nature, or sometimes music or writing or a visual art idea will come to me.
Daydreaming has been pushed to the back, I feel. Sure, some of us get lost in scrolling on our devices, but on some level that input is still being filtered through the mind, without giving it a chance to dance about in it’s own inner library.
Give it a try, and let me know how it goes. Give your mind some unstructured playtime, without expectation of an outcome. Let your inner critic/censurer take a break. Daydreaming is a great superpower to have! **************************************************************************** For those who are curious, here’s the written piece that ended up inspiring today’s theme. *************************************************************************
The man stood at the corner, hair slicked back. His grubby brown suit was tight, giving the impression that he’d been standing too long in the hot sun and had swollen up with the heat. Entire continents of sweat began to appear, spreading across the oceans of cloth. In one hand was a well-worn paper bag. He would look down the street… at his watch.. down the street.
With a sigh, he sat on the bench and opened the bag. The book was large and covered in elaborately tooled brown leather. It seemed the pages were made entirely of gold, the gilding was so heavy on the edges. He wiped his hand on the thigh of his pants, opened the book, and moved his lips as he read.
While he read, he imagined walking up and setting the book on the lectern. Now they would listen, and see his importance. After the service, the people would walk up to him, talk to him and….
Suddenly he heard the voice of his Grandmother: “The bigger the crown, the bigger the fool”.
A week or so ago, while looking for something completely different, I came across some hand made paper and shibori indigo-dyed fabric samples I created about thirty years ago. Thirty years?!?!! How the heck did that happen?
I looked at the two stacks, noticed that the colours were similar, shuffled them together, and an art project was born. I would make a book of them. From there, I decided to stitch on them, creating several independent works linked together.
Beyond that I really had no plan, and have re-ordered which page goes where several times. Each time I sit down I pick up a page and allow my imagination to wander. Sometimes making my imaginary self very small and exploring. Are there hidden images waiting to be seen? Maybe technique marks to be honoured. I have picked up needle and thread with no plan and stitch-scribbled my way around, enjoying what is being birthed between my hands.
I feel if I had taken a different and more studied approach, the results would be quite different. It would have a different rhythm and flow to it. I like surprising myself during the creative process, exploring the “what if I tried this”, mostly delighting in the results, and always learning, regardless of the outcome.
This kind of creative practice is so important. It can shake us out of habits and expand our creative vocabulary. We can unknowingly become complacent in our choreography, writing, music, or however we express ourselves, and end up repeating themes and patterns without even realizing it. It’s a beautiful thing, for example, to witness two dancers who’ve never danced together before explore a piece of music together, create something new, and deepen their own knowledge of their craft.
One thing I like to do when I feel creatively stuck is to explore a medium I’ve never tried before. The materials or process may have some basic “rules”, but there’s something about not even knowing what the rules are, experimenting, and discovering what happens.
If you’re building a new brand, or making an existing brand more relevant, what would it look like if it was a person? What kind of personality would it have? These kinds of characteristics could be an interesting exploration and could even do something like uncover a target demographic that hadn’t been considered. What conveys a recognizable identity for a product category, and yet stands out from other similar things/businesses?
Liberally use the cut/paste/relocate features if you’re writing on your computer… I did it just now! Or write chunks of a story/article/poem/song on post-its or paper and rearrange them. Have a conversation with that character that seems to adding to your block. Do your choreography backwards. Play a musical scale as if it was the most soulful piece of music ever written. Pretend you’re from another planet and just opened up your box of art supplies.
The idea is to explore freely without attachment to outcome. You’re not making “a thing”. There are no mistakes to be made, because you are exploring, learning and being in flow with the process.
Even with this project I’m playing with now. I had the thought this morning that I could keep adding to it as long as it’s in my possession or I exist. I can keep stitching on it, or add or subtract pages. What feels done now could call to me later for something else. I can gift a page to someone if I feel so moved. If someone else ends up with it, I hope they feel free to do the same.
This approach can expand to other areas of life- those that we may or may not see as creative. Take a different route between locations. Go on a grocery store treasure hunt by picking up the first ingredient you see and building a meal by picking one thing from each aisle (I just thought of this while thinking up examples- I think I’ll try it!)
No matter how you explore, make some time to disconnect from all devices and let your mind wander a bit. Your to do list might come up, or you’ll suddenly hear everything and that’s OK. Let it flow by. Eventually you might find yourself in a state of relaxed awareness. And what do you know? You’ve meditated, and maybe even had a day dream or two. Or come up with some ideas/answers. Or had a much needed nap!
My invitations to you this week: If you write, what would your words look like in movement? Dance them out! If movement is your jam, what does each movement sound like? Sing and sigh as you move and see where it goes. f you create in two dimensions, focus on texture. Go for a walk, pick up five things, and create something. Or take a sketch, cut it up into random shapes and create something different. Better yet, buddy up, each cut up a sketch and then trade! If you normally don’t think of yourself as creative, write down the first ten words that come into your head, even if they are: I can’t think of anything to write; this is stupid. Rearrange them into different sentences, maybe even a poem.
Let me know how it goes; I’m excited to hear what you discover!