Archive for the ‘Singing Meditation Session’ Category

I facilitated Singing Meditation last month for the first time in two years. ¬†With ‘fresh eyes’ and a completely new venue for me (North Carolina), it gave me a chance to re-assess everything about singing meditation. I’d like to share with you my thoughts.

1) I think the name should be changed. The word ‘meditation’ means so many things to people. Although I always explain both orally and in all written materials that the silent periods between songs can be used to just

Spiral staircase in Melk Abbey, Austria.

savor the sweetness of the song, or pray or meditate or contemplate — it
still remains the undeniable first impression that there will be ‘meditation’ involved. This is unfortunate in two ways — one because many people are turned off by meditation and will turn away from trying ‘singing meditation’ because of the meditation part, even though it is completely optional; and two because people who have serious meditation practices can be disappointed that the silent intervals are too short for them to sink deeply into meditation. I’m now thinking of calling it “Joy Singing” if I continue to offer it, since joy is the ultimate goal of this practice.

2) The social aspect — I have always stressed the importance of singing in community as opposed to just singing alone by yourself. It is obvious to me that there is an entirely different dynamic that arises when my voice is combined with the vibration of other voices who are right there in the same space with me, and I mean this in a more spiritual way than simply the fact that additional voices can result in harmony and/or polyphony. I revel in the ‘ephemeral sanctuary’ that is created when singing mindfully with others. But in the first six years I led singing meditation I made a deliberate choice to avoid having social activity immediately afterwards. I wanted people to have a chance to leave the singing meditation session holding their silence — or music — within their hearts. I was afraid these feelings might dissipate all too quickly in the banter of friends over muffins. But this time I was wondering — why not provide a social time to bond with the people you have just bonded with in a different way during the session? So my friend Nancy kindly baked muffins and most people stayed around to chat afterwards. The jury is still out on this one, and I’d be interested to hear thoughts from others on this topic.

3) The importance of ‘teaching’ a song first is something I remain convinced of. Attending the session last month were a graduate of Julliard, another who has played professionally with a symphony for 28 years — as well as two women who claimed they could not carry a tune in a bucket and did not read music. Playing the song through twice on the piano, and asking everyone to hold silence and NOT hum along with the piano during this time, levels the playing field and made it possible for the two who couldn’t read music to participate as fully as everyone else. This remains an aspect of Singing Meditation that I am committed to continuing.

4) Until last month the only instruments we had included in Singing Meditation were piano, percussion and very rarely the guitar. Since an accomplished cellist was part of our group I asked her to play a base line for us. This didn’t work out quite as I had planned, as it turned out to be a strong ‘pull’ to the novice singers and created confusion for them as to what they should be singing. There would be absolutely nothing wrong in people singing the melody line, or what the cello was playing, or improving a line of their own — but the feeling of ‘confusion’ while singing is not one that should be fostered in singing meditation. If I were to include an instrument again I’d have to think of a way to avoid this problem.

5) I did experience joy myself as I sang!!! I was curious to see whether I would or not, since my voice is still not fully restored, and as Facilitator one has several concerns in mind that sometimes overshadow the joy factor. I am delighted to say that JOY did fill my soul! Another good reason to contemplate a name change to “Joy Singing.”

I’d love to hear about¬†your adventures and experimentation with Singing Meditation!

May joy fill your heart this day!


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