Sound keeps on coming up in Paxson, so I wanted to journal specifically about that.
Focus on: SOUND.
The first thing Sequoia told me before I came to join her at her yoga retreat was this: For one month, reduce your consumption of caffeine, alcohol or other substances, reduce your intake of meat, and eat natural, unprocessed foods. Chant AUM at some point every day. Observe the effects that the sound has on you.
That was the most transformative part of the journey: the road leading up to it! For one month, I had nowhere to stay, which is fine, because I do well when I humble myself to my friends. I exchanged pranayama breathing lessons with a friend for a place to practice. I cooked for another person in exchange for a place to eat and sleep. Otherwise, I was in the world, without the safety of a place to live. My home was in AUM.
Let me be clear, my lifestyle was not something I had asked to have, it was just an issue of being between teaching contracts. I learned a lot during that time, and I was able to reflect on sound in a way that would be meaningful to me both during and after the yoga retreat.
I experimented with drums…
…I tried to find a naverlur, with varied results…
…and soon I ended up with a plethora of sound-making devices, including:
- Tabla (a set of two hand drums)
- Kkwaenggwari (a small gong)
- Janggu (an hourglass-shaped drum)
- a ceremonial Maasai drum
- a singing bowl
- 12-string guitar
- Classical guitar
However, I obtained few of these by conventional means. The first instrument, I acquired after spending two years with a satsang group who practiced something like kirtan (except never officially acknowledged as such). The second two were gifts from my adopted family in Korea. The Masai drum was a random find in a Women in Need store in downtown Victoria. The bowl was inherited from my mom, who was once a practicing Buddhist. The guitars I picked up second-hand in my new home in Canada and played extensively at Satsang. The final instrument came when my daughter wanted to learn how to play Didg. She lost interest over time, but I still love to play mine.
With this group of instruments, I go to houses and spaces of people with disabilities. I also bring my tea set. My notion is that these are healing things. Instruments bring sound-based healing, and tea brings scent and taste-based healing. The experiment is working so far, so far as I can tell. I had a setback recently, but we progress. Life is a journey, and we must remember to be way-wise, or as the ancients say it, “vegvisir!”