Sing, Pray, Love

Sing, Pray, Love

Improvisational singing, sound play, group voice lessons, call and response, and silence.
With Terri Crosby
Sunday, September 19, 2010
10 am to 2:30 pm. Registration 9:30 am
Location:  The Dome at The Light Center, 2190 Highway 9
Black Mountain, NC 28711
$40 at door, $35 prepaid.
Add a friend for $30.
Call 828-669-6845 to register.
Note: Bring water and a lunch or snack.
Workshop Questions for Terri?
Call her cell 714-240-4889.
or email songwave@earthlink.net

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Singing is a profound means of connecting and centering. It is prayer. It is meditation. It is also joyful, freeing and self-expressive. When we create sound consciously, our mind chatter subsides, leaving us stronger, clearer, calmer and able to access the intelligence of our heart wisdom. Come enjoy singing and sounding in the acoustically spectacular Dome with a group of like-minded souls.
The day will be a flow of learning, expressing, silence and sound. This is a playfully sacred day, a day of discovering how easy, joyful and beneficial it is to sing and make sound with others, whether you’ve done this many times, or never. All levels of singers and “non-singers” are welcome.

  • Find your sound. Connect to the deepest and most joyful part of yourself without effort. Drop in. Live there.
  • Use sound to become stretchable, expandable, boundless, and free. This is most helpful during changing times.
  • Learn a silent or singing meditation to use when you want to feel more centered.
  • Play group sound games. Connect with perfect strangers in a profound way. You’ve probably always wanted a bigger family….
  • Find out how to breathe specifically for singing and speaking. Take a group voice lesson.
  • Oh, and might as well begin now to expect miracles…

For more information about The Light Center at Black Mountain,  follow this link.

For the “Sing, Pray, Love” workshop link  with a printable, email forward-able pdf flyer on The Light Center’s website, go here.



Look What The Cat Dragged In

It’s yet another beautiful morning in North Carolina….

Business and Bella

I went downstairs to my new and beautiful office with a view, taking a folding table with me that I thought would be useful.  Well, for my cats actually — they like being up off the floor for the “loftier-than-thou-view-of-life.”

In case it’s not obvious already, I adore (OK, worship) my feline friends, I’m just nuts about them, and I go out of my way to make them happy and comfortable.  Cats are pretty much heaven on four legs to me.

So….there I am carrying the big table for my cats down the stairs.  No problem.

Bella

I get to my office, set up the table, and think about getting a table cloth.  But then I see a quilt on the floor, which had been put there for my three small dogs the day before.  I think to myself, “Oh, for now I’ll just put this comfy quilt on the table for the cats and they will love to sleep there until I go back up and get the tablecloth.”

So I pick up the quilt and refold it a bit, placing it on the table.  I walk away.

I did not notice that something gray-black and long and alive (but pretending to be dead) fell out of the quilt.

As I turn and prepare to sit at my desk, I gasp.  Whoa.  There is an 18 inch long snake (not moving) on the floor where the quilt was.  My hand goes to my heart.  I breathe deeply and convince myself all is fine, just a garter snake I’m sure, but I notice my heart rate just went up a bit.

“What should I do, what should I do?”

I see a basket about the size of the dead looking snake and I put it over him.  Whew.  The basket works (meaning I’m calmer).

Then, I confess right here and now, like a scared girl, I ran up the stairs to my husband who is still sleeping and say, “Eric, there is a snake in my office and I need your help.”  His eyes open quickly, but there is no panic.  Not even a suggestion of emergency.  But he is totally ready to help me, bless his heart.

He smiles, even though he is sleepy.  I’m a morning person, he is a night owl.  His best working time is my best sleeping time.  But I digress.  I just admire that he’s never upset about being awakened.

He pulls on his khaki’s, and follows me downstairs.  Looking around, he sees the basket upside down on the floor, and assumes correctly that the snake is under there.  He gets a box, slides the snake into the box and takes it outside and releases it on the landing.

RIGHT BY THE DOOR.

I look out the door in total disbelief.  “Eric, why is the snake by the door?’

I’m really trying to understand this.

He said he wanted to see how long it would play dead before scurrying away.

OK.  A science experiment.  So we watched it.

But the snake kept moving in the wrong direction so I asked him if he would scoot it over into the garden so it could get on its way to the underbrush to avoid the dogs or cats finding the poor guy again, so bless his heart, Eric did.

Alrighty then.

One snake out the door an on his way to his normal day — and my normal day.  But as we were closing the door, the corner of the mat got a little caught, so Eric reached down to adjust the door mat.

Whoops!

There’s another snake, just a tiny baby, so Eric retrieves it as well.

And where does he put the snake?

Yep, RIGHT BY THE DOOR.

Gawd.  Boys will be boys.

He saw my face, smiled a big smile, and without a word, moved the darn snake on its happy way to the garden.

Two snakes in one day.  This seemed rather significant to me.  But it wasn’t until a couple hours later, Ms. Bella, the enthusiastic feline hunter comes in with a beautiful butterfly in her mouth.  She goes out to the butterfly bush and leaps about five feet in the air and catches them.  I saw her do it the other day.  It hardly seems fair.

So here is some information about power animals, snakes and butterflies specifically,  according to the Earth Angel Connection.

SNAKE –  is about shedding the past and changing the future, rebirth.    As Snake sheds its skin so we can shed our illusions and limitations in order to fully use our vitality and desires to achieve wholeness.   Snake is about transition in our lives from one phase to another.

BUTTERFLY  –  is about transformation. Butterfly fearlessly leaves the safety of its cocoon to meet a new world in a new form, trusting its untried wings to allow it to fly. It is a powerful symbol for anyone who’s contemplating or in the midst of a major change.  It is about bringing color and joy to our lives, learning to dance with joy as we make those changes in our lives transforming us and our lives.

Not long after the butterflies and snakes, I got the call of a lifetime, and not in a good way, from someone who shall remain nameless.  This person reactivated me in the most primal way.  That is all I’m going to say about it.

By the end of the phone call, it was very clear to me that was time for me to shed old skin, and transform.  Time to leave behind what never mattered in the first place  and concentrate on doing what matters — everything I love to do.

That would be singing.

So I sang loudly and long, which caused my dear Bella to depart to the quiet of mother nature and — yes, probably more hunting.

I figure the whole thing started and ended with Bella, my cat.  She does what she does and illustrates my day at the same time — just one reason why I adore her.  I learn from her.  She is always my partner in spirituality and almost always —  comic relief.

Bella At Attention

Giving In To Giving In

Did I have a clue when I lived in Los Angeles how uptight I was?

Not even….

I was uptight to my very core, from my very core, through my core, within my core.

How did I find out?

I moved to the country.

In the country, it’s quiet.  Sunrise opens the door of the morning, sunsets bathe the final hours in color.  The ground breathes, branches in the forest crack.  You hear them fall.  Wind blows across the valley and when you step out the door and sense it coming toward you, the feeling is brisk and energizing.  It’s a bit of a thrill when the fast moving rain storm sweeps the valley in front of you, in the direction of you, all over you.

The way I think of it, the energy of the wind sweeps a burst of happy energy my way, and in that moment,  I remember everything during my day I felt good about.

Yes, I moved to where birds sing and tall trees reach up pretty much forever.  There is a peace in a forest on a mountain that you cannot find in places with stoplights and streetlights. For me, inner quiet comes easier when there is outer quiet.

Out here in the country, on top of a certain nearby mountain, there is a sound chamber.  It’s a perfect place to sing.  The birds and I sing together.

This kind of singing relieves me from thinking, opens my lungs and heart, and nurtures everything about my soul. Warmth and light venture into the nooks and crannies of me, the corners of my being breathe, and my inner workings sigh happily as they smooth out and  begin to move more easily.

Sound Chamber

It all begins near the mouth of the sound chamber.  Because there is no light in the chamber, the sunlight from the forest coming in the door is my candle.

First, go with simple sound.  More simple than you might think.  It’s beautiful.  It doesn’t matter at all where it starts.  A single note comes, often  just a feather sound to brush the silence.  A sound comes into the void, like color onto a white canvas.  Sometimes it is soft sound , other times an eruption, and always a surprise to me where it starts and where it goes.

I’ll show you what it sounds like really soon….I’m going to upgrade to be able to share audio on this site.

In the meantime, if you’d like a sample, send a message with your email, and I’ll send you a few mp3’s to listen to.

If you would like me to “tune into you” and sing/record a song for you next time I am there, let me know.  It would be my pleasure.  I can send you a personal mp3 just for you, and you can let me know how it affects you, where it goes in you, how it speaks to you, what it does for you.

Tra la la to you and yours.  Hope summer is turning out to be everything you want it to be.

A Non-Singer’s Report About Singing

My daughter doesn’t sing, she designs.

Nope she doesn’t sing — well, let’s be real.  She sings in the car, and when she feels like it, and when she’s listening to her ipod, and on the way to the car, and as she’s getting out of the car, and in the bathtub, but no, she says she doesn’t really sing. 

She sketches page after page of gowns, dresses, hot outfits, gorgeous creations.

Well, actually — furthermore — and by the way — she sings in her head all the time, every time she can’t sing out loud.  Does that count?

Yes.  I mean no.  She has declared she is not a singer.

Not a singer.

Except…

…she took a voice lesson recently, I don’t know what came over her.  She said she did it just for fun, just for the heck of it, with voice teacher Kimberly Harrison in Los Angeles, CA.

Yes, this might inspire some of you out there….

After the lesson, my daughter called me up on the phone and said, “Mom, I know why you sing.  Singing feels like flying and soaring, like being free beyond free.”

I thought to myself, “The singing secret is out…”  That’s it.  The whole world will start singing now.  Nothing else will happen.  No one will go to work.  They’ll all be singing ’cause it’s so much fun and now EVERYBODY will know.

I asked more questions.  Like what did you sing, did you swing out and try things?  Tell me everything!

She went on.  “Mom, I had never sung that loud.  I got loud just to see where the notes would go.  I didn’t try, I just let it out.  The less you try, the better and the more real it sounds.”

Whew.  So true.

“Anything else, dear?”  I asked her.

Apparently, because she continued….

“I tried closing my eyes, too, which was like ‘being gone’ but I could feel the sound vibrating.  It flowed upwards and outwards.  If I could have sprinkled fairy powder dust all over the sound, it would have been billowing and lifting like clouds, connected with bright strings of sound.”

Beautiful visual, huh?

There’s more.  See if you’ve ever felt this.

She said, “Sometimes I felt a hot air balloon – or something expanding! — inside me and I thought it might lift me right  off the ground.  The feeling was broad and wide and I felt like it could take me off on a magic carpet to a faraway place.  My chest cavity grew 7 sizes.  I felt bigger than myself and outside of myself.”

And finally, “I liked the feeling of sound vibrating through my whole body.  Each note had a vibration, and each note had its own spirit and personality.  As I sang it a note, I could feel the life force of that sound.  I sang it, and set it free to dance outside me in its own space.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Sing a few notes today.  What the heck.  Anybody can do it.  It’ll make you smile and by so doing, you’ll automatically make the world a happier place.

Singing for the Dearly Departed

My youngest brother passed away on June 5th, 2010, after a year long bout with cancer.  He was only 50.  It is said by some that we have full view of our entire life before coming into this physical world, and that we choose a life that will teach us what we want to learn.  He certainly opted for a short life, and even though it doesn’t make any sense to me, it doesn’t need to.  It wasn’t my life.   But I’m going to miss him.

He was a slender, red-headed jeweler, with a shop full of gold and diamonds.  He seemed to love working with gems and worked long and diligently to be able to open his own retail shop.

After word came that he had passed, my husband and I sat still and just looked at each other.  There’s not much to say when someone leaves.  We just knew that Calvin was gone, and we felt sad.

However, almost instantly, the sadness lifted.

“How strange is that?”  I thought.

All the worry and anguish and heart ache surrounding his departure just got up and left — suddenly!  What a surprise!  Never had I expected to feel instant, well — happiness — upon his passing.

It felt a little odd.

Almost wrong.

This feeling of elation in the middle of all the sadness was so striking to me that I wondered if I was tuning into my departed brother.  If so, he was surely in a happier and more expanded state!

You should know before I go any further that for most of my life,  my brother and I often struggled to relate.  We didn’t have long and delightful philosophical conversations, or talk for hours on the phone.  Locating common ground for a conversation was occasionally a bit challenging, even awkward.

As the years passed, we learned how to talk with each other.  We’d simply avoid conversations about a subject that we knew could be controversial for the two of us.  It was just easier that way. We could always talk about the weather, so to speak.

In the last year of his life, when he was ill, we found two subjects we could always talk about:  Singing and Sunsets.  I used to record little mp3’s for him and send them to him.  He seemed to appreciate them.  Once I recorded “Bridge Over Troubled Water” for him, and other times I sent improvisational pieces that were prayerful or meditative.

One evening when he was in pain and seemed to be wondering about how everything was going to turn out for him, he called me and said, “Tell me about the sky tonight where you are.  Is it beautiful?”

Perched comfortably on the covering to the well, I told him about the star-filled night sky, mentioning that earlier that evening, we had set up the high powered telescope to look at the four largest moons of Jupiter.   Over to the telescope I went, and gave him a play-by-play account of what was going on with Jupiter and friends.  It happened to be a spectacularly crystal clear sky, and all the stars were especially beautiful that evening, but Jupiter was stunning. My brother and I talked for a long time.

After the phone call notifying us of his passing, I headed down stairs in my home to a room where nobody was, just a nice big open space, and I started to sing.  Not a song, not a melody, just long notes of sound to soothe my soul.  I let the sound take me wherever it wanted to go.  Singing like this is a way to center myself, let go, and express whatever is there.

It felt like a good thing to do at a time like this…

There I was, getting warmed up for a therapeutic singing session, and what should “appear?”

My brother.

He was happy as could be, and began to playfully direct my singing. This kind of  boundless joy was out of character for him.  In life, he seemed more serious than that, more reserved.

After wondering for a moment if I was just crazy, or if I had an over-active imagination in this time of stress, I just went with it.  I began to follow his conducting.

With a big smile, his right arm shot up in the air and I’d sing that note.  Then he’d waver that hand a bit and I’d do a trill.  I followed every nuance.  I’d waffle the sound, move the sound, explode the sound, giggle the sound —  to go right along with his indication.  He’d smile and swoop to the next note.  Then he’d change sides, go high, go low, go medium, and it all sounded beautiful to me.  On and on it went.  Part of the time I was laughing so hard I could hardly sing.

Then there was the crying….I was so touched that he would visit me.

He was joyful and utterly, completely free — fully liberated and totally expressive, without a concern in the world. And he also  looked really attractive and young and happy.

It felt heavenly to be with him in this way, and I admit that I always wanted to experience him as more open and light-hearted when he was alive.  (Perhaps others experienced him this way and I missed the boat….)  Now, in this moment, I was just grateful that I was able to experience him in this happy place…

I don’t know how long this went on, probably 20 minutes or so, but I’m just guessing, because there was no sense of time anywhere.  I  moved through more emotional spaces than I can even begin to describe.  He finished conducting, gave me a wave, and off he went.

I sat for a while, reveling in the experience.

Then I walked upstairs and while preparing dinner,  I noticed the  sunset was beginning to be especially beautiful.  That’s not really very unusual here — inspiring sunsets are a regular occurrence in our house and we look forward to them every evening.

But it got crazy beautiful!

With every bite of dinner, the colors of the sunset became increasingly spectacular, and they kept changingradically — in no small way!  We’d take a bite of food, and stop midway with fork poised,  and exclaim about the stunning sight before us.

“Wow, look at that!”

“Whoa, who thought it could get even more beautiful!  But it just did!”

We had never seen so many big colors, different colors or color changes in one evening.

We started to laugh and decided it was Calvin saying hello in another way that I would understand.  Who knows if that could be possibly true… but it sure helped my heart to think about it that way!

We’d eat another bite or two and then stop to take another photo of the painter having fun in the sky.  It seemed as if he kept changing his mind about what to paint — oh, let’s try THIS!!!  We saw so many sunset variations, and sat there drop-jawed and in awe.

He’d add intensity, then soften it, or brighten it. At one point, he added a splash of mist just for fun…

And I haven’t heard from him since.  That fantastic sunset was his final bow.

And it was a stunning one.

Goodbye, dear brother.

Vocal Toning: How Do You Know If It’s “Working?”

TONING AS AN INDIVIDUAL PRACTICE

If you’re toning regularly, for whatever reason, and however you do it, that’s a good thing.

For the scientist in all of us, it’s supportive to know there are well-documented health and emotional benefits to making sound, including relaxation, enhanced cellular healing and clearing of emotions, expanded self expression, self-empowerment, and heightened  creativity.

But all you really have to do is check how you feel after you tone.  You probably notice the positive evidence radiating all through your mind and body.

So keep right on toning.  It’s good for you.

TONING AS A GROUP PRACTICE

If you tone with a group, there are different — additional — dynamics at play, and that’s what I want to talk about today. In a group, there is usually a clearly stated intention for toning, often related to healing.

Go...with...the...flow...

QUESTION

How does that work?

In other words, what makes the toning session a healing session?  How do we “get there?”  How do we know we’re actually accomplishing what we set out to do?  Is the healing for you?  The group?  The world?

Wow.  A lot of questions within the question.

But if you’ve ever toned with a group, these musings (or similar) have probably crossed your mind….

BIGGER QUESTION

Logically, to offer a healing space to another, it probably helps to be in a pretty free and relaxed place one’s self.

So I check in and ask:  What is my state of being during this toning session?

I’ve been in toning groups that are expressive, sometimes quiet, sometimes all over the map.  Sometimes the sound is beautiful.  Sometimes not.  But in either case, at the end, I wonder if we accomplished something meaningful.  It’s not that I think we didn’t accomplish our purpose for being there — I just don’t know.

Maybe there’s no way to really know.

In some vocal toning groups, I find that rather than being in a state of calm and that wonderful flowing way that I love to feel when I sing — instead — I’m in my head.  (Not fun.)  I’m thinking, not being and certainly not flowing.

Which made me wonder about the difference — why am I in a wondrous state at one time, and “in my head” in another?

And I wondered — how do I personally contribute to the intention of the group, which is healing myself and the world?  What kind of a singing state is ideal for contributing to the group’s intention?

What to do?

Here are my top 5 steps.

1. If you’re not in a great state upon arrival to the toning session, that’s fine.  No big deal.  We’ve all been there — life smacks us over the head sometimes and we go reeling.  We’re all human and we’re all in this together.

So what to do?

Just start where you are and move toward ease and relaxation.   Miracles happen when there’s ease.  Healing happens naturally when there’s ease.

2. Sing in a way that moves you into a easier, more relaxed, happier state one note at a time.  Expecting yourself to go from annoyed or frustrated or grieving — straight to bliss — is a tall order.  Too tall, in fact.  Don’t expect yourself to do that.  It’s a big jump.  It’s not even necessary to try that hard.

Start easy.   Start in a small way.  Start where you are and then reach ever so slightly to some sound that eases your emotion or state of mind.

3. Then do it again.

4. Pause for a micro-second and notice differences.  Don’t think, just notice.

5. Then do it again.

It’s really easy — if you start easy.  Let sound help you get where you’re going.  That’s the idea of toning.

Go for the small stuff and you’ll be moving in the direction of ease.  Then you’ll be running, then leaping with the gracefulness of a deer,  then soaring and communing with the divine.  You’ll be creating and feeling healing vibrations in no time.

The personal state of being we’re in when we tone makes a difference.  This state determines what we manifest.  The state you’re in will produce a result which matches your predominant vibration.

You’ll know because you’ll be thought-less.

You’ll be riding the group sound wave in a state of bliss.

Toning With A Group

Let The Flow of The Group Carry You

TONING WITH A GROUP

When you tone by yourself, it’s like being single.  You can do what you want, without any concern or attention on anyone else.  When you’re single, you can watch TV when you want, read with the light on — even in the middle of the night — and you’ll bother no one.  Your frig contains only foods  you consume.  You eat whenever and whatever you want, and you come and go from your residence as you please.  You simply suit yourself in your home situation, because no one else is there.  It’s appropriate.

When you’re in a relationship, however, the dynamics change.  There is another person in your space  who is probably very different from you  —  different habits, sounds, preferences, thoughts, patterns of sleep and movement and so on.

To be in harmony as a couple,  a natural shift in my patterns occurs to include the other person, and be more in harmony with the one who shares my energetic and physical space.  My radar now looks out for my partner as well as me.

In the same basic way, when you tone as a single individual vs. with a group, the dynamics are different from each other – not better or worse, just different.  When you tone with a group, it’s like being in relationship — and therefore relationship dynamics apply.

It’s like this.  If you act like a single person when you’re a couple, it doesn’t work all that well.   And one might ask, why be in a relationship and act single??

There are advantages to being single, and advantages to being a couple, but they are clearly different situations and require different skills.

The same applies to toning.

Toning in a group requires awareness and willingness to shift at a moment’s notice, because it is an inclusive process.  It’s not just about you.

There is someone next to you or across the room who is not you at all and who is probably expressing something entirely different that what you’re expressing today.

Tune into other individuals.  What are they saying?  What’s your response?  You might find yourself toning for one person with your sound and your heart.  And she might notice in the smallest way that she feels heard somehow, because you’re listening and responding, which changes what she does.  The sound between the two of you evolves from there….

So, for an extraordinary experience, let your awareness  naturally expand to include the group.   Who is there?  What is being expressed?  Your sound goes into the group and finds another’s.   You talk by toning,  you listen,  you ease one another, you offer your heart space.

Or you tune into the group sound, and you sing with the ever-changing, always flowing sound of the whole.

This inclusivity, this joining together in sound, can speed up your own process exponentially, and/or change it up completely and send you down a road less traveled — for you.  You might find yourself toning for a group in need.  You might feel complete unabashed joy to the world and sing that joy and happiness into the whole.

There is another significant thing that happens, which many toners have mentioned to me.  Let’s say you’ve had a bit of a funky morning and you arrive at the group session frustrated about something, with your underwear all in a bundle.  You feel the distinct need to express yourself and “get it all out.”  However, as you sit down with the group, you notice that the funky mood just kind of lifts, and you no longer have the frustration, anxiety, anger or the irritation of the pet peeve.  It’s gone.  You don’t notice it, because it is no longer there.  The group absorbed it and transformed it.

No, it’s not that you’re ignoring it, or being unaware.   The energy of the group lifted you above your little problem.  You have been officially elevated without any work on your part whatsoever.   Your little problem has a vibration that doesn’t match the group vibration, so your lower vibration thought or emotion just drops out.

This is OK.  Actually, it’s more than OK.  It’s a good thing.  What a gift.

So in this group setting, relieved of the issue you arrived with, you are on new and higher ground almost instantly.  You begin to tone from a more balanced place, and the experience takes you to an even more beautiful place than you ever imagined.   In fact, just by being aware, and letting go of the small  issues, you allowed yourself to rise to a new level of bliss through toning.

This is one very big advantage of toning with a group.  When you take attention off yourself, the world of positive energy, connection and upliftment opens right there before your very eyes.

And isn’t that one big reason we tone in the first place?

Yes, Absolutely!