Inspiration for Inspiration

In 2004, I launched into the daunting process of designing The Maids, a U.S. premiere opera by Swedish composer Peter Bengtson based on Jean Genet’s psychologically complex play of the same name. As per usual, I scheduled two weeks for text analysis. Two weeks may sound like a long time for a designer, especially for a text that one can read in two to three hours, and yet it is the minimal amount of time necessary for the text to unfold to the point that the words on the page melt and the words between the lines speak more loudly and strongly than any syllable actually uttered or sung. This text, among the hundreds I welcomed into my body, created the most intense internal turmoil, to the point of persistently giving me the shits. Yet it stands as a most blissful encounter, with an energy so powerful and profound that my cells and molecules had to reorganize to let the words and their multitude meanings and interpretations penetrate and integrate with my spirit.

First, the text, documentary or film has to hold this power; and second, I, as reader or viewer, have to yield to and invite this power to reorganize my cosmography. I have to surrender to the possibility that the world may literally become a different place. It is altered because I’m altered, because the characters (whether real or fictional), the iconic heroes and anti-heroes (the teachers, if you will), have become a part of me and in so doing have wrung my entrails most effectively to purge layers of ignorance, buffering, denial, trauma, misconceptions, assumptions and certainties. The books, documentaries and films on my “Inspiration List” have in one way or another, in one aspect or another, permanently altered who I am. They all carry the medicine for transformation.

So when you lose the plot—you know … after a divorce or breakup, during a confusing and overwhelming week with family, when confronted with massive challenges professionally—or are just plain old dead tired and lost in the pitfalls of the default world, I suggest you turn, like I do, not only to meditation and yoga but also to literature and art. Whether you are inspired by the indefatigable Dr. Sylvia Earle, the legendary oceanographer, and her campaign to create a global network of protected marine sanctuaries she calls Hope Spots; or your compassion is awakened by documentaries such as What Happened, Miss Simone? and Amy, both intimate portraits of renowned artists who dominate artistically yet experience searing powerlessness in their personal lives; or you soar on the wings of shamans such as Malidoma Patrice Somé or leaders such as Nelson Mandela; or you roll in the aisles with Eve Ensler, Sera Beak and Tig; or you get all riled up watching The True Cost, a documentary about the clothes we wear and the people who make them, I guarantee that somewhere along the plotline you will find the thread that gets you back on your own track. Hop on the shoulders of people who make waves and stoke your eagerness, fortitude, resolve and the purpose you need to make a difference in the world.

Non-Fiction Books

Memoirs, Autobiographies and Biographies

Well-Being

Healing

Fiction Books

Films

Documentaries

Music

CDs for Sessions, Meditation & Yoga

Artist
Benjamin Iobst

Album
Seven Metals: Singing Bowls of Tibet

Description
Tibetan singing bowls have been used by the peoples of the wild Himalayas for thousands of years. Made of seven different metals, the bowls create soothing tones that activate the body’s energy centres. I play this CD in sessions consistently.

Artist
Chuck Jonkey

Album
Tibetan Singing Bowls

Description
Mesmerizing, vibrant music that fills the soul. I use these tracks in sessions consistently. The healing vibrations of the singing bowls support the release of trauma while simultaneously attuning us to Universal Love.

Artist
David Hykes & The Harmonic Choir

Albums
Hearing Solar Winds Alight
Harmonic Meetings
Harmonic Worlds
Current Circulation

Description
David Hykes is a composer-singer. His music and teachings explore deep levels of listening, consciousness, resonant space, breath, sensation and vibration. He is a “harmonic pioneer” in new music, contemplative chant and healing sounds. The Harmonic Choir is considered by many to be one of the world’s pre-eminent overtone ensembles.

 

Artist
David Hykes & Djamchid Chemirani

Album
Windhorse Riders:
“Raised by a Power”

Description
David Hykes is a composer-singer. His music and teachings explore deep levels of listening, consciousness, resonant space, breath, sensation and vibration. He is a “harmonic pioneer” in new music, contemplative chant and healing sounds. The Harmonic Choir is considered by many to be one of the world’s pre-eminent overtone ensembles.

Artist
Pranakasha

Album
Pranakasha the Sounds of Om

Description
Pranakasha the Sounds of Om evokes the sounds of Om produced by the prana, the life-breath, as it vibrates in the inner akasha, the inner space. The sounds of Pranakasha are created using many layers of acoustic instruments and a minimum of electronic effects. The fundamental tone and naturally occurring overtones sometimes reinforce one another and other times cancel one another out, creating new sounds and cyclic rhythmic patterns. Listen to this CD quietly to aid in your meditation practice, help you sleep or simply to mask the sounds of the outside world while working with clients.

Artists
Baird Hersey and PRANA

Album
The Eternal Embrace

Description
Overtone singing meditations on the eight limbs of yoga. More than two thousand years ago, Patanjali, a sage in India, said, “Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.” The object of the eight-limbed path is to lead us to stillness of the mind. In his work The Yoga Sutras, Patanjali offers the precepts for the practice of yoga through its eight limbs: 1. self-restraint, 2. internal discipline, 3. postures, 4. breath control, 5. withdrawal of the senses, 6. concentration, 7. meditation, and 8. complete union.

Artist
Renewing Vibrations

Album
Mystical Whale Songs

Description
The healing sounds of Mother Nature, great for relaxation, meditation, sound therapy and sleep.

Artist
Aphex Twin

Album
Selected Ambient Works Volume II

Description
Richard D. James was inspired by the lucid dreams he had: upon waking, he attempted to re-create the sounds he had heard in his dreams. This album differs in sound by being virtually beat-less ambient music except for a few tracks.

Artists
Harold Budd and Brian Eno

Album
Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror

Tracks
“The Plateaux of Mirror”
“An Arc of Doves”

Description
The bulk of the instrumentation is Budd on acoustic piano with treatments by Eno.

Artist
Brian Eno

Album
Ambient 4: On Land

Track
“Lantern Marsh”

Description
On Land is a mixture of synthesizer-based notes, nature/animal recordings and a complex array of other sounds, most of which were unused, collected recordings from previous albums and the sessions that created them.

Artist
Brian Eno

Album
Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks

Track
“An Ending (Ascent)”

Description
This music was originally recorded in 1983 for a feature-length documentary movie called “Apollo,” later retitled For All Mankind. This track also appears in the film 28 Days Later.

Aritst
Colleen

Album
The Golden Morning Breaks

Description
This young French artist mixes melody and minimalism, favouring a warm, even dreamy sound that often sounds like a mixture of acoustic folk and Renaissance classical run through an electronic blender.

Artist
Helios

Album
Unleft

Description
This Boston-based ambient indie electronic artist is Keith Kenniff. His music intersects ambient, electronic and modern classical composition. His soundscapes are evocative, lush and painterly constructions.

Artist
Loscil

Album
Plume

Description
Tranquil and melancholic music whose gentle percussion and pulses of static supply the rhythm bed, over which other artists using organic instruments (xylophone, vibes, guitar, Rhodes piano) quietly improvise. The band plays melodic passages with sparseness, thereby creating a quiet pulse and serenity.

Artist
William Basinski

Album
The Disintegration Loops

Description
William Basinski is an avant-garde composer based in New York. He is also a clarinetist, saxophonist, sound artist and video artist. All tracks have the same form of ambient music fragments played in a tape loop that slowly deteriorates as it passes by the tape head, creating the noises and cracks in the music as the theme progresses. The recording coincided with the 9/11 attacks, and the album covers and accompanying videos feature a still skyline of New York City with smoke and dust rising from the World Trade Center site.

Artist
Deuter

Album
Garden of the Gods

Track
“Temple of Silence”

Description
This is the perfect tract to support a client at the end of a session, especially after an emotional release.

Artist
Adham Shaikh

Album
Fusion

Track
“Dubfire”

Description
Shaikh fuses dance culture with mantra chanting.

Artist
Al Gromer Khan

Album
Tantra Drums

Track
“Take This Ruby”

Description
Tranquil drums serve a session well to awaken our relationship to the heartbeat of the earth.

Artist
David Hudson, Steve Roach, and Sarah Hopkins

Album
Australia: Sound of the Earth

Tracks
“The Ancient Voice”
“Land Sound / The Dreaming Place”

Description
Hudson was born in the early 1960s into the Tjapukai tribe and is a descendant of the Ewamian-Western Yalanji peoples of the Cairns region. He was taught traditional stories and didgeridoo. Roach is an American producer, composer and performer of ambient electronic music. Hopkins is an Australian composer–performer, acclaimed for her visionary music and inspiring performances for cello, among other instruments.

CDs for Life, Yoga & Meditative Baths

Artist
Lévon Minassian and Friends

Album
Beyond Borders

Description
Minassian’s Armenian dubduk-playing first gained an international ear through work with Peter Gabriel. Inspired by his tours with Gabriel, Minassian performed and recorded traditional Armenian songs with a number of musicians from other cultures. The result is this hauntingly beautiful album. If you are a fan of the mystical sounds of Western Asia, this album is for you.

Artists
Lévon Minassian and Armand Amar

Album
Songs from a World Apart

Description
This album is a wonderful merging of the hauntingly beautiful sound of the dubduk with the magical orchestral accompaniment of Amar’s composition.

Artists
Deva Premal and The Gyuto Monks of Tibet

Albums
Tibetan Mantras for Turbulent Times

Description
A powerful and deeply moving mantra meditation album offering eight Tibetan mantras chanted 108 times each. As Premal notes, Tibetan Mantras for Turbulent Times “originally arose out of a desire of mine to chant mantras together with Gyuto monks—those precious souls who have devoted their whole lives to the practice. Their incredible voices and the intense vibration they create, infused with such a deep immersion into the holy sound, has always inspired and intrigued me.”

Artists
Baird Hersey and PRANA, with Khrisna Das

Album
Gathering in the Light

Description
I do not play this CD in sessions. It’s too specific to support sessions, especially when talking is involved. That said, it’s a fantastic backdrop to life in general. The combination of the ethereal sound of overtone singing supporting the rich, open-hearted voice of Krishna Das is stunning.

Artist
Jane Winther

Album
Mantra

Description
Winther composes and produces music mainly for yoga, meditation and inner peace. Her music is minimalistic, acoustic and without synthetic instruments.

Artists
Bahramji & Maneesh De Moor

Album
Call of the Mystic

Description
De Moor’s electronic rhythms connect the modern world with the centuries-old tradition of Sufi mysticism, represented in this album by Persian musician Bahramji and his beautiful take on Rumi’s ancient poetry through voice and the Santoor, forming together a beautiful connection between the ancient and the new.

Artist
Craig Kohland and Rara Avis

Album
Kerala Dream: A Shaman’s Dream Project

Description
Seeking the perfect sound for her new DVD series Yoga Shakti, world-renowned teacher Shiva Rea invited friends Craig Kohland and Rara Avis to accompany her across the globe, to blend the spiritual traditions of India with down-tempo urban beats in a visionary offering of rhythm and sacred sound. Building on the momentum of the Shaman’s Dream Project’s four previous albums, Kerala Dream infuses Indian antiquity with introspective ambient textures ideal for yoga, dance, meditation, healing arts, and more.

CDs FOR YOGA FLOW & ECSTATIC DANCE

Artist
Bahramji, featuring Masti

Album
Sufi Safir

Description
Bahramji’s music is a fusion between the ancient and traditional connecting with the modern and technical. Most of his lyrics are based on Rumi’s and other mystical poetry, and the tracks carry an urban vibe rooted in meditation. It has the energy to carry a power flow or hypnotic dance. The length of the songs allows a deep, slow driving bass line to hypnotize you as melodic Santoor and other instruments carry you to other places. “Ney” is my favourite.

Artist
Adham Shaikh

Album
Fusion

Track
“Gayatri Mantra Shuffle”

Description
Shaikh fuses dance culture with the ancestors’ vibrations. He blends a mix of styles and forms—from ambient to progressive, glitch hop to trip hop, Klezmer to raga, and a bit of dub together with tribal beats—to get the feet moving.

Artist
Bill Laswell

Album
Dub Chamber 3

Track
“Cybotron”

Description
Laswell has been involved in hundreds of recordings with many collaborators from all over the world. He draws upon many different genres, most notably funk, various world music, jazz, dub and ambient styles.

Artists
Various Artists

Album
Asana 3: Peaceful Heart

Description
This yoga soundtrack series is a collection of mantras recorded in the Krishnamacharya temple in Cowshika, Southern India, and given to various musicians to create a musical journey started centuries ago. Features Pharoah Sanders, Bill Laswell, Asha Puthli, Grandmixer DXT, Karsh Kale, Robert Musso, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, Laraaji, Nicky Skopelitis and others.

SOUND HEALING with Binaural Beats and Solfeggio Frequencies

 

BINAURAL BEATS

A binaural beat is an auditory illusion perceived when two different pure-tone sine waves (both with frequencies lower than 1,500 Hz, with less than a 40 Hz difference between them) are presented to a listener dichotically (i.e., one through each ear). A beating tone, as if the two tones mixed naturally, will be perceived out of the brain. The benefits of this effect earned greater public awareness in the late 20th century based on claims coming from the alternative medicine and the Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy communities that binaural beats can induce relaxation, meditation, creativity, harmony, and other desirable mental states. The effect on the brainwaves depends on the difference in frequencies of each tone.

 

SOLFEGGIO FREQUENCIES

Solfeggio frequencies comprise the ancient six-tone scale used in sacred music, including Gregorian chants. The chants and their special tones were believed to impart spiritual blessings when sung in harmony. Each solfeggio tone has a frequency that can balance our energy and keep our bodies, minds, and spirits in perfect harmony.

 

Ancient tuning practices used a “Just Intonation” system, which featured pure intervals between every note that were mathematically related by ratios of small whole numbers and led to a much purer sound. Because different tuning applications have been used since the 16th century in Western cultures, however, the solfeggio frequencies were lost at one point. The tuning practice adopted in the 16th century and used today is known as the “Twelve-Tone Equal Temperament.” Our modern-day musical scale is out of sync when compared with the original solfeggio scale.

The main six solfeggio frequencies are:

396 Hz – Liberating Guilt and Fear

417 Hz – Undoing Situations and Facilitating Change

528 Hz – Transformation and Miracles (DNA Repair)

639 Hz – Connecting/Relationships/Cell Communication

741 Hz – Expression/Solutions

852 Hz – Returning to Spiritual Order

 

BINAURAL BEAT SLEEP MEDITATION

Sleep meditation for Heart Chakra cleansing and positive energy boost

https://youtu.be/RI-_uP2JJYU

From YouTube: “Using Binaural Beats, the 639 HZ Sacred Solfeggio Frequency and music therapy techniques. … In this particular video we use frequencies of the Delta and Theta range which will induce Deep Meditation, relaxation, NREM Sleep, Deep Dreamless Sleep and loss of body awareness.”

 

BINAURAL SLEEP MUSIC

Alpha brain waves binaural music for sleep and insomnia

https://youtu.be/1c56b1rabGg

From YouTube: “This binaural music for insomnia was mixed using binaural beats to target the Alpha waves brain frequencies. Its musical texture will help you sleep, masking the background noises without exciting your ears.

“[These] Alpha brainwaves are produced during wakeful relaxation with closed eyes so we recommend you follow [these] instructions:

“Use for insomnia:

  • Watch the visuals and listen to the music for about 5 to 20 min until the inner chatter goes away.
  • Reduce the brightness of your screen and lay down on your bed, close your eyes and leave the music playing.
  • The cyclic patterns of the musical textures will help you fall asleep and maintain a deep sleep state, resulting in continuous sleep during the night.
  • The key is to let the inner chatter go away, so you must experiment to find how many minutes you should watch the visuals.

“Use for meditation:

  • Sit in a lotus position, reduce the brightness of your screen to a comfortable light, watch the visuals and listen to the music for about 5 to 20 min until the inner chatter goes away.
  • Close your eyes and leave the music playing.
  • The slow and deep pulsation of the music will help reducing the heart rate, to provide a deep relaxation state.
  • From session to session you should naturally increase the time you meditate.”

 

OPEN THIRD EYE CHAKRA

Calm sleep meditation, chakra balancing and healing music

https://youtu.be/HWEaOdk5B5E

 

AURA CLEANSING SLEEP MEDITATION

7 Chakras cleansing meditation music, sleep meditation

https://youtu.be/w6sbrmcrSuo

From YouTube: “This is a meditation that you can do whenever you go to sleep. Each frequency in this meditation corresponds to a different chakra. The goal of this meditation is to clear your aura, balance and heal the seven chakras using sound as a healing tool. If you’re living a balanced lifestyle, this should happen naturally however when you’re sleep deprived, and overworked, your energetic field may become unbalanced.”

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