(Demos at 8:51, 18:07, 33:15, and 33:43) Headphones Encouraged
Content includes demonstrations, history of how and why I started playing the handpan, explanation of audio setup, examples of how to build on basic rhythms, and info on how the handpan is helping heal my brain injury.
Headphones or a good stereo system encouraged for best audio experience.
Music has been one of the most helpful and effective “medicines” for my PCS symptoms.
Recently, I’ve been learning to play and leaning on the didgeridoo to help heal my brain and to effectively deal with symptoms, including migraines.
This morning, my migraine was deep enough and painful enough to bring unsolicited “pain tears” to my eyes. The type of pain that can feel all-encompassing.
So, I picked up the didge and my singing bowl and breathed and noticed and wondered and watched and listened. Through this meditation of the senses, my migraine has largely dissipated and my mood is noticeably brighter. My body and mind are more balanced and the pain is localized and not all-encompassing.
I’m grateful today for the wisdom that arises out of our wholeness and the healing power of music and the breath that dwell within us.
I left the recording in its raw form. I would recommend a good set of headphones if you choose to listen.
Come be with me and enjoy the healing tones of the singing bowl and didgeridoo, as well as the common sounds of the breath, a creaking chair, and the swallowing of life-giving water.
I want to give you a gift.
Everywhere we look, it seems our world is fraught with tragedy, violence, and division.
A neighbor walked by the other night after watching the news and was visibly distraught. I could see it in his face and hear it in his voice.
This morning, after reading the news, I came away with myriad feelings and the following questions:
What is happening to our world? Is it hopelessly caught in a downward spiral? How can we respond? Where is peace? Where is unity? Where is wholeness? Where is all the good?
To answer these questions and meet the impeti behind them, I turn to a wonderful yoga nidra practice called iRest.
iRest saved my life in the early days of my traumatic brain injury and has been a mainstay of my healing journey that is much deeper than just a brain injury.
More than a passing fad, I have found that iRest is just a practice that helps us live from a place of wholeness and joy and love…and peace. In response, I have dedicated to knowing this form of yoga nidra as well as I can and I am currently a Level 2 Teacher in the Certification program.
I hope you find this short practice to be helpful and that you reconnect with your birthright of peace. Regardless of what is happening around us, we can live on a solid foundation that is unchanging, predicatable, whole, unified, and full of peace.
Awaken. Engage. Enjoy. ✌️✌️
Few things have helped me more than mountain weather to find my way through the myriad seasons of life.
Why? Mountain weather viscerally reminds me of who and what I truly am: unchanging awareness in which the ever-changing flow of life arises…and falls away…and arises…and falls away.
Dark clouds. Sunlight. Fog. Mist. Rain. Wind. Calm. All in a 5-minute span.
Thoughts. Emotions. Beliefs. Physical sensations. All come. And all pass through us and away.
What is it that they pass through? How do we connect to what is unchanging and enduring and whole and full of hope, peace, joy, and love?
These are critical questions and ones we ask more often when we are in pain and going through hard and/or chronic circumstances that we can’t get out of or “escape”. __
Is there really something that is unchanging? Is there something immovable? Am I in the clouds, in distress, in pain…or are these transient elements in me, passing through what is unchanging?
Nurturing awareness (or whatever name/symbol/metaphor your belief system or faith tradition may use) allows us to grow muscles of resiliency. Muscles that are waiting to be stretched and exercised and used.
Own your recovery. Life wants to live you.
There is much about my life that fell out of my control 3 years ago, but I’m learning to nurture who I am. I am growing. I am healing. Perhaps not in ways that are easily quantifiable, but my muscles are growing stronger as I daily engage with the ever-changing flow of life and meet it from a place of wholeness, peace, hope, joy, love, and fullness.
May Life live you today. May you fall into grace. May the “bottom” you feared be the very foundation from which you grow.
A word about Chronic.
Post-concussion syndrome (or, whatever name they finally end up giving chronic concussion symptoms) is my first first-hand experience with chronic illness.
I’ve witnessed others go through chronic seasons, and as a marriage therapist I worked with a wonderful couple who had been in a relationship with chronic illness for at least 20 years.
I say “relationship” because they referred to the chronic illness as another member of their family.
They deeply loved each other and both longed for healing and for life to resume to the way it had been before Chronic joined their family.
I remember their deep sadness, grief, and anger over dreams deferred, trips cancelled, relationships broken, life dramatically altered.
In some ways, they had spent 20 years waiting for Chronic to move out.
They never intended to live that way, but it sort of crept up on them.
One of them had a health condition that could possibly change someday. Each day, there was still hope for healing, for a medical discovery, for things spontaneously to change. They read the success stories and hoped for the same.
For 20 years.
And they went through the ebbs and flows of hope and despair and everything in between.
For 20 years.
They asked and experientially answered questions like these:
Does embracing life as it is today mean that we have to give up our hopes, dreams, and expectations?
Wouldn’t it be easier to just give up hope and accept this as our lot in life?
Is it necessary to live in the tension that hope brings?
Is there a better way to live with Chronic?
I don’t have the “right” answers. Our family is only in Year 3 of our journey.
I will say that, at the end of each day, the decisions we face are actually quite similar to those you and everyone else does. Sure, the content might change a bit. But, in some ways, we’re the lucky ones.
We are facing our limitations, the frailty of life, and the challenge of living out the universal and paradoxical tension of Acceptance and Hope.
We’re learning how to live out the Serenity Prayer that was framed in my folks’ house…a message echoed in ten thousand other words and myriad messengers throughout the ages.
A message reminding us that, at our root, we are unchanging Awareness or whatever your belief system might call your unchanging state.
A message reminding us that the ever-changing flow of life moves through us and past us, just as the clouds move across the sky.
Yes, we can certainly attempt to grab on to transient ideas, things, feelings, beliefs, and sensations. And some of us might even get to hold on longer than others. At some point, we fall into grace and realize that we already are and have what we’re looking for.
I’m not sure I really helped the couple I worked with. They expressed that they felt closer to one another, but they were still quite unsettled when they stopped working with me. They despised Chronic and insisted that he leave before they could enjoy life again. I don’t blame them a bit.
Chronic is not someone I would have invited into my home. But, Chronic is here, for now. And like every transient thing that arises in Life – in us – Chronic will pass away. Perhaps not until the body passes, but it will pass away…and it will leave that which is unchanging.
But what are we to while it stays? While the clouds of life hide the sun’s warmth from our skin and light from our eyes?
Consider this maxim: That which we welcome cannot bind us.
If you doubt this maxim, do a quick check-in on those things that have you bitter, wound up, agitated, anxious, jealous, angry, possessive, envious, depressed, etc.
They are likely things you’re either trying to hold onto or get rid of: a feeling, an emotion, a relationship, a belief, a reputation, a possession, a season of life.
Can we welcome the ever-changing flow of life to both come and go?
I am learning that an essential part of my growing and maturing in life is to welcome Chronic as I welcome all else that arises.
As I do, I can be guided by the wisdom that comes from this dual “letting go” and “settling into” who and what I am and always will be.
Wisdom that shows up right here and right now.
Wisdom that leads to responsive action rather than resignation or fantisization.
Wisdom that leads to realization – a full awareness of what really is, not what we wish it to be or not to be.
This takes work. It takes discipline. It take openness. It takes practice. It takes community. And it takes practice in community.
My hope for us all is that, whatever our circumstances, we engage in the work to embrace life today, that we allow Life to live us as we learn to be fully present and fully alive.
Spinning. The latest round of vision therapy has sent my world swirling around and around and around.
This time, I don’t feel safe driving or biking. Constant nausea, dizziness, and headaches are making for some pretty tough days.
I admit that I am struggling. This is hard. I don’t like it. I want out. I want this two-year season to be over. I was so angry the other night that I chopped up our woodpile like a madman. I was splitting hardwood logs with knots as though they were dry pine. I was loosing a guttural, primal scream with each swing. I was so done with feeling so lousy.
And then I just stood, axe in hand, and wept. Not because I felt sad. Not because I felt helpless. But because I just knew and felt that it is all okay. All is well. Not that it is “going to be” well. But, all is well right now. And when you experience “all is well” in the midst of a personal hell, that is something that takes your breath from you and lays you bare and thankful and weeping like a child…axe in hand.
Live the life you can. My mantra this season. Well, one of them. I even practice it sometimes 😉. I now get to walk my kids to and from school. It has been amazing. Time off the bike has made me more thankful for the bike and the amazing community of cyclists I know.
Being in pain and changing my relationship with pain helps me relate to others who are in pain, or who will be. This season has connected me to healing practices that I get to share. I am experiencing wholeness in the midst of brokenness. At my core, I’m more full of life and love and joy and peace and hope than ever before.
And all really is well, even if it’s not going the way I planned.
So, let the spinning continue until it’s done. Looks like about three minutes left on the timer. But then that timer hasn’t ever been too accurate.