Tag Archives: meditation

293 – Staying Cool In A Crisis: From Meditation to The Rosary

Horror stories, clickbait, panic porn, your amygdala is constantly getting stimulated nowadays because the media understands that if they activate your fight or flight response, you’ll pay attention. The old saying goes “If it bleeds, it leads” and that applies now more than ever. We’re still in the middle of a pandemic that has kept most of the world inside and glued to TV and social media for two months. We’re constantly surrounded by news stories of how many people are predicted to die, how many deaths are already happening, and how quickly the disease is spreading, and how dangerous it is.

Millions around the world have been impacted by the disease, losing loved ones or getting sick themselves, and millions have also been affected by the reaction to it. The economic shutdown has made millions of people dependent on unemployment insurance for the first time to pay their bills and a system unprepared for such a gigantic influx of new applicants has suffocated under the weight. Hundreds of thousands of small businesses whose doors were shuttered by the shutdown orders across America that had to apply for emergency loans to the Small Business Administration didn’t even get their applications looked at before the money ran out.

The school and daycare centers are closed and parents are stuck between the rock and a hard place of trying to keep money coming in and pay bills while providing their own child care, in essence, trying to juggle working full time from home (or if you work in a hospital or food industry, still having to go in) with parenting full time.

So not only are we worried about getting sick or people we love getting sick, we’re worried that we won’t have enough money to pay the bills and feed the children that we’re now assuming the teaching . Add to that, we’re in the middle of an election year, so the political teams have no co-opted the elements for the crisis and the lines in the sand have been drawn, depending on where your political beliefs fall.

People are desperate. People are scared. A lot of us are not okay. So, what are some ways that we can get back to “okay” when it feels like the world is crashing down on us. Our “fight ot flight” center, the amygdala is constantly being activated lately. So what are some ways that people have stayed cool in a crisis? From just breathing to praying and meditating? That’s what we cover in this episode.

Some of the different methods we discuss in this episode include:

We originally recorded this episode in a live YouTube broadcast during the fifth week of lockdown and you can watch that original conversation in its unedited entirety right here.

The song this week is a meditation track. It’s meant to relax you in just five minutes.  It’s got a beat programmed to slow down your heart rate, it’s in G major, (known as the most relaxing key!), it’s got a Tibetan singing bowl for meditative properties, and there’s even some sounds of rain so that you can experience a little bit of nature. Hopefully, it’ll give you five minutes of peace.

267 – Multidimensional Evolution: Exploring Consciousness with Kim McCaul

When anthropologist and consciousness researcher Kim McCaul talks about “multidimensional evolution”, it’s a concept that sounds like it might be a little bit woo-woo New Age-y. Kinda like when paranormal people talk about quantum physics. Yes, Einstein called it “spooky action at a distance”. No, it doesn’t provide a scientific explanation for ghosts, psychics, demons, etc… When you put scientific words into non-materialist concepts, things can often get dice-y quickly, which always makes me think of one of my favorite of Damon Wayans’ characters on In Living Color (sorry Homey The Clown!)

But when Kim McCaul breaks it down, the idea of “multidimensional evolution” isn’t complex or trying to ape modern science, it’s simply the idea that our consciousness doesn’t just have one dimension (or manifestation.) We have

  • the soma (our physical body)
  • the psychosoma (our spiritual body)
  • the mentalsoma (our analytical manifestation)
  • the energosoma (our manifestitation in energy).

And while a couple of those might hew close to the Freudian model of the psyche, the idea that we have more than one body is as old as humanity itself. When we talked to Jan Van Ysslestyne about her book The Spirits from The Edge of the World which is about the shamanism of the Ulchi people of Siberia, the idea of multiple bodies for one person is natural to their thousands-year-old Shamanic tradition. And Kim has been studying the Aboriginal civilization in Australia, whose spiritual tradition goes back tens of thousands of years, and there he finds many of the same concepts.

Which is why it’s funny that these ideas are often called “New Age”. New?! It’s the oldest religion in civilization. Our world around us is all alive and is all a different expression of this life energy that we call consciousness.

And there was something from the book and our conversation that I found particularly interesting. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression that in this life we are “a spiritual entity having a physical experience” but Kim McCaul says that it’s more like “we are a consciousness having a spiritual and a physical experience”. That struck me because it seemed to make more sense to me.

If consciousness is an energy that all comes from the same place and we are bits of that consciousness that differentiate from each other through the experiences we feel in our bodies (and Kim would say in many bodies over many lifetimes), then that unity that we all feel sometimes after meditation or through a psychedelic drug, that oneness, is because consciousness itself isn’t different, it’s the bodies that consciousness expresses itself through that are different. That whole “namaste” thing is even more powerful when you realize that other people are built from the same stuff as you, their experiences have just led them to where they are, even if they’re in opposition to you. It just helps to engender a little empathy when you realize that everyone else is dealing with their own $h!t too. Consciousness exists as a universal force that we have all come from and we all will go back to, there’s not as a finite number of “souls” that exist independently of each other.

Anyway, my mind was blown for a short time, but in the interview you’ll find more great tidbits like:

  • How Kim’s spiritual journey took him from the UK to Indonesia to Rio de Janeiro and to Australia
  • What kinds of meditation can help you open yourself up to discovering your different somas
  • What’s an “intruder” vs a “helper”
  • How to avoid ‘spiritual superiority disorder”

Kim’s thoughts about consciousness reminded me of the Divine Spark from the Gnostics who believed there was a bit of the divine in each of us, no matter who. It’s the Aristotlean “Breath of Life” that unifies us, even when it’s hard to see that. That’s the inspiration for this week’s song, “Breathe”.

I’ve seen this cruel and angry place from every way,
I’ve seen what people do when they need to survive,
I’ve seen the ugly face of the human race,
I’ve watched people each other alive.

There’s a spark inside, that’s what starts the fire,
But sometimes that light, it doesn’t shine so bright,
Oh I know there’s supposed to be a part of you that’s part of me,
But sometimes I need a little help to breathe.

All the times where I’ve been drowning in my own skin,
And all the moments when I thought I had enough,
But I’ve felt the guiding hand and I’ve seen the promised land,
and once that switch is flipped, it never can turn off.

There’s a spark inside, that’s what starts the fire,
But sometimes that light, it doesn’t shine so bright,
Oh I know there’s supposed to be a part of you that’s part of me,
But sometimes I need a little help to breathe.

70 – Spiritual Awakening: The New Age Music of David Young

Twenty years ago, I could never have imagined myself writing this post. New Age music to me when I was a teenager was the saddest, silliest, and least passionate music that I could imagine. It was a crime to art akin to Muzak, which ripped the heart out of what I thought were passionate songs and just left them with a lifeless shell of toothless melodies and tame Mom-friendly synths.

I know I shouldn’t be so cynical, but COME. ON. man…

I was a Rock purist and a musical bigot. I still felt that music had the power to shock the old out of complacency and that’s was its mission. It was the artistic agent of social awareness, change, and rebellion. And some of it was, but by the mid–1990s, that agent of change wasn’t rock music anymore (I guess you could make an argument for the Lillith Fair at that point in history, but the charts and headlines were overwhelmingly dominated by Hip Hop by the middle of the decade.) Someday we’ll talk about the social impact of Grunge and what the death of Hair Metal really meant (but maybe not here, unless we can tie it into a conspiracy theory or something… Well, hello Kurt and Courtney!)

Anyway, this is just a long winded way of saying that I thought New Age music was a joke, something played by men in silly frilly shirts and women with flower tiaras. I mean, I love Ren Fairs as much as the next guy, but Yanni with his pornstar mustache and songs that didn’t even really sound like songs just made me want to barf.

I was very much a stereotypical Angry Young Man and I had an opinion on everything. And most of those opinions were ridiculous and based in what I thought I should be feeling. Indeed, if I really was a Rock purist, then how deep inside could I love Disco and robot music so much too? I felt like one of those televangelists that carries on a secret love life of prostitutes and interstate motels.

The truth is, I started discovering that music could be a lot more fun when you open yourself up to different genres, let go of your ideas of what’s “real art and authentic” and what’s not, and when you realize that other human beings might have different motivations and appreciate things in a different way then you do. In other words, I lightened the Hell up and discovered there was a ton of stuff out there to appreciate. And New Age music with all of its pan flutes, synth strings, world instruments, and thirty something Yuppie Yoga studio atmosphere are certainly part of that.

It’s not just Dreamcatchers and Chakras, look at this guy’s abs. I’m gonna go do some Yoga now…

Music isn’t only art, it’s also a tool. Yeah, it can be that agent of social awareness (from John Lennon to NWA), it can be symbolic of revolution (like Ozzy and Bon Jovi at the Moscow Music Peace Festival) at the societal level. But at a personal level, it can get you pumped for a big race (looking at you Andrew W.K.) or chill you out and help focus your mind when you’re meditating.

And when Wendy and I were talking about the interview in the intro, I realized that I needed to eat my Angry Young Man words to accompany this discussion with David Young. That’s right, I’m defending New Age Music and I’ll take anybody on, because it you don’t like it…

the dude abides

David is a charming and talented New Yorker who has sold well over a million albums in his career. He moved to Los Angeles in the 1980s seeking Rock stardom and he eventually found his way to the Venice Beach boardwalk busking to make extra money playing the recorder accompanying a harpist.

And that’s when things started clicking because the music they started making together became Celestial Winds, a duo whose homemade tapes alone would sell tens of thousands of copies.

That might be my favorite takeaway from the interview, he shifted to what he saw that people wanted, what they were asking him for more of, and that’s where he found what he was looking for. He stopped forcing and started opening himself up to what the world was telling him, he stopped beating his head against the wall, and ended up with a wildly successful and long music career.

After going off on his own and releasing dozens of his own solo albums, Young’s music is heard in thousands of healing centers around the world and his concerts have become less about just listening to music and more about using the music as a jumping point creating a spiritual experience for the attendees. He calls them “Soul Activation Workshops” and they’re all about healing and meditation (and we’ll have an episode about all the wonderful benefits of meditation soon!) He encourages the concert goers to close their eyes, but not after a little showmanship, (and this is pretty impressive I have to say) he plays two recorders at once…

…which made me think of Michael Angelo from Nitro and his double necked guitar solos, who we played with once at a Wisconsin Area Music Industry event…

Sure, meditation is a powerful tool, where we can quiet the mind, get out of our frantic headspace for a little while, and find some comfort and relaxation. But it’s what happens next that make Young’s concerts so memorable. He claims that more people have had out-of-body experiences while listening to his music than any other musician alive. Or they’ve had a visit from a favorite dead relative or even an encounter with who he calls “the Heavenly crew” or “Ascended Masters”, historical spiritual icons like Jesus, Buddha, or the Blessed Virgin. Often, multiple people will share that they saw the same Ascended Master at an event and that they were shown a sign in the form of a flower or animal that they all saw independently.

He ties this in to a Great Ascension he calls it of people becoming more spiritual throughout the world and how that’s leading to greater understanding and love between people. It immediately made me think of the religious Great Awakenings that occurred throughout history and those fundamentalist moments seemed to cause more harm than good (see our episode on the Pilgrims and Satanic Thanksgiving.)

And he gets to hang out with Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull, which is awesome!

But David’s attitude is one of optimism instead of pessimism, and I can dig that. While we often link a rise in fundamentalism to the bogeymen of ISIS or the social intolerance of Evangelical Christians, we forget that there is a scientific basis for the human proclivity for spiritual experiences, we seek them and want them desperately. Spiritual awareness without religion provides the comfort and that “we’re all in it together” feeling without the rules that make us judge each other. The more of that the better, I think, and it doesn’t matter if it’s attributable to wishful thinking and imagination or whether there really is a “Heavenly Crew” watching out for us and the people we love.

So, check out a little bit of David’s music right here and if you’re looking to explore your own spiritual experience, we have a five-minute meditation track that we wrote at the end of this podcast. So, that’s right, I made fun of Yanni’s dark long flowing locks or Zamfir and his ridiculous pan flute… And now we made our own New Age track, man. So close your eyes, clear your mind, and take it in.