A Findhorn Foundation special event 30 March – 5 April 2013
Tuesday already, which means we're halfway through this wonderful week of singing for unity and wellbeing. It has been an incredible time so far with so much more still to come!
Kate O'Connell leads the first session of the day, giving us a chance to play with rhythm, harmony and words. We begin by taking a few moments to be still and focus on our abdominal area, Kate speaking of Cerridwen's cauldron – the cauldron of creativity – that is to be found in this part of our bodies. From here the universe sings through us. Drawing our attention to 'we are the instrument', Kate asks, What song comes from that centre? She invites us to walk around the room, first quietly, then making our own unique sound, then adding a gesture. We are encouraged to interact with one another as we pass by, exaggerating our sound and gesture. This is fun and also enlightening. One person shares afterwards that she thought that with all the different sounds there would be dissonance. To her delighted surprise she found that not to be so.
The next step is to make our unique sound while joining together in small groups. Again the joy of discovering the music we make together while contributing that which is truly our own. Kate then requests that we take this a few steps further. In small groups and using nonsense syllables such as 'be bop du wop', one person starts with a rhythm, each of us then tuning in and adding a complementary rhythm until with the whole group we have created a song. We do this again, this time using words in the form of a short sentence describing how we feel about being here in the conference. In the group I am with, we sing our own sentences at first and then spontaneously we begin to sing each other's sentences. What a gentle, yet powerful way to step into each other's shoes and feel what someone else is feeling.
Early on in the session Kate had asked the question, How many of you are terrified by the idea of improvisation? At least half the group raise their hands, me included. And yet, that is exactly what we did, and effortlessly! Before we break for tea, we again take a few moments to be still, appreciating the beauty we each contribute to the world.
We are now at the point in the week where we are to choose which of the ongoing workshops we wish to attend. In these workshops we will build towards a performance for the Final Night Extravaganza. Having heard the powerful resonance and antiquity in the Georgian singing on Saturday night, I am drawn to Frank Kane's workshop.
After a round of names and sharing what we each hope to achieve by participating in this workshop, Frank shares with us about his voice journey and the impact that coming to Findhorn for the first time in July 2001 has had on that journey. He then invites us to see in our mind's eye our own voice journey, those significant times in our lives relating to our voice and singing. Though I don't yet know it, I'm about to take a huge step in empowering my voice.
We spend half of the session exploring vibration in our bodies, that being such an important aspect of not only our singing, but in all the ways in which we express ourselves. As Frank points out again and again, we are vibration. He encourages us to turn our ear receptors way down and our body receptors way up, to hear with our bodies. As he says, the ears will still be a part of hearing, but let the focus be on hearing-by-feeling the sound.
Frank also emphasises the importance of talking/singing from the bones rather than from the musculature as contracting the muscles dampens the vibrations, which in turn dampens the sound. I am starting to understand at a deeper level that to expand, I actually need to go inwards and just be completely present with myself. It is from this place that I can actually touch you with my voice, with my singing.
We spend the rest of the session learning a song of alchemy from the Meskheti region of Georgia called Okro Mchedelo. From a metal shoe that fits a sparrow's foot, the goldsmith is asked to make a shovel, a hoe, a sickle, a knife and a mobile phone. I did say it was a modern song of alchemy, didn't I?! The energy contained in this song is fantastic and I feel exhilarated after we finish.
I head for lunch feeling so nourished already on all levels, and truly blessed to be able to participate in this week.
Michael Stillwater sits comfortably on centre stage as we enter the hall, his guitar poised on his knee. He smiles and greets a few of those nearest to him in a relaxed way as community member, Barbara Swetina introduces him.
Tonight, he explains, is ChantWave, the practice of singing to remember who we really are, singing to feel connected to our inner selves, to each other and to life. It will allow us to shift from a ‘head consciousness’ to a ‘heart consciousness’. Michael invites us to take a journey with him, to come out of our busy minds into our hearts through song. He offers us the freedom and encouragement to find our own part in the songs he plays and to join in as we feel moved to. I'm excited and drawn in before he has even begun, this is a journey I want to take with him.
Accompanied only by his acoustic guitar and Martin Barker's soft drumming, Michael's rich powerful voice fills the hall as he begins to create the magical peace that emerges with each successive song. A spell of blissful connection falls over us all as his beautiful voice sings out his profound healing lyrics. We are quiet and still at first, then we begin to move and sway, as bursts of joyful soprano voices erupt around the hall. Eventually everyone is singing, joining their voice in spontaneous contributions to the collective music. Michael promised to soak us in the joy of song and that promise has been fulfilled. I am completely and utterly joyful. Singing these rich, resonant sacred songs, I feel open, connected and entirely at peace. Looking around the hall at the blissful, relaxed faces all singing together, I realise that we have created something special here – a sacred space, a healing space and a true communion with spirit and with each other. Without a doubt, Michael has taken me on the promised journey into my heart.