We are moving more surely into the wonderful spring. April 4th marked the season known as "Qing Ming" (clear and bright) in the Chinese lunar calendar. During this time of the year, festivals are held honoring ancestors with various offerings, including tomb sweeping, incense, and food/money, each life affirming traditions; activities to affirm springtime and living include taking long walks in nature and flying kites. My intention for this week's post is not on that subject, but it does play into the theme. Rather than launch into a long winded message, I found nice feng shui article about what it all means and how world traditions at this time of year are interwoven around the noble willow tree. “In China, Willow is a symbol of immortality and rebirth. In the other parts of the world the willow trees feature in mythology and literature as a symbol of the moon, water, grief, healing, everlasting life and often symbolizes grief."
As I release these notes into the windy interwebs, the moon is waxing toward full, and we are a few days into “Qing ming” time of year, but when I cast the weekly oracle on Sunday, it was the actual day of the new moon April 11, which corresponds to the hexagram 24- Returning. Both the original and transformed hexagrams for the reading are associated through mutuality with the 24 hexagram, which represents the returning yang energies after the full moon. Sometimes, this oracle blows my mind. This is one such time. If you are following the project, it's linked at the bottom of the page.
Since two of the traditional activities around this season are taking walks in nature and flying kites, here are a picture of a willow and a gallery of kites and their friends, for your inspiration. Happy Qing Ming, y'all.
"Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
In other words, go fly a kite. And I mean that in the best possible way.
More on Sound Healing
Nature Deficit Disorder is now a thing, a diagnosis; sound healing may just be an enormous part of the the antidote. The disorder stems from being indoors most of the time and spending too much time thinking- being up in our heads. This cuts us off from true sensual experiences- the breath of fresh air, the full body experience of walking and taking in all of the natural sights and sounds around us. Kimberly Jordan Allen writes that “This lack of time breathing fresh air and soaking up the sun is impacting social learning, mental health, physical health, and overall wellbeing. " (Jordan Allen) Getting outdoors and away from the routine of the house or the office has been shown in studies to reduce rumination because it breaks the rhythm- we move differently, breathe fresh air, and quiet the negative thinking. Hmmm. Breathing, moving, releasing unhelpful energy- hey, sounds like some type of qigong.
“Science is starting to substantiate that nature is not just a luxury, but also a significant part of the human experience. For example, being outside has proven to positively effect symptoms of ADHD, reduce stress, and improve cognition.” Jordan-Allen
People who suffer from the mental looping of OCD or other anxiety disorders, people who are “too much in their heads”, and a bit on the sedentary side can honestly benefit from activities that require using the holistic self to release the grip of these afflictions, to balance the mental/emotional with the physical. Climbing a tree, doing a cartwheel, or standing on one foot when caught on a thought, forces the mind to pay close attention to the body that supports it, breaking the whirling energy of all those chaotic or severely focused energies. But what is it about being outdoors that is special?
Coherent Sonic Environments and frequencies- it's got to be real
"Sitting under a Bodhi tree in Auroville, I could hear the shape of the moving wind in the rustling leaves. Perhaps that same sound pattern enlightened the Buddha." William Softky
Sound influences the brain. “Of course! The whole body from ears to toes is just a collection of vibrations, so it’s practically made of sound. Understand sound, you understand us.” (Softky) Too much sound, or the wrong kinds of sound can damage the Shen (Mind/Spirit), as many Qigong practitioners have been trained. William Softky, a neuroscientist and biophysicist has a good explanation of why this is so:
“Back in paleo times, our nervous systems calibrated themselves just fine...because the outdoor sonic environment we evolved for was simple, natural and three-dimensional: wind sounds, rain sounds, twig-snaps, people. Every sound a real one, every microsecond perfectly in place. Unfortunately, the modern world messes with microseconds: screens and lights flicker at rates that drive the unconscious crazy, digital phones scramble subtle vocal nuance, loudspeakers make unphysical sound patterns, earphones create competing soundscapes, wireless interruptions make unpredictable shocks. Our delicate vibration-managing nervous systems become de-calibrated not just by the sounds we call “noise pollution,” but also by the artificial sounds we call “entertainment” and “connection.”
He does not suggest that we do away with technological soundscapes- in fact, his work centers in part on finding a solution to internet addiction and its causes by helping creators improve the technology. He is actively consulting and advising sound software developers to strive toward creating 3D nuance into their work so that it doesn’t create a preference for artificially “enhanced” audio which de-calibrates neural connections. He and his partners have a hypothesis that this kind of addiction is due to digital enhancements that create a preference in the users for the artificial qualities that trick the senses into thinking they are more real than the real- kind of like junk food. “So understanding our brains as vibration managers easily de-calibrated by modern life shows us what to avoid and what to do. Any self-learning processor needs to avoid artificial and artificially interesting signals, so tech-made sounds and fractured soundscapes in and of themselves de-calibrate nervous systems.” (ibid)
They propose that the brain scrambled by artificial sound and noise pollution in general is best fixed by two types of healing: 1) forest bathing, essentially walking in nature among the trees; because “trees provide a naturally complex sound-reflection surfaces, and their rustling leaves provide coherent sonic point-sources, distributed through space and time. Full spectrum authentic 3D sound”; and 2) sound baths, i.e., the ringing of Tibetan bowls, which “include things that ring continuously from being rubbed on the rim." Singing bowls and quartz bowls “both create enduring single-frequency notes” from standing waves. These waves have a simple pattern that transmits the sound holistically, providing the “entire body with simultaneous, consistent, coherent stimulation”, making the sensory neurons in the skin all fire together. This type of sound experience re-calibrates spatial-localization sense (where is the sound coming from) and brings one back to the room, or to the self after intense periods of being out in the disorienting ocean of both intense meditation and intense bombardment of unnatural sounds. “The solution to mental misery created by a de-calibrating sonic environment is to return to a calibrating one,…” ( Softky) In other words, natural sounds and sounds made from natural materials make the best sound healing tools; I would think including the healing tones sounded from the real voice.
Coherent sound in Nature: So much beyond what we merely hear
"The unexpected beauty of everyday sounds" | Meklit Hadero , a TEDtalk:
Her whole talk is inspiring, but at least listen to the beginning where she plays a track of birdsong slowed down- the chirps of birds contain much more than you think- beautiful to hear what they have to sing.
“…the sonic soundscape is musically generative; it is generous, it is fertile,...we are already immersed.” (Hadero)
In language, the jing aspect of a spoken word is its sound, the qi aspect is its meaning and its direction (who it is intended for). Words are used by someone who can read, interpret and voice them, so the shen aspect must be the intent and will of the being using the words. And "being" in this sense means more than human being, because animals and nature communicate as well through the medium of sounds that mean something to them and, if we listen correctly, have crucial messages for us. Briefly a run through all of nature (okay, a big chunk of it), “A rising tone at the end of a sentence, for instance, might imply incredulity. But killer-whale sounds range over frequencies at least ten times greater than you’ll hear even at La Scala…If language is simply about the transfer of data, a single cetacean is like a significant chunk of the internet.” (Foster) If you have the time, click on each of the words in yellow in this passage, it will take you the article I am referencing out of the gorgeous "Emergence" magazine.
The same is true for birds, whose sounds announce among other things, the changes in seasons, and bees who dance to talk about food with their peers, stones, who tell the story of vast histories in their markings and what they are made of. “Bird sounds reveal the polyrhythms of a living Earth.” (Haskell). The bagua was inspired by the markings on the back of turtle and led to the ancient Chinese concepts of Pre-Heaven (before birth/pure) and Post Heaven (after birth/mixed). The trigrams combined in the bagua are the basis of the I Ching, the Book of Changes. Writer Swami Anand Nirsag states that the I Ching is meant to be a map of the structure of Time. “, some of the hexagrams existing within other hexagrams are meant to reflect hyper-dimensionality. The I Ching is a way of taking a measurement of time and its projected course, through a six-dimensional mathematical code projected into our four-dimensional range of perception of space and time.” (Nirsag, pp. 41-42) Sound locates us as being somewhere, on which an idea of the structure of space would follow.
In the eco-conversation are certainly trees, the “wood wide web”, and the fungal “hyphae” in the soil that, like acupuncture points, assist a forest’s connectivity. And the same with the deafening sound frequency of elephant calls, whale song and belugas, the entrainment of crickets and mosquitoes, whose hypersonic tiny wing songs are so powerful they lead to instant death for many of their kind and a sort of madness in many a full-sized human trying to get away from them. The breast cancer sound in MQ therapy, “Ni”, is to be performed in such an annoying way as that, but to destroy the deadly cells. Of course, the planets communicate their influences over the Earths movements. The musical note of black holes is B flat; some theorists hold that black holes are cosmic counterparts to “light” filled galaxies- yin and yang. In the cosmic harmony, it would not be surprising to find that the frequency of a galaxy would harmonize as either one of the notes D or G. And we are in the midst of this 3D cacophony, informed and informing.