For this article, I’ll write a little bit about my own creative process. I got myself into a pickle this summer… Well more like a big vat of pickles, more like an alchemical crucible I’ve agreed to immerse myself in until, hopefully, something crisp and tart and sweet shows up. Maybe pretty, maybe ugly, but it will be real. True gold.
I got into this alchemical vat of pickles by committing to a few creative projects.
- I’ll be participating in a music and sound healing event at the Aspen Chapel on August 25 with Dawn Sagonias on crystal singing bowls and myself on piano. Tickets are available here.
- I’ll be teaching a four-week course on Sound, Music, and Healing at the Carbondale campus of Colorado Mountain College starting August 29.
- I’ll be teaching a class on the creative process for the Creativity and Wellbeing series at the Carbondale campus of Colorado Mountain College on October 28. The class is called, The Phoenix Rising – Creativity and Life Force.
For this blog, I’d like to share some of my experiences in the process of preparing for the music I’ll be doing with Dawn. I’ll begin with these lovely words Dawn wrote announcing the event.
This magical event combines the healing hearts of Dawn Sagonias and Woo Du-An, both Roaring Fork Valley residents, musicians, and healing facilitators. Come catch your breath in this community of being human. Join us in an interactive, in the moment, improv event utilizing crystal singing bowls and piano. We will take requests from participants for emotional qualities that the music can help soothe and shift. We provide an environment of time, space, and sound where you’re moved and bathed, safe and protected. Find support here to move, to cry cleanly when your heart is breaking, to help you not only find moments of peace but also be whole with what you’re dealing with in life. This experience calms the trauma cycle, helps your nerves to be soothed, and helps you catch your breath. Come create space with sound healing, time to pause, time to heal. Time. For. You.
Great. Wonderful. The intent is stated, the commitment made, and again I am transported from the shallows into the depths of the alchemical pickle vat. Sometimes I’m 90% comfortable and 10% uncomfortable with that. Sometimes I’m 10% comfortable and 90% uncomfortable. But I’m on it. Into the deep I go.
Swimming around in the oceanic tides of mind and body are these multicolored dragons that I’ve learned to befriend. They always come back to teach me their attributes when I’m in the creative process.
The River Dragon of flow, of movement through still waters, surging rapids, and every condition in between. Of becoming very, very present.
The Fire Dragon of focus, perseverance and grit.
The Earth Dragon of patience, connection, intuition and authenticity.
The Night Dragon of retreat, recovery, and assimilation.
The Heart Dragon of compassion, forgiveness, and common humanity.
See how the creative process works here? I’ve never used these particular dragon metaphors this way before, but because I committed to writing this to invisible and unknown you, out came the imagery.
One thing I love about committing to a creative process is that commitment unlocks the door to the invisible and the unknown. It’s like a direct invitation to be reshaped for the task of creation. Synchronicity happens.
I met Dawn Sagonias because I invited her to do a presentation with singing bowls, gongs and such for one of the classes in the Sound, Music, and Healing course I’ll be teaching. We got together to see how that might work. I had recently purchased the Noire Piano plugin instrument utilizing the sounds and characteristics of the prepared piano of the composer Nils Frahm. On our third practice session, I tried out the new Noire piano and we were immediately caught by how well the sound of the Noire piano and the crystal singing bowls worked together. Synchronicity.
Dawn liked what was happening between the singing bowls and the Noire piano enough to book a music, sound and healing event. Under the pressure of this commitment here are a few ways I am being reshaped.
Reshaping number one. I’ve committed to channeling healing music in public, which means I need to be in a healing space and presence within myself. My life has had a lot of tumult in the last few years, and I’m still sensitive to the effects of that turbulence in my neural networks. To prepare for the music and sound healing event I needed to retrain my body, mind and nervous system to sing a song of healing. You know. “Healer heal thyself.”
Basically, I found my internal rhythm was all over the place, both hesitant and ahead of itself. So, I set up a rhythm track to a slow resting tempo of 55 beats a minute and practiced to that, cumulatively for many hours, training my body, perceptions, and responsiveness to that slow resting rhythm.
Reshaping number two. It wasn’t just about training my body and movements to be in slow time, but to train my awareness and connection to fill the space of that slow time. Over the course of practicing at 55 bpm for several days, my breathing slowed down and became more easy, full and regular. I also noticed I was less reactive and triggered by things large and small. It was almost disconcerting to have less noise in my body and mind. Talk about neuroplasticity and the creative act!
Reshaping number three. Playing music is not just about playing the notes, but it’s about what the player invests emotionally and spiritually into both sound and silence. As my slow time practice progressed, not only did I get better at changing dynamics and ideas without losing the root rhythm, but I got better at inhabiting the sound and emotions within the space of the beats. At 55 beats per minute, each single beat is slightly more than a second. The better I got at being present within that lengthy second, the more the quality of the sound, heart and spirit filled the space. Just think, when we put heart and attention, our presence, into a million micro moments a second, that’s a lot of good vibrations per second!
I’ve been in the music and healing world for over fifty years. It still amazes me how much the action of creativity and the action of healing share the same pathways. My niche in the music world was more as a recording artist than as a performing artist. In the studio, you can start and stop and do things over. On the stage, you have to ride the whole thing out from beginning to end. So even with seven albums and a few hundred film scores under my belt, performing and improvising music live with Dawn is a stretch for me on so many levels.
I needed each one of those dragon teachers I mentioned earlier to wake up and come help. Flow, intuition, focus and perseverance, grit, patience, forgiveness, retreat and return, all are necessary resources.
After all, it’s the creative process.