It’s been a busy summer for Wind Willow Sound Health gathering new instruments, new info, and moving into a new space.
I’m forever on the lookout for eclectic and unusual instruments to share with my students, integrate into sound therapy sessions, and enhance my sound meditation concerts at Down Dog Yoga Center.
In the spring, one of my former sound therapy students returned from Sedona, Ariz., with a wonderful souvenir: an instrument created by Richard Cooke of Freenotes. Mr. Cooke is a Grammy Award winning musician who invented innovatively designed instruments for use in his outdoor music parks. They are harmonic sound sculptures intended to enhance any outdoor space. Freenotes Harmony Parks are the result of Richard Cooke’s passion and the company is the industry leader in outdoor musical instruments, with installations on five continents and in all 50 states in the United States. Learn more here and here.
I felt so drawn to these instruments that I purchased a D-Minor Bass Octave for use in my sound therapy sessions and meditation concerts. Although intended as outdoor instruments, I felt the mellow tones of the Bass Octave would enrich all aspects of my business and I was right! This new instrument has become a go-to for relaxation.
Hitting the high notes
In June, I attended a sound intensive workshop in Stone Ridge, N.Y., with John Beaulieu, N.D., Ph.D., foremost philosopher, researcher, and major innovator and pioneer in the area of sound healing therapies. As the
founder of BioSonics Enterprises, he has developed and distributed many sound healing-related products, several that I encourage my sound therapy students to purchase. He lectures and performs worldwide and conducts training seminars for practitioners in the healing arts.
This wasn’t the first time I met Dr. Beaulieu but attending his workshop was an experience of a lifetime. The weekend was outstanding and well organized. It included guest speakers and musicians.
It’s important to note that Dr. John’s wife, Thea Beaulieu, is integral to the organization and success of these workshops. As President of BioSonics Enterprises, she’s also a dance and movement therapist,
Registered Polarity Practitioner, and author. Each morning, she guided us with movements set to classical music. It was a delightful way to start the day!
Dr. Beaulieu is an exceptional teacher and we learned many valuable techniques. I was especially impressed with his presentation of the science behind the brain in relation to sound. He pointed out that the brain is a harmonic system, intuition is not magic, and cerebral spinal fluid is the highest vibrational substance in the body.
We also learned about the importance of integrity when practicing sound therapy. According to Dr. Beaulieu, “Even if you are a professional fairy, you need to act with integrity.”
With the current upsurge and increased recognition of sound as a viable adjunct to Allopathic medicine, it’s critical to work with sound therapists who follow this philosophy. On so many levels, studying first-hand with this Master was a true game-changer since Dr. Beaulieu’s research continues to be one of the motivating forces behind Wind Willow Sound Health. To learn more, visit here.
Where to find us
Wind Willow Sound Health recently moved into the new suite at Nature’s Dance Wellness Center. We are thrilled for the opportunity to expand into this beautiful new space where, in the coming months, more classes and offerings can be made available to our clients and community.
Whether an individual is interested in stress reduction, better health, or taking a sound class, WWSH can be a pathway to peace and tranquility, and a life lived on an UPBEAT.
Daffodils have burst forth and the robins have returned. Geese are on the pond claiming territory for their unborn hatchlings. In the midst of beauty that accompanies this season, there’s a growing concern for the uncertain times we live in. World chaos and drama can challenge even the most grounded individual.
My sound therapy clients have recently voiced concerns about the increasing levels of stress in our society, perpetuated through conversations and exacerbated by the media. We are in a stress epidemic. It’s almost impossible to escape. Almost…
Spring is here and it’s the best time ever to stop and smell the roses, or listen to the birds, or take a walk in the woods. This is truly a natural time of renewal and rebirth. Mother Nature is ready and very willing to assist us in the process of stress reduction…if we make the connection and stay present to Her beauty rather than the stress that surrounds us.
With that in mind, what if we give ourselves permission to take a break? I’m not advocating sticking our heads in the sand but rather suggesting we connect to something outside of the world news and chaos, something that elicits a sense of awe and wonder, if only for a little while.
The most obvious form of relaxation is to connect with Nature. Of course, taking a walk in the woods, riding a bike, playing with your dogs in the back yard are all great examples of unwinding but what if you don’t have access to the woods? What if you don’t own a bike or have dogs to play with? What if you’re among those who can’t find the time to get out in Nature? More importantly, what if you’re among the growing number of people who choose to stay plugged into the chaos out of fear that you’ll miss something important?
But what’s more important than taking care of YOU?
For anyone who can’t or won’t unplug, here are some options that may help you chill-out, if only for a little while. Listed below are my favorites – do visit each website for the full article and information.
SimplyNoise, a free color noise generator
Simply Rain, five sounds of rain
Coffitivity, the sounds of coffee shops
This last website is one I recently found and became an instant fan. April the Giraffe had her baby the day before Easter to a viewing audience of more than one million people all over the world. Many posted comments of appreciation for the live camera feed that instantly transported them from chaos to peace by observing the gentle nature of giraffes. Animal Adventure Park will be taking down the live feed this week, but information will be updated on their website and Animal Adventure Park on Facebook. It may also be worth your time to look through their archived videos on YouTube. Watching the birth of a giraffe is truly amazing. These gentle giants are some of Mother Nature’s best teachers as they move with slow deliberate intent, staying connected and in the moment, at all times.
This season and as we move into the next, why not allow yourself to take a break? You may find your viewpoint changing from chaos to hope. Chilling-out for just 10-15 minutes a day may renew your sense of springtime wonder. You may find your step lighter, your sleep improved, and your mood swinging to an UPBEAT.
Here in the Midwest, well into winter, many people are counting down the days until the arrival of spring. I find myself impatient for the return of migratory geese — which, by the way, seem to be more reliable indicators of springtime than ground hogs (no offense, Puxatawny Phil).
I’m struck by the profound absence of Nature’s sounds this time of year. Have you noticed it, too? (Of course, it depends on where you live.) Except for the animals and birds that winter-over, activity on our pond is muffled and slow. This is a time of quiet, and hunkering down. It’s the time of hibernation, when Mother Nature nudges the animal kingdom into a time-out, to rest and unplug.
So, what about us — the more evolved species? Do we even notice that nudge? Or does it take a winter bout of the flu to validate our need for downtime? The thought of unplugging, even for a short time, may seem challenging when we’re so hooked on the what’s-happening-in-the-world-around-us chaos. Unfortunately, ignoring the need for respite can adversely affect our stress levels, and the state of our health.
As a kid, I felt sorry for animals whose lives were dependent on withstanding cruel winter conditions. Then I realized hibernation was a miraculous event, not meant to destroy but rather to preserve and aid each species in their process of procreation and creativity.
Wikipedia defines hibernation as:
“Often associated with low temperatures, the function of hibernation is to conserve energy during a period when sufficient food is unavailable. To achieve this energy saving, an endotherm will first decrease its metabolic rate, which then decreases body temperature. Hibernation may last several days, weeks, or months depending on the species, ambient temperature, time of year, and individual’s body condition.”
As an adult, I decided to adopt my own form of hibernation during the cold Michigan months. My objective wasn’t to decrease my metabolic rate and body temperature, or to conserve my physical energy. My winter respites became a time of complete and total surrender to Spirit, to God, to All That Is. Tuning out and turning inward allows me a much-needed reprieve so I can fully re-engage in the spring with renewed energy, anticipation, and joy. And although I can’t take a three-month hiatus, any down time I’m able to carve into my schedule is therapeutic. My body heals and my creativity reboots.
This isn’t a new concept but perhaps one that we tend to forget. Reminders are always good, right? Spring will be here before long and with it, the busy-ness of a new season.
There’s still time to hibernate – time to surrender to a good book, soft music, or a long nap. Why not curl up in front of the fireplace and watch the flames dance? Unplug from technology, if only for a little while. If you do, there’s a good chance you might find yourself feeling refreshed and ready to face springtime on an UPBEAT.
As 2016 winds down and we immerse ourselves in another holiday season, we are besieged with a myriad of sentiments. This year in particular, we have experienced emotions and viewpoints of historical proportion. Our country has faced more than 365 days of enormous change on many different levels. Facing the New Year can fill us with uncertainty, trepidation, and stress so this holiday season it’s more important than ever to be mindful of our individual state of well-being. Taking care of oneself is paramount to caring for others and may allow us to start 2017 on a more positive note.
With that in mind, I offer some simple ideas for your consideration:
• Take a break from daily media coverage. News broadcasts are repeated frequently so it’s unlikely you’ll miss anything important.
• If you tend to feel melancholy during the holidays, listen to uplifting music. Dance. Sing out loud. Move your body.
• Drink plenty of water and eat nourishing food. Hydration and stable blood sugar can make a considerable difference in your daily energy level and moods.
• Pay attention to your breath. There’s a tendency to shallow-breathe when we’re stressed or overwhelmed. Deep breathing every hour or so will help reboot your body.
• Rest. If you experience a midday slump, take a catnap. Set a timer. Usually, 10-15 minutes is long enough.
Those are just a few things you can do on a physical level but what about emotions? Not everyone embraces this time of year with child-like exuberance. How can we find balance?
I’m keen on list-making to keep me grounded (especially during the holidays). In addition to my to-do lists, I make contemplation lists that help me deal with holiday ups and downs (I try not to judge my answers):
• HOPES list: What are my hopes? Dare I wish for a brighter and better 2017? BTW-I write this list as if there are no obstacles in my way…that’s my all-time hope!
• GIFT list: What are my gifts – those things that define me? What am I good at? What areas in my life make me feel whole? How do I pass those gifts on to others?
• LOVE list: What/who do I love and how do I show it? I write the answers with slow, deliberate intent by focusing on each person or thing.
• BEAUTY list: What do I consider beautiful in my life? I answer this question using all my senses: sight, sound, taste, smell, touch, etc. I take extra time to visualize each element I bring to mind.
• GRATITUDE list: What am I grateful for? How do I show my gratitude to others? Am I able to put aside my opinions and face the future with a grateful heart? I reflect on those areas in my life that bring me meaning and gratitude. Then I make a list of the challenging areas in my life and try to find at least one aspect where I feel gratitude.
Reflecting on personal hopes, gifts, love, beauty, and gratitude are high on my self-care lists. None of these would hold meaning if I didn’t also recognize the miracle of my life and my existence on the planet in this precise time and space. I believe it to be a deliberate and non-coincidental act of something or someone greater than myself. “IT” has many names: God, Holy Spirit, Buddha, Source, etc. The important aspect for me to remember is that I absolutely acknowledge that I am part of a bigger picture.
I can’t help but wonder if I am the direct result of a list much greater than mine that was also compiled with slow deliberate intent. To be part of a spiritual collective fills me with a sense of peace and wonder. It reassures me that ALL lives matter, regardless of how small we may feel. As we end this year, I pass that thought to you for reflection. It may just be the awareness we all need to face the New Year on an UPBEAT.
Here we go again!
Really summer, must you leave so soon?
I was just getting used to the warmth of your (mostly) sunny smile.
Once again the passage of time brings another Michigan change-of-season. It seems like only yesterday baby geese emerged on the pond, daffodils flanked my garden, and kids rushed home from school in anticipation of summer vacation. And now? Across the pond, trees with their red and gold tipped leaves confirm the transient grandeur of summer. Change is inevitable, whether perceived as negative or positive, and affects each person differently. Ultimately, it brings about transformation and propels us forward.
I’d like to say that I accept most change with dignity and grace, but I guess that depends on the degree of attachment I have to a specific situation or person in my life. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t particularly like change, especially when it involves the loss of someone or something very dear to my heart. I’m quite proficient in offering up resistance in the form of anger, tears, and denial. Eventually though, I realize I must surrender. And it’s usually at that moment I discover how resilient I really am. Change hasn’t flattened me. It’s gifted me with memories, blessings, and growth. It aids my evolution as a human, and more importantly, as a spiritual being.
rəˈzilyənt/ (of a substance or object) able to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching, or being compressed.
(of a person or animal) able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions
Funny. We forget we are naturally resilient, even when we’re convinced otherwise. There are times when it seems easier to follow a path of fear and resistance but it’s often in that very struggle we inhibit our growth and self-discovery.
So, that begs the question: how do WE change so we can better accept change?
Maybe it’s as simple as staying present to seasonal changes. Go outdoors. Take a walk but instead of allowing your mind to wander, focus with deliberate intent. Feel the wind or the sun on your skin. Observe your surroundings and notice colors that catch your attention. Listen to the sounds as you walk and try to identify their source. Touch a tree – feel the life it holds and bless it. Draw in a deep breath and smell the world around you. Draw in a deeper breath and give thanks.
When seasons change, whether brought about by Mother Nature or our own life passages, look for the beauty. It’s there. Inside you. Hold precious the gift of memories. They keep us connected to our spirit and to our resilience. If you can practice this, even once in a while, you’ll not only create a more positive environment for yourself, but you may emerge from change on an UPBEAT.
Summer Solstice this year was a historical event given the fact it coincided with a full moon. Not an ordinary full moon but a Strawberry moon. It’s the Northern Hemisphere’s first summer solstice full moon since 1967, which some recall as the year of the Summer of Love.1
A Strawberry moon occurs in the month of June and was named by Algonquin Native Americans. It marks the beginning of strawberry season and is also referred to as Full Rose moon or Honey moon. The Old Farmers Almanac documented the last Strawberry moon occurred seventy years prior to 1967. The next Strawberry moon isn’t scheduled to appear until 2062.2
Summer Solstice 2016 initiates historical parallels to the summer of 1967. The last Strawberry moon occurred during a time of social and political unrest, when the hippie movement came into public awareness. Activities that took place became a defining moment of the 1960’s, causing “numerous ordinary citizens to begin questioning everything and anything about them and their environment”.
Hippies were at the center of attention and suspicious of the government. They rejected consumerist values and generally opposed the Vietnam War. Some were interested in politics while others focused on art or religious and meditative movements. All were eager to integrate new ideas and insights into daily life, both public and private.1
The parallels from 1967 to 2016 are remarkable. Once again our nation is in the midst of shift and flux. Ordinary citizens are questioning government, values, and war. Many seek alternate paths to gain insight into more peaceful lives and have discovered sound therapy as a means of relaxation, and general well-being. Increasing amounts of stress invade our daily lives and now, more than ever, we need to seek positive stimuli in order to stay focused and grounded.
The East and West coasts have established sound therapy practices in place and now the Midwest is experiencing a surge in interest. However, sound therapy is not a hippie movement. It’s based in science. It not only uplifts and relaxes but new research confirms physiological reactions in the body that benefit overall health and increased quality of life.
The occurrence of this year’s Strawberry moon may be a sign for us to enter into the summer with more deliberate relaxation, positive intent, and reconnection to our true spirit and to each other.
In 2062, with the Strawberry moon of 2016 documented in history, people will recall the summer it initiated. Perhaps they’ll read that it ended on an Upbeat.
The Summer of Love was a social phenomenon that occurred during the summer of 1967, when as many as 100,000 people converged in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. Although hippies also gathered in major cities across the U.S., Canada and Europe, San Francisco remained the center of the hippie movement.
I love springtime! Daffodils, hyacinths, crocuses, and tulips are but a few of the early bursts of color seen in the Midwest. For me, one of the most profound and enjoyable elements of spring comes from the vast array of sounds that accompany this time of year. Animals, people, birds, bugs, storms, and wind contribute to the symphony. Springtime elicits Nature’s form of sound therapy, and it’s truly glorious!
This is also the time of year I unpack from storage my collection of outdoor wind chimes. I hang wind chimes throughout my house year-round to transport my living space into a harmonious environment. The tinkling sounds from these chimes are activated by my deliberate touch, or the touch of visitors intrigued by my collection, to ward off the winter doldrums. As spring approaches, I eagerly await the daffodils’ final push through the earth as a signal that it’s time to position my outside chimes. Once hung, I wait for that first-of-the-season tinkle from a passing breeze with as much anticipation as a little kid waiting for the ice-cream truck.
I’m not the first, nor will I be the last person who finds wind chimes so appealing. Wind chimes “are thought to be good luck in parts of Asia and are used in Feng Shui.” according to Wikipedia. “Wind chimes became modernized around 1100 B.C. after the Chinese began to cast bells.”
Considered a percussion instrument, they can be made of a variety of materials but most often from wood, metal, or glass. Activated by random gusts of wind, they are considered an example of chance-based music and emit different tones based on the material used to create distinct and indistinct pitches. When manufactured with deliberate tones, wind chimes can produce melodies or broken chords.
In Ancient Rome, wind chimes were called tintinnabulum, usually made of bronze and hung in specific areas to ward off evil spirits. (Left: Bronze tintinnabulum, Roman, 1st century AD, British Museum.)
In Ancient India and China, large pagodas were adorned with small wind bells at each corner to frighten away evil spirits as well as birds. It is noted that wind chimes were also hung under the corners of temple, palace, and home roofs for the same reasons.
In our modern world, wind chime appeal is catching on as a means of relaxation and sound therapy. Paired with other musical instruments, they can bring about peace and calm. I often suggest that parents of my younger sound therapy clients hang a wind chime near their child’s bed. It can become an empowering tool for a child who suffers from nightmares.
Wind chimes are transformative, entertaining, and empowering. They are the wind’s musical embellishment. This spring, why not consider purchasing, or perhaps making, a wind chime? If you do, you may just kick off the season on an UpBeat.
World’s Largest Wind Chime
Created by Jim Bolin located in Casey, Illinois. It was entered into the Guinness World Records on 6/22/2012. It measures 42 ft wide and consists of five metal tubes suspended 49 ft from the ground. It weighs 16,932.4 pounds.
March is a transformational month, a time to emerge from the harshness of winter and embrace new growth. It’s a time for fresh starts, new beginnings, and renewed faith. Through the winter months, many people have been sound deprived by a blanket of snow and cold. Thankfully, Mother Nature awakens in March and fills the world with a chorus of glorious sounds, smells, and new growth.
March is abundant with notable facts:
- The name March comes from the Roman god of war, Mars
- It’s the first month of Spring
- The March equinox on the 20th or 21st marks the astronomical beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and the beginning of autumn in the Southern Hemisphere
- Each year March and June end on the same day of the week
- March is a fertile time in nature — animals wake up from hibernation and procreate
- The season of Lent is in March
- Easter is often celebrated in March
- March Madness is a basketball tournament played by the NCAA
Month long observances in the USA:
- American Red Cross Month
- Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month
- National Association for Music Education Month
- National Professional Social Workers Month
- Youth Art Month
- Women’s History Month
- National Nutrition Month
- American Red Cross Month
- Fire Prevention Month
• Texas Independence Day
• Daylight Savings Day where our clocks spring forward
• Pi Day: 3.1415926535…
• St. Patrick’s Day
• Earth Equinox Day
• International Astrology Day
• Palm Sunday
• Easter Sunday
March symbols include:
• Aquamarine and Bloodstone (courage)
• Daffodil (forgiveness, trust, and honesty)
• Shamrock: (resilience and good fortune)
• Pisces (element: water)
• Aries (element: fire)
• Alder (protection, emotion, and movement)
• Ash (strength and determination)
However you choose to march through this symbolic month, I hope you emerge from your winter sleep with a new sense of purpose. Spend time listening to Nature’s awakening sounds. Embrace growth, however small it may seem. Welcoming THIS Spring with your whole spirit may enable you to end the month of March on an UpBeat.
It’s cold in the Midwest and we’ve settled into a slower pace. Looking out my studio window, the passage of time creeps over cold crevices of the pond, nature’s sounds are muffled under a blanket of snow, and somewhere beneath the icy waters life waits in suspended animation for the turning of seasons. For even the smallest creatures, this is a time of slowing down and surrendering to a greater force. It’s a time to enter warm spaces that will nurture and sustain until March winds ignite the world into springtime glory — ablaze with new life, and new hope.
February reminds us to go within and reflect. It affords us an opportunity to listen to the deep, silent sound that resonates at our very core — our one true self. This is the season of inner growth and mindfulness.
According to meditation master Thich Nhat Hanh, mindfulness is transforming. “Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in. Mindfulness can transform your life.” He goes on to say, “The opposite of forgetfulness is mindfulness. Mindfulness is when you are truly there, mind and body together. You breathe in and out mindfully, you bring your mind back to your body, and you are there. When your mind is there with your body, you are established in the present moment. Then you can recognize the many conditions of happiness that are in you and around you, and happiness just comes naturally.”
During February, why not let your inner journey include mindfulness? What have you got to lose? Springtime may find you surrounded by a renewed sense of self, a calm demeanor, and an air of happiness. There’s a good chance you’ll emerge on an UpBeat.
For more information on mindfulness, visit here.
HAPPY NEW YEAR! Over the past few weeks, how many times have you offered this greeting? Did you say it hoping 2016 would be a better year than 2015? It’s interesting that all over the world people attempt to face the future with a sense of hope and renewal, even when Life challenges them in unimaginable ways. It’s customary to reflect on the past in an effort to improve the future by making lists of goals or resolutions.
In keeping with that long honored tradition, I offer my New Year’s list, with a bit of a twist. No goals or resolutions. This list will help me kick start my year in a positive way. Mine is a list of Onomatopoeias.
Wikipedia: “Onomatopoeia is a word that phonetically imitates, resembles or suggests the source of the sound that it describes.”
I only chose words that associate with good times in my life and elicit positive emotions to release stress. That’s the point of my list. Besides, I love to explore new ways to rid the body of pent-up tension through sound. As you read each word silently, check in with your emotions. (Keep in mind some words and their corresponding sound may be more pleasing than others.)
Shift to reading the words out loud. Some may sound funny or you can alter your voice to make them sound funny. (Even onomatopoeia is a funny word to say, right?) Notice how voicing the different syllables create a rhythm you can hear and a vibration you can feel. Repeat. Speed it up. Slow it down. Sing it. Chew it. Find your rhythm. Then make your own list. You may just discover a way to to embrace 2016 on an UpBeat.
Achoo, Babble, Bang, Beep, Chirp, Clang, Clatter, Crack, Fizzle, Hiccup, Honk, Hiss, Hum, Jangle, Knock, Ping, Patter, Plop, Quack, Ring, Roar, Screech, Smack, Snap, Splat, Squish, Thump, Thud, Tinkle, Trickle, Whoosh, Zap
With 2015 nearing an end, a feeling of urgency fills the air. Businesses brace for the rush of shoppers. Those of various ethnic and religious backgrounds prepare for their respective traditions. Many people adapt well to the flurry of holiday activities but for others, this time of year becomes an emotional challenge.
Is it any wonder that the year-end brings to light an abundance of stress related issues? It seems we get caught up in so much DOING that we forget the importance of taking a break–to just BE.
We live in a world bursting with sound and vibration. It’s become a constant drone in the background of our daily lives and in some cases, adds to our stress. But what if we changed the perspective?
Have a seat. No. Really. Now take a full breath and let it out softly. Take another deep breath and let your shoulders drop. It’s important that you close your eyes. If you’re able, listen to the layers of sound, right here in this moment. Try not to judge.
What’s the first thing you hear? Concentrate on that sound while you continue soft breathing. Then move your focus to another sound. Don’t forget to breathe. Explore the many sounds presenting themselves to you. Take your time.
This is an excellent way to de-stress and reconnect, not only with the world that surrounds you, but also with yourself. And who knows? Doing this exercise may leave you feeling refreshed and better able to end your year on an UpBeat.