Sharing Peace Through Music by Soundings of the Planet
Chanting voices mingle with the sounds of an ancient culture as soft light from the setting sun filters through the haze of smoke and incense. In this timeless scene, a crowd of worshippers flow in a clockwise circle around the perimeter of the temple and twenty monks in their maroon robes sway back and forth to their own harmonic prayers. A man with a long beard takes out his flute and joins them in a moment of spiritual connection that seemed to bridge language and culture.
My camera was rolling, capturing this mystical moment on video. The year was 1994 and the flute player was my husband, Dean Evenson, who was gathering material for his album Ascension to Tibet. We had recently attended a workshop with His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet and were inspired to travel to his ancient homeland to experience the majestic Himalayas, the world’s highest mountains, and to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. How time flies as we have now surpassed our 50th anniversary! This was just one stop on a spiritual journey that has spanned a lifetime as we have pursued our mission of peace through music. The path has led us to explore many cultures and traditions and to collaborate with musicians from Ukraine, Russia, China, India, Tibet, Europe, Australia, and Native American cultures who may have spoken little English, but who were able, through the universal language of music, to communicate in ways that transcended our differences and brought us closer together.
What we discovered along the way has helped us to understand how deeply intertwined the essence of spirituality is with the healing power of music.
Our initial impulse to create peaceful music in 1979 had come from our being part of the ‘60s generation that realized war is not an answer to our problems. When we reached into the depths of peace, we found the spirit and from there, the essence of healing could begin to unfold. Somehow the music of flute and harp in harmony with the sounds of nature that we began creating in those early days seemed to give people something they were also yearning for – a quiet space for contemplation and meditation. As the feedback came in, we learned that the music also supported the healing process. We wondered how this was happening and began to do the research that would allow us to understand the process better.
One of the first things we sought to understand was the nature of a quiet mind. Through the meditation process, the mind is better able to direct the life force or chi energy to enhance the natural healing processes of the body and strengthen the immune system via the spirit. One’s attitudes and thoughts set the tone for the rest of the body and either block and restrict the energy or relax and let the system flow in a natural balance. Peaceful, instrumental music that does not have repeated refrains and musical ‘hooks’ does not engage the mind by giving it something familiar to attach itself to, yet at the same time, it can give a soft focus to distract the mind from worrisome and stressful thoughts and even chronic or intense pain. Music that is peaceful yet uplifting, joyful but not imposing, can be a great support in reaching that centered state. We live in such a materialistic society that we sometimes need an extra assist to unwind from the stresses of our lives and reach that place of inner peace. Music is the perfect bridge to the spirit.
Sometimes what is created intuitively with sincere intention can be even more significant than what might come about through scientific research and double-blind studies. Even though Dean had received a master’s degree in Molecular Biology and understood the scientific process, it was the spiritual and creative aspects of life that he wanted to understand. We didn’t start out to make ‘healing music’ but rather we wanted to bring forth a message from the earth itself. From our contacts with Native American spiritual elders, we had developed a strong concern for the planet we saw being threatened by modern progress. The peace we were striving for was also a reaction to the stresses of this modern society which had lost touch with nature and was running rampant, leaving dis-ease and illness in its wake.
As we have come to realize, healing is much about re-aligning the body with its own already-existing divine plan and returning to a dynamic state of balance from a temporary state of imbalance. We are grateful that the music we create can contribute to this realignment on deeply spiritual levels.