Category: Sound & Vibration Page 1 of 2

Ray Man Shabad in English

The Ray Man Shabad is a beautiful prayer that made it’s way into my life unexpectedly. I fell upon the following video accidentally on Youtube on the New Year. Upon giving it a shot, I was hooked and decided to do the 40 days. Without understanding why, I was so filled with smiles and joy every time I practiced (and still am). I became so enthralled, I had to study the meaning of the prayer.

I was able to find two different translations which assisted me in creating a combined translation which I expanded with more modern symoblism, in a sense, personalizing the meaning for myself. I offer it here as inspiration. Give the practice a try and see what you feel.

Oh my mind practice daily in this method…

Let Truth be your horn, sincerity your necklace, and meditation a reminder that you are “ashes to ashes, dust to dust”. Practice self-restraint. Cease the burning of lower desires and let the soul (self) be the alms bowl in which you collect the sweet Naam, the Name of God, the only support you ever need.

Waves upon wave of melodies, passions, and emotions arise and flow through you. Listen to the reality from this highest place of awareness. Bind with and disappear yourself in the song of God, that sweetest ecstasy infused with Divine Knowledge.

The demons and demi-gods of realms beyond will be amazed, and the sages intoxicated with delight. The sage listens without being caught in duality; the sage drinks in the nectar of the heavens and is carried to the Ultimate Heaven in a divine chariot.

Be instructed by your soul, practice with discipline, and chant the Name of the Lord, even while silent. Meditate daily unto infinity until you are meditating without meditating.

If you would like to enjoy the Kriya that inspired my contemplations of this prayer, you will find it here:

I Hate Singing Bowls!

Okay, first, I do not hate singing bowls!!! I love them. But I recently had a couple of people to whom I introduced them tell me they couldn’t stand the sound. One said the sound hurt her heart and another woman said she found them irritating.

After I picked up my jaw from the floor (who doesn’t like singing bowls!?), I had to stop myself from entering into an explanation about why they might take issue with the sounds they were hearing. Maybe I don’t really know!

There are all kinds of things that produce sound in our environments from wifi signals (which I can sometimes hear) to machines like phones, copiers, and refrigerators to pianos, violins, and yes, singing bowls. I’ve written numerous times on why some sounds are harmful to us, how we entrain to things in our environment for better or worse, and how a constant assault of noise can be damaging to our health. That’s not what this particular post is about, though. My thoughts here are related only to sounds that are purposely created and used for healing purposes, such as with singing bowls.

So why might someone have difficulty with certain frequencies? First, know that all frequencies have their place and purpose. The intention with singing bowls is meditative and of healing. If a particular sound grates, chances are, it is hitting against a blockage or resistance within you. If it is too much, trust that. Not everyone is ready to let go of everything. However, if you truly desire healing on all levels, as long as there is no physical pain, push through it. Allow the sound to open up those parts of you that have been closed off tight for so long. For example, the woman who felt heart pain is likely to carry some energetic block in her heart, maybe some habit of judgment that keeps her safe and protected. Because we were in a situation where she didn’t come to me for healing, I was not in a place to offer any council on the matter. But if she were to get curious about why she reacted the way she did, I would then share with her my experience with how sound works upon our greatest blocks. It isn’t wrong that she felt what she felt. What is sad to me is her assumption that it “wasn’t for her” when it is probably what she needs more than anything to feel more alive and free in life. Good thing there are many ways to the same destination. I hope she finds one more comfortable.

One thing I do when I am working with a client is to let them know to stop me if they feel any pain when I play a bowl on or near the body. It if isn’t too intense, I ask the client to see if they can work through it, to stay with the feeling, just for a moment and see if it transforms on its own. It often does, once the vibration has a chance to loosen up the density. If it is intense, I stop playing the bowl and continue with Reiki on the part of the body that is communicating. Often, within a few minutes, the energy shifts and the sensation is gone, and returning to playing the bowl is now a different experience.

The denser the energy around and within us, the more likely we are to experience discomfort when a vibration starts moving things around. This, I believe, is the case with the woman who found the bowls “irritating”. Humans are creatures of comfort and habit. We tend not to like getting stirred up. We like the sediment of unexpressed emotional and repressed urges to remain settled, not realizing what a dreadful impact it has upon our wellbeing and fullfilment.

In my understanding, neither of these women was really prepared to experience the healing power of singing bowls. Their energy was simply too dense and therefore the impressions from the vibrations upon their energy fields was too uncomfortable. As they learn in life to allow and accept what is, as they learn to flow (since life has a way of making us learn even what we’d rather avoid), eventually, I suspect their experience with singing bowls would change.

As we learn to open up to the healing benefits sound has to offer, we begin to widen and unfurl our frequency range of comfort. We become less annoyed, less irritated, and more open to allowing vibration to impact our being in all the positive ways it can. We loosen our grip and find our hands, hearts, and minds ready to hold new feelings, ideas, and possibilities.


Sacred Artistry & Living a Higher Octave Life

I’ve been writing about path and purpose—how we can never really be off path or without purpose, not really. And last time, I wrote about the multidimenional nature of our path—how our path has a sort of low octave and a high octave version, so to speak.

Today, I’m going to share with you why so many people are only living out the lower octave version of their life’s path. Now, this is a very long and complex topic, so I’m going to keep it simple and just offer a bit of an introduction to start us off.

This comes from a body of work I created many years ago as a vocalist when I was working both as and with performing artists who wanted to elevate what they offered their audiences. In other words, we wanted a higher octave on stage!

I only recently revisited this work, and I was surprised to realize, after all this time, that the work isn’t only applicable to performers. It is meant for anyone who wants to elevate the artistry of their life and manifest the higher octave of their life’s path, whatever it may be. You might not consider yourself much of an artist and be confused by the term “sacred artistry,” but I assure you, you are indeed a creator. Your life is your creation.

What I also realized is that that this body of work offers an important means to understand why the majority of people in this world are still living a lower octave life. So, let’s dive in.

The Three Realms

Intersection of the Three Realms

This diagram represents three realms or dimensions of life. Let’s take a closer look at its parts, starting in the bottom left. The External Realm is the outer world. It is everything that is exterior to your sense of perception. It’s other: other people, environments, objects, memes, etc. It is the realm which is most familiar to a majority of us.

The next section on the bottom right is the Internal Realm. This represents everything about you: your thoughts, your feelings, sensations, physical body, experiences, memories, etc. Everyone has a certain level of awareness of this realm but the range along the continuum is quite large, and a much narrower part of the population has been initiated to deeply explore this realm. Obviously, if you’re even reading this, you have quite a bit of awareness in this realm.

The final realm at the top I refer to as the “Secret” realm which in the Tibetan sense of the word means “hidden.” It represents the unseen world… what we cannot comprehend, explain, or quantify. It is the soup of eternal mystery. It is the realm which the majority of the population isn’t even aware of, let alone interested in on a more than superficial level. In fact, it is a realm which is often relegated to religion or superstition and has by and large been dismissed, feared, and/or forgotten. And that is why our society is so sick. But more on that later.

The Intersections

Now, let’s take a look at the cross-over sections, which represent the imbalances that can develop between realms. Between the External Realm and the Internal Realm, we have “self-importance”. Self-importance is the idea that we are more important than others. Our experiences are bigger, better, worse, and the center of our own attention, and the ills that go along with it are greed, control, corruption and power-mongering.

Between the External Realm and the Secret Realm, we have “inauthenticity.” A person who exists primarily between these two realms might be all talk and no walk. It’s typified by hypocrisy and denial and repression. The concern is image and maintaining image at all costs.

Next we have the Internal Realm and the Secret Realm imbalance which is identified as “withdrawal.” This is by and large about protecting one’s idea of self. Vulnerability is too painful, and so in exchange we have the potential for shame, guilt, apathy, victimhood, arrogance, and isolation.

Imbalances can occur anywhere at any time and in multiple places at once.

But with a balance of all three realms comes the center spot of our diagram through which Sacred Artistry can arise. Sacred Artistry is the sweet spot of a high-octave life. It is the harmony created by the three-note chord of the three realms. When we learn to live our lives from this fulcrum point, we are aware of actively exploring and caring for all three.

Sacred Artistry

Balanced Fusion

When we enter Sacred Artistry, we live a life in blended balance. And this creates a fusion that can take you from a low octave life into a higher one. It isn’t that any realm is better or more important than any other. All three are essential components to Sacred Artistry.

But as I’ve already mentioned, it is a deeper awareness of the Secret Realm that is the key to opening the portals into Sacred Artistry. Up to now, humankind has placed all emphasis elsewhere. Indeed this realm has even been “kept from us” or only accessible through some other being with spiritual clout. It has been ignored, denigrated, dismissed, etc. But now, it can no longer be so easily ignored if humankind is to progress. And there is much healing to be done. So if we are truly wanting to live the highest possible manifestation of our life’s path, indeed if we are falling into the myth of “off path,” we must give this realm a great deal more of our attention in all aspects of life. We must heal all that keeps us feeling separated from and lacking trust in this Great Mystery.

That Which Frees the Mind: The Power of Mantra

Mantra is a word that means “that which frees the mind”, and Japa (or mantra) yoga is the practice of projecting the mind into a repeated word or phrase imbued with spiritual significance. One of the most universally known is the OM, but there are thousands of mantras ranging from one syllable to complete spiritual text recitation, each with very specific uses and purposes.

Japa yoga may not be as popular in the West as asana (or postural yoga), but is in fact, much older and steeped in tradition that many would say is an intergral part of a complete yogic practice. Those who feel meditation is too difficult may find mantra recitation to be their doorway into quiet mind. They work on multiple levels of being, making them incredibly powerful.

Mantras help to focus the mind, aiding memory and concentration. Because they are vibratory, they can elevate our physical being and surroundings as well, reducing stress and even lowering blood pressure. Scientifically speaking, mantras can activate and stimluate the glands in the upper chest, throat and brain, improving the body’s chemical state. Furthermore, mantras create a palpable spiritual force around the practitioner to dissolve negative traits and increase self-empowerment. Besides the practice feels good and it’s fun!

Practices vary from one tradition to the next, so if one style isn’t suitable, another may feel just right. Some mantras are recited silently to one’s self and others are chanted aloud, either with or without accompanying melody or instrumentation. Some are quite easy to learn and others take some time to integrate and may even integrate mudra (or hand gestures).

If you ever feel at wits’ end with stress, 3 to 11 minutes of a well-chosen mantra can alter your state like nothing else and it’s completely safe. Try it and see for yourself. One of my favorite mantras comes from the Kundalini yoga tradition and contains the syllables RA, MA, DA, SA, SAY, SO and HUNG. Known as the Siri Gaitri Mantra, it is simple to learn and considered a sacred healing meditation that calls upon the energies of the sun, moon, earth, and the Infinite Spirit. You can listen to this impeccably beautiful version here by Mirabai Ceiba and see for yourself.

Starting September 28th, I am offering  an hour long chants and mantras practice at my studio here in Brossac. We’ll be learning technique and mantras from Hindu, Tibetan, and Sikh traditions to raise our vibratory frequency and bring healing to body, mind and spirit. No experience necessary. It’ll be “by donation” and open to speakers of all languages and all qualities of voices, from the tone-deaf to the trained. You’ll love the way you feel. Contact me for more information.

Vak Shuddhi: Cultivating Sound That Heals

Teacher Sadhguru shares the importance of sound, language, and speaking with intent:

“Whatever sound you need to utter, utter it in such a way that it is beneficial for you. And whatever is beneficial for you will naturally be beneficial for everyone around you. If a sound is doing wonderful things to you, it will definitely do the same things to everyone around you.”

“The Sanskrit language was consciously created so that just uttering the language will purify the system. But now, most of the time we speak languages which are no longer made like that, so it is best to handle it with intention…”

Transformational Voicework: What the Heck Is It?

I’ve been on a quest since the beginning to aptly name my work. I’m still searching for the right words to describe what Transformational Voicework is…and isn’t. It’s one of those “you have to experience it” experiences. Finding the right words to explain what must be experienced to be known is and will probably always be impossible. But I keep trying! I even wrote two books about it.

It has always been challenging describing and defining my work. Use the word “voice” and people think of standing in front of a room shaking or standing in the back of a choir shrinking, and worse yet, screaming…as if that’s all the voice had to offer us. They think of words and lyrics, yells and squeals.

At first, I called my work Shamanic Voicework because the practices developed out of my experiences with Toltec shamanism and the exercise known as recapitulation. Forget the fact that it also combined elements of Creative Drama. After all, I couldn’t very well call it Shamanic Creative Drama Voicework! But the word “shamanic” was a trigger for a lot of people while others just felt is was too woo-woo, so I changed the descriptor to “transformational” since when people engaged in this work, that’s what was happening. They were transforming. They were losing inhibitions and tapping into buried creativity and expression. But while this describes the result, it doesn’t really explain the purpose or process.


The voice is a powerful tool for healing, but few people think about the potential of the voice beyond speaking and singing. They take the voice for granted instead of realizing the incredible magic if offers. But I couldn’t very well call it “healing voice” or use more technical types of words because there were already too many associations with speech therapy, another common mistaken association. And I couldn’t call it “voice yoga” because my friend Kara nabbed that one! 😉 But actually, even that didn’t quite reach the heart of the method I’d created. For years, I’ve been making due with Transformational Voicework.

But now that I’ve left a city where every other person is a yoga teacher or massage therapist to live in a country where few people even know what Reiki is, let alone something called Transformational Voicework, I’ve had to rethink things again. I’ve had quite the brainstorming session, and words like “metamorphosis”, “catharsis”, “unwinding”, and “opening” came up.  So did “evolution”, “revolution”, “rapture”, “genesis”, “deconditioning”, “purification”, and “reprogramming”. But some of these are already in use in a different way. For example, there are musical artists that call themselves “Vocal Revolution”. Besides, some of these words are no less “woo-woo” that “shamanic”.

Other words came to mind, like “primal”, “divine”, “sovereign”, “instinctual”, and “reflexive” …along with plenty of silly phrases like “Voice Hurling” and “Vocal Roto Rooter”…along with nutty mash-ups like Evocalvox. There were also words like “authentic”, “pure”, “satisfying”, “archetypal”, and “heartfelt”. “Imaginative”, “creative”, “uninhibited”, “liberating”, “adventurous”, “natural”; each of these words plays such an important role in the type of voice work I share with clients. But how do I get that across in three words or less? So many words, each of them saying something important about the techniques I offer, but no one able to encapsulate the energy-moving, life-altering processes.

While I thought I was onto something with the word”release”, a major aspect of the work that has to come first to get to the juicier parts, it too presented problems. Short and sweet, but associated with screaming,  it was perhaps too easily misinterpreted. Alas, “Vocal Release” is already in use to describe a singing method anyway.

Another word I really like is “intuitive”. The head has to be removed or the sounding isn’t natural and indigenous to the body; it is still far too conditioned. The voice (or the mind that controls it) requires deconditioning. But while I would be referring to mental deconditioning, voice therapists already use the term to describe degenerative states of the vocal mechanism, and I certainly don’t want that connotation! I love the word “intuition” which reflects that the sounding isn’t about following a sheet of music or trying to sound a certain way. But using “intuitive voice” alone connotes channelers and psychics.

I recently came up with “Intuitive Vocal Release” and tested it with a small audience. The usual connotations arose: singing, screaming, shouting. Some people thought it was downright wordy and empty. Granted, they have nothing experiential with which to relate it…nothing but singing, screaming, or speaking. The usual. But that’s not what I teach. Transformational Voicework is a series of processes that take a great deal of coordination with attention on very subtle changes, utilizing breath, movement and the full palette of the voice to move emotion, energy, stagnation and pain. Tranformational Voicework is a way in and a doorway out.


Transformational Voicework will have to stand for now. Regrettably, I am aware that misunderstandings of my work continue. Most clients who show up for the first time at workshops tell me, “I have no idea what this is. I just know I have to try it.” Such brave souls and always ready for the experience. With others, for example random people who ask me what I do, there are always assumptions more so because there are no concepts other than singing or speaking with which people can relate. Sometime, I just give in exasperated, “I’m a vocal coach.” At least they can wrap their heads around it. Someone suggested the word “experimental” and while it requires a sense of exploration for the person going through it, I don’t like the connotation that there is no method to the madness. I know where it all leads…to the “exalted voice”…something I’ve seen and been blown away by time and again in my clients who are fortunate enough to allow themselves to go that far.

I’ve been trying to label all of this, to develop a phrase that narrows in on the most essential elements of this amazing work, but maybe it is the heart alone and not a name that needs to call people to this path. I’m okay with that.

Vocal Toning Meditation: Level I Foundations

Vocal Toning Resources


VIDEOS on Toning for Peace

History of Toning

Toning for Peace Q & A Series

Toning for Peace at the Light Center

Performance Aftershock

There is a kind of aftershock that tends to hit me after a performance. Immediately following a show, I am quite naturally high as a kite and generally don’t hear a single thing anyone says to me. People may be shaking my hand, they may be congratulating me or sharing how much they enjoyed the show, but I am so far removed from my body, even the miraculously appropriate words that come from my own lips…”thank you”, “I’m so glad”, “so good to see you”…echo off the walls of my vacated self. I don’t know why this happens.

I have also tended to be hyper-agreeable. Give me an invitation or make a proposal for just about anything immediately following a show, and I’d shake my head enthusiastically that that would be lovely having no clue what I’ve just agreed to. Of course, I’m aware of that tendency now and so make it a point to say something like, “let me get back to you.”

I suppose this could all be because half of my brain immediately goes into “performance reflection” mode. Was it any good? Where did I mess up?” And in the worst of cases, “Why are these people being so nice when I clearly bombed?” I suppose it is a measure of my own insecurity how I must instantly assess how something went. I’d much rather hear constructive criticism after a show than a string of compliments of which I usually feel scarcely worthy. The criticism seems to ground me. I know what I can do better next time.

Performance Aftershock is not an enjoyable thing to go through…or at least is isn’t for me.

I developed the Principles of Sacred Performance to help myself overcome stagefright and the “aftershock” which for me was always worse than the stagefright.

Hum for Health

We all want to stay healthy and happy all year-long, of course. Here’s a great article with some tips for staying healthy this winter. Toning for Peace finds #14 exceptionally interesting!! And you can do it all year-long…

It’s all about the hum! “Humming has been shown to increase nitric oxide in the nose, which is antimicrobial,” says Dr. Payne. To read the full article and item 14:

Har! Sound of the Universe

Yogi Bhajan, responsible for bringing Kundalini Yoga to the West, taught a very powerful meditation using the syllable of “HAR”. I’d like to share it with you.

  • First put your hands together in front of you, back to back like a reverse “Namaste” or prayer pose. But then let them relax and curl in toward your heart as if pointing to yourself with both hands, thumbs extended upward. They should be at the level of your sternum.
  • You may close your eyes or keep them gently focused on the tip of your nose.
  • Now begin to repeat the sound HAR over and over (it should almost sound like “HUD” as you roll the final R) and feel the sound through the fingertips as the chest moves with the sound.

Resound this sound in the heart cage and reap the benefits as Jupiter, Saturn, the Sun and Mercury, represented by each of your fingers, come into balance while your thumb–ego–remains out of the picture!

After chanting aloud, you may then chant in a whisper transitioning into toning inwardly, in silence, before returning once more to toning aloud. Try this for three minutes working your up to eleven minutes or more and see how you feel.

  • Toward the end, stretch your arms over head and spread your fingers wide while continuing to resound the sound of HAR. Stretch your arms and spine to equalize and distribute the energy for about 30 seconds.
  • Bring your arms down, and form a double-handed fist at your heart. Inhale, hold the breath, and press your hands into your heart. Hold. Release.
  • Now bring your fist to your navel. Breath in. Press as hard as you can. Hold. Release.
  • Finally, bring your arms close to your body, your fists at armpit level. Breath in. Squeeze your arms into your sides and your fists tightly as you hold. And release.

Yogi Bhajan taught that resounding the sound of HAR in the chest cage in this way is one of 6 sounds that can give one the power of the Universe. It will kill the unwanted self. Enjoy!

Purifying the 5 Elements

Is It Just Me or Is It Noisy in Here?

Last month, I had the privilege of taking my mother to the doctor’s office. It was a stressful affair for me, and likely for my mother as well, though she acted as if it was nothing. We entered the lobby, sat down to fill out the paperwork, turned it in, and then sat back down and waited to be called. The wait gave me the opportunity to tune into the music (though in this case, I use that term very, very loosely) that was being piped through snap, crackle and pop speakers.

As Michael Jackson hissed an unintelligible lyric, I looked around me. Was anyone else hearing this? Was anyone else extremely irritated? I looked at the young man across from us. He was texting on his phone. I looked at a more mature man next to him. He was reading a magazine. I looked to my right. An Asian man was also looking through a magazine. I looked at my mother and then to the women working behind the desk.

Did no one realize that they were listening to nothing more than disruptive static? Were all oblivious to the impact this noise was having on their bodies, minds and spirits? Did the whole purpose of music in the first place completely elude them?

I blinked incredulously and squirmed in my seat. I could no longer hold it in! Well, okay, I didn’t quite make the scream that I felt rising up from my belly. Instead, I got curious.

“Excuse me, but is anybody enjoying this music?”

The Asian on my right shook his head, “I’d rather have silence.”

Oh, amen, brother! Me too!

Then to the older man across from me. “And you?” I asked.

“It doesn’t bother me. You must not have a 17-year-old at home,” he joked.

And from the young man on his phone, I got merely a silent shrug that said, “Who gives a crap?”

Well, I give a crap! I give a crap that music, the most powerful healing tool on the face of the planet is abused and misused and treated with irreverence and ignorance every day in restaurants, waiting rooms, airports, stores, and everywhere humans hang out.

This was a doctor’s office…a place of supposed healing! Why wasn’t there relaxing and healing music being played over a sound system that could deliver? And why, dear God, why, was there any noise at all when there could have been blissful silence?

There is a total lack of consciousness going on around sound in our environments. And it really, really creeps me out! You know what happened in this doctor’s office? Once I mentioned it, someone tuned the dial and voila, it was still an awful choice of music for a medical space but at least it was actually music as intended.

Had I not said anything, would it have gone on like that all day long…week after week?

Numerous times, I’ve been in a waiting room with some CNN or other news show yammering on and on. I walk up and turn the damn thing off. No one has ever complained yet. In fact, they often thank me.

So here’s my plea. I know I am talking to people (preaching to the choir, so to speak) who understand the importance of this. If you find yourself in an environment where the music is too loud, or there are too many sources of noise, or something isn’t right with the sound system, or the ambient noise is totally out of balance, please please please bring it to someone’s attention. Help them to hear what they just cannot perceive until someone of more sensitivity points it out.

We need to create a world of harmony and balance, and frankly, it seems people are becoming less and less sensitive to a constant and increasing barrage of noise.

I thank you!

Stressed? Try This Vocal Toning Selfcare Practice

Are you all feeling the amping of energies lately and just as stressed out as I am? Astrologically, we are in very interesting times. Time itself seems to be speeding up, information (and misinformation) is a constant onslaught, and change is not only imminent but mandatory. We’re all being asked to up our game. If we don’t take time out to empty and find our way back to neutral, we’re going to have a harder and harder time keeping up.

Vocal toning is such a great selfcare practice to clear your mind, body, and spirit of all the brouhaha. Even if you practice the following technique just minutes a day, you’ll feel the impact.

This particular exercise is adapted from one I learned from my mentor, Dr. Gene Nathan. It consists of three sounds and three centers:


SOUND                               CENTER
Ah                                            heart
Om                                          dan tien (or lower belly)
Shh                                          forehead

Begin by placing your hands on your heart. Tone the sound ‘Ah’ aloud on any comfortable pitch. Do this three times. Then move your hands to your dan tien. Here you will tone the sound ‘Om” with an emphasis on the ‘mmm’. Do this at a lower pitch than the ‘ah’. Finally, place your hands on your forehead. Here, you sound a ‘Shh’. Repeat this cycle, three times at each center, for at least three cycles.

After each tone, notice how your energy is shifting. Take your time. Notice especially the connection that occurs between each center, each helping to reinforce and strengthen the others. And notice how the ‘shh’ quiets the rattled mind. Enjoy!


About the Author:

Beth Ciesco is your Selfcare Specialist, a certified yoga teacher and meditation facilitator. Check out the rest of the website to learn more about Restorative Healing YogaMirror MeditationE-Motion Alchemy, and Voicework as capital S Selfcare tools. You can also follow her on these sites:

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Vocal Play: Spring Cleaning!

pinwheelEvery Spring, many minds turn to the practice of spring cleaning, clearing out the closets, dusting in all the nooks and crannies of a home, and making things sparkle!

Why not do the same inside? Our bodies and minds could use a good cleansing after this rather challenging winter, don’t you think?

Winter is typically a time of reflection and hibernation. We’ve taken inventory and hopefully come to a clearer understanding of what is worth keeping and what has to go. Now, tiny buds emerge and new colors pop into our awareness as we prepare for the re-emerging of dormant life.

Vocal play is a perfect selfcare tool for clearing out and making space for what wants to emerge from within you. So set aside 10, 15, or even 30 minutes, go outside into the sun, and have some toning fun. Choose a vowel with a vibration that resonates for you with the sweeping out of dust and debris of the winter. Maybe for one person that is “SHHH” sound. Maybe for another, it’s an “EH”. Give the byproducts of your toning to the earth for recycling; she knows what to do with it.

When that process feels complete, tone for the joy of Spring! You can tone to a tree you encounter on a walk, tone to the little bulb sprouts popping their heads into the day, or simply breath in this fresh promise of spring and exhale an “AH!”



About the Author:

Beth Ciesco is your Selfcare Specialist, a certified yoga teacher and meditation facilitator. Check out the rest of the website to learn more about Restorative Healing YogaMirror MeditationE-Motion Alchemy, and Voicework as capital S Selfcare tools. You can also follow her on these sites:

❤ Instagram:
❤ Insight Timer:
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Quieting the Mind

pinwheelThe majority of us spend a lot of time in our minds. Even having spent years silencing the mind through meditation, the function of the mind never really goes away. It may get quieter, and we may have better control over our thoughts, but it is a very rare individual who can live the majority of their lives in that quiet state.

Working with the mental body can train it so that it takes up less and less of our energy and instead becomes a source of it. The Toltec liken it to the mind becoming our ally instead of our enemy. Meditation in general is the best practice for training the mind. But many people find it terribly challenging to tame restless thoughts and often give up on their practice.

Vocal Toning Meditation, through the use of sound, makes it easier for many people to quiet the mind. Give it a go and try this.

First, sit in meditative silence for five minutes.  You can be in any posture that is comfortable for you. Pay attention to how you feel, what thoughts are drifting through, whether or not you find them easy to release or not, etc. Focus on stilling the mind.

Then shift. Sit for an additional five minutes, but as you do so, tone the sound UNG. It is a nasal tone that resonates in the head. As you do this, pay attention to the energy of the sound, the space of silence between as you inhale, and how your mind and body are responding.

Now stop. Breathe. Notice any thoughts. What has shifted? How did sitting in silence compare to sitting with the tone of UNG?


About the Author:

Beth Ciesco is your Selfcare Specialist, a certified yoga teacher and meditation facilitator. Check out the rest of the website to learn more about Restorative Healing YogaMirror MeditationE-Motion Alchemy, and Voicework as capital S Selfcare tools. You can also follow her on these sites:

❤ Instagram:
❤ Insight Timer:
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Fanfare: A Spot of Fun from Audepicault

Selfcare is all about taking moments out of our day for ourselves. Want to have some fun?

Check out the Fanfare at

fanfareMay I suggest you do some vocal toning with it?

Avatar OM Circle

The Inspiration

I was inspired after watching the movie Avatar for the second time recently to try something new in my toning group today. It was an experiment that went quite well, so I thought I’d share it with you.

In the movie, there is a scene when the tribal people are offering a healing to the dying scientist. In the scene, they are sitting cross legged in circles around this magical tree, each person with his or her arms around the shoulders of the neighbor to the right and left. They are swaying back and forth in unison while singing a sacred healing chant.

The Practice

I adapted this moving idea for Toning for Peace. At the Light Center in Black Mountain, the geodesic dome has a vortex right in its center. So we made a circle around that sitting cross legged on the floor. We discussed out intent…what it was we wanted to create or evoke with our sounding. We sat close enough together so as to put our arms around one another’s shoulders. Some folks weren’t physically comfortable with this, so they had the option to place their hands on the neighbor’s knees instead. Obviously, this wasn’t meant to be an exercise in discomfort!

We then practiced moving in a circle with the energy flowing first left to right and then right to left. We waited to sense the natural shifting of the energy currents.

Once we felt ready, we closed our eyes, focused on our intent to celebrate love and balance, and began to OM. I had spoken earlier about how to OM, that one should give equal time to the O and the M. I also mentioned that it didn’t have to be one long, sustained OM but could be a pulsing series of short OMs.

The exercise was beautifully meditative; the combination of movement, touch or connection, and sound was powerful. It unified the group in a magical way quite quickly.

One person did suggest afterward that it be done standing up. I’m sure this would have been fine too and more comfortable for certain folks. So, as always, be flexible with how toning practices are done. Honor the body, not the idea.

Do you have a toning idea to share?

About the Author:

Beth Ciesco is your Selfcare Specialist, a certified yoga teacher and meditation facilitator. Check out the rest of the website to learn more about Restorative Healing YogaMirror MeditationE-Motion Alchemy, and Voicework as capital S Selfcare tools. You can also follow her on these sites:

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Bliss of Being: Lessons from a Bad Rehearsal

In 2012, the Pure Heart Ensemble launched a CD, Bliss of Being, at the White Horse in Black Mountain. It was an amazing experience. We played to a “standing room only” crowd and even ended the night with a standing ovation…and not just because people were already standing!  ; )

I felt incredible love and appreciation being both given and received by all present. For me, it was a night to remember.

But I don’t want to write about the performance (er…transformance) so much as I want to write about the rehearsal. There is an old saying that a terrible rehearsal guarantees a great performance. So I guess I should be grateful that rehearsal was such a trial for me. The night of performance, I was so calm and centered, and I know it was because I had totally lost it at the rehearsal.

So what happened? Every self-doubt I have about myself rose to the surface the night before the show. A tornado of thoughts spun in my head. I’m going to make a big fool of myself. I can’t do this. I’ll never be able to do this. I was completely aware of them but not quite able to turn them around. I know this happens to a lot of performers…especially perfectionistic ones.

I was in complete and utter fear. I “knew” I was out of my league, trying to sing with these stellar, well-trained, “real” musicians. I am a joke. They are surely thinking they’ve made a mistake inviting me to be part of this ensemble. I am doomed to be replaced by someone who can really sing and who knows an A# from a G on paper.  I’m going to let everyone down. I am going to utterly humiliate myself, and on and on thoughts flashed through my head.

With each disturbing thought, I then had the thought that I was totally out of control with my thoughts…not to mention my ability to sing through all this. That just compounded the problem. Clearly, there was something going on within me far beyond the situation at hand. What I really wanted to do was run screaming to the bathroom to cry. Instead, I was determined to hold it all together…which probably just made matters worse. Did I mention the whole damn thing was being videotaped? I probably should have just run away crying. I would have surely been fine within five minutes or so. Embarrassed, but fine.

Instead, I sucked it all in to the point of feeling quite the insecure diva and fantasizing that I’d have an accident on the way to the show and not have to sing at all! I wanted to escape my certain humiliation that much. Fortunately, the witnessing side of myself was skeptical of my unfolding inner drama. The mind is nothing if not entertaining.

When I did finally get home that evening, in the safety and privacy of my home, I did cry. I remembered being on TV in the 4th grade and how a group of my peers made fun of me the next day. I felt all those feelings of not being worthy, of not being good enough, and on and on, moving up the spiral of healing to a new place…a place that would allow me to be present for the actual performance, a place that was asking me to hold a higher frequency of self-acceptance and confidence…something I could then transmit to whoever came to the concert.

I came to the point of accepting my fate be it humiliation or whatever else was in store. I would survive. Arriving at acceptance and detachment from outcome, which was possible only from going through the storm (not around it or over it or under it), calmed me completely and delivered me to a whole new level of being…the Bliss of Being. Was the drama necessary for me arrive? Well, it was this time around. Next time, maybe not. So often, we judge ourselves for the way things unfold. We forget, maybe because we don’t like the idea, that we aren’t in control.

I suppose this may surprise some people who think an experienced performer such as myself has already overcome such thoughts and feelings. I am a transformational voice coach for heaven’s sake, a person who helps other people use the voice to purify themselves and lead them into authenticity. But no, I still have these experiences…usually when I’m stepping up in some way. The point is, I go through it. I don’t let the fear, the thoughts, the feelings paralyze me, though they so easily could have. Neither do I buy into the “buck up” attitude many people will prescribe with unwanted advice to make themselves more comfortable. I’m voluntarily and completely in the discomfort of my emotional states until I am out of them. I know too well the gold they hide to turn the other way.

I share this story because I know people do let themselves be paralyzed from stepping out of their safety zones. They believe the thoughts that say they can’t, shouldn’t, and don’t deserve it. They have the emotional fear which seems bigger than they are. Or worse, they think they have to push away their doubts and feign some more appropriate image. What a tragedy of lives unlived and creative expressions never realized. But fear is always a tiny mutant shadow that only looks big and ominous when we refuse to look at it.

When we face our fear and allow the depths of our honest feelings, we discover a reserve of strength within us to accept what is. We step beyond our limitations into new territory. We grow. And then we really have something to share…an openness that heals.

From bad rehearsals, to terrible speeches, to botched performances, to humiliating auditions, what lessons have you learned from continuing to step forward and in deeper?


About the Author:

Beth Ciesco is your Selfcare Specialist, a certified yoga teacher and meditation facilitator. Check out the rest of the website to learn more about Restorative Healing YogaMirror MeditationE-Motion Alchemy, and Voicework as capital S Selfcare tools. You can also follow her on these sites:

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The Multidimensions of Sacred Artistry

I was part of a great conversation the other night between musicians and visionaries on the subject of Sacred Artistry.

It came up that for a lot of conscious performers, the word “perform” is one that doesn’t quite fit anymore. We are not as interested in getting up in front of a crowd being watched as we are of being part of a crowd being expressed. If you know what I mean, then chances are, you are not really a performer, but a transformer. Whatever your art, be it singing, music, dancing, acting or something else, you recognize that you are doing what you’re doing to inspire, evolve, and transform yourself and others. You are a vessel for something greater than yourself.

Several years ago, I developed for myself the principles of sacred performance. It was my attempt to bring balance to whatever I happened to be sharing with an audience because I found that “performing” often left me out of whack.

Sacred ArtistryThe 3 Dimensions of Sacred Artistry


I began to think of performing as a multidimensional event. There is the external dimension at which everything is about the crowd, the environment, our bandmates, our voice teachers, and external validation. It is neither good nor bad, positive nor negative. But if it is our sole focus, our performance is out of balance and inauthentic. If we are obsessed with reviews, heads swelling from praise and guts twisted with criticisms, we are far too impressionable in this dimension.


There is also the internal dimension. There are of course many excellent performers who operate more so from this level at which the focus is on the energy of self, our emotions, the physical self, our training, and our actual voice. It is obvious why this tends to be the dimension of which we are most aware as performers. Our sensitivity is what makes us artists. But if we get stuck here, the imbalance can result in self-importance, and we lose our fluidity.


The dimension that is often lacking or unacknowledged is the one that that adds greater depth to what we bring to our performances. It is the dimension of the secret realm. I’m using the word “secret” here as the Buddhist do…to mean hidden. It is hidden because it remains out of our tangible reality, and it is often dismissed or ignored.

On this level, the focus becomes the energy of spirit, the meaning beyond the lyrics or lines or composition, our connection to other, our presence and light, and turning to something bigger than self. This level must be grounded by the other two, or we lack substance. If we are too far out in this realm, we cannot ground and share our vision.

Bring It All Together

I am now calling this body of work Principles of Sacred Artistry. It brings to light these dimensions as they pertain to performance, expanding upon the traps that each dimension contains when we tend to favor one and neglect the others. It is only in moving fluidly though and between each dimension that we move away from being performers and towards becoming transformers…balanced, riveting and magical. It is a practice that can be cultivated with our awareness and the conscious consideration we are willing to give to our art.

I’d love to hear what people think about these ideas. And if you’re a transformer, what makes it so?


About the Author:

Beth Ciesco is your Selfcare Specialist, a certified yoga teacher and meditation facilitator. Check out the rest of the website to learn more about Restorative Healing YogaMirror MeditationE-Motion Alchemy, and Voicework as capital S Selfcare tools. You can also follow her on these sites:

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Sacred Performance & Lessons in Musical Improvisation

As an improvisational vocalist, I don’t consider myself a musician in the way most musicians do. I am not the one who plays the music. Rather, I let the music play me…at least on a good night. So really, Life is the musician. I’m simply the instrument. That’s Sacred Performance.

I’ve many years of my life immersed in the Toltec tradition of shamanism. The Toltecs distinguish between what is called the Nagual and Tonal. The Tonal is like everything that happens upon the stage of life. It is matter, what we know and can understand. The Nagual is everything that goes on behind the scenes. It is the mysterious, the energetic. It is yin and yang. It is dark and light. It is manifest and unmanifest, seen and unseen. The Tonal is the paradigm we’ve known. The Nagual is beyond paradigm.

As artists, when we become aware of both the Tonal and the Nagual, we begin to better understand the consciousness or life that exists within our performances. In musical improvisation, I am constantly learning what it means to dance between these worlds. The Nagual is what informs a sacred performance. The tonal is the manifestation of that. The challenge of course is representing the Nagual as clearly as possible. Not always an easy task.

Challenges in Impov

In a recent performance with a group of musicians I had never played with (though I’d played with two of the four separately), some of the things that can get in the way of a pure reflection were revealed.

For example, I had to step into the role of time-keeper making sure each section of our presentation went long enough but not too long. I resisted this task, but rather than listening to that resistance, I ignored it, doing what I told myself had to be done. So every few minutes, my attention was drawn to “are we on time…is this piece going too long”…etc.  At our break, a women expressed to me her feeling that the energy was just building when we took the break; she wished we had kept going. While I didn’t agree, I did take on her opinion in the back of my mind, and it later reappeared and influenced my actions toward the end of our second set: I meant to build the energy again.

In my effort, my “push”, I invited one of the musicians to start some “trouble”. I assumed he would keep that trouble within the energetic framework we had already built. He was taken aback, in part by my poor choice of words (what was I thinking?), and dove headlong into a blues riff slamming the oven door on the ethereal souffle we had baking, caving in it’s light, airy middle. The disconnect with the audience was immediately apparent and, for me at least, incredibly painful.

I tried to ride with it. After all, I know what it is like to go out on an improvisational ledge completely alone just waiting for one of my cohorts to feel it. But my heart just wasn’t in it. And that was perhaps my second mistake. I should have just let it play out, not added to it…hope he would quickly realize he was out there…all by himself. Instead, I forced myself to comply and the result was half-hearted and awkward.

My third mistake came after the vibrational contrast came to an end. I knew recovery was impossible, but I tried to do it just the same, and I found myself out there…alone…overly loud…and taking people where they simply didn’t want to go. They’d had enough. So had I. Ouch. I know not everyone had the exact same experience as a result of the slip. Some people may have enjoyed it for all I know. The point is, I knew something had been ignored; I knew the potential that hadn’t been reached even if no one else did. Although, on the subconscious level, aware of it or not, everyone knew.

Music entrusts itself to me. An audience puts its faith in me to lead it with care. In a moment, I had failed music and the crowd and my fellow musicians. But that’s just one hand of a two-handed story. On the other hand, Life moves in mysterious ways. While it may seem paradoxical, ultimately, our performance that night was perfect; it made me a better sacred performer. I’m grateful it played out just as it did, even if I wouldn’t care to repeat it.

The point of all painful lessons is to learn from them. So, what were my lessons that night?

1) Clocks do not belong in what I do as a sacred performer. A piece lasts as long as it lasts. An offering (show) goes as long as it goes. Breaks come  when they come, not when they are scheduled. This is a challenge in a world run by time and expectations of time.

2) I of all people know how important a word is! But just because I wrote a book about it doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes. If I’m clumsy enough to use the word “trouble” instead of the words “take us someplace beautiful”, then I’d better expect trouble! As our manifestations become more and more spontaneous, it is more and more critical to choose our words with care.

3) Never go where the heart of the Nagual isn’t leading. Silence is better than a cover-up,  an attempt to fix, and co-dependent thinking.

4) Don’t try to please anyone but the Nagual. Release opinions and feedback and stay in the moment.

What lessons have you learned in improvisation?


About the Author:

Beth Ciesco is your Selfcare Specialist, a certified yoga teacher and meditation facilitator. Check out the rest of the website to learn more about Restorative Healing YogaMirror MeditationE-Motion Alchemy, and Voicework as capital S Selfcare tools. You can also follow her on these sites:

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Revitalizing and Activating the Pineal Gland

pinwheelFriend of Toning for Peace & Healing, Shawn O Hurley, found this gem for revitalizing and activating the pineal gland, our body’s evolutionary headquarters.

Shawn suggests using the sound “OOO” or “EW” instead of the proposed “LOVE”.  Try both and do what works best for you! I’d love to hear your results.

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