Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
The Impact of Communal Singing
Category:
Healing

Sometime just before the Fall Equinox this year, a soulful group, curious about communal singing in the oral tradition, came together at Esalen for a weeklong workshop that uplifted their spirits and heightened their sense of belonging.

But Singing on the Edge, spearheaded by Esalen faculty Lisa G. Littlebird, also managed to illuminate something deeper: That something transformational occurs when we gather together, especially through song.

This was particularly evident during a one-day singing festival that took place during the week, which was open to the community.

In addition to illuminating what’s possible for any community gathering that holds a positive intention, it included a world-class lineup of community song leaders from around the country such as Lauren Cole, MaMuse, Melanie DeMore, Aimee Ringle, Barbara McAfee, Maggie Wheeler, Kate Munger, Emile Dyer and Heather Houston.

Attendees learned and performed songs, enjoyed newfound connections and experienced, first-hand, the vibration-raising after-effects.

“We’re living in a world where we’re the most technically connected and have the capacity to connect more than we’ve ever had. Yet, there’s a worldwide disease of feeling more disconnected more than ever,” says Lisa G. Littlebird. “To be in-person with one another, and gather and connect from the heart is deeply precious. For me, one of the most tangible gifts happens when we are in connection and looking each other in the eyes while singing.”

This was the second year in a row longtime Big Sur resident and firefighter Rayner Marx attended the entire weeklong workshop as well as the community event. He appreciated the inclusiveness, instruction, and the storytelling that accompanied the singing.

“It was great last year and I knew that if they were going to conduct the event for another year, that I was going to go,” Rayner says. “I came with no expectations and appreciated the variety of workshops and the span of talent of the workshop leaders. They each had their own style of music and ways of teaching.”

He says he noticed that the “normal” social barriers were lowered in the group setting.

“You also learn about other people’s cultural and ethnic background through song,” Rayner adds. “It’s a way to approach topics that may be charged or sensitive but through song, they are softened, and I think that offers us a way to relate more to those topics and to other people.”

The grand opus occurred by way of a community interactive concert in Esalen’s Leonard Pavilion after the day’s workshops. With the crashing surf of the Pacific accompanying them, a unique convergence took place as Lisa and others led the group in communal singing. It was here that Rayner was struck with another insight.

“You’re not just meeting at the post office or the deli. You’re on a different stage, in different circumstances, and the music and singing allowed us to communicate in another manner,” Rayner says. “It allowed us to break down barriers and get to know each other in a much different way.”

LaVerne McLeod, a Big Sur resident for 41 years, has been singing with Lisa for more than a decade. She appreciates everything from the variety of songs from various genres, the tones and harmonies to the international touch and the overall feeling of excitement that fills the air.

“I’ve been with Lisa since the beginning when there was just a handful of us in Big Sur. There’s more than 100 of us now in her chorus,” LaVerne says. “The best thing is that it brings people together in a way where you’re able to bond more deeply while these uplifting songs come right at you. You’re connected to the singing but also the feelings behind it. It’s an energy. We all find that we have similar things in common.”

Those kinds of connections can be pivitol for many of us. We live our lives and tend to our families and careers. Yet we may lose sight of how valuable connecting with other members within our community actually is. When we gather, we have an opportunity to realize the common bonds we share, whether it be to the well-being of our neighborhoods or the land on which we reside.

“Coming together in community is important for Big Sur residents because Big Sur is community,” LaVerne adds. “I don’t think people can stay here for a long period of time unless they were into ‘community.’

“It’s that unspoken thing. We live far apart, often on ridges, and in canyons, and maybe we haven’t seen our neighbors for a while and then you see them at an Esalen event. That’s important. You realize that connection is still there because we share a relationship with the environment.”

And, perhaps, to something even deeper.

“There is a systemic empathy that emerges in that field of gathering and we all feel ourselves as belonging to something greater,” Lisa points out. “I think that’s a deep human longing that all of us carry. Something like Singing on the Edge offers us an immediate way to connect that requires nothing in advance, except to show up and engage.”

Join Lisa G. Littlebird at Esalen for Living in Harmony: Singing Our Way Back Together February 21-23, 2020.

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

The Impact of Communal Singing

About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Category:
Healing

Sometime just before the Fall Equinox this year, a soulful group, curious about communal singing in the oral tradition, came together at Esalen for a weeklong workshop that uplifted their spirits and heightened their sense of belonging.

But Singing on the Edge, spearheaded by Esalen faculty Lisa G. Littlebird, also managed to illuminate something deeper: That something transformational occurs when we gather together, especially through song.

This was particularly evident during a one-day singing festival that took place during the week, which was open to the community.

In addition to illuminating what’s possible for any community gathering that holds a positive intention, it included a world-class lineup of community song leaders from around the country such as Lauren Cole, MaMuse, Melanie DeMore, Aimee Ringle, Barbara McAfee, Maggie Wheeler, Kate Munger, Emile Dyer and Heather Houston.

Attendees learned and performed songs, enjoyed newfound connections and experienced, first-hand, the vibration-raising after-effects.

“We’re living in a world where we’re the most technically connected and have the capacity to connect more than we’ve ever had. Yet, there’s a worldwide disease of feeling more disconnected more than ever,” says Lisa G. Littlebird. “To be in-person with one another, and gather and connect from the heart is deeply precious. For me, one of the most tangible gifts happens when we are in connection and looking each other in the eyes while singing.”

This was the second year in a row longtime Big Sur resident and firefighter Rayner Marx attended the entire weeklong workshop as well as the community event. He appreciated the inclusiveness, instruction, and the storytelling that accompanied the singing.

“It was great last year and I knew that if they were going to conduct the event for another year, that I was going to go,” Rayner says. “I came with no expectations and appreciated the variety of workshops and the span of talent of the workshop leaders. They each had their own style of music and ways of teaching.”

He says he noticed that the “normal” social barriers were lowered in the group setting.

“You also learn about other people’s cultural and ethnic background through song,” Rayner adds. “It’s a way to approach topics that may be charged or sensitive but through song, they are softened, and I think that offers us a way to relate more to those topics and to other people.”

The grand opus occurred by way of a community interactive concert in Esalen’s Leonard Pavilion after the day’s workshops. With the crashing surf of the Pacific accompanying them, a unique convergence took place as Lisa and others led the group in communal singing. It was here that Rayner was struck with another insight.

“You’re not just meeting at the post office or the deli. You’re on a different stage, in different circumstances, and the music and singing allowed us to communicate in another manner,” Rayner says. “It allowed us to break down barriers and get to know each other in a much different way.”

LaVerne McLeod, a Big Sur resident for 41 years, has been singing with Lisa for more than a decade. She appreciates everything from the variety of songs from various genres, the tones and harmonies to the international touch and the overall feeling of excitement that fills the air.

“I’ve been with Lisa since the beginning when there was just a handful of us in Big Sur. There’s more than 100 of us now in her chorus,” LaVerne says. “The best thing is that it brings people together in a way where you’re able to bond more deeply while these uplifting songs come right at you. You’re connected to the singing but also the feelings behind it. It’s an energy. We all find that we have similar things in common.”

Those kinds of connections can be pivitol for many of us. We live our lives and tend to our families and careers. Yet we may lose sight of how valuable connecting with other members within our community actually is. When we gather, we have an opportunity to realize the common bonds we share, whether it be to the well-being of our neighborhoods or the land on which we reside.

“Coming together in community is important for Big Sur residents because Big Sur is community,” LaVerne adds. “I don’t think people can stay here for a long period of time unless they were into ‘community.’

“It’s that unspoken thing. We live far apart, often on ridges, and in canyons, and maybe we haven’t seen our neighbors for a while and then you see them at an Esalen event. That’s important. You realize that connection is still there because we share a relationship with the environment.”

And, perhaps, to something even deeper.

“There is a systemic empathy that emerges in that field of gathering and we all feel ourselves as belonging to something greater,” Lisa points out. “I think that’s a deep human longing that all of us carry. Something like Singing on the Edge offers us an immediate way to connect that requires nothing in advance, except to show up and engage.”

Join Lisa G. Littlebird at Esalen for Living in Harmony: Singing Our Way Back Together February 21-23, 2020.

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
The Impact of Communal Singing
Category:
Healing

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About

Esalen Team

The Impact of Communal Singing

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Esalen Team

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