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Effort – Not Effort

“Sustained effort ends in effortless being – in other words, what has been attained by constant practice is finally transcended, and then spontaneity comes.” – Anandamayi Ma

There is a beautiful and welcomed tension between making effort and letting go of effort so that another force (ie. the Universal pulse) can do its work. It’s as if the ‘work’ is no longer work. It is a inextricable link between doing and being and then doing/being again. A link or a cycle of doing and being-ness. That is where spontaneity sizzles. And, it is a cool place, hot with vibrant energy, in a brilliant darkness that is both and all…tricky to describe.

I’ve been enjoying the effort/not effort space for a while. In April-May 2019, I was invited to Dr. Lynne Murfin’s new space in Calgary, Canada – The Sanctuary Space. A calm space of vibrancy – a beautiful combo! Dan Tracker was there to take some photos on site (see below) – thanks Lynne and Dan! I re-united with folks and vibes in Calgary, and found new folks and vibes. New soundscapes with Gong are brewing for Calgary. I’m movin’ the Gongs, my self, and a few boxes in late June – thrilled!

In early June, I enjoyed smell-scapes while at UBC in Vancouver – what a great place to connect with the land, water, and flowers!

Nature has its rhythm, as do we…we are that! Smell the roses, feel the ebb and flow of the breath as the ocean tide, and walk on the earth in partnership, finding a balance between effort/not effort.


Concert for Peace

On Feb 9, 2019 at College Street United Church in Toronto, Canada, 140 people gathered to take in the vibration of Gongs and the music of the tabla & hang, the oboe, and Don Conreaux’s shruti songs (songs and poems of revelation). The collaboration was an improvised Concert for Peace & Humanity with talented local musicians including Gurpreet Chana, Derrick Tu, Barb McIntosh, Laurie Giller, as well as performance artist, lo bil. We met together for 2 hours before the start of the Concert to rehearse for Peace and allow the sounds to unfold in ‘deep listening’ style of collaboration.

Concert 1Concert DonConcert AD


New Name for 2019

Untitled design

Dec 27, 2018. A little renaming just happened. The inception of ‘Sacred Sound Space’ took place last January 2018 in NYC after a day of training with Gong Master Don Conreaux. It was easy to put intentions together in order for collaborations to start happening in the Toronto area with more Gong events and more Gong and Sound artists. Done. So why the switch from ‘Sacred Sound Space’ to Gong Sound Space for January 2019? Well, shift happens. Go with it! And, here are some definitions for sacred:
1. Dedicated to or set apart for the worship of a deity.
2. Worthy of religious veneration: the sacred teachings of the Buddha.
3. Made or declared holy: sacred bread and wine.
4. Dedicated or devoted exclusively to a single use, purpose, or person: sacred to the memory of a sister; a private office sacred to the President.
5. Worthy of respect; venerable.
6. Of or relating to religious objects, rites, or practices.
          …
          Gong sound is no longer “sacred” in that it is proliferating mainstream understanding and experience. BBC in Nov 2018 and the Guardian Dec 2018. It’s becoming more known and no longer just played in Kundalini yoga studios. Gong is no longer ‘set apart for worship’. It is still, of course, ‘worthy of respect’ and ‘venerable’. Those who play Gong (or allow the Gong to play them) have a code of ethics and protocols as their guidelines. As Don Conreaux says, “it’s not just about takah, takah, takah, hitting the Gong”. Gong Master Apprentices do their due diligence and bow to the sound of the Gong. In that way, one can argue, it is indeed still set apart in this way of reverence. It is not an instrument to be played. It plays us, and that is the mysterious part that commands us to be reverent and approach the Gong with humility.
          Now, Gong reverence is reaching new places and spaces. Thanks to Don Conreaux, Gong masters-in-training have a 60+ place bucket list of where to play the Gong. Places include schools, parks, opening ceremonies, weddings, funerals, beginnings, endings, and all that is in between. Gongs go places; Don reminds us ‘Have Gong Will Travel’. Time to start travelling more with Gongs in 2019. Venerable Gong Space is a mouthful, so I re-named this collaborative venture Gong Sound Space for 2019. Best to keep it simple. So, Gong Sound Space it is.

Humming Right Along

humming bird

Nov 27, 2018. I had heard that humming had a healing effect. You know, sometimes you hear these things – xyz is healing. It can be healing because someone says it is, because there is experiential evidence, or scientific evidence. My Sound friend, Jennifer Mason,  found reference to an article that posits humming increases the nitric oxide in your nasal passage 15 fold. Awesome vibes for the nasal passage, throat, and beyond. Here is a bit on nitric oxide in the body and what it does: “It regulates many important cell functions including regulation of healthy blood flow and healthy blood pressure levels, communication between cells in the brain as well as how our body defends itself against pathogens.” Ahh, right. So, humming increases blood flow, regulates blood pressure, and enhances brain/body communication! Mmmmmhmmm. So inhale, and exhale hummmmm. Does a body good.


Dissertation Writing and a Good Grounding

WallsOct-Nov 2018. After re-jigging my initial proposal and spending a lot of time at Aroma Cafe, my coffee-shop office, I am now embarking on the writing of the analysis of the data. Daunting. There is a lot of paper on the walls of my office and a few Gongs for good measure. Writing vibes commence! I wish I had a magic wand. I don’t. So, I trust ‘the process’ and drink more tea, coffee, and mocktails (lime, mint, honey with sparkling water).

MountainsIn October I got to take a mini-break with a dear friend, to ground myself in the Rocky Mountains. We hiked to see amazing lakes and vistas and experience crisp, fresh mountain air – the kind of air that smells bright blue and brilliant white. I am a mountain woman, for sure. I mean, I like the Rocky Mountains. There are more possibilities to listen to silences in between the sounds in the mountains. And, the sounds of silences are booming there.


Gone Gonging in Shanghai, China

Sept 2018. While I was in Shanghai, China for a 10-Day Gong Training with Don Conreaux, I began playing the drum for zen dancers in our training group. These were improvised sessions to explore the sounds of Gong with Drum and the movements of the body. The merger of Sound and Movement was the start of something new and special – to be continued.


Hosted Gong Master Don’s Conreaux’s First Canadian Training

Aug 31-Sept 2, 2018. Organized Don’s first Gong Training in Canada happened in Toronto – woohoo! New and seasoned Gong students came from Vancouver, California, Illinois, New York, and the GTA (Greater Toronto Area).

This was a 3-Day training  to learn the ways of Gong and being in the world. We also had opportunity to learn and practice Gong technique as well. Did you know there are  11 Gong strokes for hand-held gonging as well as 25 strokes for Gongs in their stands? Awesome. Attendees asked when Don was coming back to Canada. So, he is coming back to teach Gong Yoga of Holistic Resonance from Feb 8-10, 2019. Woohoo! While he is in Toronto, he’ll conduct and co-perform a Concert for Peace on Saturday, Feb 9. This concert coincides with York University’s All Nations Pow Wow and proceeds will go to support Indigenous youth and students at York. A beautiful collaborative effort by Don and local musicians and performers in Toronto.


Gonging on the Beach and for the World Record in London, UK

Aug 2018. I met a gong friend at his haunt near Boston, MA, USA – a seaside town called Gloucester (pronounced ‘glastah’). I took my 22″ Meinl Wind Gong to the beach. It was my first playing-in-water-with-Gong experience. If you have a chance to gong in the water, do it. Super fun vibes n’ waves. Coming soon to Lake Ontario…

Academic

 

Gonging with 194 International Gongers. At the end of August, I went to London for a massive Gong event. MASSIVE. 194 Gongers from around the world gathered for the Guinness World Record – the most Gongs playing a synchronized composition. It was an immense experience to be with so many Gongs and players in one room. I was the only Canadian in the room, so made friends with folks from South American countries, China, and the US of A. And, met ‘old’ gonging friends from Croatia. A small gonging world.

 


Yatra to Northern India

Apr 2018. As part of my PhD research, I travelled to India. The first 10 days, I joined a group of Canadians led by Joy – Jaipreet Chandna (she’s cool and leads yearly retreats). We began our yatra (spititual journey) in Amritsar and visited the The Golden Temple daily while we were there.

We continued our journey and visited Yogi Bhajan’s estate in Ananpur Sahib and then went to Dharmasala, the home of the Dalai Lama. A beautiful research surprise: The Dalai Lama moved his Mind & Life: Reimagining Human Flourishing conference to the Temple instead of holding it at his home for His invited guests of scholars and educators. Call it luck, coincidence, or synchronicity. Our group was able to attend the conference.

After our yatra, the Canadian group dispersed and I stayed in India to continue conducting my dissertation research with yogis, querying yoga as a social, life practice off of the mat, outside of the studio. In India, yoga is life. The streets are one giant yoga mat to work one’s practice. Intense, wild, unpredictable, ugly, beautiful – all of it.


Met Don Conreaux at Gong Yoga of Holistic Resonance Training

Jan 2018, NYC. Going to a Gong Yoga Training in New York and learning from Gong Master Don Conreaux was a turning point for me and my conceptualization and practice with Gong. I am intrigued by Don’s efficient Meridian Muscle Exercises and the combination with Gong sounds as well as his teaching presence. I learned about the shruti box and listened to Don use his voice as a Gong to sing his shruti songs. More research began into Gong Masters and their culture as ‘extra-curricular’ to my dissertation project. Post-doc inspiration!

Don in NYC


Beginning Fieldwork: Chile, Canada, China, and Back to Canada

Sept 2017-Dec 2017. After spending the academic year 2016-2017 writing my proposal for my dissertation project, I was ready to fly to Santiago. Grateful to friends who invited me to stay in their apartment, which happens to be 5 blocks away from the yoga studio I wanted to spend most of my time at. Amazing location – luck, coincidence, or serendipity. I spent 6 weeks with Kundalini yogis in Santiago studios, rehab centres, and a domestic shelter for women. Also, as part of my ethnographic research (as a participant-observer with an emic (insider) perspective, I attended a 10-day special yogic program designed to go beyond addictions – yoga for recovery. I met many fantastic people in Chile, who welcomed me as a researcher and a fellow-yogi. I definitely want to go back to Chile again!

Research Chile

Shift happens. I did some fieldwork in Toronto in November 2017, then headed to Shanghai China for what I thought would be 6 weeks of fieldwork with yogis there. I was diverted by a family emergency. My mom fell and fractured her T-12 vertebra. I flew to Calgary to help her and it became self-reflexive research where I became the subject of my dissertation research – how was I working my mindfulness-based practices in my own social networks, with my mom, medical caregivers? On some days, great. On other days, not great. Ebb and flow during stressful times. While taking care of mom and doing self-reflexive auto-ethnographic research on myself, I got an invitation to India. I rerouted my final research site. Instead of returning to China, I went to India in March 2018. When research-related shifts happen, it’s a pleasure to go with them.

Contact: gongsoundspace@gmail.com

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