Good Vibrations

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The essence of meditation is also the essence of art. —Claudio Naranjo

Meditation and music cannot be separated.Sri Chinmoy

The essence of sound healing is the re-tuning of the human instrument, correcting at whatever level those frequencies, which have become weakened or gone out of tune. This is done on the basis of resonance, be it sympathetic vibrations or the power of forced resonance. Basically, whatever part of us that is ailing can be awakened by harmonious sound sources and remember at what frequency it should be vibrating. This can occur at the physical level (from cells to muscles to organs), the subtle level (changing negative psychology), and the causal level (create permanent positive changes in one’s nature). James D’Angelo, in “Healing Vibrations”

Meditate with Frequency

Dear Sister Alma Rose – My meditation teacher says that we should not listen to music while meditating. Yet there are hundreds of “meditation music” CDs out there. I do not have a quiet place to meditate – I live in a noisy part of a noisy city – so I like to listen to music when I meditate. What do you think? -Musically Inclined in Muskegon

Dear MIM – Sister Alma Rose has found that meditation, with all its meanings and misleadings, can seem exceedingly complicated. But it is very simple, actually. When y’all meditate, y’all are surrendering yourself to the flow of the river of life, the waters from the divine Source.

Kobe Bryant — In a Zone

Kobe Bryant — In a Zone

Whatever the reason for meditating – to relax, to reduce blood pressure, to quit smoking or using strong drink – the meditation itself is supposed to be done without expectation. Y’all are not to be thinking, oh, goody, I’m lowering my blood pressure, I’m making myself healthier, and et cetera. In meditation, we let go of all thought, and simply ride on the breath; or, in some traditions, we watch our thoughts and feelings drift by, observe them, and know that they are not us. They are, as Eckhart Tolle explains, “content,” not “essence,” and deep meditation reveals to us the secret, essential self, the soul, the inner light.

Y’all’s meditation teacher might suggest that y’all get yourself some of them fancy headphones that block out sound or play “white noise,” or that y’all listen to recorded nature sounds (rain, birdsong, the surf, and et cetera) while meditating.

There is some music whose purveyors claim is scientifically engineered to produce alpha brain waves. The alpha state “is the state of brain activity characterized by waves ranging from 8 to 13 cycles per second. Resembling a light trance, it is the condition one experiences during meditation, daydreaming, just prior to sleep (hypnagogic), and just after waking (hypnopompic).” (New Age Glossary)

Alpha state brainwaves are slower then beta (our active state) and the frequency ranges from 8 to 14 cycles per second. It is a state of “aware relaxation” and it brings numerous advantages:

  • calms your body and mind while it maintains alertness
  • stimulates imagination, intuition and higher awareness
  • creates detachment from the outcome and increases dowsing accuracy
  • improves your mental processes – concentration, clarity of thinking, decision making, memory
  • frees up more of your potential and helps you achieve your goals in life
  • allows you to sleep better, fall asleep easily, stay asleep right through the night

Some meditation practitioners, in the Buddhist lineages particularly, might say that listening to music is antithetical to meditation… that music induces an “artificial” sense of well-being, freeing us from the need to peel off the layers of “content” to reach the “essence.”

So let’s not listen to them.

Buddhist Gardens

Buddhist Gardens

Sister Alma Rose is not saying that they are wrong. In fact, meditation is a means of being “present,” of “living in the moment,” that at some point becomes a way of life, so that y’all are at peace in any situation, and not all situations evolve in the presence of soul-stirring music. Sister Alma Rose is sure that Kobe Bryant is utterly and completely “present” — “in the zone,” Sister Alma Rose believes is the expression —when he is hitting three-pointers with ease and grace, but Kobe Bryant does not demonstrate ease and grace in every circumstance.

It was hypothesized, at one time, that LSD was a viable shortcut to ecstasy. Look how well that worked out. On the other hand,

peyote [has been] used for 10,000 years as an Indian religious sacrament.

Peyote–officially known to botanists as Lophophora williamsii–grows naturally only in… four counties [in Texas]…. For non-Indians, possession is illegal and punishable by stiff narcotics laws. But the religious use of peyote is allowed for members of the Native American Church, a pan-tribal religion derived from the practices of native peoples who inhabited what is now southern Texas and northern Mexico.

The peyote church, as it is sometimes called, began to spread through Indian country in the late 1870s. Adherents eat peyote in a powdery form or drink it in tea during communal sessions that last from evening until dawn. Members of the 400,000-member church do not report feeling a high–pharmacologists say actual hallucinations are uncommon–but rather a period of intense inward reflection. “To me it’s a medicine,” says Earl Arkinson, the church president, a Chippewa-Cree Indian from Montana who is a police chief in his other life. “It’s a spiritual feeling.”

Peyote cactus in the wild

Peyote cactus in the wild

Sister Alma Rose is not – let’s be crystal clear, here – not advocating the use of LSD, peyote (members of the Native American Church excepted), or any other drug – natural or synthetic, legal or illegal. With LSD, y’all are more likely to see y’all’s eyeballs in the sink than to find peace and serenity. Sister Alma Rose knows of what she speaks. In fact, Sister Alma Rose has digressed egregiously from the original point, which was the use of music in meditation.

Sister Alma Rose agrees with James D’Angelo when he says that “if the universe is [a]… finely tuned multitude of vibration frequencies, then using the principle of ‘as above, so below,’ each of us is the same…. The essence of sound healing is the re-tuning of the human instrument, correcting at whatever level those frequencies which have become weakened or gone out of tune.”

So let us say that listening to certain types of music in a meditative way is form of meditation or an alternative to meditation. Sister Alma Rose enjoys meditating to the music of two composers in particular: Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla and Kitarō.

  • Get y’alls self comfortable and relax thoroughly. Sister Alma Rose relaxes her skin, muscles, internal organs, and bones, bit by bit, from the scalp down by imagining that she is lying in the sun and her body is like warm butter. This metaphor may bring to mind the Wicked Witch of the West after Dorothy throws water on her in the Wizard of Oz movie – “I’m melting, I’m melting.” Please do not think of Sister Alma Rose in those terms. Sister Alma Rose will know, and she will send flying monkeys after y’all.
  • Meditate in silence for a few minutes, focusing on your breathing and relaxing a little more with every “out” breath.
  • Turn on your music – Sister Alma Rose uses headphones – and tune y’all’s body to its vibrations. (See “Make a Habit of It.”)
  • Imagine y’all’s body as a big symphony hall, or, better yet, an outdoor amphitheater, that “contains” the music. Ideally, y’all will have a sense of your body expanding and growing lighter as the music fills it and merges with the “vibration frequencies” of the universe.
  • …Or simply inhale the harmony and beauty, and exhale discord….
Y’all might find that y’all have a tendency to breathe in rhythm with the music. If the music is very fast, y’all could just about hyperventilate, and if it’s too slow, y’all might turn blue. So choose music that isn’t veryveryfast or v-e-r-y s-l-o-w, and breathe naturally.

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‘Your Brain Is a River, Not a Rock’

Sister Alma Rose Meditates for World Peace: Notes from Consciousness, Creativity, and the Brain

‘Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me….’

Presented at Emerson College, October 1, 2005

It’s hard to have world peace without individuals at peace. —Dr. Hagelin


DL: “There’s an ocean of pure vibrant consciousness inside each one of us. It’s right at the base source and base of mind, right at the source of thought, and also at the source of all matter.”

Transcendental Meditation, as developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, is “a simple, easy, effortless technique, yet supremely profound, that allows any human being to dive within, experiencing subtler levels of mind and intelligence [and to] experience this ocean of pure consciousness… called by modern physics the unified field. It is at the base of all mind and all matter. Modern science says that all of matter, everything that is a thing emerges from this field” whose qualities include bliss, intelligence, creativity, universal love, energy, and peace.

Meditation evokes “a flowing creativity, beautiful consciousness; intuition grows; this is a field of pure knowingness…. You dive in there, you sort of just know how to go, it’s like an ocean of solutions.”

Ultimately “the enjoyment of life grows—huge…. It’s a beautiful thing, and it’s us. In Vedic science this form of pure consciousness is called achma, [and it means] ‘the self,’ the self of us all…. At that level, we are all one.”
There are many forms of meditation, but with TM, “the key is the word transcend….When you’re in it you know you’re in it, it’s familiar but it’s you.” It’s not “like a goofball happiness; it’s a thick beauty to appreciate life and living.” TM had an effect on his work “right from the very beginning.” Lynch quickly felt his anxiety and fears lifting. 

JH: The experience of unity beneath life’s surface diversity is a part of every spiritual tradition on earth. Modern science has probed deeply into physical reality and has confirmed a fundamental unity at the basis of life’s surface diversity.

The universe is superficially complex, but fundamentally simple… superficially diverse, but fundamentally unified.

At all scales, universal to subatomic, we ultimately arrive at a field of indivisible wholeness… a fountainhead from which flow all particles, all forces. These are now understood to be various vibrational states of a universal field of existence which contains infinite energy, infinite density, infinite dynamism. It is the origin of universes and it percolates universes. Most are duds but some are populated by galaxies and stars and presumably people…. It is a huge reality, this ocean of existence, the field of unity at the basis of life’s diversity.

Maharishi University of Management

Diving into this field is an age-old experience of life and a prized experience in every major tradition on earth. Today, unbounded awareness of the source of thought is an object of intense scientific study.

The meditative state is now known to be a fourth major state of consciousness distinct from waking, sleeping, and dreaming. Its hallmark is coherence.

If you were to look at your own electroencephalogram, all the areas of mind and personality would appear chaotic, uncoordinated, like an orchestra warming up before the emergence of the conductor. It is the conductor who makes the cacophony turn into flowing music. That type of unity is the signature of the meditating mind… of the mind having a holistic experience.

This is “an educational discovery of great magnitude” because of the implications for learning. Orderliness of brain function (realization of unbounded awareness within) can be systematically taught to students of any age, resulting in improved memory, psychological stability, greater alertness, quicker reaction time. It was once believed that intelligence peaks at age 16, and that gray matter begins to decline thereafter. Recent science shows that the brain has the capability of developing throughout life.

Put meditation into education and watch students of any age grow in every way. Meditation is a missing element in education.

The field of pure consciousness is not foreign to us. It is our subjectivity, our consciousness left alone for a moment to experience its own nature. The structure of waking experience is always a process of awareness of something, in contrast to the nature of the knower, which is unbounded, blissful. From the time the alarm clock sounds in the morning, we have one experience after the other at the expense of the experiencer. Pure consciousness is the one thing in our lives that never changes, that has not changed since infancy, that allows us to believe that we are as we have always been, though everything else changes. Pure consciousness, self-realization, liberation, enlightenment, bring peace and contentment. Pure consciousness is the most fundamental of experiences. That’s what meditation is for, and why its been practiced throughout the ages.

Education focuses human comprehension very sharply. We become proficient at what we’re doing… but with advanced education, at the doctoral level, for example, “we start to learn more and more on less and less.” Specialization isn’t the evil; the problem is the lack of a few moments and a little training to allow the attention to withdraw from those narrow confines of perception and return to its own nature, the nonchanging, invincible core of yourself.

The experience of the brain coming into coherence and unity and coordination, which TM produces, is extraordinary. There are other practices that lead to this type of brain activity, but none as well or as quickly (about four months) as TM. Once the brain begins to function this way habitually, the experience of unbounded awareness becomes more stable, regardless of what’s happening; the sense of invincibility and strength remains.


FT: The unified field at the basis of our thought and behavior… has concrete reality in the functioning of our brain. Each experience we have changes the brain, and vice versa … creating a cascade of electrical activity. “Your brain is a river, it’s not a rock.” Seventy percent of the connections between the brain cells change every day.

You have 100 billion neurons in your brain. Each gets input from 10,000 other neurons every second. That’s the life of your brain cells. They constantly change and lose connections.

The brain is incredibly plastic. If you’re learning to play golf, practicing creates specific networks; the more you practice consistently, the stronger these networks become.

All experiences change the brain. Learning a fact changes the brain, but the other experiences that go alongside learning change the brain too, including stress and fatigue.

Stress and fatigue overload causes downshifting, Your brain shifts down to a more primitive style of functioning—stimulus-response mode—where the stimulus communicates directly with the back of brain, not the front, which is the “CEO of the brain.”

[Displayed a brain metabolic rate picture] This brain pictured (that of a criminal) looks like Swiss cheese. The “holes” are parts of the brain not functioning. With excessive drinking, high emotional and physical stress, the brain constantly changes.

Meditation directly exercises the frontal (CEO) area, and connects it with the other parts of the brain.

Brain-wave images: Top, alpha waves; below, beta waves

[The program featured a volunteer, Shane, who had been meditating for many years. Sensors were attached to the front and the back of his head and projected onto a screen the audience could see. Initially, before he began meditating, his frontal brain area was in a state of beta activity, 20 cycles per second, with many parts of the brain working quickly but not coordinated. The back of the brain was functioning rhythmically in a state of alpha activity.

[It is the back of the brain that processes visual stimuli. “Everything you see goes to the back of the brain…. When you close your eyes, that part of the brain can rest.”

[When Shane closed his eyes there was immediately alpha activity in the front, which occurs only in someone who has been meditating for a long time. Normally the “CEO” is always working, even when your eyes are closed. During meditation, you will see alpha activity in the front of the brain as well.

[After Shane had been meditating for a few minutes, “What you see here is quite remarkable… very high-amplitude alpha activity in the front of the brain… coordinated with the back of the brain… the whole brain coming into sync” almost immediately.]

Unity of brain function is the brain state that happens when you meditate. With TM practice, the part of the brain that is always in a state of fast activity can be restful and alert. The whole brain can be functioning as one. Since you’re constantly creating and recreating your brain, you can create a new type of circuit.


“Bliss, they say, is the sweetest nectar of life…. It’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual happiness, and you can vibrate with this bliss, and it’s this happiness from within.”