Nāda Yoga at the BFUU

with Zorg and the NādaYoga Collective
Sunday Jan 19th 2020, Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists
1924 Cedar Street, Berkeley, CA
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An event to celebrate life and health

This event will be quite unlike any other. The NādaYoga practice for the evening will use the art and technology of guided community celebration, to access the power of music as a life-transforming experience.
The intention for the evening is to focus on the blessing "May you be healthy, strong, grounded, safe and long-lived." The meditation practice will be supported by music that evolves from solo Gong sounds, to rhythmic Gong with percussion, then adding other instruments, voices, and movement.

For the 10 days Jan 8th to Jan 17th, I will be posting a new video or audio track here each day illustrating the different parts of the piece. On Saturday 18th there will be one rehearsal at my home studio in Mountain View. Anyone who would like to join us for that is very welcome to do so, but space will be limited to 10 participants so please email me in advance for details.
Video for day 1: Playing the "Voices of the Angels" layer, with backing track. You can hear this layer on its own in the video for Day 7 below . In today's video, you can hear this layer plus what I am hearing in my headphones as I play the Angel Voices on the Gong.
Video for day 2: The "Bass Line on the Gong" layer, which is just what I am hearing, with added percussion, on the headphones in the clip above from yesterday.
I have never heard anyone play a bass line on a Gong before, but I heard that it was possible with the Wu Xing Gong. The first two pulses on the Gong are in the Tai/Loe positions, and sound the root and fifth harmonically. Traditionally, playing these places on the Gong means "Happiness has arrived". Most of the time the sequence of 5 notes goes harmonically: 1,5,5,7,8 then 1,5,7,8,1. But the second half is more usually varied, sometimes going 5,5,1 or 5,5,8 at the end, or 4,4,5, etc.
Video for day 3: "The Gong Bass Line rhythm played on the shaker." Here the Gong bass line from Day 2's video is mixed with the Voices of the Angels layer played in the video on Day 1, with added surdo and percussion. This mix plays through the speakers while I demonstrate the 2/3 son clave pattern that the Gong is playing.
There is also a stepping pattern, which I will show in greater detail in one of the videos in the next few days. The main emphasis on this video is playing the 2/3 son clave rhythm along with the Gong bass line. As I mention in the video, shakers are one of the best instruments for inducing trance, and combining them with Gong is very powerful! Unintentionally I closed my eyes and drifted out of the video frame, but hopefully you get the idea!
Tomorrow's video will show how this Gong rhythm matches the rhythm of the Sanskrit phrase "Sarve Bhavantu Niramayah", which in this event we will paraphrase as "May you be healthy, strong, grounded, safe, and long-lived!"
Video for day 4: "The Blessing." Here I show how the Gong bass line supports the Sanskrit chant.
There was a long delay in posting this, because the audio and video processing was very complicated. I was combining parts that I had played with other instruments such as didj and electric sitar. They are tuned to different pitches, and were also played at different tempos. So there is a lot of time-stretching and pitch-shifting involved. I am converting all these parts into formats that I will be able to use in Abelton live at the event to add the backing track, and increase the tempo gradually during the practice without changing the pitch for the singing...
Video for day 5: "Stepping and Clapping." Here I give a very quick demonstration of how we can use rhythmic syllables to guide the stepping and clapping pattern.
I once again want to express the gratitude I have to Reinhard and Cornelia Flatischler for what I learned from them. The process that we will follow in this event will not be a "normal" TaKeTiNa process, but will make use of several TaKeTiNa techniques that are very helpful for collectively sinking into rhythmic trance.
Video for day 6: "The Intention." Here I talk about some of the philosophy behind this practice, while demonstrating the stepping and clapping pattern.
You may notice that I make several mistakes in the stepping and clapping pattern while I am talking. Falling out is an important part of this process. It involves allowing the rhythm to happen in your body by itself, which requires a lot of letting go. The idea is to be able to follow a "stream of consciousness" verbal layer, but focus on it not only as information, but also as sound and rhythm. As your awareness moves between these different layers of the experience, it is natural to be thrown off on one level by your focus on another. But in this process, as in Love, if you can enjoy falling out, you can enjoy falling back in again much more!
Video for day 7: "The Shakti Gong". This shows how I play the "Voices of the Angels", on top of a layer of Gong and percussion which I am listening to on the headphones. The sound takes a LONG time to build, but the end is sublime!
Bonus audio for day 7: Our BFUU event will begin with a 45-minute Shakti Gong sound journey. Here is an example that's about half that long. It is recommended to listen while lying down in a darkened room with eyes closed, and good quality headphones! Listening to the Shakti energy is all about tension and release. Sometimes the tension is very powerful, but then the release is sublime!
Zorg - Shakti Gong journey
Please bring a yoga mat, pillow, and/or other things that will help you be comfortable lying down for almost an hour. After that, we will have a short break to clear the floor for the moving meditation part of the journey.
Video for day 8: "Call response singing". Here is an example of how we can sing the rhythm in the feet and hands.
In the movement meditation part of the ritual, we will be singing the "May you be healthy..." blessing while stepping and clapping. This is potentially a challenging thing to do, but we will take time go slowly together into the rhythmic trance, so that by the time we sing the Blessing, the rhythm will be comfortably settled. One way of allowing the mind to recognize that the steps and claps are correct, without thinking too much about it, is to sing the combination of rhythms from the feet and hands, and then add related, more complex, rhythms, in call and response.
Video for day 9: "May you be healthy!". This is the English version of the chant!
As I explain in the video, there will be lots of opportunity for co-creating layers of harmony and rhythm during the ritual. But it is not a free jam. The purpose of the music is to support the stepping, clapping and chanting, which have very specific rhythms and harmonic structure. So please do bring your instruments, but please do make sure that you listen and understand the structure before you play!
Video for day 10: A little bit of the philosophy of NadaYoga, and the structure of the ritual.
As mentioned in the video, please bring a mat and pillows and/or whatever you need to be comfortable lying down for about an hour. And please note that this will be a CLOSED CONTAINER after 8pm. Doors open at 7:30pm. Please arrive in time to be settled in for a short introduction at 7:45pm. No-one will be admitted after 8pm. Please also note that tickets will be available online at the eventbrite link below for $20 until 6pm Sunday 19th. We will be asking $25 at the door. Although no-one will be turned away for lack of funds, it would really help if you could buy tickets in advance! Thank you, and I look forward to seeing you there!

This practice is based upon several traditions, including the Buddhist "LovingKindness" (MettaBhavana) meditation, and is a joy to share with others! To get some idea of how this multi-layered blessing, might sound, please listen to the to the "May you be healthy..."   song.
Tickets are available on EventBrite, and there is also a Facebook event page.