Michael Len writes:
I was on a March study-tour in Kyoto when I felt a new healing way involving chants and hymns. It proved useful and simple. It enabled me to pant to the 200th upward step of a Zen meditation temple – after my 15 friends had much earlier achieved them.
I have Disabled Veteran status of “spinal disc condition”, now exacerbated by multiple myeloma cancer – and congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, and 100% pacemaker dependency. I call my novelty simply “Voices ”, [and to Voice]. Its healthy delights of enhanced breathing and imagery refresh and replenish.
It also came to mind in late March during another cardiac procedure. I was not fully compos mentis – just enough to remember Voices, and then slip back into the mild sedation.
It calls up volumes of breath, easy movement in your center, your choice of imagery, and a calming healing mode. It can soothe you, or jump start you. Alongside your modalities for relaxing, grounding, and mindfulness, it might prove useful with your absence-distant healing.
Compose a List of chants, hymns and songs you like and can easily recall. Make it a short List, small in volume containing, for example, only the first verses, or even shorter verses. My Listed 9 entries have 6 of only 2 lines.
The value is its brevity and variety – contributing to piquing of interest and resulting attentiveness. You can have as much duration as you wish – through creative repetition of your short entries. Ensure that some are “quickies”, that are “on the tip of your tongue”, that you can slide into instinctively – by recalling just a title word or phrase.
The ordering of the items in your List is your choice.
Verbatim? … not necessary:
Chant intuitively, colloquially – not obsessively verbatim. Adverbs and articles can be those you use daily. I get tongue-tied if I try to insert “Tis”, “shan’t”, “Twill” and “the” for “a” – in “Tis the Gift to be Simple” – whose tune itself is so lovingly simple. Be comfortable, be healing … be yourself.
Since Christmas I dwelled on a selection of chants and hymns to impress a particular choir in the States – [I flunked, upon return from Japan]. I knew all on my List, as I lived my first five UK years in a spiritual retreat community where chanting was intrinsic to four daily orders of service.
I now Voice at the drop of a hat, repetitively or not, as the mood strikes and as the occasion dictates. I can use sotto voce, Hawaiian falsetto, countertenor – given the “right time, right place”. It is liberating and, within reason, satisfies my desire to “let loose” – even in a serious manner.
Humming … not advised:
Avoid humming – even when doing Voices for yourself. Chant or sing the lyrics. Use of words – to calm or settle another, even an animal – would draw and retain attention. I would so love to have a Yellow Labrador, for my constant Voices recipient!
You would be introducing variety – by verbalizing short verse to short verse. Your words would heighten expectation. You would prove your ownership of the deliberate, creative nature of your Voices to your recipient. And it would avoid the surprise, were you conducting a session, should your patient try to copy you in humming.
You choose the length of the time you share Voices with another. Use creative repetition as a device for lengthening.
Mind, Spirit, Body:
The Mind is active, as I intentionally use the words of the pieces, and not just hum. I would be listening to myself – “watching” the “printed” word at my third eye. The Spirit is engaged, as I deliberately breathe to feed the hara, tan tien, Holy Spirit, Buddha Nature, Shakti, angels, et al. The Body benefits, as projection of the words and intakes of oxygen make for gentle internal movement.
On which occasions?
Use Voices to attend to your mind and spiritual self, rather than manipulating a mobile phone. It is enjoyable in a gym – your body doing aerobics, while your mind and spirit are in a slower, rhythmic pace. It fits comfortably walking a labyrinth. Use Voices for yourself, or for projecting Light – when you must be with a difficult person; in a dispiriting meeting; in a crowd; or in clogged traffic. It induces deliberate, slower breathing – allowing you to glide. This is so much a healing way.
When I do Voices in bed, I know when I fall into a refreshing sleep as I did not get to the last line of a verse. If you sleep in close proximity with another, mouth your tunes. Can it be called quiet karaoke? Or your partner may enjoy hearing you.
Breathe, breathe, breathe:
Intentionally breathe. I hear professionals repeating: “Remember to breathe”, “remember to exhale”. Now is our chance. A veteran singer in our community choir years ago emphasized that the oxygen required for performing can be efficiently had in frequent brisk intakes – so do take in batches of it when appropriate.
My medical side effects of shortness-of-breath, fatigue, and syncope are immediately ameliorated when I go to my quickies of “Ubi Caritas”, or “May All Beings Be Well”. Their short phrasings give openings for gulps of enriching oxygen. These are of relaxing and healing value – a true healing way.
Dementia prevention research emphasizes increase of brain activity, as well as idea density. These are concomitant benefits of Voices. Indulge in the rich ideation in Blake’s art [on my List]: “To see a world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wildflower; hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour.” How alive your little gray cells become relating to such gems of verbiage! You might Voice similar aggrandizing verses from your List to others.
Were these given you?:
Practicing Voices lets you preserve tunes from the past – maintaining a repository for cherished memories. I had “laid aside” favourites, but now I can sporadically substitute them for my original nine. Putting structure to Voices enabled me to bank pieces in my head and heart that I love. It also increased my exposure to and appreciation of music. This, it can do for you, as well.
1. All Shall be Well [Julian of Norwich]
2. May All Beings be Well [Buddhist]
3. May God’s Blessings be Upon You
4. Bless to Me, O God, the Earth [Christian]
5. To See a World in a Grain of Sand [Britain’s William Blake, poet]
6. God be in My Head [the 1558 Sarum Primer, British]
7. Ubi Caritas [early Christian, Taizé Community Tune]
8. In Our Darkness [Christian,: La Ténèbre]
9. Tis the Gift to be Simple [American Traditional Shaker]
Voices: a gift, a healing way:
I heard it said long ago that “to sing is to pray twice”. Now in my sunset years – grateful for healing and prayer – I am so pleased to have this Voices gift. I minister about it, enthused as I am with its touch on my healing and Light – leading towards wholeness. Perhaps this will be for you, too, friend.
(Michael Len, a Quaker Spiritual Healer, also co-resides in Seattle – where he returns June 19, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)