Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dean & Dudley Evenson - Healers Extraordinaire

From the first time I popped "Ocean Dreams" into my cassette player, I just knew that the rest of my life would not be complete without Dean and Dudley Evenson as part of its soundtrack.  They are the Godfather and Godmother of New Age Music, starting their label Soundings in 1979.  Their path to becoming the music healers of planet Earth and it's inhabitants, is quite an interesting tale that can be read via their website and Wikipedia.  I think that Dean and Dudley have helped to shape the New Age genre that I love and am a part of musically today.

In times of hardship and stress I have listened to many of their CDs and tapes.  My favorites are (to name a few):

As I write this, I am listening to "Ocean Dreams" on Spotify and am amazed at how far the technology has come.  From tape, to CD, to MP3 and now live streaming, I love the fact that every time I listen to this album on Spotify, they make some money for it being streamed. Monies that I know, deep down, they put to good use.  While it's nice to have the streaming service, I still support the artists by purchasing CDs and MP3s of their music.  I forget just how much this album takes me away from it all and has a very healing vibe through Dean's masterful playing of the flute and Dudley's soft touch on the hand-harp.  The waves take me to a place where time stands still and you can watch the dolphins playing off the shore.  This music releases tension, gets rid of my stress and helps me to relax.  

I hope that I can turn you onto the beautiful musical styling of Dean and Dudley Evenson.  My wish is for you to find peace throughout your day and have to tools to help you do so.  While you're at it, check out the new release "Dream Space" and get lost in the healing and peaceful music for awhile.

Peace be with you,

Part 1 of a conversation with Dean and Dudley on music, meditation and healing.

Part 2 of the conversation

A beautiful video by Dean and Dudley introducing Henry Han on guzheng.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Peter Kater - Essence of Peace

I remember hearing Peter for the first time on the album "Honorable Sky", at a friend's house before we went to a local Powwow.  I thought this was an excellent album, and went out and purchased it immediately.  The Native American flute styling of R. Carlos Nakai and Peter Kater playing piano, was just a stunning pairing of musicians.  Soon after I devoured this CD, I found "Essence".   

This one CD in his 5 CD Healing Series, sends a shiver down my spine from the opening notes sung by what seems to be a simple angel choir.  I don't know how else to describe it.  

I used to belong to a meditation and prayer group back in the 90s and we used many pieces of music for those events, but this was always my favorite.  A friend of mine used it in her healing practice for calming her clients.  There is just something about the way it was composed, produced and played that it is like no other CD on the planet.  Don't get me wrong, I love so much of Peter's music, that I could never pick a real favorite among his other releases, but to this day, this album just soars above all the others, in the peace it still brings me.  If I were to be stuck on a desert island, I would take two pieces of relaxing music with me.  "Essence" and David & Steve Gordon's "Garden of Serenity" for meditation, reflection and relaxation.  

The voices layer and carry on until the 6:30 mark, when Peter starts to play piano and the layering continues, for one hour and fifteen minutes of pure bliss.  I have had many "moments" with this piece of music.  From sad release to heartfelt sorrow to joy and peace to letting go, and just the simple pleasure of becoming one with the music itself.  I don't know how to explain it other than a feeling of euphoria at times, feeling the strings as they come in around the 8:45 point in the music.  It touches a very deep spot inside my heart and has become a very personal piece of music for me.  

I share these things as a point of passion for what music does for me on so many levels.  I can only hope that you'll find peace in music like this.  To find a calm away from the storm and be able to release any tension, pain or sorrow you might be carrying.  While you are listening to the music, may it give you that safe place you need to do such things.  

I'll let the music do the talking.  I've posted a small excerpt that I found on YouTube, there is a longer sample on his store page for the album.  The piece below is from the middle of the song.  

I suggest buying the album on CD or MP3.  Peter has them available directly through his website or on iTunes and my favorite place, CDBaby.  Stop by his site and take a listen to more of his music, but I do highly recommend this one album in particular.  

Peace be with you,

Monday, March 11, 2013

David and Steve Gordon - Peaceful Meditation

For as long as I have been listening to meditation and stress relief music, I have always had a copy of "Garden of Serenity" on every device I own.  I have anchored peace and calm to the sound of this music.  There are several other albums that I carry with me wherever I go.  Whether it is on my Android phone, my Kindle Fire, a CD in the car or on my laptop and home computer, these songs bring calm and a centering peace for me.  Sometimes I forget to use them and remember that they are on my phone.  I plug into my headset and I'm immediately brought back to my center.  They are always there for immediate care and feeding of the dragon that rears its ugly head while in traffic or working on a project.  

The albums that I carry with me from David & Steve Gordon are:

The one I listen to the most is "Garden of Serenity".  Pure and simple, one of the most peaceful albums I've ever listened too outside of one by Peter Kater, and I will write about that one very soon.  I can fall asleep to this in a heartbeat, if I want to.  I can also get into a deep focused breathing meditation or even a visualization meditation using this music.  Now this might be a little overwhelming for meditation for some, with the chimes and the babbling brook, but it's really a preference of what works for you.  Take a listen to it and see if its something that you would want to meditate with and then purchase it.  Even if you use it for some great background music while sitting at your desk and surfing, or driving to work, it has a calming effect.  

David & Steve Gordon are artists and founders of the Sequoia Records label.  They have released many CDs and are quite famous for their drumming and Native American albums.  If you like that genre of music, I highly recommend their CDs.  There are many other artists on their label and David and Steve do their own albums as well.  Give their music a try.  If you like it, purchase it from their site or on Amazon and iTunes.  I prefer getting it from them to support their label.   

Relax, breathe deep, kick back and be at peace,

(I would usually post some excerpts from their albums via YouTube or SoundCloud, but they do not have any of their relaxation music on either site. So please go to the page links in the article above and listen to the music there.)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Stress Reduction Technique Videos

I was researching a bit about Stress and Diabetes today, and finding some quick tip videos on how to relieve stress as well. This is just a quick little blog to share a few of the videos that I found today.

Enjoy, relax, kick back and take some deep breaths,

How to Reduce Your Stress

Stress Relief and Exercise

Diabetes and Stress: Here are the facts

Diabetes and Stress Management

Stress and Diabetes

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Jim Butler - Musical Relief

Today I am going to focus on the master of musical stress relief, Jim Butler.  I first stumbled upon Jim, not through his widely popular podcast, but through an suggestion when I was purchasing an MP3 album from Thom Brennan.  "Deep Energy 1.0" was highly rated and well priced.  An hour long track of ambient music for 99 cents?  That's a bargain; so I had to give it a try.  I downloaded it, immediately listened and was blown away at how this relaxed me.  So I bought 7 more tracks immediately.  

As I was Zen-ing and Zoning out, I researched the man behind the music.  I found his website and saw that he had a podcast on iTunes.  I am not a big Apple or iTunes fan so I usually make my purchases through Amazon or better yet, through the artists actual site, so that they get the most money for their works.  I started to listen to Jim's podcasts through iTunes on a daily basis and also found him out on Stitcher (which I like better for podcast listening).  He talks through some of the music, but I don't mind that at all, its a podcast.  

I have purchased more from his collection of music on Amazon over the last year and through his Bandcamp site.  Bandcamp is great, because you can name your own price for the music you are purchasing.  This gives us a chance to appreciate the artist by paying more than the ten dollars they are asking for their release.  Jim's music is like gold to me, its worth more than the asking price.  I also donate to his podcast through his site, because I get so much out of it.  Being able to done and help out really does help to keep someone going.  When you give back for what you really enjoy, it keeps the circle going.  

Some of Jim's music is termed "dark ambient", which to me is what I would call "space music".  Music that creates a sense of space in the ambiance.  That's what a lot of his tracks do for me.  It's like a silence meditation with a soundtrack.  I am able to focus on my breathing, but have something beautiful in the background that keeps out my thought distractions.  Am I making sense here?  It's like having some white noise while you work to keep the kids yelling at their video games at bay from your conscious thought, thus keeping you from having to yell at them and raise your stress levels.   Maybe that makes a bit more sense.  It does in this household.  

I can't recommend Jim's music enough.  Anyone that I know who needs great stress relieving music or just an excellent soundtrack for Yoga and meditation, is always sent to Jim's site.  Right now, as I type this, I am listening to his latest release "Chakras for Balancing and Awakening and Chakras for Meditation and Sound Therapy" and the "Meditative" pieces are relaxing my entire being.  

Listen to the links I've shared below and go purchase some tracks for your collection.  Check out his pocasts on iTunes and Stitcher.  Download his app, from the app store, if you are an iPhone or iPad user.  Remember your breathing techniques!  Try the one I suggested yesterday.  I'll write up in greater detail later.  

Peace be with you,

The first release I picked up from Jim:

What I am listening too right now from Jim.

A great video from Jim's YouTube channel:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Just the Littlest Things Can Trigger Stress

Just the littlest things can trigger our stress on a daily basis.  Today, for example, another snow storm, which is something out of my control.  A project coming to a head at the very last moment before sharing with an important client.   Everyone on edge who is working on the last minute project.  Not being able to relax from emails and texts flurrying in.  I try to think, "at least I didn't have to drive today, I got to work from home." but, the stress was still there.  It seems like the sweat level turns up, when you are locked into your chair and stress is flowing through your system and wanting to get out of your body.  So how do I relieve it while I'm working?  Music and breathing.  Sometimes I catch myself in time to let it go, other times I can feel it starting to effect me physically.  Its almost like I can feel that blood sugar rising now that my medication has me somewhat under control.  

Someone once asked me, how come I didn't know that I was at an extremely high blood glucose level, and my A1C was 11.2 (that is very bad folks) when I finally went to the doctor and I told them that there are varying levels of feeling like crap.  Once you get used to one level, you trudge on, and another and another and another come and go and you don't realize that you are on a downward spiral, until its too late and  you wake up one morning and you tingle and you don't have any feeling in your extremities and you come to the conclusion that there is something seriously wrong.  You check your blood glucose level, because you haven't checked it in over 6 months, because you thought you had your pre-diabetes under control, and your meter says you have a morning sugar of 326 (also very, very bad).  That's when you know there is something really wrong.

So, what music did I listen too today when the stress hit me?  I started with some of my own, that you hear in the videos on the site.  Especially the video and song called "Dark Night Distant Light".  I then moved into a lovely piano CD that just took me away last night when I first heard it.  "Rebirth" is the latest release from Josh Kramer.  Josh has become a friend through Facebook and a very talented musician.  I have picked up every one of his albums when they become available, but this new one is just so relaxing, beautiful, haunting, loving, romantic and heart wrenching, it's my favorite release of his so far.  Overall, the album soothes me and that is what's important to me.  I connect very well with his writing.  It relieved my stress very well.  When I sat at my computer today and became stressed a few times, I did some focus breathing techniques that I learned years ago, and Josh's music worked in balance with the breathing to help me relax and release the tensions.  I highly recommend the album for any collection. 

I want to share these artists with you when I find them and I also want to share a lot more artists with you that I have listened to for years.  These artists also have the same effect on me.  One by one, I will post the artist, their websites and a sample or two if I can find them online.  I ask that if you like them, please purchase their music.  It is so hard in this industry anymore to make a living, that we all have "real" jobs, and the music has become more of a hobby because it has become nearly impossible to pay the bills through what we love to do.  So much talent gets pinned under and washed away that it's hard for it to shine through the din of machine.  People need to hear this wonderful music and let it help heal them.  Let it help to relieve the stress and bring some joy back into your heart, so that you can feel vibrant again.  All this, helps to bring down that blood glucose level as well as your any high blood pressure issues you might have from stress.  

Take a listen to Josh and feel the connection he has to his music.  It's what Benjamin Zander called "the left check lean".  If you've never seen this video, watch it, its what I like to live by when I play my piano, and it's what I hear when I listen to Josh.  

Explore some stress relieving techniques with breathing exercises.  I'll share one of mine in the near future.  I need to focus on the steps and make sure I'm getting my thoughts down in the right order.  But for now, slow deep breaths in and out, focusing on each breath and doing a method called 2-4-6 or 2-4-8, is a great start.  2 second deep breath in through the nose, with the tongue at the roof of your mouth, hold for 4 seconds and exhale out the mouth for 6 to 8 seconds in length.  Do this 10 times and feel the stress melt away.  :)  and don't forget to smile. 

Peace be with you,

Take a listen to Josh's title track in full here:

Here is a sample of the entire album:
Here is one of my favorite tracks to listen too off of my CD when I need to let go of stuff.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Musical Connection

Stress is a trigger.  Different things trigger it and certain things bring it under control.  What might stress reducing to you, might be grating on someone else's nerves.  Case in point with music.  There are all sorts of styles of music out there, but what speaks to you and takes you away and relieves that stress is based entirely on your love for the music.  Someone could easily get lost in the lead guitar of "Comfortably Numb" by Pink Floyd and it takes them to a whole other world that gets rid of the stress of the day.  Some would think that is nonsense because its rock music.  I think, to each their own.  What might not be healing or stress reducing to some, can be for others.  

I entered into a heated debate a few years ago, via email, with Steven Halpern, who told me I was an idiot because I thought that David Lanz was healing and de-stressing music, because that's what the album "Return to the Heart" did for me.  He disagreed and said that I didn't know what I was talking about.  Now, I know that Steven has his opinion and that's just fine with me.  I truthfully can't listen to his "beating on bells" electric piano sound or his marimba and celeste style keyboard sounds that he uses on a lot of his "healing" CDs.  Mallet sounds of beating a bell just doesn't make me want to relax especially when I feel like I'm listening to Dennis DeYoung of Styx playing "Babe" and waiting for him to sing.  Just my personal opinion of his music.  It might work for you, so knock yourself out if that's the case.  I would rather sit back and listen to David Lanz play, "Whiter Shade of Pale" or "Return to the Heart" or any track off of that great album.  It takes me somewhere and removes me from my stressful thoughts.  

A lot of people need meditation with silence, I prefer mine with music or nature sounds.  While I understand the need for silence too, I just relieve more of my stress while listening to music.  I also love to focus on something visual to help out with the music, like a fine piece of art, a beautifully arranged flower vase or just sitting in nature under a tree and watching everything transpire, focusing on the moment and letting go.  

In 1997, I remember seeing the video that Ken Jenkins put out, called "Illusions".  It had music from Constance Demby on it, along with some cuts by Iasos.  The music and the imagery were supremely beautiful.  I don't think a week went by that I didn't relax or meditate with that VHS tape, until it wore out.  A few years ago, I connected with Ken and it turned out that he actually put it on DVD and I bought another copy from him. 

There are a multitude of artist out there and everybody is different.  Search around some of these sites like,, and especially, where a lot of artists post full tracks and free downloads of their music.  Also put Spotify on your machine and search the music on there and let it suggest people for you.  

If the music is taking you away from your daily stress, and helping you to relax, then that is all that is needed to bring that blood sugar down and your blood pressure as well.  Listen, tune in, let it take you away and be in the present moment with the music or the visual art or just nature being nature.  Feel all those stresses melt away.  Let the music help you, heal you and move you. :) 

Peace be with you,