Ask Parvati 29: Art As Soul Food

ART AS SOUL FOOD


Dear Parvati,
I have been thinking about creative expression and how not all expressions are expansive. I recently had a pop song stuck in my head (Adele’s “Someone Like You”), and realized that the song is just glorifying the idea, amplifying the energy, of remaining stuck holding on to something instead of moving on with life. Then, last week I was in a shoe store and I heard Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro”, and while it was catchy, I also felt a strong sense of unease in my body at being exposed to these sounds, and was deeply relieved to get out of there. There are other artists whose music makes me feel good, like Eva Cassidy or Chicane. Your music feels really good and nourishing to me. Some classical music feels good, but not all. Good energy doesn’t seem to be tied to the genre of music or even to the words (there are songs with apparently positive messages that feel deeply uncomfortable for me). So how do we know when a work of art of any kind is nourishing our spirit? How do we know when engaging with a song or other work is taking us off path? And how do we know when our creative impulses are in service to the highest good?

 

 

PART 1: PERSONAL PERCEPTION AND THE UNIVERSAL

Thank you for sending in this question. Art and creativity are very close to my heart, as you know.

Creativity ultimately is a personal thing. We each have unique taste. We will respond differently to various artistic expressions. Some will feel boosted while others deflated by the same work of art. So are there any universal themes that tie artistry together?

No one song, composition, opera, symphony or concerto will make everyone feel the same way. If there are a thousand people in a room at a gig, there will be a thousand opinions about the music. That is part of human nature. We all perceive differently.

But deeper than perception, musicology and music therapy show us that certain sounds can cause a universal response. For example, minor musical keys tend to feel somber as compared to a major key. Chords that feel more open, such as a major seventh or eleventh chord, will feel more expansive, whereas a major triad will provide a sense of strength and stability. These are the colours that a composer has to use as he/she paints a sonic landscape. His/her specific collection of sounds that expand versus sounds that constrict creates the unique artist expression of that composition.

The same is true for dancers. Certain physical expressions will emit the emotion of hope where as others will communicate despair. Bringing the various emotional expressions into a choreographed piece will communicate the overall message of the artist. And the same would follow for painters, filmmakers, writers etc.

Beyond this more analytic approach to art, if we are going to look at how art nourishes the spirit, we need to explore the power of intention and consciousness and what those do to the creative process. For example, what makes the same singer have different recordings of a song and one makes your spine tingle and the other one leaves you flat? We could say great pitch, tone, etc… We could say that the unheard but sensed overtones varied based on the particular performance and that affected how we felt about it. Maybe there was a certain “je ne sais quoi” in the performance that contributed to a presence in the voice that just felt right, even if it was not technically perfect.

A singer can sing a supposedly happy song in a melancholic way by changing the inflexion of his/her voice or by adapting the speed and tone used. Depending on the state of consciousness at the time of creation, a piece with happy lyrics can come across as manipulative or insincere.

Emotional presence and the state of mind are communicated in the work of art. On this, we likely could all agree. What about the intention that the artist has to create? Does that affect the artistic work? How does intention affect the audience when the art is delivered? Does it change the way we experience art?

(Continued tomorrow with The Power of Intention)

 

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WHY YOGA IN THE NIGHTCLUB

I am often asked what inspired me to bring yogic expression into the club scene. I answer easily. Yoga In the Nightclub is a natural expression of who I am as a musical artist and dedicated yogini. Yoga is not a physical practice but a way of life. It is about learning to be present in all one does, to see the divine here, now, in this moment. As such, yoga is everywhere. It is about feeling connected to something much greater than our limited ego or will. It is about being in service to life, feeling interconnected to that very life force. Yoga In The Nightclub is a celebration of life and a reminder that we can find awakened presence everywhere.

Yoga in the West is mostly known as a series of bendy physical exercises. Yet there is much more to it than fitness. Yoga’s systematic breath and body exercises, designed to clear the subtle channels in our energy system, prepare us for meditation, through which we may experience a life inspired by our interconnected, multidimensional true nature. Our body, that once was seen as “mine”, is no longer our identity, but a gift on loan from the divine. We care for it, but we are not attached to it. The practice of yoga offers us the opportunity to experience the transmutation of matter into pure light, embody the multidimensional and rest in the eternal.

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WE ARE ALL CONNECTED

Hatha yoga, the physical practice of yoga, is just one of many aspects of yoga, which range from selfless service to astrology and prayer. The Sanskrit word “yoga” most simply translates to “union”, implying that the practice of any yoga will bring together our perceived sense of separateness. As a whole, yoga is an ancient science of life. It is a practical method of shedding excess and bringing us back from the self-delusion of separation from the divine so that we may realize our inherent interconnection to and ultimate oneness with it.

As we begin to understand that yoga is everywhere, we come to see how we are all connected in vast ways far beyond the limitations of our personal will and ego. What I do affects you, and vice versa. We are one earth family. At the heart of it all, we share the same heartbeat. Breathe to be. We are one.

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AWAKENED LIVING

When we are open, life blossoms, just as a flower opens to welcome the morning sun.  We see that the sun, though it is millions of light years away, has a tender yet powerful relationship with the flower, as do the rain and the clouds. From this perspective we see that we are part of the whole. Life is a symphonic masterpiece with which, when we are open, we are completely resonant.

As we come to understand our oneness, we can revel in it with wonder and joy. We can consider in awe how immense it all is. We can let go of the idea that an illusory, isolated sense of self could possibly be in control, and open to an exquisite unfolding of life in absolute perfection. Our actions become not about “me” but about the whole. Each moment is integrated within the whole. No one decision is separate.

When we begin to see that each decision we make affects not just ourselves but everyone and everything on the planet, we act with more compassion. When we have more compassion, we realize the impact of our actions and we naturally want less and practice more kindness. As stewards of the Earth, we each are called to learn to live in harmony with ourselves, each other and our planet. We all breathe the same air and live on the same living organism, our planet. Varied in race and creed, we are all one family, children of the same mother, the planet Earth.

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THE OPPORTUNITY FOR GRACE

In each moment, there is infinite grace. By becoming more conscious as we practice yoga on the mat, at work, at play or in the nightclub, we let go of the unnecessary and develop greater internal spaciousness which blooms throughout our lives. In this space new life and possibilities arise.

As we rest our awareness on the simple purity and grace of the breath, we realize - we are alive! We let go of wanting things from the future and the past and open to what is here and now. We feel as vast as the sky and rooted in the richness of this moment.

When we “breathe to be”, we understand our interconnection. We see that we are not the doers but a part of the whole, the same energy that is in the flowers and in the stars. We know that our essence is divine - from which we have come, to which we return.

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PARVATI'S NEW SINGLE - MARCH 2016
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I AM LIGHT

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SHARE YOUR YOGA
I am light!

Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gone, gone beyond. Oh what awakening!
Gone, gone beyond. Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!
I am light, in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!

Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
I am the light, liquid gold light
I am in delight! Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!
I am light, in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!

I am the light (gate gate), liquid gold light (paragate)
I am in delight (gate gate) transforming the night (paragate)

Gone, gone beyond (gate gate)! Oh what awakening! (paragate) (I am)
Gone, gone beyond (gate gate)! Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight
I am light, dancing through the night
I am light, in delight
I am light, dancing through the night

I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light (gate gate)
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light (paragate)
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light

I am light!

© 2015 Parvati Devi
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