Archive for February, 2010

Prize Draw Closing

Dear Readers,

Two months into the Spiritual London experience we are absolutely overwhelmed by your response and feedback. Thank you for believing in us and taking your time to spread the word or add a listing. Please continue to do so in the future – for a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step and whithout your support Spiritual London is just a piece of coding.

The first price draw is now over as we received over a hundred listings in no time. To remind you of the prices:
–3 interviews/reviews and a photo reportage which will be published in the Spiritual London blog.
–3 banner advertising options on our site worth £50 each.
–5 featured listings for 3 months!

And the lucky Spiritual Londoners are:

We are going to interview/visit/review:

Still Point London, Liverpool Street
Gallery Cafe, Bethnal Green
Sinchronicity Studios, Clapham

And these guys are going to have their very own banner ads:

Shamanic Practicioner
Becky Walsh Intuitionist
Kagyu Samye Dzong Tibetan Buddhist Centre

Finally five of the Spiritual Londoners will receive free featured ads.

We will contact the lucky winners very soon and by popular request will organise a round two of this fun price draw, so watch this space.

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The Power of Chant

Creation begins with the activity of consciousness, which may be called vibration, and every vibration starting from its original source is the same, differing only in its tone and rhythm caused by a greater or lesser degree of force behind it.- Hazrat Inayat Khan

Scientists, mystics & scholars throughout the ages have articulated the understanding that we exist in a field of constantly vibrating awareness.  It is truly as if we are part of a grand symphony, each of us a unique and beautiful instrument resonating within the whole.

Sound changes our vibration, because we ourselves are vibration.   We encounter a huge range of sound vibration every moment of our lives – a car alarm in the street, a baby crying on the bus, a thumping techno beat in a club, a loving word whispered in our ear – each of which communicate vastly diverse messages to different levels of our being.  In an urban environment we may find ourselves shutting down and playing our ipod to drown out this huge seeming cacophany of sound surrounding us.  Yet if we listen attentively and use sound consciously we can use even the most jarring of sounds to attune our own vibration and heighten our awareness.

A tone is a meaning-carrying sound – Dane Rudhyar

You don’t have to be a musician to perceive tone – tones are the living, organic essences of sounds, conveying the colour and character of each sound entity… within the sound of the hoover we may detect a low tone not so dissimilar to a didgeridoo or within the sound of an aeroplane taking off we may hear the high tones that children so love to mimic.  We talk about ‘tone of voice’ – a teenager’s rebellious communication may prompt the response – ‘dont take that tone of voice with me!’ from a teacher – it is not what we say but how we say it, and it is tone that communicates the meaning and intention of our words.

To sound is firstly to listen – to listen for the tone within each sound, within each word, within each thought – for even in our inner world, our thoughts are resonating at certain pitches and frequencies.   We each have our own individual inner soundtrack playing constantly and whilst this takes place within the privacy of our mind, our thoughts radiate and create an atmosphere around us – our mood.  This is observable from without – we will talk of a person being in a bad mood without knowing the content of their thoughts – but were we to attune ourselves to the finer sound vibrations of their thoughts, we would be able to detect the content of them and be listening ourselves to Bad Mood FM.

This telepathic awareness of intent is acutely developed in animals – whose survival depends on being able to know when the next predator is around the corner and also in plants – as scientifically demonstrated by Cleve Backster in 1960s who discovered that a plant could sense his intent to damage one of its leaves before he even took action.  Even a rock is composed of vibration, just much denser, slower ones than a bird.  So all of nature is listening and singing, listening and singing in continual call and response.  Beyond our own blue and green rock, the big rocks in the sky are also vibrating, singing their tones which have been mathmatically measured and recorded.  So it can be that when a planet starts singing backwards, we all get a headache…:)

To chant, then, is to change our whole sonic landscape – is to consciously alter our resonance.  To interrupt the unceasing flow of inner sound and to chant the sacred syllables of a mantra such as Ohm Mane Padme Hum is akin to letting off a sonic rocket in the mind. The underlying soundtrack defragments in order to align itself with the resonance of the mantra inwardly and outwardly.  Of course it is our tone that determines our engagement and the resulting effects.  Mantras – Man – think/mind; Tra – tool – are powerful healing instruments that have been diversely used since the beginning of time by everyone from the Beastie Boys, Kula Shaker, The Beatles and the Dalai Lama.  There’s nothing to say that headbanging versions are any less effective than monastic use.  All are part of the divine symphony.

The benefits of chanting include:
* Physical – Singing of any sort causes the whole body to vibrate and resonate.  This has a very relaxing, releasing effect – the breath cycle lengthens, happy hormones (endorphins) are released into the blood stream and tensions dissolve.  Entering the rhythmic experience of chant stabilises and harmonises our own body rhythms and can prompt ecstatic dancing!
* Emotional – Emotions are energy in motion.  As we chant our energy starts moving, liberating our being.  Tears flow and laughter rises, opening the heart, cleansing the residue of past trauma and connecting us back into the beauty of the present moment.
* Mental – As we focus on the melody and words of chant, the mind becomes still and concentrated.  Thoughts crystallize, becoming clear and spacious.
* Spiritual – Whatever your spiritual practise, we can all receive great nourishment from contacting the silent awareness which informs every sound- the vast silent realm beyond thought, beyond the beyond.  We connect with the quiet, still observer within, which witnesses everything silently.  Our perspective widens and we may receive powerful insights, images and intuitive guidance.
* Fun –  most importantly!   Playing with sound is fun! The creative aspect of us wants to learn and experiment.  Exploring our voice in the safe space of chanting enables us to discover new realms of self-expression, fine tuning our self-awareness and ultimately giving us the sense that it is ok to be us. Singing in a circle also enhances our listening for others, heightening our communication skills on every level.

In the vibrationary bedrock of all existence exists a singular sound entity which is utterly unique yet completely interconnected to everything in the Universe and beyond.
Like a pearl in the seabed, shining, glistening, complete and beautiful in itself – it radiates resonantly, glowing with divine potential.
That pearl is you.
You are the wonderful creative unique being at the core of your own existence.  Without you, it wouldn’t all being going on.
Recognising your own divinity is the truth transmitted by all great teachers – ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is within you’.
In the resonant field of chant, we can remember the divine creative vibratory essence that we are.
As the sound current flows through us, we can sing our essence into being,
Ultimately becoming aware that as we sing, we are infact being sung
By the heavenly silent symphony that makes all One.

Sat Nam. Ohm. Namaste. Insh’Allah. Halleluyah! Shalom.
Katie Rose


Katie Rose is a qualified holistic therapist who has facilitated sound workshops with adults and children across the UK and internationally.
She became aware of her vocation to use the voice as a healing instrument at the age of 15 and has recently released an album, The Singing Tree.
For more info about singing and chanting workshops please visit
www.therosewindow.org or email info@therosewindow.org

©Katie Rose March 2010

WWW.SPIRITUALLONDON.CO.UK

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Spiritual London to Spiritual India for Spiritual Explorations

Dear readers,

Both myself and Dani are off to India to gather inspiration and live in serenity for the next two weeks, so excuse us for not updating you on Spiritual London happenings through this blog and other social media tools.

While we are away Spiritual London will be going through its first face lift – we are aiming to make the site navigation more user friendly and intuitive. Thank you for all those suggestions and feedback that you gave us! The downside of the changes is that the site will be offline for couple of days. Hopefully it will not interfere with your Spiritual London experience!

In the meantime enjoy the movie of the week – Ashes and Snow by Gregory Colbert:

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Last night experience – Jamyang Buddhist centre

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It is cold and rainy and I feel an urgent need to empty my brain and calm my mind. I throw myself on my bike and off we head to a Buddhist centre in Kennington.
Yes, a Buddhist centre again for no apparent reason! I have a feeling that Buddhist culture in London is blooming and is really good for providing very simple methods of living a more meaningful and grounded life without rolling you into a ball of beliefs and dogma. It definitely fits western minds – at least that’s the impression I get after entering a spacious shrine room fool of people! I am surprised – I really didn’t expect more than 6 people to attend a course on a heart sutra!

But let’s start with the centre itself. It is spacious, beautiful and atmospheric. A renovated old courthouse, it is an old Police Court, which is the oldest surviving, intact, Victorian Police Court in London. You can definitely sense the atmosphere and the shrine room is shining in its glory. Everything from wall hangings, a massive Buddha statue, flowers, floors, ceiling and ritual tools is perfected to the tiniest detail. The essence of Buddhist simplicity – I think to myself.

The centre has a library with over 2000 books on Buddhism, meditation and general spirituality and – as you can imagine – it is probably one of the most serene places to study such materials. It is also a place where you can find those rare materials in Tibetan language and detailed information on Tibetan Buddhism that is hard to find elsewhere. I strongly suggest you pay a visit and immerse yourself in written wisdom (an extra urge for students studying religions and Tibetan language or culture!).

Apparently Dalai Lama visited and concecrated the centre in 1999 and indeed – the love for Tenzin Gyatso is felt strongly. Who can blame them?

The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness. ~ Dalai Lama

What else… There is a bookshop, a café! and a library. The centre organises regular Tara rituals, meditations, and numerous workshops on everything from Tibetan art and symbolism (this is a must at least for me!) to traditional Buddhist sutra readings and non-residential intensive (sometimes 2 week long!) retreats which seem to be a good option in case you feel battered by daily life in London… or nursing a wounded heart!

But lets get back to the reason for my visit. This time I was invited to attend a sutra reading course which lasts for 9 weeks, every Tuesday evening. I made an effort to attend the first introductory evening – a sneaky preview so to say.
We are late and are greeted by a rather peculiar resident of the centre – a black cat. Right away I start creating stories about the black cat being a Buddhist and imagination starts carrying me until we enter a packed room of people reciting sutras in English (thank God!) and are tucked to the very end of the room with a sutras booklet in our hands.

Page 6… we quickly join others in reading some verses and soon enough we join the wave of low voices. After a short meditation warm and radiating Geshe Tashi Tsering starts talking about the heart sutra, context, meaning, wisdom, compassion, Buddhism, Tibetan tradition…. you name it. Then he starts reciting this short sutra in Tibetan and I lose myself in an acoustic rhythm of this special language!

Here is an excerpt from the famous sutra

Form is empty; emptiness is form. Emptiness is not other than form; form also is not other than emptiness. Likewise, feeling, discrimination, compositional factors and consciousness are empty.”

“Shariputra, like this all phenomena are merely empty, having no characteristics. They are not produced and do not cease. They have no defilement and no separation from defilement. They have no decrease and no increase.”

“Therefore, Shariputra, in emptiness there is no form, no feeling, no discrimination, no compositional factors, no consciousness. There is no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind; no form, no sound, no smell, no taste, no tactile object, no phenomenon. There is no eye element and so forth up to no mind element and also up to no element of mental consciousness. There is no ignorance and no exhaustion of ignorance, and so forth up to no ageing and death and no exhaustion of ageing and death. Likewise, there is no suffering, origin, cessation or path; no exalted wisdom, no attainment and also no non-attainment.”

“Therefore Shariputra, because there is no attainment, bodhisattvas rely on and abide in the perfection of wisdom; their minds have no obstructions and no fear. Passing utterly beyond perversity, they attain the final state beyond sorrow. Also, all the Buddhas who perfectly reside in the three times, relying upon the perfection of wisdom, become manifest and complete Buddhas in the state of unsurpassed, perfect and complete enlightenment.”

“Therefore, the mantra of the perfection of wisdom, the mantra of great knowledge, the unsurpassed mantra, the equal-to-the-unequalled mantra, the mantra that thoroughly pacifies all suffering, since it is not false, should be known as the truth. The mantra of the perfection of wisdom is proclaimed:

tayata gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi soha
(Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone completely beyond, awakened, so be it!)

Amen! We listen to the words of wisdom as Geshe Tashi Tsering reminds us that the actions of wisdom and compassion starts with the closest people around us. Indeed! I bow inside myself to the wise teachings of Buddhism, my mind is calmer and I embrace all the people in the room with a loving smile.

So be it!

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