World Meditation Ensemble - In Performance at the Seattle Sacred Music Festival

 MEDITATION - it's not what you think...  

In the western hemisphere, the true essence of meditation remains relatively unknown.  We often "think" of meditation as some sort of contemplation, perhaps because dictionaries define meditation as "solemn reflection on sacred matters as a devotional act."  However many people believe that meditation is "not-thinking" and not thinking can be an unfamiliar state to the Westerner. 
In meditation, the disappearance of mind and time can occur. Living "in the moment" or "being here now" are forms of meditation.  Not thinking of the past or future, with time and the world stopped, is a form of meditation.  Time is a way for the mind to exist.  To taste the moment with no idea, with no mind, is to taste infinity or immortality.

Meditation can help us increase awareness and alertness and transcend the physical and mental experience. Medical studies suggest that meditation has a direct effect on sleep, health and longevity.

These results can also have a direct effect on our happiness. At work, play, in traffic, walking, loving, even eating it is possible to meditate and increase mindfulness, compassion and joy.

Some meditations reveal more dramatic effects than others, depending on the person and situation.  If we are calm, there are serene meditations.  If we are more physically active, movement and rhythmic meditations such as dance or yoga may be more desirable.  If life is stressed and full of anxiety, meditation can free up energy and emotions that get stuck in the body.  Whatever form of meditation you try, watch and expect the unexpected.

There are many forms of meditation, from silent and still to rich sounds and mobility. Silence is inherent to some meditation.  Other forms focus on breathing.  There are even meditations that resonate with particular times of the day, and the seasons.  Ecstatic tribal trance rhythms - the crackle of fire around a shaman's circle -  an approaching storm resolving into a tranquil living forest  - these and more traditional meditations that involve sound are what you'll experience at a Spirit-FusionTM concert by Seattle's World Meditation Ensemble.

Since 1999, this diverse team of spiritual musicians and vocalists have created nearly 200 concerts in churches, synagogues, temples, a monastery, sacred groves and other locations that embrace the multifaceted nature of spirit.  The group's mission is to actively promote peace by weaving textured tapestries of sound and world sacred music, with playfully peaceful and subtle soundscapes of nature.  Most of the ensemble's words, instruments, rhythms and melodies are used in meditative practices from various world cultures.  The group embraces many spiritual paths and makes a significant effort to authentically and respectfully represent ancient sacred texts and chants.

Founded originally by a Tibetan Buddhist lama, the World Meditation Ensemble has expanded to embrace a diversity of world spirituality under its current director, whose international recording and performing career has spanned more than 30 years.

Spirit-FusionTM concerts include traditional and improvised material and original compositions by RVW.  Audiences may hear Native American songs, Aboriginal dreamtime sounds, Japanese poetry, Buddhist sutra segments, Tahitian creation chant, Middle Eastern music from Sufi, Hindu, Judaic and Islamic traditions, Gregorian chant, and African dances.  Instrumental works are interspersed with songs and chants in languages including Sanskrit, Swahili, Japanese, Hebrew and Coast Salish.

The group's heartfelt intention is to embrace and share the gift of music as a bridge that unites our differences and invites audiences into deeper realms of connection, joy and participation  in an awakened and compassionate world.  Audiences can choose to resonate and respond, collectively and individually, with the universal spirit of humanity. Many listeners report a heart-opening experience, while others say they are energized and lifted by the ecstatic trance rhythms or the tranquility of Tibetan singing bowls.

Exotic instruments from around the world enhance the authenticity of the group's music: at some concerts, over a hundred instruments are played during the evening.   But World Meditation Ensemble is anything but somber.  They combine respectful presentation with lighthearted humor, literally playing with the audience in sing-alongs, occasional spontaneous dance and even poke fun at themselves with tongue-in-cheek segments.  Past concerts have also been enhanced with aromatherapy and dance.  Musical guests have included many local musicians,  Grammy-awarded Tibetan flautist Nawang Kechog, Lama Kunga and Nada Naga, a group of shamanic sound healers from the Netherlands.

The venues that have hosted World Meditation Ensemble are as eclectic as their music.  In addition to religious sites mentioned earlier, Benaroya Hall, the Seattle Sacred Music Festival, a Siberian Shamanic Celebration and benefits for the Seattle Parks Department have all enjoyed the group's meditational soundscapes.  Members of the group have also appeared on recordings varying from shamanic trance to thantological transition music.

World Meditation Ensemble is an all-volunteer non-profit group that welcomes musicians, vocalists, dancers, marketing and production assistance and enjoys collaborating with other art forms.

. . . Excerpts from "Voice of Choices" Magazine, Nov. 2004