Song Story: I Am the Earth

April 27, 2016

Today’s song story digs into “I Am the Earth”, track #5 on our new “EARTH” album.

I’ve been a practitioner of Insight Meditation (Vipassana) for the last decade. I love this practice partly because meditation helps me manage stress, calm down, stay healthy (emotionally, mentally and physically), and put less toxicity into the world, and partly because I adore and am fascinated by the “insights” at the foundation of the practice — the truth of impermanence, the explanation of the causes of and antidotes for suffering, and the truth of interbeing.

Interbeing is basically the concept that everything is connected, and that there really is no such thing as a separate self. When we remember and then embody this fundamental truth of existence, we naturally cause no harm, because everything and everyone (people, creatures, plants, ecosystems, Earth) is inter-related, interdependent, interconnected — we “inter-are”.

When thinking about Earth and how we frame ourselves in relationship to her, and how we must shift from a power-over to a caring-for dynamic, the acceptance of the truth of interbeing is fundamental. For when we remember that we are literally part of Earth, that she absolutely is our body and we are simply an extension of her body, it is insanity to harm her, or her beings, or her ecosystems. For we are only harming our own bodies, hearts and minds in the process. Even our language becomes limited when we discuss interbeing — there’s no longer really any her, him, you, them, me, I…just, us!

When we in the womb, we literally do not know we are separate from our Mother’s body. Instead, we know that we are one with her. Then we come out, and the convincing sense of separation begins. It takes time, training, lots of experiences, and the development of the brain and senses to create the sense of “otherness” from our Mother and our surroundings that we characterize as reality. In some ways, growing up is the process of unlearning the fundamental truth of connection we are born knowing. But before all of that, we are immersed in and one with our world, not plagued by the fear, isolation, discrimination, and despair that eventually comes once we learn and decide we are separate.

But this separation is at some level an illusion. We truly are all interconnected. The air, the water, the soil, the sunlight…all of it is in us. We wouldn’t be alive without it. We are literally made of earth. The Five Mindfulness Trainings, in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh and Plum Village, represent a vision for a global spirituality and ethic that really resonates with me. The first one, Reverence for Life, goes like this:

Reverence For Life
Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating the insight of interbeing and compassion and learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to support any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, or in my way of life. Seeing that harmful actions arise from anger, fear, greed, and intolerance, which in turn come from dualistic and discriminative thinking, I will cultivate openness, non-discrimination, and non-attachment to views in order to transform violence, fanaticism, and dogmatism in myself and in the world.

Wow, do I love that! If we are seeing things clearly and accurately (Right View, or Wise View) we have the Insight of Interbeing, or the understanding of the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena. And when we remember and embody the truth of interbeing, it is an obvious choice not to harm other beings, or the Earth. All ethical behavior flows from this understanding. All unethical behavior — and our own suffering, too — is a result of forgetting this truth.

So this song, “I Am the Earth”, is a deep exploration of the truth interbeing, through a simple, repetitive chant exploring all the ways in which we ARE the Earth and all her aspects, and the Earth is also us!

I am the Earth and the Earth is me…

I am the rain and the rain is me…

I am the people, the people are me…

I am the love, the love is me…

The chorus underscores the theme:

It’s the truth of interbeing
All things near and all things far
All things seen and all things unseen
We all inter-are

The music for this song is basically just an electronic drum beat and piano…simple! We were originally going to add more piano, and harmonies, and maybe other instruments. But it ended up being very mesmerizing like this, so we decided to leave it straightforward and trimmed down.

ACTIVITY IDEAS:

    • Listen to the song and sing along in call-and-response format, by echoing each line after it’s sung. And make up a dance move to represent each aspect of Earth as you sing along!
    • Draw a picture of yourself “as” Earth.
    • Make up your own version: e.g., “I am the flower and the flower is me.”
    • Teach the song to someone you love.
    • Lie down on your back somewhere on the Earth (outside if possible, but inside on the floor is fine, too), put one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly, close your eyes if that feels comfortable, and listen to the song, imagining yourself as one with the Earth, your body as part of her body. And relax into that embrace.
  • Consider an item in your home, and explore its path from Earth to your living room. What is it made of? Who made it? How did it get here? Did the sun, rain, air, soil, animals, plants have any part in it? What about the people that invented, built, shipped it to you? What about the people who designed and constructed the roads it traveled on, or made lunch for the person in the factory who built it? Notice the almost endless chain of connection.
  • Listen to our “Meditation for Non-Harming” with your family and think about how it relates to the “Reverence for Life” Mindfulness Training.
  • Practice non-harming in your everyday life!

I hope you enjoy the song, “I Am the Earth”! You can listen to and download (“Name Your Price”) the whole album, “EARTH”, below. And remember…WE ALL INTER-ARE!

Love,
Charity


A New Album…for the Earth!

April 22, 2016

In honor of the 46th anniversary of Earth Day, we released our sixth album for families today, entitled, simply, “EARTH”.

This music is dedicated to our beautiful, precious Earth and all her beings and ecosystems, the air and light and water and soil that nourish us, and our deepest most tender hearts, which know wisdom and compassion, and will, I have chosen to believe, find a way to wake up and transform human society into one guided by healing, peace and love.

You can find the album here:
Bandcamp (physical OR digital)
iTunes (digital)
CD Baby (digital)
Spotify (streaming)

I created this collection of songs as a response to my own exploration of climate change in particular and environmental tragedy in general. It is my response to our current planetary crisis, and also an attempt to give parents and teachers a tool for communicating to children the reminder that we are not separate from the Earth, but rather that our very survival depends upon our taking care of and protecting her. She is not a “product” put here for us to consume and extract from and run rough shod over. She is our home, our lifeline, our very existence.

Given the amazing threats our species currently faces due to human-caused climate change, ongoing war, nuclear arsenal expansion, and the continuing rape and abuse of our “environment” (literally, our BODY) and other human and animal and plant beings, it is an often terrifying time to be alive. We have absolutely no idea what kind of world future generations will inhabit, especially if we remain with our heads in the sand, going on with business as usual, in our comfortable and addicted lives.

But I believe it is also a wonderful time to be a human being, a precious time! We have been given the opportunity to completely shift our consciousness…TOWARD Earth, community, generosity, presence, each other, all the animals and plants…and AWAY from self-centered, ego-driven, growth-mindset behaviors that ultimately destroy rather than create, separate rather than connect, encourage greed, hatred and delusion over generosity, love, and truth. It is time for the ultimate reframe!

EARTH_CD_back

It is no easy task to figure out how to talk to children about these matters. We can barely handle it all ourselves, as “mature”, “responsible” “grown-ups”. So when thinking about how to bring some of this to light with my music, I settled on the messages of interbeing (interconnectedness and interdependence), compassion, kindness, respect, mindfulness and LOVE, as a way to sing about the Earth and our relationship with her. Perhaps enjoying songs that teach and underscore these ethics and messages is one way to have “the conversation” with our kids, and one way to plant seeds in their hearts, bodies and minds for a healthier relationship with Earth and all beings going forward. For instance…

What if this generation of children grew up believing (knowing) that there really could be enough if we all share? That nature is not something to have power over but rather to commune with and be endlessly respectful of and grateful for? That every single aspect of who they are and what they eat, wear, and “own” comes, circuitously or not, from the Earth and the efforts of other beings? What if these truths informed the decision-making and habits and behaviors of a generation? Would not things be different?

And as we sing these truths to our children, we are reminding ourselves of the same. I believe that our kids actually know this stuff in their bones before society and culture (and, yes, our modeling and our parenting, for we have all bought deeply into this system and story) has its way with their beautiful brains. And we can’t get rid of this programming, unless we’re really ready to go completely off grid, off capitalism in every aspect, in 100% relationship with the land (and I commend any souls brave and resourceful enough who are returning to Earth in this way, creating as light a footprint as possible…I love and support and admire and hope to emulate you!)

So it’s our job, as parents and teachers and grown-ups, to SUPPLEMENT (and replace, where possible) the messages of our culture and our media and our institutions with the perhaps subversive but now absolutely necessary message of the truth of interbeing.

EARTH_CD_insideleft

One of the first steps in retraining our brains toward a relationship “with” rather than “over” Earth is to spend more time in conscious communion with her. As an experiment, sit quietly for a few minutes and go back in time, remembering the experiences during childhood when you were the happiest and most grounded, or a time when you felt a sense of magic, or spirit, or felt yourself truly alive and connected to something greater. Chances are, you were outside somewhere in communion with Mother Earth.

THESE are the experiences that teach us what we need to know now, for the sake of our planet, our children, and all the future generations. And the more of these experiences we can cultivate in our lives and in our families and classrooms, the more we will AUTOMATICALLY care for, protect, defend and cherish Mother Earth. Acting from this wisdom and deep understanding will become obvious, inherent, ingrained…a fundamental, inseparable part of who we are.

My own happiest, most cherished memories of childhood all involve magical moments of communion with aspects of her body: creating universes with sticks and rocks and leaves underneath the protective branches of my favorite willow tree; watching chubby black ants wend their way purposefully among the mountainous world of a peony bush; walking down the hill to the local lake, sprawling out with my best friend on a rock to watch and listen to the gentle water lap the shore; riding my bike alone out onto the country roads, the wind and corn rustling in the breeze, golden light on golden Earth and in my golden, open childhood heart. Birds flew and clouds meandered and suns set. Magic happened. Love was there.

And thanks to some intrepid friends, boyfriends and a husband along the way (Annie, Elicia, Amy B, Chandra, Stevo, Charlie…so much gratitude), I became braver with my outdoor yearnings and adventures over time. It started with camping, then backpacking, and finally a year-long journey rock-climbing all around the U.S., exploring back-country granite, sandstone, basalt, streams, rivers, trees, flowers, wild animals, all forms of weather, the cleanest air imaginable, and a deepening presence with and appreciation for all Mother Earth is and offers. I lived and breathed for and on and with the ROCK that year, and my understanding of the lack of separation between this planet we call home and my very own body and heart and mind was solidified.

EARTH_disc_1500

I now live in a city (San Francisco), and it is more difficult (actually, impossible) to stay immersed in Earth the way I would like. So I go out into my wild and weedy back yard and meditate with the bees and the sour grass. Or I walk or run on the windswept expanse of our blessed Ocean Beach. Or I hug trees. It’s harder in this cement jungle, to stay present with Earth, with all the airplanes above and cell phone rays bouncing around everywhere, but it’s still possible.

So if there’s one thing we can do for Mother Earth, and for ourselves, and for our children, today, right now, it’s to spend more time with her. Sit at the base of a tree, lean on the rough bark and unimaginably strong trunk, absorb the energy of this quiet, wise being, so content to stay in one place for its whole life. Amazing. Or find a body of water or a stream or river and sit alongside watching the sun dance in the ripples, listening to the lapping or the babbling or the rushing, immersing part or all of your beautiful body in the cleansing life-blood of Mother Earth. Or dig into the dirt, the mud, the sand, surrounding your cells with her cells, merging, embodying the possibility of that truth. Or observe the bugs and worms and butterflies and squirrels and birds and other earthlings in their daily doings. Or lie on a grassy hill and watch the clouds and wind and blue or gray or pink or black sky and breathe. Just breathe.

So let’s remember, honor, and listen to Mother Earth with every move we make. And if this music can be a signpost for you along the way, I will be forever grateful. I am deliriously happy to be on this journey with you. Let’s wake up, rise up, join hands. The time is now.

And before I go, I must thank the players who make the music come alive. My partner in life and music, Daryn Roven, played electric guitar and many other instruments, helped edit my song lyrics, contributed invaluably to figuring out arrangements and instrumentation, and engineered and co-produced the whole thing with me. David Rokeach (drums) provided the driving grooves and heartbeats and backbone. Paul Lamb (bass) offered groove, so much melody, and an undeniable anchor. Laurie Pomeranz brings the most amazing light and energy to our live shows with her dancing and singing. They are all incredible parents and human beings, and I couldn’t make this music without their talent, support and commitment to this project. And to all the fans who sing and dance along…thank you for being HERE with me, for showing up, for understanding what I’m trying to do and say and discover…we are in each other’s hearts!

Finally, I will be publishing Song Stories over the next couple weeks, one for each song on the album. I’ll talk about the why and how and what of the music and how each song intertwines with and co-creates the themes of the album. Subscribe to my blog to receive notifications when these are up.

I’ll leave you with a lyric from track #3 on the album, “Earth Day”:

Now is the moment to open our eyes
And our minds and our hearts and realize
The Earth is our friend, the Earth is our home
The Earth is our Mother, we are never alone
We must protect our only Earth
Every action and intention affirming her worth
Let’s do no harm and take good care
Of every life, everyone, everything, everywhere
‘Cause every day should be Earth Day!

Love,
Charity