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


Song Story: Share Your Love

April 26, 2016

Today’s Song Story (and free download!) is for the song, “Share Your Love”, track 2 on our new album, “EARTH“.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about what exactly “Love” is. Of course this word has different meanings in different contexts and relationships and for different people, but I’ve come to the conclusion that in its most distilled form, Love is Presence, and this presence leads to all the other qualities we strive to practice in life, and that we hope we can model for and pass on to our children — things like respect, truthfulness, generosity, gratitude, kindness, compassion, awakening, joy, open-heartedness, and, ultimately, happiness (or, at the very least, peace of mind!)

I have a daily mindfulness meditation practice that has informed my songwriting and my work with children and families for some time now. One of my favorite and most beloved mindfulness teachers, Thich Nhat Hanh, expresses the sentiment “Mindfulness is Love” often in his teachings. This has stuck with me through the years. When we provide our listening presence to another (or to ourselves, for that matter), this is the purest, most distilled form of Love we can offer. So this song is a celebration of all the various aspects of “Love”, and (as so many sages, poets, and songwriters have proclaimed through the years) the idea that sharing our love is the answer to everything!

The verse lyric starts out with an exploration of a child’s magical world, referencing imagined (real to them?) superpowers like flying around the sun, and running as fast as the breeze. It then segues into an announcement about the most powerful, astonishing, amazing, and NECESSARY power of all, one we all possess, already living naturally inside of us, our birthright, if you will — and that is Love!

The music in the first part of the song is cute and bouncy. Then everything shifts, and the chorus follows, as a command, literally, to Share Your Love. The rock’n’roll energy and driving groove in this part of the song felt necessary and important — I really wanted to Testify to the importance of this practice of sharing love — learning how to be present for ourselves and others as a path to true happiness.

We really rocked this one out with a pretty classic power trio vibe, some scorching vocals, and also gave a nod to the very first JAM song ever (“jam, jam, jam, oh yeah, I say, jam, jam, jam”) with the “love, love, love, oh yeah, I say, share your love!” refrain in the breakdown.

How does all this fit in with the Earth theme of the album? I believe we are at a crossroads in human history, where we have the choice to either turn toward each other and work in community with open hearts, ears and minds, or turn away from each other in ever-deepening fear and isolation and separation. Because of the climate shift the Earth is experiencing, of which human activity is the cause, and all the catastrophic and cascading side effects this environmental catastrophe is creating for ALL life, we absolutely MUST call on our superpowers of Love, Presence, Mindfulness, Compassion, Generosity, etc in order to transform our collective consciousness and move things in a direction of healing rather than more harm.

So we need to apply this practice of sharing love with our beautiful planet and all of her ecosystems, as much as with each other and all beings. And while it is not always possible to discus the details of difficult topics like climate change and environmental or social crises with young children, we certainly can encourage and model and teach and cultivate qualities of compassion, kindness, generosity as we “raise” them. This is our biggest and most important job as parents and teachers and grown-ups in this precious time.

I hope that this song will provide a danceable, celebratory soundtrack for the reminder and practice that Love is Here, we have access to it, and it is time (NOW, and in every moment possible) to Share it! Because, as the song testifies…

Love is Mindfulness
Love is Heartfulness
Love is Wakefulness
Love is Generous
Love is Truthfulness
Love is Patience
Love is Joyfulness
and Love is Endless…
Love is Kindness
Love is Showin’ Respect
Love is Happiness
Share Your Love!
Share Your Love!
Share Your Love!

ACTIVITY IDEA: Listen to the song with your kids and dance around! Then come together for conversation and contemplation. Here are some guiding questions:

    • Can you feel love in your body?
    • Where do you feel it?
    • What does it feel like?
    • What are some examples of ways you could share your love with another person or being (family member, pet, tree, flower, etc?)
    • What does it feel like when you share your love?
    • What does it feel like when you receive love from someone or something else?
  • Image that your love is a superpower that helps you go through your life sharing kindness and generosity, helping others, and also taking care of yourself. Draw a picture of yourself as a LOVEHERO doing something loving in the world.
  • Listen to our Ball of Light Meditation with your family, and feel the love arise and grow!

I hope you enjoy the song, “Share Your Love”! You can listen to and purchase (“Name Your Price”) the whole album, “EARTH”, below. Have a love-filled day!

Love,
Charity