We listened to music and chanting from several traditions; Christian (eastern and western, ancient and modern), Jewish, Hindu, Sufi and Buddhist.
We chose music which, to us, had the aim of transmitting the sacred and of evoking a state of greater awareness.
It was particularly striking to feel the different effects on us, physically and emotionally, of music from these different sources.
Islamic: The music of the Mevlevi Dervishes:
"I had never heard music like this before. The chanting was repetitive, even hypnotic, but as it went on, in waves of volume alternately growing and subsiding, it seemed to build up tremendous power and force. I felt it resonate in the lower part of my torso."
"As I walk into the church, I feel as if I enter a different world. There is a sense of stillness in time and motion. People stand silent. I smell the incense and watch the light coming out of the trembling candles.
I listen to the choir as it responds to the chanting of the priests. I am deeply moved. Tears come to my eyes. Yet I have heard the same music a dozen times before, attending the Saturday liturgy at the Russian Orthodox church. The familiarity of the sound is like the gentle stroke of my mother’s hand. I feel my chest opening up and letting in all the light and sound. I have no thoughts. And I stand still in attention. There is no yesterday or tomorrow. There is only now."
We listened to a recording of Ani Choying Drolma from Nagi Gompa, a Buddhist nunnery in the foothills of the Himalayas, singing Ney Ogmin Choying Podrang.
'There was a smile on everyone’s face as we listened to this. It was the voice of someone without tensions, at home in herself, in her body, completely accepting, serenely happy.’