Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Da Vinci Code Itinerary - Israel Travel Tips

Next week my editor will arrive from New York, for a two week vacation. She will be coming to visit in the Galilee, and I will take her to visit the Well, where Mary Magdalene met up with Jesus, to the Hula Valley, to great, little know eateries and other ancient, biblical treasure sites.

I'll keep you guys abreast, by writing and audio logging in.

This Saturday I visited a natural olive oil soap factory in the Druze village of Bet Jan. Bet Jan is one of the highest villages in Israel, with gorgeous views overlooking the entire northern part of the country.

To learn more about this soap, visit www.ayanatural.com

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Israel Museum - Jerusalem Tour

I was in Jerusalem for the filming of "Jerusalem of Ancient Days", a prime time extravaganza which will be aired this evening on the most popular tv channel.

It was an honor to participate in this production. My role is to play ancient percussion - frame drums and "mitziltayim" (biblical finger cymbals).

I had a free morning on Monday before stage call. I went to the Israel museum in search of archaeological finds of frame drums and finger cymbals. I was sooooooooooooo excited to discover five or six different statues of clay and bronze - of women playing frame drums (Layne - you'd love it!) and one of a man playing frame drum. I was particularly excited to discover a statuette of Sekhmet (to whom I am forever indebted) found in the northern Negev desert, dated 1000 BC.

In addition, there were many goddess figurines, some of which I had the priveledge of learning about during an in service training last month in the Galilee.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Cymbals and Silence

It's quite amazing to see silence at work in the midst of prime time television production.

There we are, the "special" ancient instruments, on one side, and on the other, the big boys house band (ala David Letterman)... with the egos to match. Doesn't leave much quiet for the ancient stuff to be heard.

One day I was playing the sagat (finger cymbals) and one of the keyboardists says to me: "You should play the tambourine. It'll be much better than the finger cymbals", he wanted it his way. He went to the music director and told him his idea. I pretended I didn't hear. The music director replied, "They're great, they're visual... the cymbals are the right thing". Score a point for the Goddess of wisdom and peace :-)....

Then there was the band "Shuti Hanevua" (Fools of Wisdom) who came with their song of Jerusalem with a very strong intent of minimalism and meditation. I play the finger cymbals as small cymbals or bells.... one ding every eight bars. It is the classic case of small being grand. As we were rehearsing and then recording, I fell into trance. At one point, I noticed the television camera recording the dance of my hands playing the "ding". I hope it gets broadcast so that I can record it and put it up on the site... providing a visual experience of the audial meditation.

I am really enjoying this project.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


I am writing from my friend and colleague Sunita's house. It is almost midnight, after a very long day of rehearsals.

I was in Tel Aviv and didn't feel like leaving yet. None of my friends were available to meet, so I decided to take myself to the movies. The only one available at the hour I arrived was a documentary called "The Funeral Group", surrounding the lives of a group of senior citizens who meet every week at Theodore Herzls grave in the national cememtary in Jerusalem. The film follows their lives, and their concerns and their loves - coming to terms with their gains and their losses... many of them holocaust survivors. It was quite a beautiful story... made me think alot about the value of life.

Leaving the center out onto King George Street, I stopped for a quick bite to eat at the noodles place. Eating my vegetable pad thai outside, I watched humanity pass me by on the street. There was a guy close by lying on two pieces of cardboard... hand stretched out, asking for alms. At one point, a man tapped him on the shoulder. The guy got up and they spoke. It was amazing to watch the shift in his demeanor. He had a real presence about him. I was moved to write him a note.. On the paper cover of my chopsticks I wrote... "My gift to you today is to invite you to dare discover what your unique gifts are and begin to give them away. This will bring you happiness health and wealth." I finished my food, got up, placed it in his hand and moved on. I felt myself being used as an instrument. I crossed the street looked back. The man had sat up and was reading the note. It looked like he was contemplating.

It brought me to contemplation on relationship. I was feeling very moved by the film. Wondering about my own life. Feeling disconnected from my brother whom I love very much but with whom I hear very seldom. It saddens me. I would like to know him more... always have. My earlier life was spent running after him, until I discovered that this only pushed him away even more.

"Why don't I call him?" I thought to myself... instead of staying away. Immediately a pang of pain arose... I don't like being the one to always initiate our communication. Isn't he interested in me? Does he not care? I stopped myself in mid thought... changing the peptides in my brain.

Suddenly a wave of calm washed through my innards... I accept life on life's terms, I heard myself say in silence, without expressing it in words. I began to think about all the things I am grateful for. I thought about how grateful I am to have a brother who is happy with what he does. Accepting what IS instead of what I expect, makes things so much more comfortable.

I thought about this entire week. How grateful I am to have so many friends upon who I can count, and stay with upon a moment's notice. "Express your gratitude immediately", the inner voice said. "I'll start with Sunita". The cell phone rang. It was Sunita calling to see if I am staying with them this evening.

"I have just turned onto your street. I was just thinking about you..." I thanked her for her hospitality and expressed my appreciation for having her in my life.

What a blessing to have this computer at my disposal so that I can write this message before signing, taking a shower a going off to a grateful, slumbered sleep.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Israel Travel Tip - Jerusalem

Yesterday I had the great fortune of spending the afternoon and early evening in Jerusalem for the recording of ancient music and describing it's use in biblical times. The recording occured in the City of David, site of excavations of part of King David's palace.

The site overlooks the most dramatic and picturesque valley... stone buildings of the East Jerusalem village. Goats meandering, children playing, caves hidden behind open crevices in the old stone walls.

The City of David lies just outside of the Old City walls, and adjacent to the Western Wall.

There is a cool water duct where you can go... it's great in the summer... you actually walk in 2-4 inches of water - along with flashlights. I remember going when I was a teenager. The memory stays with me until today.

If you want a special adventure in Jerusalem with an incredible view, this is it.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Keeping at it

I keep trying to find a way to blog through the telephone so that I can post from the music rehearsals this week.

No go. I haven't been successful and it's frustrating. How am I posting frustration on an inspirational blog? The answer is that I am posting to say that I am going to take it one step at a time, keeping at it until I get my answer and solve this problem.

Keeping at it, one step at a time, eventually brings results.

I'll let you know what happens.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Wandering Jew

I just came upon Wandering Scribes blog and was really inspired by it. It occured to me that I am about to be the Wandering Jew for the next week and a half to two weeks. I will be participating in a television production about Jerusalem... they have an orchestra with ancient instruments... I am one of the musicians. Also thrilled that they invited me to participate... especially after so many years of trekking this untravelled path of healing music, voice and rhythm, starting with singing on the inner city trains of Paris (a daily meditation of mine which lasted one year).

I thought it would be cool to phone in from the rehearsals and from Jerusalem so that you can hear all these cool instruments. Now I am going to go learn how to use the mobile blogger.

Monday, May 08, 2006

On the other side of the fence

Today is one of those sweet days when the world has come knocking at my door.

It follows a few weeks of exhaustion and dancing with the dragons of my past. Work has been slow and income along with it.

ButI decided to change my steps. Instead of entering into a tight tango with my fear and discomfort, I chose to waltz right by them instead. Not that I didn't feel the pain mind you... I did. It's just that in the face of it, I chose to love myself and to find a soft response - trusting the universe to act in its own time, instead of according to my stopwatch.

So, today people are calling to offer me really fun and nice paying projects. People who really want me and appreciate the unique value I have to offer. My "difference" is beginning to pay off and I am so grateful.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Sacred Dance Meditation

Here is the unedited version (with a slightly higher pitch than was orginally recorded due to technical challenges)...

At any rate, it's really cool to hear people in the background at times, and also hearing the instructions, and towards the end, just women singing, and then the men, and then we end together. It was quite a beautiful experience.

Click to listen

If the link does not work, paste this into your browser to listen:


Mourning and Spiritual Healing

The last two days - Memorial Day (Yom HaZikaron) and Yom HaAtzmaut I spent with 100+ Jews and Arabs and Germans at a healing conference giving voice to the happiness and the pain of what brought about the state of Israel, plus disaster for the Palestinian community... providing a container and a compassionate ear for all.

This is the fourth year that I have participated. Yesterday morning, we had a multi-faith prayer service: Jewish, Moslem (Sufi), Christian lead by religious leaders, a Sufi Zikr with me playing the drum in the center of the circle followed by me leading a closing prayer - highlighting the Divine feminine - allowing the fundamental sound to flow through our own body instruments... chanting AUM-N - AMEN - five times in honor of the Divine Mother. We focused upon the essence of the sound rather than the "sounding of it"

The change in energy was palpable.... lighter, less angst, more softness, more silence. This year, the two day conference was held at Nes Amim, a Kibbutz in the north populated by German and Dutch Christians who come to work and volunteer towards the healing of Jewish-Christian relations... it is part of their own healing from the wounds of the Holocaust.

And of course, the wounds of the Holocaust gave way to the formation of this state... which caused the Palestinians their own displacement. Victims, on the way to healing, often become unwitting vicitimizers.

What an opportunity having the three populations together - meeting pain and forging a new road to a better future. I left so inspired and uplifted. In past years perhaps 20-30 people participated. There were three times the number of pariticpants and three times the number of Arabs who participated.

To learn more, visit: http://www.middleway.org and hamakom.org.il the two organizing groups who do such a fabulous job of organizing and leading. It is special that the organizing spirit behind the event are three women: Michal TalYa, Ibtisam Mahamid and Shiri Tal.

I recorded our evening prayer dance and song and will send it as soon as I get it into the computer.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Israel Palestine Meet for Spiritual Healing

In about two hours, I will leave to participate in a powerful two day event:
Independence - Naqba... a Jewish - Arab meeting giving voice to both Jewish Israeli and Palestinian (within and without Israeli borders)sentiments regarding loss, conflict and eventual healing.

More than 100 people are due to attend. There are workshops, meditations, prayer ceremonies reflecting all of the faiths involved.

I will be giving a music meditation tomorrow morning as part of the prayer ceremony.

My experience over the past three years has been - heat... that when given a place to openly express - contained by authentic and empathetic listening.. transforms alchemically into warmth and healing bonds of friendship.

If I can get the telephone number right for mobile blogging, I'll call from there to post.