Archive for January, 2018

The hauntingly beautiful voice of Eva Cassidy

January 21, 2018

American singer Eva Cassidy

Have you ever heard of Eva Cassidy, or heard her sing? Eva Marie Cassidy (February 2, 1963 – November 2, 1996) was an unpretentious humble girl from small town Bowie, Maryland. She worked hard with her mother in their nursery growing flowers and plants. But Eva also sang. She had the voice of an angel, and delivered songs with purity, passion, and power. She accompanied herself on guitar, and also sang with a band. She would immerse herself in the words, she “connected to the lyric” and lived the songs. Her voice communicated directly to the hearts of her listeners. Rarely was there a dry eye in the place.

In the film Eva Cassidy: Timeless Voice, Carrie Grant, a British vocal coach who worked with top recording artists in the UK and US, was amazed when she heard Eva’s voice. After listening to Over The Rainbow, she said, “I cannot imagine what Eva Cassidy was thinking of when she chose to make it sound the way it does. But it’s just genius!” She describes how she redefines the song in unexpected ways, “yet for some reason it just works.” She also explained the effect that Eva’s voice had on listeners. “She sounds like she’s singing just to you. And that is what makes it so intimate. And that becomes even more profound once you know she’s no longer alive. Because it’s haunting. And it’s personal.”

Eva sang the songs that she liked, regardless of genres, which is why record companies would not sign her during the days of manufactured music. They couldn’t slot her into a specific category. She sang blues, jazz, gospel, folk, old standards, and more. At first she was extremely shy, didn’t care for stage presence or how she dressed. With the help of local musicians she performed at Blues Alley, a local jazz spot in Georgetown, Maryland. One of her shows was later recorded. She sold two locally produced CDs out of the trunk of her car.

We might wonder how her singing was recorded in the first place when no company would sign her. One comment on Ain’t No Sunshine explained that the world owes Chris Biondo a debt of gratitude. Chris worked as a bassist, guitarist, keyboardist, recording engineer, and producer. He owned a studio in the 80s and 90s, and Eva would come in for session work. He recognized her ability, and said he “would just roll tape and stay out of her way.” At one point they were romantically involved. Chris “was the one who recognized her transcendent, ageless genius.”

In 1986 Chris began recording the then-unknown singer Eva Cassidy. For the next ten years he worked with Eva to develop her as a recording artist, producing most of her recordings available today. In the years since Eva’s death in 1996, her recordings have sold more than 10 million copies and achieved international renown, including three albums that reached number one in the UK charts. Chris has received numerous Gold and Platinum records in the U.S. and internationally for his work with Eva.

Bill Straw of Blix Street Records signed her up and continues to release and reissue her music, like the 20th anniversary of the new 32 track/2CD Nightbird album, The Best Of Eva Cassidy, Simply Eva, and eight other collections listed there that you can sample.

Her performances of Over The Rainbow, What A Wonderful World, Songbird, Falling Leaves, Time After Time, Sting’s Fields of Gold, and more are legendary, many recorded live in a club. Sting himself was blown away when he heard her rendition of his song. He put a copy of her Songbird CD into record producer David Foster’s hands who quoted him saying, “‘If you want to hear the greatest version of my song ever’—he didn’t say it in an egotistical way—he said, ‘listen to Fields Of Gold with this girl, it’ll change your life.’ And her voice is life-changing, she’s that spiritual.”  I love that song and remember hearing it on an airplane’s music channel during a flight. It was astounding! I had to find out who this singer was.

A relatively unknown singer in America at the time, somehow her music made its way across the Atlantic. From the first time Sir Terry Wogan, a BBC radio broadcaster, listened to Eva sing, he knew “she was an outstanding talent.” He said, “It was pure sound. A bell-like voice. She had this perfect pitch.” He couldn’t wait to play it on the radio. His was the most listened to program in the country at the time. It created a huge response from many of their seven million listeners wanting to know who she was. Unfortunately she had died two years earlier of cancer at the young age of 33.

When Mark Hagon, a Top of the Pops BBC (TOTP2) producer at the time, agreed to play that homemade video of Eva Cassidy singing Over The Rainbow, people kept calling in for weeks wanting to know her name. The listening public created a demand for her music. It was a groundswell! Sales of her CDs went from a hundred thousand to over a million in the UK. “Radio broke it. Television exploded it.”

At one point five of her CDs became top sellers at the same time, a feat usually held by the Beatles and Rolling Stones. She was then discovered back home in the USA. ABC Nightline in Washington, DC  researched and produced The Eva Cassidy Story (18:40). It was shown in many countries around the world and within a week of it airing her CDs went to the top of the local charts.

In Timeless Voice, Terry Wogan concluded, “You’d have to say about Eva Cassidy that her talent was pretty timeless. The voice has a quality of timelessness about it. Anytime you would hear it, whether it was thirty years ago, or thirty years from now, it’ll still be worth listening to, and still strike a responsive chord in most people’s hearts.” Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac who knew Eva said, “She was brilliant. She had the magic. And I call it, It. She had It!”

You can listen to her music on the YouTube Eva Cassidy channel. A book about her was written (Sept 29, 2003) by Rob Burley and Jonathan Maitland called, Eva Cassidy: Songbird: Her Story by Those Who Knew Her. Another book, Eva Cassidy Behind the Rainbow, was written (February 1, 2012) by art critic and music lover Johan Bakker.

Watch The Eva Cassidy Story on ABC Nightline (18:40).

Watch the documentary film: Eva Cassidy: Timeless Voice (58:06).

Watch the trailer to Eva Cassidy: Timeless Voice, before/after the film.

A white owl hunting in and out of the snow helps Mary Oliver see death as spiritual transformation

January 13, 2018

snowyowl-mandel

White Owl Flies Into And Out Of The Field

Coming down
out of the freezing sky
with its depths of light,
like an angel,
or a Buddha with wings,
it was beautiful
and accurate,
striking the snow and whatever was there
with a force that left the imprint
of the tips of its wings–
five feet apart–and the grabbing
thrust of its feet,
and the indentation of what had been running
through the white valleys
of the snow–

and then it rose, gracefully,
and flew back to the frozen marshes,
to lurk there,
like a little lighthouse,
in the blue shadows–
so I thought:
maybe death
isn’t darkness, after all,
but so much light
wrapping itself around us–

as soft as feathers–
that we are instantly weary
of looking, and looking, and shut our eyes,
not without amazement,
and let ourselves be carried,
as through the translucence of mica,
to the river
that is without the least dapple or shadow,
that is nothing but light–scalding, aortal light–
in which we are washed and washed
out of our bones.

House of Light, 1990 © Mary Oliver

Seven other poems by Mary Oliver are posted on The Uncarved Blog.

Rememberances of #TranscendentalMeditation and #MaharishiU founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

January 12, 2018

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

January 12th has been traditionally celebrated as the birthday of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. This year, January 12, 2018, is the centenary of his birth. After taking a Week of Silence at the start of every year, Maharishi would use the occasion of his birthday to inaugurate a new theme for the new year for his worldwide Transcendental Meditation Movement. See a PDF of Maharishi’s Achievements for each year.

For example, on January 12, 1975, after hearing of a few cities in the United States where 1% of the population were practicing TM and the crime rate had gone down compared to similar cities where it had gone up, he inaugurated the year as the Dawn of the Age of Enlightenment, saying, “Through the window of science, we see the Dawn of the Age of Enlightenment.”

You can read more about this in the description I wrote after Sally Peden’s poem, To Jyotir Math, in this post: Sally describes her journey “To Jyotir Math” with Maharishi and scientists who met to tell the Shankaracharya about the dawning of a new age.

On January 18, 2011, The Times of India published an article about Maharishi by Lane Wagger, The Prime Mover of Life. In this article, titled, Transcendental Meditation, Lane Wagger recalls the legacy of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi for his centenary year. Don’t know the date and paper it was published in, but here is an image of the article I had converted into a PDF: Maharishi’s Legacy by Lane Wagger. If you open it, go to Tools, Rotate Clockwise, then Zoom up to 110% to read it.

A very beautiful article is A Remembrance of Maharishi by James Powell. Many articles came out after Maharishi’s passing 10 years ago. See A Tribute to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. And Australian Yoga Life Magazine features Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in their Early Pioneers of Yoga series.

Some of my favorites of or about Maharishi are: Les Crane interviews Maharishi Mahesh Yogi | Watch the 1968 film of Maharishi at Lake Louise | The story behind the making of the International History documentary on Maharishi Mahesh Yogi| Peter Wallace’s story of how he met Maharishi.

Oct 2018, Steve Van Damme wrote a comprehensive personal answer to a question posed on Quora: What do TMers think about Maharishi’s character?

These remembrances are just a fraction of what he had accomplished. He created schools, universities, revived ancient Vedic medicine, architecture, music, encouraged scientific research on TM, and so much more. Maharishi’s Vedic knowledge and technologies continue to transform millions of people’s lives for the better, and for that we are very thankful. Jai Guru Dev.

Veterans who learn TM find relief from PTSD. New study shows symptoms had reduced by 80% to below the clinical level in one month

January 11, 2018

SUMMARY: A study published in Military Medicine showed that after 30 days of practicing the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique, 80% of the 46 veterans and active-duty personnel no longer had PTSD. All participants had been clinically diagnosed with PTSD using a standard assessment. By comparison, standard treatments for PTSD—prolonged exposure therapy, cognitive processing therapy, and medication—are only partially successful: approximately two-thirds of patients receiving cognitive processing therapy or prolonged exposure still have PTSD after treatment.¹

PTSD Graph (figure 1)

Participants in the study went from an average PCL-5 pretest score of 51.52 (with a score of 33 or above indicating PTSD) to an average posttest score of 23.43 after 30 days of practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM).

Veterans of the war in Vietnam, the Gulf War, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) found significant relief from their symptoms as a result of practicing the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique, according to a new study published in Military Medicine. (PDF

The 41 veterans and 5 active-duty soldiers in the study had been diagnosed with clinical levels of PTSD, as measured by the PTSD Checklist-Civilian (PCL-5). After one month, 87% had a clinically significant decrease of more than 10 points. The reduction was so great that 37 participants (80%) had their symptoms reduced to below the clinical level, meaning that they were no longer considered to have a disorder.

The effect size, which is a measure of the magnitude of a treatment, was 1.91. This is unusually high, with a value of .8 considered to be a strong effect. In addition, the very low p-value (p < 0.0001) indicates these results were probably not due to chance. The study included a 90-day posttest; PTSD symptoms continued to improve.

“It’s remarkable that after just one month we would see such a pronounced decrease in symptoms, with four out of five veterans no longer considered to have a serious problem with PTSD,” said lead author Robert Herron.

More effective than standard treatment

By way of comparison, the standard treatment, which entails veterans attending counseling and re-experiencing their trauma as part of the therapy, is typically only partially successful, with approximately two-thirds still suffering from PTSD after being treated.

“Transcendental Meditation is very easy to do and results come quickly,” said James Grant, Director of Programs for TM for Veterans, which provided partial funding for this study. “TM promotes self sufficiency – it’s a tool that the veteran can use for life, on his or her own.”

In addition, research has shown that Transcendental Meditation has a positive benefit for many of the conditions associated with PTSD, such as high anxiety, insomnia, depression, and high blood pressure.

“Because it works on the neurophysiological level to reduce stress, it has broader impact than cognitively-based therapies,” he said.

Veterans able to help themselves

An interesting facet of the study was that the veterans were recruited through media advertising rather than through a veterans hospital.

“The importance of this study is that it shows that veterans are able to help themselves,” said lead author Robert Herron. “After learning about the opportunity to participate in the study, they went to local Transcendental Meditation centers to be instructed in the practice.”

Dr. Herron said that because of their huge caseload, the Veterans Administration hasn’t been able to help all veterans in a timely manner. And veterans are often in desperate need of help.

Veteran practicing Transcendental Meditation #1.png

Veteran practicing Transcendental Meditation

“The veterans involved were pleased that they were able to do this on their own, and no doubt the VA hospitals appreciate that there are therapeutic approaches that can be undertaken without the costly intensive care of a therapist that treatment typically entails,” he said.

Dr. Grant said some veterans are reluctant to go to counseling because of the perceived stigma, but that there’s no stigma associated with meditation, which is widely practiced by healthy people.

Practiced 20 minutes twice a day

The participants learned the standard Transcendental Meditation technique, which is practiced 20 minutes twice a day. The study found that the veterans who practiced twice a day as recommended had greater benefits than those who practiced once a day.

This approach to meditation, which was introduced in the West by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi beginning in the late 1950s, has been widely researched over the past 50 years, with over 400 peer-reviewed studies. It is unique in that it doesn’t entail contemplation or concentration and is easy to learn and effortless to practice.

“Researchers have been calling for new approaches to PTSD treatments, and Transcendental Meditation seems to be particularly effective,” Dr. Grant said. “Veterans who elect to learn Transcendental Meditation themselves can find significant reductions in PTSD. The results are promising and suggest that this is a treatment modality that deserves more rigorous study as a potential treatment for PTSD.”

DoD supports research on TM

The current study follows four previous studies on veterans that suggested a benefit for PTSD. Because of these promising findings, the U.S. Department of Defense has supported a randomized controlled trial involving 210 veterans that is now nearing completion.

“The evidence is mounting that Transcendental Meditation is an effective treatment for PTSD,” said Colonel Brian Rees, MD, coauthor of the current study. Dr. Rees was the lead researcher on two earlier studies on Congolese refugees suffering from PTSD, and found a significant benefit after just 10 days of TM practice.

Watch a video conference held at the US Institute of Peace on Dec 2016, Exploring the Science of Meditation on Trauma, Stress, and the Brain: Military Panel, where leading experts in the field of military and veteran health discussed the benefits of utilizing TM in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

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Funding for veterans to learn the Transcendental Meditation technique in this study was provided by the Wege Foundation of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Watch veterans describe their PTS symptoms and how TM changed their lives in this video made by the David Lynch Foundation: Real PTS Relief for our Veterans.

A more recent DLF video, Training from the Inside: Treating PTS with Transcendental Meditation, appears in a report on the study published in Issue 20 of Enjoy TM News: Military Medicine: New Study Shows Veterans Gain Dramatic Relief from PTSD Symptoms | 80 percent dropped below the PTSD threshold after just 30 days of TM practice.

Peter Swan, host of Maharishi’s Global Family Chat, interviewed Robert Herron about his study (Jan 15, 2018): Transcendental Meditation Reduces PTSD Symptoms.

1. Steenkamp MM, Litz BT, Hoge CW, Marmar CR: Psychotherapy for military-related PTSD: A review of randomized clinical trials. Journal of the American Medical Association 2015; 314(5): 489–500. (PDF)

2. Robert E Herron, Ph.D., MBA, Brian Rees, M.D., MPH, MC, USAR (Ret.): The Transcendental Meditation Program’s Impact on the Symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder of Veterans: An Uncontrolled Pilot Study. Military Medicine, 29 December 2017.

Source: EurekAlert!: Veterans who learn Transcendental Meditation find relief from PTSD, new study shows.

 

@LynchFoundation’s Bob Roth @meditationbob shares #TranscendentalMeditation stories with @BUILDseriesNYC’s Charles Thorp @charlesthorp

January 9, 2018

Bob Roth Discusses The David Lynch Foundation on BUILD 10.27.17

DLF CEO Bob Roth talks TM on BUILD with Host Charles Thorp

David Lynch Foundation CEO Bob Roth talks TM with BUILD host Charles Thorp

David Lynch Foundation (DLF) CEO Bob Roth joined BUILD Series NYC host Charles Thorp to talk about the work of the global charitable organization. DLF addresses the epidemic of trauma and toxic stress among at-risk populations. It hosted “Change Begins Within: Healing the Hidden Wounds of War,” a benefit dinner and conversation, which featured meditating actors Tom Hanks and Mary Louise-Parker. The proceeds benefited David Lynch Foundation programs, including the Center for Excellence in Military Health, a division of the David Lynch Foundation helping veterans and those in the armed services dealing with post-traumatic stress (PTS). Watch this engaging interview here: https://goo.gl/zpKLwa.

Bob Roth cropped

Bob Roth, DLF CEO. (Photo Alexander Berg)

Bob Roth is the most experienced and sought-after meditation teacher in America. Over the past forty-five years, Bob has taught Transcendental Meditation to thousands of people, from billionaire CEOs to combat-scarred veterans, to at-risk students in violence-filled schools, to leading figures in government, business, medicine, media, the arts, and more. In addition to serving as the CEO of the David Lynch Foundation he also directs the Center for Leadership Performance.

Bob Roth’s new book, Strength in Stillness: The Power of Transcendental Meditation, comes out Feb 6, 2018. All of the author’s proceeds will go toward helping combat veterans suffering from PTSD. Available for pre-order: .

Strength in Stillness—The Power of Transcendental Meditation by Bob Roth In Strength in Stillness, Roth breaks down the science behind meditation in a new, accessible way. He highlights the three distinct types of meditation—focused attention, open monitoring, and self-transcending—and showcases the evidence that the third, Transcendental Meditation, is the most effective and efficient way to reduce stress, access inner power, and build resilience. Free of gimmicks, mystical verbiage, and over-inflated research studies, Strength in Stillness is a simple and straightforward guide to calming mind, body, and spirit. Read more here: www.stillnessbook.com.

Watch this excellent book promo video, containing excerpts from various presentations, interviews, and famous meditators talking about what TM does for them, and others in need, on Bob Roth’s (@meditationbob) Twitter feed.

Jan 10, 2018: Bob Roth explained his book on his Facebook page live.

Feb 6, 2018: @GMA’s @RobinRoberts & @GStephanopoulos interview @meditationbob on his new book #StrengthInStillness: The Power of #TranscendentalMeditation.


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