Podcast of “Positive Perspectives” with Melinda Carver

According to talk show host Melinda Carver, at first, her listeners wondered how a spiritual awakening could take place during a rock concert. And who would blame them? I thought the same thing, even as it was happening to me! Hopefully all their questions were answered during our interview. Melinda was an outstanding host, asking questions such as, “How did you balance being a wife and mom with having such extraordinary experiences?” and “What was it like to be singing onstage with a famous rock star?” She also inquired about how I compared my journey to that of Paulo Coelho’s award-winning book, “The Alchemist.”

Melinda and I further discussed the role music and sound played in what happened to me, the implications of what experiences like mine could mean for others, and how my book has effected many of my readers. It was a great interview. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Thank you, Melinda!

DRUMline Interview and Book Review

 

 

 

Mike St. John of DRUMline with drummer Kenny Aronoff

 

 

In May, 2012, while waiting in St. Louis to interview Chickenfoot’s drummer Kenny Aronoff, Mike St. John of DRUMline interviewed me about my book DANCE OF THE ELECTRIC HUMMINGBIRD and Sammy Hagar.

St. John also wrote the following review about my book:

Music is transcendent – maybe it puts you in a better mood or reminds you of your past.   Good or Bad, music has the power to move us emotionally, spiritually…even into action.  In her book ‘Dance of the Electric Hummingbird’, Patricia Walker chronicles her spiritual journey to self realization sparked by a Sammy Hagar concert in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Walker, not familiar with Hagar at the time, is dramatically and spiritually moved during her visit to Hagar’s Cabo Wabo Cantina while on vacation with her husband.  Maybe she leaves herself open to inspiration because the fun of being on vacation in a remote location and the power of music causes her to forget the rigors of daily life…being a wife and mother in Colorado.

Back in Colorado her life is consumed in the routine of preparing meals and getting the kids off to school…existing but not really living.  On her journey, Walker opens herself up to feelings and reinforcing signs that life can be enjoyed as well as lived.    Often the signs she receives are birds…symbolizing a spiritual presence accompanying her personal growth.

Walker’s transformation is extreme and she does encounter cynicism and questions the validity of what she has experienced.  Each chapter opens with inspirational quotes which help open the reader’s mind to the possibilities being explored…although it’s gonna take a journey for anyone to change.   One of my favorite quotes from the book is:

‘Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom.  If you don’t live it, it won’t come out your horn.’                - Charlie Parker

Patricia Walker ultimately acknowledges the signs she repeatedly receives and decides to live a fuller more joyful existence.  She doesn’t progress in a bubble, however, and invites the reader to discover the possibilities of fulfillment and joy.  It’s an interesting and inspirational read (available on Amazon.com) and a challenge to live life to the fullest.  Hey Patricia, did you know Charlie Parker’s nickname is ‘Bird’?

A HUGE thank you to Mr. St. John for the great interview and book review and no, I did not know Charlie Parker’s nickname was “Bird.” But after all the magical and mystical things that have happened to me on this journey, that does not surprise me one bit.

Please visit http://www.drum-line.net/blogtwo.html and http://www.drum-line.net/home.html as this is a wonderful and informative site dedicated not only to drummers and professional musicians, but to those of us who are music lovers as well. I am deeply honored to be included alongside such incredible and inspiring artists.

 

 

Melissa Etheridge Gives Colorado a Piece of Her Heart

Aug. 22, 2009

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Melissa Etheridge
is one performer I’ve always wanted to see live in concert. Since the late ‘80s, her raspy Janis-Joplin-vocal-style has always fascinated me.

I’m not one who’s normally impressed by singers with harmonious voices that sound like the trickle of water in a backyard pond as it slides over carefully-polished stones (although I love Bocelli). My soul is stirred by the ones who scream from deep down in their personal torments of love, anger, frustration, elation, and blow those sweet, meticulously-placed rocks to bits.

Melissa does this. Has always done this.

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On August 15, 2009, she performed for Bohemian Nights 2009 in Fort Collins, Colorado, as part of her “Live and Alone 2009” tour. She took the stage with just her guitar, but then played piano during a rendition of a Joan Armatrading song. She also played harmonica, telling the audience that a solo performer sometimes needed a harmonica. Nice reference to Dylan.

Etheridge, who is a breast cancer survivor, said that she now sees life in a new way, and one of her most passionate songs was “I Run for Life,” about that very thing. “I run for the truth, for all that is real,” she sang. The message that came through was the unselfish need to be there for others, to remind them that the “C” word is not a death sentence. I can’t think of a better purpose for a song than to inspire others.

This was powerful and her sincerity contagious.

She also played a lot of my favorites: “Chrome Plated Heart,” “Like the Way I Do,” “Bring Me Some Water” (which has always been my favorite Etheridge song), “Come to My Window,” “I’m the Only One,” and “I Want to Come Over,” in which I could feel her longing for understanding pounding out with every syllable.

Melissa’s appeal is her honesty. I heard so much angst in her songs—the kind that flows in the veins of great rock music and merges with the chords like a potion that heals from the inside out. Her music is clearly a yearning for self-understanding—isn’t that what we all long for?

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She also sings a lot about angels and love, but not in a soft way. Melissa’s got rock ‘n’ roll boots and she’s going to stomp you with them!

Like most out-of-state musicians, she seemed a bit winded due to the altitude, but toward the end of the show, she really kicked it into gear: hair flying and literally beating the notes of out her guitar. For an encore, she did a Janis Joplin tune “Piece of My Heart.” I don’t know a whole lot about Melissa, but Joplin had to have been a very big influence for her musically.

Toward the end of the concert, a college-aged girl next to me in the crowd was jumping up and down, pumping her fist in the air and screaming at the top of her lungs, causing those near us to stare. She kept apologizing to me, saying: “I’m really sorry; I swear I’m completely sober. Melissa is my very favorite!”

I just smiled. “You don’t have to apologize. You’re supposed to have a good time. That’s what it’s all about!”

And that’s also the difference between a person who merely gets up onstage and plays a guitar and someone who makes you feel it!

I was even lucky enough to get one of Melissa’s guitar picks. (I collect them.) On one side, it says: “The Dreams We Create” —another positive omen for me, I take it.

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Semantics

Oct. 21, 2009j0395952The other day, a man I’d never met before asked me what my book was about.

“It’s supernatural; it’s spiritual—about a mystical experience I had in the middle of a concert that changed my life. It also involves a famous rock star…” I started to say.

As I spoke, I noticed that the man, an older gentleman dressed in a biker’s vest with the word “VET” sewn onto it, was attempting to disguise the look of disappointment spreading across his face.

“Supernatural is different than spiritual,” he said, stuffing his hands in his pockets and backing off a bit.

“No, I had an out of body experience…” I continued, and this time as I tried to explain it to him, I used the word “God.”

His eyes lit up and he moved closer. “God isn’t supernatural; God is natural. He is everything.”

“Oh yes! It’s everything!” I grinned, feeling joy moving into all my internal organs.

The man went on to tell me that he too, had had an out of body experience. “The Holy Spirit came to me as I lay dying in a hospital bed.”

“How did you know it was the Holy Spirit?” I asked him. “Did you see it?”

He gestured an arc around himself. “No, I felt it all around me.”

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He explained that the Holy Spirit told him it wasn’t his time to die yet and it would show him what to do to keep on living. “I was completely at peace and felt the presence of God,” he said. And the more he talked, the more I realized that that was exactly what had happened to me six years ago in Cabo.

When I told him the details of my experience, he suddenly became very excited about my book and wanted to know more.

What had initially misled him was my use of the word “supernatural,” which obviously had a different meaning to him than it does to me.

Semantics.

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Merriam-webster.com defines “semantics” as: “the language used to achieve a desired effect on an audience, especially through the use of words with novel or dual meanings.”

How then, do I get past semantics so as not to mislead or confuse people? According to the experts, I’m supposed to be able to describe my book in one or two sentences. Yeah, right. It takes me a paragraph at best. Maybe I just haven’t found the right words yet, or maybe it’s just the nature of my subject, I don’t know.

If I say my book is spiritual, or that it involves God, it gives the connotation that it’s religious and some may be turned off by this, as rock ‘n’ roll and religion don’t necessarily blend well.

If I use the words “supernatural,” “paranormal,” “mystical,” “metaphysical,” or “psychic,” some may immediately assume that my book is occult in nature and look at me as if I’ve lost my marbles.

If I say it’s about a famous rock star, people might think it’s a shallow account of a fan gushing over a celebrity. Even I wouldn’t read a book like that!

So how do I describe ecstasy in God, a supernatural force, psychic experiences, out-of-body realms, otherworldly connections, rock stars, self-realization and the utmost joy, in one or two sentences in order to convey the fact that I am describing one thing that encompasses all of these? These components are the means that led me to my personal definition of what God is—the realization of the ultimate perfection, the ultimate everything. It also matters not if one believes in God—self-realization is available to everyone.

Since my experience, I’ve met several people, the Veteran included, who have told me that they too, have had experiences similar to mine. And I’ve read a lot of books that say this too: “Conversations with God” by Neale Donald Walsch, “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle to name a few.

These people all describe the same feelings and emotions involved in their mystical moment and many say it changed their lives.

Author Maxwell Steer writes:

“Mystical experience may be defined as being an ‘infinite intimacy’, a sense of fulfilment in which the subject is simultaneously aware of the limitless nature of the Universe and yet of hir (sic) intimate relationship to a force sensible as an identifiable personality. It is simultaneously the experience of everything and nothing, of knowing all yet being empty, of hearing within silence all sound. Different religious traditions identify this state individually – nirvana, mushín, Shambhala, Buddhahood, mystical union, alchemical marriage, shekinah – yet it can be seen as a common goal of all esoteric teaching, an experience of oneness beyond the world of duality. It need not even occur in a religious context. To me those very rare moments of total understanding that can arise in connection with works of art are clearly in the same category – that clarity of vision and sense of contact with some archetypal personality… some archetypal source of consciousness that transcends rational knowledge.”

And while we report similar experiences, each person’s manner of expressing what happened to them is slightly different, because each person is unique in their perception of the world around them. It’s like describing the color purple—one person might call it “lilac,” while another says “lavender,” and another expresses it using the word “plum” or “violet.”

But it’s still the same color.

 

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The Healing Power of Music and Mysticism

Nov. 29, 2009

If my mammogram had been normal, I wouldn’t have found myself in the tiny room with the radiologist that day. As she brought up the round white cloud on the black screen, I sat erect in my chair. Slouching would have been like admitting defeat.

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“You have an abnormal spot on your mammogram,” she announced. “We need to do surgery.”

There’s a lot of cancer on both sides of my family, so I was scared. I wondered if I might lose my breast or if it would be deformed from having tissue removed.

As I scheduled the surgery, I prayed. I also contacted my friends and asked them to send positive thoughts.

Then something remarkable happened.

I have a friend who practices Sufism. He’s also an incredible professional drummer. We’d lost touch over the years and I’d tried contacting him, but never had any luck.

For the past two weeks, though, I had a feeling I should try reaching him again.

I sent an email and he responded, inviting me to his concert the following night!

After the show, I told him I’d been having some health problems.

“Do you have any friends who can do a healing with you?” he asked.

“No,” I said.

“Would you be open to that kind of thing?”

“I’d be open to just about anything at this point.” I felt a sense of comfort even then.

He introduced me to several people and told them to arrange a healing circle dance with me. A week later, I received an email telling me where and when the dances were held and that Sufi master Shabda Kahn would be making a rare appearance at the next dance.

I went.

Entering the building, I became instantly aware of the fact that I was wearing jeans and a Harley-Davidson shirt while everyone else wore dresses or nice slacks. This made me want to make myself very small or invisible so no one would notice me.

As the dances began, the musicians—my friend with his djembe (drum), a woman on acoustic guitar, another on flute, and the Sufi master playing a round, stringed instrument, sat in the center. Three rings of people surrounded them.

Shabda demonstrated the first dance and gave us the words to sing. Holding hands, we moved in a circle.

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Although most of the words weren’t in English, the song was about our connection to God, the Divine within.

At first I felt as if I’d been transported back to the ‘60s: women in flowing skirts, people of all ages and colors holding hands, dancing and chanting a melody of peace and love. But as the dance progressed, I saw that my fellow dancers’ eyes were filled with kindness and I felt myself letting go: melting into the music that washed through me like water through a sieve. When I’d stopped concentrating so hard, I found that my body “remembered” the movements on some primal level.

After the first dance, while everyone closed their eyes and stood motionless, I felt energy pulsing in and out of my body in all directions and I experienced a tremendous amount of love and acceptance. It became increasingly apparent that the initial disapproval I had encountered upon entering the room had come not from those around me but from myself. No one there was judging me. My soul began to settle within itself.

When the dances ended, my friend suggested I tell Shabda about my surgery.

“Uh, okay.” I felt self-conscious all over again. I wondered how one was expected to behave around a Sufi master, a person whose superior spiritual background I had no clue about. All I knew was that everyone was bowing to him and yet, he looked just like an ordinary man to me.

My friend approached the master and sat down beside him. He waved me over. We sat facing one another as I told the master about my upcoming surgery. He said some kind words and told me that he would think positive thoughts for me, then the three of us joined hands while the two men began to chant.

“You can join in, if you know it.” The master smiled reassuringly.

But I had never heard these words before, so I sat with my eyes closed, trying to absorb every hypnotic syllable, every inflection of the foreign words. The sound of their voices soothed my soul as I was swept into the warm embrace of MYSTICISM AND MUSIC. I suddenly felt empowered.

On the day of my surgery, the radiologist scheduled to do the procedure was a different doctor than the one who had first interpreted my results. Before taking me into the operating room, the new doctor ordered more mammograms. He then called me into his office to discuss the films.

“If this is what the other radiologist was concerned about, I don’t see it,” he said pointing at the screen. “This is benign. There’s no reason to do unnecessary surgery.”

Was it simply a matter of two different doctors’ interpretations of the results? Or did the healing circle dances I’d attended days before, along with the prayers of my friends from many different beliefs cure me?

I choose to believe in the healing power of love.

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SIDEBAR: Dances of Universal Peace are a means to revivify our love and joy, and integrate ourselves with the power of Peace through the practice of meditative circle dances and walks, with singing and chanting of Divine Names and sacred phrases from many spiritual traditions.

The Dances are all-denominational and everyone is welcome. For more information, please visit http://www.riverrock.org/peace/index.html or http://www.dancesofuniversalpeace.org/

Rock Music Makes You Explode into the Stars

May 6, 2009

It should be illegal to feel this good.

Last weekend I had the privilege of seeing Sammy Hagar and the Wabos in concert in South Lake Tahoe. I was in the front row as Sammy came over and sat down on the stage right in front of me to play the intro to “Bad Motor Scooter.” I had to back up so he could get his red shoes over the edge of the stage.

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When Sammy played his slide guitar, I watched his fingers move over the strings, his thumb encased in a clear glass slide, his hands finding the exact place on the strings and quivering to create the vibration and make the sound come alive.

The sound was bigger than Sammy, bigger than the audience, bigger than all of it put together and it spilled out of the giant speakers and bounced off the crowd in the sold-out South Shore Room at Harrah’s.

As he played, the energy of the moment was so intense, I was afraid to absorb it for fear that it would overload my senses. So to counteract it, I hid behind my camera and told myself if I didn’t get pictures, I would forever regret it. Every now and then I lowered the camera and let the energy flow into me, but I didn’t let it enter me completely; it was too powerful.

And now that it’s “safe” to think about it, I realize that great rock music makes me fall to pieces like that. I love/hate this feeling.

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Rock music elicits a loss of self-control that fuses pain and pleasure. It’s a form of therapy that forces us to let go and allow raw feelings to surface, things that perhaps “decent” people would consider taboo and refuse to acknowledge.

That only makes it more delicious.

But because of this, we are restored.

Experiencing a live rock ‘n’ roll performance full force is also like having spontaneous, unprotected sex. It puts you in that moment where it’s do or die, on the edge where there’s no turning back. It’s so extreme that you are willing to let it take you even though you know better. You’ve found yourself in that moment—sweating, heart pounding and consumed with an ache that can’t be extinguished by any other means. And although your logical mind says you shouldn’t be doing this, your emotions are out of control.

It’s like trying to halt a galloping stallion who doesn’t feel the pain of the bit puncturing the roof of his mouth as you pull back on the reins. The drive in him is unbearable. He knows where he needs to go and all you can do is hold on and enjoy the exhilaration of the ride.

How does one harness a feeling like that? Body and spirit open wide to take it all in now, to take it in hard. And it hurts so fine as you explode into the stars.

It’s rock ‘n’ roll, Baby, you don’t control it; it controls you.

Give me more.

A Gift Of Love: Deepak & Friends Present Music Inspired By The Love Poems Of Rumi

A Gift Of Love: Deepak & Friends Present Music Inspired By The Love Poems Of RumiApril 23, 2009

It never ceases to amaze me how things have fallen into place since my mystical experience at Sammy Hagar’s concert in 2003. I take one step and the next already seems laid out for me. I can hardly not stay on this path. It’s as if the Universe has dictated its certainty since longer than the concept of time.

Last December, I happened upon this CD–selected writings of Rumi read aloud by celebrities such as Madonna, Deepak Chopra, Blythe Danner, Demi Moore, Goldie Hawn, Debra Winger and others. Rumi was a 13th century poet, Sufi and mystic who composed over 30,000 amazing verses.

As I listened to the online sample of this album, I heard Demi Moore’s beautiful voice reading one of Rumi’s poems, “Do You Love Me?”

The words took my breath away. My intellectual mind told me that the poems were written by a man for his lover, but when I listened, the words perfectly described the mystical experience I’d had years earlier. They sounded like something I wish I would have written to illustrate the connection with God I’d felt so fully.

Where does God end and lover begin?

God does not end. God is the ultimate lover, as my experience was the ultimate high. I saw profoundly in that moment, that love, lover and Beloved are one.

God is a constant that permeates and comprises each grain of sand, each human being and each note of music.

In the following video, Jared Harris reads Rumi’s poem “Looking for Your Face.” It is the best example I can give you of how I felt during my soul’s revelation one hot night in Mexico; my entire being floating in the ecstasy of discovering my truth in the “face” of God:

Video by: DrBillRamos

Thunder in Our Hearts

May 12, 2010

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We be shakin’ the walls, baby!

It was like an explosion roaring up from the center of the earth and flooding the hearts of everyone in the room. The drum journey was led by professional drummer Gayan Gregory Long and attended by Harley people, rock ‘n’ rollers, writers, homemakers, accountants—those from all walks of life. Wonderful!

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Gayan and I became friends several years ago, when he taught the music portion of a grief workshop I attended after my parents died. The experience was magical to me and it showed me the role music played in my mystical transformation through Sammy Hagar’s concert in 2003. Since then, it has been my goal to help others find this magic for themselves.

Which is why I wrote my book. And also why Gayan and I wanted to present this workshop. There will be many more to come.

 

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I wanted to give people an experience they might not normally have, invite them to step outside of their comfort zones, because you never know where your truths might be hiding. I had hoped that people might lose themselves and rediscover themselves through music like I did. I wanted to show them how sound can open our hearts and teach us new things about ourselves; because you see, I have learned that the avenues to self-awareness are as varied as the stars. So how do we know what’s right for us and what isn’t, if we don’t take the time to look in other directions? You just might discover a new star that no one has ever seen before. Even better, you just might discover that YOU are that new star.

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I watched the faces of the participants as they entered the room and sat down behind their drums. Some looked intimidated; most looked bewildered. But the more they drummed, the more I saw their faces change as their spirits began to integrate some of the drum’s lessons into their hearts.

 

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Then I witnessed smiles emerging, confidence building and warmth spreading throughout the group. Yes!  

The experience was also personal. As I drummed, I felt myself becoming entranced in the beat—so authoritative, so strong, so real. When I quit worrying about whether I was supposed to be using my left hand or my right, or whether there were two bass slaps and one tone or two tone slaps and one bass, my body somehow knew exactly what to do. Apparently this is something I still need to work on—quit trying to be perfect and just be. The more I allowed the rhythm and the sound to take me, the more I recognized that I should be proud of my imperfections, because by struggling to be something I’m not (perfect) I’m not being true to Who I really Am.

I also realized that I’m already perfect in my imperfection, and I should celebrate that fact. I did—through the drum. It was like sending a prayer of gratitude through the vibration, up to heaven.

Gayan taught us simple beats and assigned everyone a job, to sing, shake bells or keep the rhythm. All of us somehow all melted into one hypnotic pulse. And when I became conscious of how good we actually sounded, my soul soared even higher.

 

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During Gayan’s solo, I felt the vibration from his playing on the head of my drum in front of me. Isn’t this so like life? As human beings, we interact with one another and send vibrations between us. Only this time I could actually feel them with my hands, like tangible proof of feelings, as if to say, “Here I am, take me or not,” offered to anyone who needed to claim it without the duality of acceptance or non-acceptance.

 

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 Gayan talked about the sensation of holding the drum between our legs. I was surprised that he addressed this because the first time I held a drum in this manner, I thought something was wrong with me since it felt sort of sexual. I wrote about this in DANCE OF THE ELECTRIC HUMMINGBIRD. But it’s also symbolic. By holding the drum so close to our bodies, we acknowledge the fact that we are bringing it into a very personal space within us. Maybe that’s why it was so magical—its rhythm entered me in a way I’d never known before—just as it had done in the past.

These lessons continue to grow within me and the more I allow myself to go with the flow, the more I learn about life and myself. So I have to ask, “Am I playing music or is music playing me?”

If you fall far enough under its spell, you won’t be able to answer this question.