Ours “I am the universe becoming conscious of itself and all that I am”. All my worries seem so trivial when I recite this mantra. It’s like… FUUUU*K… Im a conscious being. I already hit the jackpot. No need to escape… just tune inward and love will reveal itself. This song has been such a potent teacher for me over the years. When Im stuck in a state of self judgement, anger, worry, or desire for perfection, I remind myself to “Let it all go”, because in reality, I’m exactly where I need to be. The lessons are right here, in “this” experience. This simple act of surrender does an incredible job of dismantling a fundamentally flawed question I and so many others harbor during our lives… The question, “Am I enough?”, “Am I worthy?”, “Am I deserving [of love]?”. It’s a fallacy that you must do anything to deem yourself worthy of love. You are worthy just by virtue of being. In fact, if you’re hurting, or hurting others, I believe you are most worthy, because Love is the greatest of all healers.”
Yūgen was birthed out of a particularly profound experience that pushed me to my edges, forcing me to stretch beyond my own self-imposed limitations. Yūgen is a Japanese word with a dual meaning. It invokes both a sense of the profound and mysterious beauty of the universe as well as the sad beauty of human suffering. I have come to know this place. Its wordless, but full of sound. I journeyed there in the arms of the Grandmother, as she is known, during a plant medicine ceremony that imprinted me with a new level of trust for this life. The experience was a living paradox as I met myself between the beauty of my expansion and the terror of my unraveling. At this point, I had been practicing with this medicine in a ceremonial context for years, but while I was relatively seasoned, I came to this ceremony traumatized by a painful experience I previously had with another psychedelic, leaving me with a wound that would resurface whenever I went deep. The effects of the medicine were potent and sprung up rapidly; fierce visuals consuming every crevice in my field of sight. The lights were flickering peculiarly and the trees started melting. Everything around me seemed to be breathing. The ground begun to disappear beneath me. I could feel myself spiraling into the abyss.
My heart beat quickened and my breath became shallow as a panic descended upon me and I was met with my own resistance. I walked over to the altar, where the facilitator was leading the ceremony, and could only manage to conjure up a single work: “Grounding.” She sat beside me, perching her forehead next to mine and placed a large Lemurian quartz crystal in my hand. She began singing the sweetest song I’d ever heard… I felt a swell of relief. When she finished, she sat facing me with her hands gently wrapped around mine, encasing me in her protection. Another musician started playing, creating soundscapes of beauty by accentuating the tones of his guitar with computer effects. He played a single chord; I think it was an E-Major 7. It hovered over me like a cloud frozen in mid-air, and I found myself floating in a multitude of complex shapes and colors. He wasn’t strumming or picking, but held the note in sustained tension, adding accents of a note or two above the fundamental tone that carved the space with spotlights of color; golden greens with hints of silver shining in a metallic glimmer. My hands were still clutching the Lemurian seed crystal, anchoring me to the earth so I could safely explore the friction arising within me. I sat still in the beauty of my shadow. She sat with me through it all, morphing from one state to another; Tara and the messengers of love, gifting me with the miraculous opportunity to reconcile my own polarities and to trust in every moment. Within the ecstatic bliss of my becoming, I was called by the voice of Tara into communion with the higher morals and values of patience and compassion. Her hands and fingers danced between mudras, initiating me in a living prayer of the Supreme Mother. My reawakened innocence took me beyond the insatiable need to understand the indefinable through the limitations of human thought and reasoning, instead accessing my higher heart to align with the underlying totality of human experience within all its polarities. As her gaze held mine, she gave me the strength and courage to dance with the medicine and let the vibrations of sound guide me. I discovered the beauty within my own discomfort and I was able to coexist in the lightness and darkness simultaneously without it consuming me.
The feeling is hard to grasp; it’s wordless and formless. But, in learning to lean into it instead of trying to escape it, I learned to be comfortable in my discomfort as it broke me apart into the microscopic granules of my existence; as it distilled the purity of my rawness and innocence so I could expand into a new iteration of myself. Through my purified heart, I was invited to shine the light of my divinity into form; to gracefully embody my consciousness as I merged into the sun. Yūgen was seeded in this journey. I composed this piece using a technique called Granular Synthesis. Granular allows me to take a piece of audio no matter how long or short, and manipulate it on a microscopic timescale; bending it tonally, compressing and expanding pieces of it, ultimately producing new audio that is unrecognizable from the source. It’s like taking a piece of glass, shattering it into a thousand pieces, and creating a mosaic out of the raw materials. It allows me to take these source sounds and break them apart to create something new. I tuned all the source content to 432Hz, a tuning that is known to have less enharmonic partials, producing purer tones free of noise and distortion. Everything from the Violin to the Vocal, the Bell to the underlying pads, were created by using this technique. We as a people and a planet continue to live a physical existence, and the broader microcosmic and macrocosmic energies of this universe often escape us. We become entrained in the patterns of our conditions. We often get comfortable in the known. My journey taught me to break away from the old structure and rise to new possibilities. It taught me to embrace the ineffable mystery and ascend into higher frequencies of light, joy, and purpose… To access the extraordinary that exist within us, and ultimately, to trust.