I understand that for those of you who are not yet familiar with my work, Harmonica and Yoga and Kirtan may at first seem to be a bit of an odd coupling.
Why would anyone choose to put these seemingly unrelated practices, blues harp and meditation, together?
The Power of the Breath
However, learning to focus one's mental attention onto one's breathing process is a critical early (and continuing) step in practicing meditation, in attaining any degree of mindfulness, in developing a sense of flow (vinyasa) while performing a hatha yoga routine. And expressing what one learns in a devotional way, alone or in a group, is, to me, at the very heart of Kirtan...
My own academic and real-world training in both applied cognitive science (and most specifically, in the theory underlying cognitive-behavioral self-help therapy) and in meditation and mindfulness (with the superlative assistance of Dr. Jack Kornfield) has emphasized my belief in the power of the breath to transform one's mind and one's behavior.
The Science That Lies Beneath the Breath
The subsequent study, research, and testing that I've done around "neural network theory" and "neural paths" and the "fight or flight response" has convinced me that breath focus is the single most important tool to strengthen what I've come to call the StressBuster Response™ — which short-circuits unnecessary fight or flight responses. This of course reduces that amount of fear and anger one experiences, clearing the mind of chatter and allowing deeper levels of awareness and mindfulness.
Click here to see a bit more information on why harmonica is such a wonderful tool for mindfulness training.
Click here to see an article, the end of page 2 through the top of page 4 of which will give you more depth on this...
There's no better way to get people to focus on their breathing, than to teach them to play some harmonica — instantly!
So if, to paraphrase The Bard, "there is madness to my method" — there is certainly method to my madness, as well.
Harmonica equals Breath Control and Breath Focus.
Breath Control and Breath Focus allow us to reach deeper levels of Yoga, and Mindfulness.
So it's not really about the harmonica.
It's about the butterfly.
It's about transformation, through the breath.