Sunday, April 29, 2007

Influence Peddling

Many years ago, around the time I started performing in the subway, I began an experiment to see if I was able to have any effect. After all, I was playing music in one of the the world's great cities, and thousands of diverse people from all over the world were hearing me every day. In fact, a fellow performer noted to me once that just performing three hours a day downstairs, one could easily be heard by a million people a year.

When I heard this I began to see this street music thing as something that could make a difference. To test my theory, I would close each set when the trains arrived by saying "Have a wonderful day." Several years later, Dan Rather was saying it at the end of his nightly newscast. I have no way of knowing how the phrase made it that far up the food chain, but I was floored when I heard him say it.

My work often has me in diverse parts of New York City. From the financial district of Wall Street, to as far North as East 96th St in Manhattan, and as far south as Park Slope and Bay Ridge in Brooklyn. Prior to 9/11 I performed at least once a week at Prince St in Soho. Many times over the years folks have come up to me and declared that my performance 'made their day' or that I had sung their favorite song just when they needed to hear it.

I'll probably never know the extent of the influence I've had on my audiences over the years. However, while playing with my new Gizmo this week, I discovered that the heart adjusts its rhythms to the tempo of whatever music a person is listening to. I've probably known this on some instinctual level all along, but it was fascinating to see it proven right here on my computer screen, and it affected how I view the work I do. For now I know that just by singing Love songs I've changed the rhythms of millions of hearts from all around the world, if even for a couple of minutes.

When Pope John Paul II visited here and said mass in Central Park, he quoted St. Augustine when he said, "To sing once is to pray twice."

To quote Dan Rather quoting me, "Have a wonderful day!"

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Gizmo, Whizbang and Me: Week 1

I've learned a lot this week in my studies, and I'm going to try to relate it on a personal level without it sounding like a commercial. I have called my new gizmo the "Bliss-O-Matic" and there is no point in recommending it until such a purpose is realized. Yet this is a journey of self discovery and it seems fitting that I chart my progress.

During the past eight days, I've not been able to play the game as much as I would have liked, and I've been slowly trying to adjust my schedule so that I could have more time at it. I've been hooked up to the game controller for a total of two hours, and frankly it's kinda like using a HAM Radio to contact someone speaking another language.

I have never been good at things like Transcendental Meditation, because whenever I'd try to quiet my mind through the use of the mantra, it would be flooded with the most obscure thoughts. Just when I thought I was making progress at finding that inner stillness, I'd hear that small voice:

"Did you lock the door?" "Remember that day with your cousin when you were a kid?"


Geez, no wonder folks have to sit in caves for years just to try to turn the mind off long enough for the heart to provide any kind of insight. So the first thing I learned about playing the game was that watching and concentrating on the butterfly on the screen tended to be the mind distraction that I needed. I've learned to simply follow the butterfly as it moves. In this way I can let my heart guide my meditation as if it were my own private Guru, and in just a short time I was beginning to feel the subtle changes that begin when I 'follow my heart,' so to speak.

This week, I've been concentrating on what the inventor calls "Harmonic Inclusiveness." I've learned to follow the peaks on the graph and how to increase the peaks when they occur. It is said that as you increase the height of the peaks, you are opening yourself up, so that the same harmonic frequencies can enter from outside of yourself, creating a kind of vortex of concentric waves folding in on each other.

Yet probably the most profound thing that happened this week, was that as I was out doing my normal routines, I was slowly becoming aware of the peaks that I see on the screen, even when I'm not playing the game, and I can also feel myself trying to increase them.

This is what the inventor calls "Recursion" or "Self Referencing," and it will be the focus of my studies in the coming week.

One more thing: I typed this post while hooked up to the game and in spite of the movement of my hands, the program continued to display a 'clean' reading. I'm impressed.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Well, of all the time I've had my gizmo up and functioning, I've spent about 3 dedicated hours with the electrodes on and looking at the screens. The most important of which is the "Internal Coherence" measurement that powers the 'Butterfly Game.'

The game is based on the premise that the harmonics of the heart tend to rest in one of three emotional ratios. The Ratio in the area of .6hz on the scale indicates touch receptiveness. This is the frequency that one gets when experiencing a hug, for example.

At the other end of the emotional scale is 1.16hz. When your harmonics are rested here you are said to be more 'concept inclusive' and less 'touchy-feely.'

In the center of these is .8hz. Resting your harmonics here is said to indicate a 'peaceful balence' between the others.

The first object of the game is to find out where your harmonics naturally are on the graph, and after a few moments mine rested at about .7hz, with the peak moving up and down to indicate the overall strength of the signal. The first thing that I learned from this is that if you see a subtle emotional peak coming on you can try to catch and increase the peak, like a wave in virtually real time. This was quite a revelation.

The second part of the game is where the wellness training starts. I was amazed that my .6hz peaks were almost off the scale, and I feel really good about that. But the second point of the game is not only to learn to move the butterfly up and down at your favorite resting place, but also how to move the the butterfly from left (.6hz) to right (1.6hz). The ability to move left/right is what the medical community calls Heart Rate Variability (HRV), and is widely recognized as a remarkable indicator of overall health.

So it seems as I begin my studies in earnest, as I learn HRV I will also be learning to turn Compassion into Concept.

Finally, as you can see in the picture, two people can play this game at the same time, and when the their butterflies touch, their hearts are singing in unison.

I find this all fascinating.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Amazing Alex Grey

There is a very special museum space here in New York City called The Chapel of Sacred Mirrors. It presents the mind of a unique artist named Alex Grey. As I wait to open my research next weekend, I invite you to explore this amazing website.