“Seeing is like that. Statements are made with great certainty, and one doesn’t know how it happened.”
Carlos Castaneda

Tales of Power

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-12-19

n
  • @lifeinromania thank you 🙂 #
  • a post from the past for the #omcru folks – a little movement after meditation to compensate for sitting http://bit.ly/fBiIZA #
  • going out to walk a snow covered and Christmas decorated Cluj-Napoca (that's in Romania if you haven't been paying attention :+) #
  • observing food-markets in Romania and seeing them as systems of energy – mayB a strange post mayB not – u decide 🙂 http://bit.ly/f2YRKR #
  • with a specific person in heart, the Shakuhachi was generous with me this morning: http://bit.ly/eXK5P9 #
  • @ronenk ממשיך להתאמן http://bit.ly/eXK5P9 #
  • How to add a reverb effect to sound files with Audacity on Ubuntu: http://bit.ly/hAF7ZD #
  • listening for the 1st time to Branford Marsalis' album "A Love Supreme" … brilliant!!! http://bit.ly/fbyxiF #
  • my first real Christmas tree http://bit.ly/i2cMfO #morefirstsinromania #
  • 2experience the benefits of Pranayama, take up a practice http://bit.ly/ee3CBi … reading about hypothetical promises will not get u far! #
  • not a fan of philharmonic music or of remakes … but Sting Live in Berlin is a wonderful musical performance … just saw it on DVD #
  • highlight1: 1st star of show never physically appears on stage: whoever created the musical arrangements … brilliant, refined, sensitive #
  • highlight2: 2nd star of show is the sound people who beautifully captured and delivered a rich, complex and diverse sound #
  • highlight3: Branford Marsalis and Sting playing together again … just like when I first came across Sting over 20 years ago #
  • highlight4: line dancing in a Sting concert … hilarious and fun … never though I'd see that #
  • highlight5: @DominicMiller1 delicately finding spaces and delivering single living sounds that gracefully rise out of a sea of music #
  • highlight6: Sting's exploding, moving and powerfully resonating voice at the end … outstanding … took me by surprise #
  • fortherecord7: I still think conductors (both in music and trains) are ridiculously odd and redundant people … not musicians, not dancers #
  • 20 years ago String introduced me to Jazz & I followed, I don't think it's going to happen again with philharmonic music #
  • a new post on Bhudeva – some information and resources on harvesting hemp http://bit.ly/gTkvCl – still looking for non-industrial knowledge #
  • over the last 3+ months I've experienced a full cycle of moving away from and back towards Yoga practices http://bit.ly/gCQ6Wv #

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Getting Back to Practice

n

It’s been almost two weeks now that I’ve been enjoying a fairly regular practice routine – it’s still building, still taking shape but it’s presence is stabilizing. It was interesting for me to observe a cycle over 3+ months as I moved away from and back towards a practice.

Practice >> Wanting to Practice >> Wanting Food

The journey started with an abrupt break in practice. It happened when we first acted on our decision to move to Romania. I remember that on the first day that we started taking things apart and packing, something about the energy changed from a home into a house – it was no longer our place. For a couple of weeks we managed to keep the Yoga room clean and quiet – but I didn’t visit it anymore. I  wanted to practice but couldn’t find it – I was preoccupied and the rest of the house was degenerating into an inevitable mess. I couldn’t settle into practice.

The days flew by and the movement intensified, things began to leave us and some of the obvious day-to-day patterns became more challenging – some had to be completely surrendered. The new challenge was maintaining a correct effort in the face of change. There were many things to do and many attachments to undo. Some days were physically tiring and some days were emotionally draining. We had to stay tuned to ourselves and to each other – we had to make a conscious decision to stop and rest or call it a day. When we didn’t we became unpleasant inside and towards each other. Practice was not really on my mind – life was enough of a practice.

Towards the end of the leaving-phase of the journey we were guests at my parents home, tending to final arrangements and all I really wanted was to pad my days with peace and quiet and nourishing food.

Wanting Food >> Wanting to Practice >> Practice

When the actual journey began, getting nourishing food on time was a practice. Food was a first priority and a backdrop for everything else. When we first arrived at our hostel in Romania we purchased basic groceries for at least a decent breakfast. The rest of the meals were usually ad-hoc and on the move as we were again making arrangements and looking for an apartment.

When we moved into the apartment most of our expenses were (as planned) kitchen related – we got everything we needed to quickly get back to home cooked food. We quickly transitioned to shopping for naturally grown food in the markets instead of industrialized food in supermarkets (there is plenty of both). The markets are a vegetarian heaven and we are really enjoying the food (though we consume much less fresh vegetables then we used to). Good rice and lentils are surprisingly hard to find (or ridiculously expensive). But I digress … my point is that food was the main issue.

Only after there was good food did I started having thoughts about resuming practice – though practice didn’t come immediately. It took some time. The first semblance of practice was when I began sitting down for short Shakuhachi sessions – sound was the first element I could access as a meditation. I don’t know if it’s directly related – but I first got on the mat for some asana practice the day after our boxes arrived from Israel and in them I found the Yoga-blocks I needed for sitting.

Since then practice has been calling to me more often. Pranayama is the practice that calls out to me most and has been my most regular practice. Asana practice is also present, fairly regularly but not as much as Pranayama and not yet in full capacity. Most of my Pranayama practices are followed by 10-15 minutes of Dharana. I am looking forward to more regulated days as an extension of my (mostly) morning practices. I am looking forward to more regulated hunger, which I hope will lead to additional practice spaces during the day.



Posted in inside, Pranayama, Pranayama Journal, Romania, Yoga, Yoga & I, Yoga & Life | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Christmas

n

Neither Andreea nor I practice any religion. Actually … I religiously stay away from anything religious (I am a bit harsher on these things then Andreea). Yet we do Christmas. It began in Israel when Andreea would get a holiday blues around the time of Christmas. So we got a small potted tree that only looked like a Christmas tree and grew with us over a few years (we left it planted near the last house we occupied in Israel) and some decorations.

Eventually I asked Andreea what the tree “officially” symbolizes – and she couldn’t tell me and we looked it up. We found that it may very well be rooted in pagan traditions, and that Christian authorities piggy-backed on it for their own needs. So we did some picking and choosing and created our own symbology for it.

Bringing a tree in-doors keeps us in touch with qualities of nature that surround us. Nature is resilient and abundant. Nature supports us. Nature changes and adapts softly and peacefully, even when facing harsh conditions. Nature peacefully brings together life and death in a neverending cycle of regeneration. All of these qualities and more permeate into our consciousness and walls by bringing a tree into our home.

Ecologically it is a bummer to see all these trees cut, used and then tossed out like garbage. From what we know, at least here in Romania, the cutting of trees is (surprisingly) highly regulated and what is sold is actually just the tops of the trees (which hopefully grow back, maybe even more rejuvenated?). Personally, once we move into our permanent home, we will resume a practice we started in Israel of growing a tree over years and then planting it outside when it is too large and mature to have in the house.

A few days ago I had my first amusing experience of carrying a tree home through the city. We didn’t see anyone else doing it (last year in Romania, most of the Christmas trees we saw in homes we visited were small plastic trees – which really don’t sit well with our symbology – fake is not a quality we are looking to bring into our lives) – so I felt a little like a celebrity. Quite a few people asked us where we got and how muh we payed for it – of course everyone turned to me to ask and, given my limited Romanian vocabulary, I had to send everyone to Andreea for further inquiries. Oh … and one last thing … it is much easier to navigate a city with a Christmas tree carrying the root end first – that way the branches gracefully foldl away from any obstacles instead of relentlessly hooking onto everything and everyone.

Posted in Enjoy, Expanding, inside, Romania | You are welcome to add your comment

Branford Marsalis – A Love Supreme

n

This brilliant album was (still is) playing in my ears for the first time as I was writing the previous post. It’s an album based on or inspired by John Coltrane‘s album by the same name. I found this great looking and sounding video of a brilliant live recording. Amazing to see a seemingly simple drum roll build and deliver a clear burst of energy and create an opening. It’s been a long long time since I’ve been to a good jazz concert (and I haven’t been to many) – maybe now that we are in Europe there will be more opportunities for this?

Posted in Enjoy, inside, Music | You are welcome to add your comment

How to Install Reverb in Audacity

n

Audacity is an open-source audio-editing program that I use on Ubuntu to lightly to edit some of my Shakuhachi recordings. It comes with a collection of filters which can be used for all kinds of effects – but on Ubuntu (and apparently all Linux distributions) it doesn’t come with a reverb filter which I like to occasionally use. Fortunately there is a reverb-filter which is also open-source and freely available – unfortunately installing it and using it causes too much unnecessary suffering.

Yesterday I had to go through this painful process again and fortunately I came across two simple solutions to both installation and using it – so I thought to make a note of it for myself for future reference.

Installation

LADSPA is some kind of standard protocol for audio filters (used by many other audio editing programs). The reverb effect is part of a large set of LADSPA filters which are installed as a set. Installing them should be as easy as downloading them and placing them in a certain folder – for the life of me I couldn’t figure out where that folder is. Most of the instructions I found seem to be for either outdated versions of either the filter set or Ubuntu.

I did however come across (here) an easy to use command-line installation which worked like magic (which I’m guessing means that the filters are somewhere in the official Ubuntu repositories). It installs an over-sized set of filters one of which is Gverb which is the one I was looking for:

sudo aptitude install vco-plugins tap-plugins swh-plugins rev-plugins omins mcp-plugins

Usage

The filter itself is a horrific set of of parameters which you have to be either a software engineer and/or a sound engineer to figure out.

I am neither – luckily I found these settings which worked great for me. If you have more refined audio-requirements then I do – you can probably use these setting as a good point of departure for exploring other variations:

  • room size: 100
  • reverb time: 3.5
  • damping: .5
  • input bandwidth: .75
  • dry signal level: -1.5
  • early reflection level: -22
  • tail level: -22

I also came across this page (which I haven’t yet read) which seems to give some insight into what reverb is and how to about shaping it.

Previewing Tips

It really helps to be able to sample what the filter will do which is what preview does. Unfortunately the default configuration for preview is pretty useless – it’s too short ( just a few seconds) and starts at the beginning of the track. There are two things I did to benefit from a more useful preview.

First extend the duration of the preview to something like 20 or seconds. To do this simply go to “Edit -> Preferences -> Playback” and set the “Length of preview” to a longer duration:

Then before opening the filter select a portion of the sound-track you wish to preview:

WARNING: When you’ve found the reverb effect setting you like DO NOT click OK in the filter dialogue (see above) as that will apply the filter ONLY to the selected area (unless that is what you want). So far I have applied the effect to the entire track. To do this you need to close the filter dialogue (it will remember your settings), then select the entire track and re-open the filter window to actually apply it.

Sample Recording

You can listen to a sample recording I created with exactly these settings.

Posted in outside, Tech Stuff | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours