Yes, I’ve been getting into Paul Kelly’s music a bit in the last few weeks! Today, I’ve combined a couple of topics, and you’ll see why if you read on…
My first introduction to meditation was back in 1995 when I was living in Finland with my second of four host families. I was a Rotary exchange student and the way it works is that you spend time with four host families for three months each, all in the same town. I was living in a tiny town called Ilomantsi, in the eastern-most part of Finland (super-close to Russia).
My host sister Anna-Kaisa was sitting cross-legged on the floor, doing some meditation, and I remember asking her what was she doing? She told me she was meditating, and that she was using something called a mantra. Clearly I was a naive little bunny because I had no idea what a mantra was; I remember asking her what ‘mantra’ meant in English, and we looked it up in my Finnish-English dictionary…’mantra’ in Finnish means ‘mantra’ in English (of course!!).
In 1996, once back in Oz and doing my VCE (Victorian Certificate of Education, a.k.a. Year 12), I recall spending lots of time in the school library (we didn’t have a computer at home back then so I had to use the school ones), and I remember picking up some books on Buddhism, and going ‘Wow! This is pretty cool!’ or something like that. So I dabbled a bit in meditation and yoga, and that’s been happening ever since, really, in an on-off way. I am the type of person who likes to try new things; I guess you could say I’m a bit of a ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’. Maybe it’s a Gemini thing, who knows?
So lately I’ve been doing ‘meditation in the salt room‘, which sounds a bit bizarre but is actually totally fabulous, relaxing and rejuvenating. I’m a Psychology teacher so am well aware of the concept of the placebo effect, but even if there’s no scientific basis behind the salt therapy (which many people claim there actually is), it still feels pretty amazing. To me, it’s kind of like the feeling you get when you’re at the beach, you know, the salt-air goodness.
You can do guided meditation sessions, or you can choose to book a spot in the salt room for 45 minutes and do whatever you like in there. I’ve been to a few of the guided sessions but am really loving the self-directed sessions. I start off with around ten minutes of meditation (using an app), then spend the rest of the time listening to music. The room fits six people, on comfy massage chairs…it’s really warm and cosy…you can even grab a blanket to snuggle up with. You breathe in the salt air, which is apparently really good for people with allergies, colds, etc.
Often when I listen to music I’m doing other things at the same time; cooking, cleaning up, walking the dogs, chatting, driving…So this is a chance to literally just sit and listen. Many of the songs I’ve listened to in the salt room are ones that I’ve heard many times before, but I’m sooooo amazed at how just really listening has made me aware of sounds that I’ve never heard before. There are so many layers to some songs that I’ve never noticed, background vocals that I’ve not heard and instruments that have popped up seemingly out of nowhere.
For example, one of my fave Rufus Wainwright songs Cigarettes And Chocolate Milk has all of these ‘zings’ (sorry, it’s not a technical term but that’s what it sounds like to me!) that I honestly have not heard before (and I’ve played this song many times!). How can I have missed them? So this is why meditation is so good for me; it helps me to be a better listener (to people and music), more present in my daily life, and more able to experience and accept emotions, both the good and not-so-good.
So, I’m about to head off to the salt-room for a session…and today’s album will be Paul Kelly’s 2012 album Spring And Fall. At 39 minutes, it should fit perfectly into my sesh. I saw Kelly perform last week in Melbourne so thought it might be a good time to re-visit some of this great story-teller’s music. If you have never been to a salt-room before, I really do recommend it! It’s so good for one’s physical and mental health. And it’s a good chance to just sit and really listen to some of your fave (or perhaps some new) music.
Thanks for reading!