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Steven Ash
from: Steven Ash
Category: Drumming

I walk listening to the river

At the beginning of every day without exception I do my routines. I awaken, eyes still closed, and say, ‘thank you’ to Great Spirit for another day to live, then getting up not to fast, whizz into the bathroom for my necessary morning ablutions. Now to the kitchen duties of emptying the dishwasher and putting everything in its place whilst the kettle boils and the tea brews. Fully awake its time to get my bearings, my initial question is “Where Am I?” My answer is here, right here on the Earth Mother, standing below Father Sky with the four sacred directions around me. Pushing myself through all the distractions and go within myself. Within, here inside me I am in charge of how my day will unfold. So I breathe, watching one breath at a time until I feel the rhythm and I can remember to remember where my life source is precious here in my heart, here in my chest, in the Knowledge of myself. After a piece of time, a bardo in attempting to hold my mind in this place inside where my life exists timelessly lifting and falling I am ready for the day ahead.

Out into the world I go to walk up the path by the River Glan. Alder, willow and aspen trees stand as guardians on both steep banks with the golden brown swollen river waters whirling and chattering southwards to join other rivers, the Gurk, Drau and Danube, downwards dipping and dripping into the Black Sea and on into vast oceans to be sun drenched and heated by the fire in the sky, remade into clouds to fall as refreshing rain and snow onto the hills and mountains, forming babbling brooks, streams and rivers to once again pass by my gazing eyes and listening ears. Round and round these waters go, forever flowing downwards and vaporising upwards, travelling through me, and you, and all life. We must be awake for this, for this is your day as well as mine for a true life! 

Listening to the river whilst synchronising its pitch to mine, it is time for me to sing and practice Qi Kung as I walk. According to Master Mingtong Gu the three sounds “SHINGGG, SHINGGG AWNGGG and SHINGGG UHM” are corresponding sound vibrations for inviting energy healing. These phrases combined with opening circular hand and arm movements stimulate healing the heart, arteries and veins. Added to this the vocal sound of “AH” in classical sound therapy according to Johnathan Goldman in his book Sound Healing also resonates with the hearts self healing. So I’ve put together the two sounds to form “AH…SHINGG” which I sing over and over, moving my arms with the breath round and round like a bird flying. Now comes the fun. The sound “WA” is like a door opening, and when you join it to the before mentioned heart healing sounds of AH…SHING you get “WASHING” Is this not perfect. That all these syllables put together open and heal the heart with sound, movement and visualisation, and what is the river doing in its constant flow but washing the land. Doing this as I walk along the river path feels both powerful and humorous, as if there is such magic in our languages and our resonance with the world around us that every word has inner depth and meaning. Most of all this is a fun learning game for my inner child who does not do so well in taking the grown up world to seriously.

Every affliction that each of us has to carry has an abundance of light awaiting behind the dark impenetrable clouds, and as Leonard Cohen sings there are cracks are for the light to shine through. Experiment with the sound healing tools that work for you, putting them together as a practice, this builds up a momentum that our living tissues and the water that washes all trauma and pain through and out can work with.

The School of Sacred Drumming is now running a drum self healing course and a practitioners training this spring, please go to for details

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