Tag Archives: honesty

Where We Belong

The advantages of being a bridge between communities

One of the advantages of being on the road a lot is getting to listen to audio books like Brene Brown’s latest, Braving the Wilderness: “The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone.”

In the book, Brene describes her struggle with Maya Angelou’s quote, written above. Brene shares how her own life experiences and forged path kept her from belonging in any one place or to any one community. She finally realized, through vulnerability and honesty, that she belongs to herself, which allows her to belong everywhere.

Standing in a wilderness that is outside the borders of each established group, but within her own boundaries, allows Brene to “speak truth to bullshit” while remaining civil, to be courageously vulnerable, and to come close to hold hand with strangers, because “people are hard to hate close up.”

As The Levins, Julia and I have held the intention to be a musical bridge between communities. We feel so grateful to be able to celebrate with each group we sing with and encounter. There is depth and truth within all the communities we visit and yet, we don’t fully feel we belong to just one. We recognize and rejoice where truth overlaps in puddles that we can splash in and sing.

My roots are in Judaism, which I moved away from as a teenager. I explored various faiths and practices. Music brought me back to Judaism and I discovered that what I had found in my travels, was all within its depths, hidden away. It was not pointed out, but left for me to discover on my own.

I feel that Judaism is a part of me. It may even be in my DNA. Yet, I am grateful to sing for not one, but several Jewish communities of varying denominations, as well as the other spiritual, folk and Literary circles in which we are privileged to perform.

Each community and group throughout the globe face their own challenges. There are politics, inter-personal dynamics, and obstacles that must be sorted through to achieve harmony.

Brene talks about each group’s tendency to fall into the, “If you are not for me, then you are against me,” mentality.

It is all too easy to become subservient to our need to be accepted by our “home team”, whether that is the faith of our birth, our political party, family or whatever circle we would feel most lonesome to be outside of. To be brave enough to examine and speak from your heart-centered truth, will, at times, be at odds with your home team but will also strengthen and enrich that team; even if they cannot hear it at first.

Julia and I have often witnessed, when someone from outside the group periodically   visits, they can usher in a fresh perspective. When we are in the car and are stuck within “our own little group,” or are feeling a strain between us, it is wonderful to listen to an “outside voice,” such as  Brene, or Krista Tippet’s On Being, or even a fun game-show podcast. These, “visitors” from outside our group, open the window between us, so that we can shift our focus back to the love and good feeling we have for each other. Being a musical bridge allows us to have a similar effect when we visit and sing for a variety of communities.

Brene refrences a concept by the sociologist, Emile Burkheim called Collective Effervescence. This is when a group of people come together for something, like a concert, and experience a temporal unity by being in the moment together and sharing the excitement and joy of what is taking place. The people experiencing this may belong to different groups that would not usually get along, but through this Collective Effervescence, they bond.

If you examine your life, you may find that you have many opportunities to be a bridge between communities. Between your family, your place of work, your friends, your spiritual practice, or book club, there is bound to be varying opinions and stances. Standing in our heart-centered truth, we can begin to see the beauty of the people who seem to be outside of our inner circle. We can look for moments to create or encourage Collective Effervescence.

Being brave enough to stand on our own, we can bring real honoring presence into each group we encounter and usher in a little light and understanding to close the gap between us.

 Julia and I have one week left of our Indiegogo Campaign for our upcoming new album, Caravan of Dawn. It is Harmony-Driven music for folks, like you, who usher in the light wherever they go. Please join us! https://igg.me/at/thelevins 


Beauty has claimed you

Caravan of dawn

There’s a caravan of dawn. Always on the curve.
  Always moving on…
Breaking up the darkness with an aviary song:

“Beauty has claimed you.
  Seasons are changing.
Love makes its debut.  Bowing your heart strings”

Side by side- wide as the horizon,
giddy as a bride; the universe inside them. 
Lighting up the streets.  Lighting up the fields.
Splash the sky in streaks of azure, lilac, gold and teal.

“Beauty has claimed you.
  Seasons are changing.
Love makes its debut.   Bowing your heart strings.
Splendor reveals you.
   Nothing conceals you.
Beauty has claimed you.”

Breaking up the darkness with an aviary song, singing:
River of broken hearts
“Gather up all of the broken hearts.
Pour them in a river of tiny parts.
Set them in motion, lighten their burden. 
Head for the ocean. Flow out and over, away from the falls. 
Rising  like mist ‘til  they can’t recall,
Not being  kissed  by sunbeams. 
 Separation is only a morphine dream.

Authentic joy and honesty cut a path right through to me.
Splendor reveals you.  Nothing conceals you.
Beauty has claimed you.”

I close my eyes and breathe you in as if I’ll never have to leave again.
– The Levins
hearts rising up

Celebrate Everything

Throughout my life, I have been one to celebrate and go wild in appropriate and inappropriate moments.  Sometimes, despite everything going on around me, I am barely contained with an unreasonable joy.

There are other times when I have bullied myself into misery because I feel that my short comings, or lack of accomplishment on a social scale doesn’t measure up or that various aspects of my personality are, “Just not right”.

I have beaten myself up saying, “With all that you have read and for as long as you have practiced, you should know better, you should be better.”

I once heard something that explained the difference between should and could. Should is shaming, could opens the door to possibility.

Matt KhanMatt Khan has a long talk on celebration and listening to it opened a door for me this week.  He said that we usually wait to celebrate until we have accomplished something, or until things look different.

He suggested that by celebrating every aspect of ourselves, especially the parts we detest in our behavior, as a part of something divine, we can accept who we are on a deeper level with humor and lighten up.

What usually happens as I know so well is that we beat ourselves up for not being this or that and then we take a break to console ourselves by eating a carton of ice-cream, or drinking a bottle, or something equivalent and then feel shame and go back to the beatings (until morale improves ; )

Matt said that when you are eating the ice-cream, drinking, smoking, whatever it is, consciously celebrate it, enjoy the crap out of it because that pulls the plug on the shame which loves to point out that this makes us less than divine because we are indulging ourselves.

He suggested you sing out all of your bad thoughts and behaviors, “Here I am being passive aggressive!”  or “The person in front of me in line is wearing perfume…when will they die?”

Matt: “Celebrate with embellished honesty. Admit what is totally true about your worst qualities and crank up the enthusiasm until you laugh.”

Even doing simple things throughout the day, like opening the refrigerator door you can, “Anchor gratitude to increase your self-worth to bring forth higher energy for all.”

I know I am leaning heavily on this one video talk today but it really addresses something I have been struggling with for a long time. I compartmentalize myself.  I recognize where my inconsistencies are and disqualify myself from allowing this moment to be triumphant.

Matt: “Arrogance is thinking you are better than other people, confidence is celebrating the uniqueness of yourself.  Arrogance is a comparison.  The one thing we are looking for is confidence.

Confidence to accept everything as divinity whether you understand it or not and to celebrate yourself in all your imperfect perfection.

When you celebrate, life stops devastating you.

If you take the time to celebrate what you have a problem with, you will change the energy.

We are not denying people’s pain, we are certainly not laughing at people’s pain, we are liberating them from pain by cranking up the celebration in our own lives so that something different can arise within them.”

So my friends, let’s rock!  Let the wildly honest rumpus begin!

Mike Robbins and the Power of Authenticity

A few years ago, The Levins* played at the Unity in Berkeley and the speaker that day was   Mike Robbins, who was giving a talk from his new book, “Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken.” We really loved what he had to say (The essence of it was, when someone compliments you, say “Thank you” and complete the circuit of gratitude.) Mike has a new book called, “Nothing Changes Until You Do.” and this morning we watched his TED talk about the Power of Authenticity. He says that Authenticity is on the other side of honesty, not just expressing your opinion as fact but being courageous enough to be vulnerable. It is great, you can see how authentic he really is as he talks. At one point he describes an exercise in which you lower the water level on your iceberg to reveal more of your true self by saying: “If you really knew me,” and you say what you are feeling in the moment. As I watched his video, I admit part of me was thinking, “He is so good at this, I could never be this courageous.”

I have been actually going through the daily streams with the intention of publishing them into a book. It scares me because when I think of giving talks, I don’t know that I have the ability to be that resourceful. But that is the point, the stream is always flowing through us. When I think of doing things that have scared me in the past, I realize when I said “Yes” and showed up and was prepared and present, it always has worked out beyond what I could have anticipated.

My favorite moments singing with Julia are not the big “we are here to wow you” moments but our moments of vulnerability when we are being authentic and allowing the people around us to be authentic.

May you be the conduit of your week.

*- The Levins are a harmony-driven acoustic duo dedicated to making the world a happier place.  www.TheLevinsMusic.com