Monday, 17 April 2017

Semana Santa in Castile y Leon

The procession de la Soledad celebrated during Holy Thursday in Leon.
The best place to spend Easter is in the Castilian region of Northern Spain to witness the most dramatic religious rites and processions. The origin of the liturgical rituals date back to the 13th century.

Call it serendipity! I was in  the right place, at the right time.  I was in Burgos six days ago to meet up with my friends who already started their Camino de Santiago pilgrimage using the camino Frances route.  Stephen started all the way up in the Pyrenees at Saint Jean Pied on March 28 and the rest - Gai, Alan and Raffy - started in Pamplona on April 2. I came from Bozi Dar in the Czech Republic where I did a Kundalini Yoga module 2 course facilitated by Harijiwan and Gurujas and thus, got to Burgos only on April 9,  Palm Sunday.

The devotees donned in capirote.
Palm Sunday is the official start of the Semana Santa in Spain. It was my first introduction to capirote. This is, the devotees, the brotherhoods who organizes the processions, are dressed in tall conical hats covering their faces and in belted robes. Each color represents a brotherhood or a masonry guild.

The medieval garb is reserved for those doing penance as a sign of atoning for their sins. They would walk through the narrow cobblestone streets wearing their hats, their faces covered so they wouldn't be discovered as sinners and carrying the carrozas (floats adorned with flowers and large religious figures). Some are walking barefoot. They do resemble the Ku Klux Klan attire though.

The women would wear their traditional mantilla, a black lace veil worn high on the back of their head with a mini-comb clip.

Spanish women wearing their traditional mantilla
Each town along the Camino, from Burgos to Carrion de los Condes to Leon, would have their own .

We were lucky to arrive in Leon and witness three processions in one day. These are  the procession de Santo del Desenclavo, the procession de la Soledad and the procession Camino de la Luz. The last one ended until midnight.

The next day, Easter Sunday, the procession started in the morning.  At this time, the devotees were no longer wearing their hats. The procession ended in the town square, in front of the Cathedral.

If you want to witness the medieval processions during semana santa, I heard that Seville and Zaragosa are also good.

Here are some video clips and photos of the proceedings:

Palm Sunday procession after the mass in Burgos

Holy Thursday procession in Carrion de los Condes


The processions in Leon on Easter Saturday and Sunday

Friday, 17 February 2017

The Healing Sound of a Gong

with gong master Mehtab in Hong Kong
I'm now paying it forward after all the gong training I've been through. First with Martha Collard, a student of gong master Don Conreaux and recently with another gong master and kundalini yoga teacher, Mehtab Benton for gong yoga and gong therapy.

Both of the training I've attended were at the Red Doors Studio, founded by Martha. This is where her collection of 19 gongs (and still growing) is housed. She established Red Doors in Aberdeen as a platform to share her passion with a larger audience.

I've been drawn to gongs ever since my first gong bath experience at the Summer Solstice Festival in France in 2013 by Nanakdev Singh.  He had on stage massive gongs (more than 40" in diameter). He was at the center and there were 5-6 students with him. As they played,  I felt that my tired, aching plus jet lag body was being healed by the overwhelming overtones of the gong.  I would go back each day of my stay at the festival to receive a 30-minute gong bath by his group.

The gong is one of the oldest transformational and therapeutic instruments used in rituals, ceremony, prayer and meditation since the Bronze Age.  The sound generated are multi-dimensional ripples that swell into varying degrees of sound waves. What happens in a gong bath is that the person receiving (in a lying position)  is 'bathed' in the swelling sound vibrations, shifting brainwave activity from beta (normal state) to theta (meditative)  where deep healing takes place. The process is called entrainment where the sound frequency is the agent that produces the shift.

And now, four years after my first experience, I find myself starting a collection of  Paiste gongs - first, symphonic (24" and 34") and then, Mars (32") and recently, Earth (40") - and continuously undergoing training. For my kundalini yoga classes, I normally bring one gong with me and play the gong at the end of the class or at times, when I do special 'rebirthing' classes where the gong is played to clear emotional blockages.  I also hold longer, 45-minute gong bath sessions at the Third Eye Wellness Center every Wednesday evening and for a very special group every other Wednesday afternoon. At times, I do participate in public events and give gong baths.

at an outdoor yoga class hosted by Life

at SouLove Center

at the opening of Yoga+Express Legazpi

at the Global Mala event

integrating gong during my Kundalini Yoga class 

After undergoing eight days hands-on training with Mehtab, I now integrate the sound of the gong in my kundalini yoga classes and not just play it at the end or during special featured classes. One of my students, Natasha Rodriguez, remarked that the gong helps her concentrate better and encourages her do the poses more.  Mind you, in kundalini yoga, we hold the poses at times for more than a minute or two.

Gong Therapist certification
I'm also a  'Gong Therapist' and conduct one-on-one sessions (by appointment though).   During the session, the gong combined with the practices of yoga (i.e. breathing techniques, hand gestures) are used to create a healing environment and transformational experience.

One of my first clients said that she experienced loose bowel movement after the one-hour session. Imbalances in the body may cause accumulation of toxins in certain parts of the body. The sound helps move high vibration energy through the body, loosening, dislodging and flushing out these accumulated toxins which may come out either as loose bowel, skin rashes, etc.

It may take some time for sound healing to become mainstream here in the Philippines. Nevertheless, I'm hopeful that people will turn to sound as a complementary healing modality.  Edgar Cayce (1877-1945), the father of holistic medicine said that "Sound is the medicine of the future."  Even Rudolf Steiner, German philosopher said that "pure tones will be used for healing before the end of this century."