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Something for Your Ears, Something for Your Eyes, Something for Your Journeys

Updated: Mar 13

This post is excerpted from Sylas' email newsletter to the community. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter to hear from us in your inbox twice a month. We share current reflections, fun and intriguing things we've come across recently, announce events and courses, and talk integration, harm reduction, healing, growth, and spiritual development.


As 2023 fades into the rear view mirror and 2024 begins its unfolding, I find myself grateful to have had the privilege of supporting and witnessing deep healing and growth in so many people over this past year. I am continually amazed by how the intelligence of life shows up through different people’s systems, as they apply their intent toward moving through contractive forces in the world and in their lives. Currently, I am wondering if these are truly two distinct things (the world, and our personal lives), or if our life is just the world life-ing, or as Alan Watts put it, “…the Earth is peopling.”



Just before the New Year, I had the opportunity to assist my friend, who performs under the name East Forest, and his lovely partner Radha as they hosted a retreat at Esalen. I was mostly helping them set up and break down the room they were using, but I also got to enjoy witnessing East make his music and the effect music can have in transformational spaces. I met so many interesting people from different backgrounds, all there because they shared gratitude for the experiences they have had while listening to East Forest’s music. Here is a beautiful meditation offering for you if you are new to his music:


Music is such a powerful part of human life in general, but especially in conjunction with intentional catalyst journeys. Animist societies have used music to enter solo and collective trance for thousands of years. If you want to learn more about animism, trance, and music in a stellar audio journey, check out this episode of The Emerald Podcast, produced by Josh Schrei.


The beat of the drum, the shake of the rattle and the sound of a voice raised in song are so ancient that they’re written into the vibrations that make up our DNA. In breathwork, we use music to drive the breathing, while simultaneously evoking held emotions in our systems, sometimes going back generations. In expanded states, with the aid of molecular allies, music can ground us. It can also help dredge our unconscious for dark things that we are meant to become conscious of and present with, in order to deepen our love for all parts of ourselves, and for the Great Mystery. After a journey, music can also help us recall what we experienced, for processing and meaning-making. I recommend to clients that they save their playlists and play them back the next day to see what memories from their journeys may emerge.


This Tanka (Vajrayana Buddhist art) was hanging in the guest room where I stayed when I took the kids to visit some dear friends:





My friends told me it used to hang in the main retreat space (they live at a small retreat center), but that so many people had such mixed feelings about it that they decided to move it. I don’t know enough about the iconography of this particular painting to know the stories behind all the characters, but the shadowy background says it all for me. As I studied it in the mornings over the few days we were there, new aspects of the painting would emerge from the shadows and guide my mind to novel inquiries about the nature of suffering and human existence. Perhaps, that was the point of the painting. I don’t know. But it was for me. In my mind, being curious about the shadow is a bold statement of intention to love. And to be curious about the shadow, I find I have to be in relationship with fear, while surrendering the desire for transcendence. Such notions ask much of us.


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