Medhi Chantra: Contemplative Musician

The world is full of beautiful sounds that we miss everyday. A Thai musician teaches how to grow spiritually by listening more closely to them.


Photo below of  the teacher and contemplative musician Medhi Chantra who teaches his class on listening in Thai only on the first Saturday of each month, 2-4pm See www.earthtonespirit.com. Photo above of the album cover of Medhi Chantra's music based on enneagrams.

Click button to listen to Noise Beauty download

We're all ears

Three workshops in Bangkok demonstrate how listening and other exercises designed to focus concentration can promote spiritual growth
11/09/2012 
Karnjariya Sukrung

The aesthetics of noise

Stop, breathe, listen. Tune into the radio inside your head because that's how you learn about yourself.

These are some of the basic steps advised by Medhi Chantra, a contemplative musician who runs a monthly workshop called ''Feong'' (Listen). 

''Many people lack the ability to listen deeply, especially to their own voices,'' says Medhi, who also facilitates a workshop on enneagrams, a way of categorising personality types using nine different scales, each linked to a number of human traits.

''Just listen and be open to all sounds,'' Medhi says as he guides participants through the first exercise in one of his ''Listen'' sessions.

''Expand your hearing as far as you possibly can. Accept all sounds that come to you but keep your inner voice in the background. Close your eyes and listen to the sound of the city.''

There were cars roaring, people chatting, birds chirping, a dog barking, a toilet flushing, telephones ringing. Natural or man-made, all these sounds make up what Medhi terms a ''soundscape''.

''Beauty is not only about sight, it is also very much about sounds.'' he says.

Unlikely as it may sound, Bangkok can also be acoustically beautiful when we imagine these sounds in the city's background: water flowing, birds chirping, wind whistling through the leaves of big trees.

''When we listen more intently, we will hear the sounds that have become weak, sounds that are absent and if those are the sounds we care about, we will do something to bring them back,'' he notes.

From an exterior soundscape, Medhi then shifted our attention to the inner realm. As we remain seated with our eyes closed, he makes different sounds using everyday objects and materials: a plastic water bottle, sheet of paper, a table-tennis ball, a ceramic plate, glasses, stainless-steel bowls and so on.

''Listen and observe how your minds respond to sounds, observe your thoughts and feelings, take a note of your mental tendencies to respond to exterior stimulants,'' Medhi suggests as he guides us on.

A ping-pong ball hitting the floor rekindles one participant's yearning to play that game again. Another person at the session later notes how the rattling sound of a ung-klung (Javanese musical instrument made from bamboo tubes cut to varying lengths) made her feel as relaxed as if she were sitting near a waterfall.

Incorporating body movements from chi-qong, Medhi beats a drum and instructs his audience: ''Listen to your body and allow it to move freely as it wishes, without letting your mind take control."

''If an exterior rhythm is in sync with our heartbeat, then we feel relaxed and balanced. By 'rhythm' I mean the rhythm of our lifestyles and activities. If we maintain a rapid rhythm in our lives, then our hearts and our whole bodies will race, too. Stress and exhaustion will naturally ensue.'' No matter what the sound, he goes on, we can create our own rhythm and restore our equilibrium.

''Just be open to all sounds and your non-judgemental attitude will help reduce the effect that dissonant sounds have on your mind.''

Medhi wraps up the session with an exercise which involves making the body vibrate in tune with each of the seven chakras. ''When we're able to listen to ourselves and the world outside, that's when we develop self-understanding.''

(Source: Bangkok Post, We're all ears, Three workshops in Bangkok demonstrate how listening and other exercises designed to focus concentration can promote spiritual growth, 11/09/2012, Karnjariya Sukrung, link


Mindfulness Vocabulary

Medhi Chantra - a Thai contemplative musician (See YouTube: #1, #2 , #3 & soundcloud)

contemplate (verb) - to think about something very carefully and very deeply for a long time  พิจารณา, คิด
contemplative (adjective)  
contemplative musician - a music who makes music with a deep meaning that makes people think

mindfulness - being calmly aware of the things that are happening around you and inside you: "the Buddha advocated that one should establish mindfulness (satipatthana) in one's day-to-day life maintaining as much as possible a calm awareness of one's bodily functions, sensations (feelings), objects of consciousness (thoughts and perceptions), and consciousness itself. The practice of mindfulness supports analysis resulting in the arising of wisdom (Pali: paññā, Sanskrit: prajñā). A key innovative teaching of the Buddha was that meditative stabilisation must be combined with liberating discernment." (See Wikipedia) สติชอบ, วิปัสสนา

Qigong - a Chinese exercise or meditation practice: "aligning breath, movement, and awareness for exercise, healing, and meditation. With roots in Chinese medicine, martial arts, and philosophy, qigong is traditionally viewed as a practice to cultivate and balance qi (chi) or what has been translated as 'intrinsic life energy'. Typically a qigong practice involves rhythmic breathing coordinated with slow stylized repetition of fluid movement, a calm mindful state, and visualization of guiding qi through the body" (See Wikipedia)

chi-qon - Same as "Qigong"

all ears - meaning: I am listening completely (to everything you say)
We're all ears - we are listening carefully to everything you say

workshop - when a group of people get together to learn something through activities and discussions

focus -
doing one thing (rather than spreading yourself over many things)
concentration -
the process of giving all your attention to something
focus concentration

spirit (noun) - the non-physical part of a person (outside of their body) (See Wikipedia)
spiritual (adjective)
spiritual growth -
(See Wikipedia)

promote - do things to make something increase (example: fertilizer was added to the plant to promote plant growth)
promote spiritual growth - when a person does activities to grow spiritually

Three workshops in Bangkok demonstrate how listening and other exercises designed to focus concentration can promote spiritual growth

aesthetics - beauty, the study and appreciation of something's beauty
The aesthetics of noise

basic - the most important part of something (the foundation on which it is built, that it needs to exist)  
step - one of many things that you have to do in some task, activity or process to achieve a goal
basic steps

advised by - when someone tells you what to do

Stop, breathe, listen. Tune into the radio inside your head because that's how you learn about yourself.  These are some of the basic steps advised by Medhi Chantra, a contemplative musician who runs a monthly workshop called ''Feong'' (Listen). 

lack - does not have ขาดแคลน
lack the ability - does not have the ability

personality - the part of a person that makes them behave in a particular way in social situations, e.g., in friendly or unfriendly way, or in a confident or shy way บุคลิกลักษณะ ลักษณะเฉพาะตน
personality types

enneagrams - a model of human personality made by the spiritual teacher Gurdjeff (See Wikipedia)

category
(noun) - one type or kind of something หมวด, หมู่, หมวดหมู่, ประเภท,
categorising - putting things in categorizing, deciding what category they go in (or what they are called, how to describe them)

scales -
a way of categorising personality types using nine different scales

traits - features or characteristics that can produce a particular type of behavior ลักษณะพิเศษ
human traits - different features or things about a human that make them behave in a certain way

linked - connected เชื่อมโยง เกี่ยวกับ
each scale linked to a number of human traits.

participants - people who do some activity together
guides through - show someone what to do or which way to go
guides participants through

''Many people lack the ability to listen deeply, especially to their own voices,'' says Medhi, who also facilitates a workshop on enneagrams, a way of categorising personality types using nine different scales, each linked to a number of human traits. ''Just listen and be open to all sounds,'' Medhi says as he guides participants through the first exercise in one of his ''Listen'' sessions.

inner voice - when something inside of your brain tells you to do (or not do) certain things
in the background - the back part; the part that is away from you
in the foreground -
the front part; the part that is near you (the front part of a photo)
keep your inner voice in the background

listen to the sound of the city

''Expand your hearing as far as you possibly can. Accept all sounds that come to you but keep your inner voice in the background. Close your eyes and listen to the sound of the city.''

cars roaring
people chatting

chirping - make a short high sound, a lively and happy sound
birds chirping

a dog barking
a toilet flushing
telephones ringing

Natural or man-made sounds
what Medhi terms a ''soundscape''

There were cars roaring, people chatting, birds chirping, a dog barking, a toilet flushing, telephones ringing. Natural or man-made, all these sounds make up what Medhi terms a ''soundscape''. ''Beauty is not only about sight, it is also very much about sounds.'' he says.

acoustics (noun) - about the sounds at a place
acoustical
(adjective)
acoustically (adverb)
acoustically beautiful - has beautiful sounds

background
sounds in the city's background

water flowing
birds chirping
wind whistling through the leaves of big trees

intently -
with great concentration and focus (doing this one thing, not many things at the same time)
listen more intently

Unlikely as it may sound, Bangkok can also be an acoustically beautiful when we imagine these sounds in the city's background: water flowing, birds chirping, wind whistling through the leaves of big trees. ''When we listen more intently, we will hear the sounds that have become weak, sounds that are absent and if those are the sounds we care about, we will do something to bring them back,'' he notes.

exterior - on the outside of ภายนอก
exterior soundscape

attention -
when you are watching or listening to something ความใส่ใจ
shift attention -
change from watching or listening to one thing to another

inner realm
- the part of your life that is your thoughts and feelings (social life is outside the inner realm)
shifted our attention to
the inner realm

ceramic - a material used to make things like bowls, plates, jars, etc (made from heating clay at high temperatures in a kiln) (See Wikipedia)
a ceramic plate

glasses
stainless steel
stainless-steel bowls


From an exterior soundscape, Medhi then shifted our attention to the inner realm. As we remain seated with our eyes closed, he makes different sounds using everyday objects and materials: a plastic water bottle, sheet of paper, a table-tennis ball, a ceramic plate, glasses, stainless-steel bowls and so on.

observe - to watch or study someone or something with care สังเกตการณ์
respond - to say or do something as a reaction to something that has been said or done ตอบสนอง, ตอบรับ
observe how your minds respond to sounds

tendency - a trend, things that usually or typically happen
mental tendencies - things that people typically think or feel

stimulate (verb) - to cause or make things happen (such as feelings or thoughts) กระตุ้น
stimulant (noun)
exterior stimulants

take a note of your mental tendencies to respond to exterior stimulants

''Listen and observe how your minds respond to sounds, observe your thoughts and feelings, take a note of your mental tendencies to respond to exterior stimulants,'' Medhi suggests as he guides us on.

rekindle
- 1. create some feeling again, 2. lights a fire again
yearning
- wanting something very much, desire for something

session - a meeting การชุมนุม ประชุม

ung-klung - Same as "angklung"

angklung - an Indonesian musical instrument "made of two bamboo tubes attached to a bamboo frame. The tubes are carved to have a resonant pitch when struck and are tuned to octaves. The base of the frame is held in one hand, whilst the other hand strucks the instrument. This causes a repeating note to sound. Each of three or more performers in an angkalung ensemble play just one note or more, but altogether complete melodies are produced. The Angklung is popular throughout Southeast Asia, but it originated in today's Indonesia and has been played by the Sundanese for many centuries" (See Wikipedia)

rattle -
เสียงรัว
rattling sound
rattling sound of a ung-klung

Java (noun) - the island in Indonesia with the highest population
Javanese (adjective)

musical
instrument - piano, guitar, trumpet and other things that are used to make music เครื่องดนตรี

tube -
หลอด
bamboo tubes

vary -
to different (not all the same)
varying lengths -
different lengths

Javanese musical instrument made from bamboo tubes cut to varying lengths

incorporate -
include, include as a part of itself 
incorporating
body movements from chi-qon

audience - the people who watch an event happen; watch or listen to a play, film, someone speaking, etc. ผู้ชม

A ping-pong ball hitting the floor rekindles one participant's yearning to play that game again. Another person at the session later notes how the rattling sound of a ung-klung (Javanese musical instrument made from bamboo tubes cut to varying lengths) made her feel as relaxed as if she were sitting near a waterfall. Incorporating body movements from chi-qong, Medhi beats a drum and instructs his audience: ''Listen to your body and allow it to move freely as it wishes, without letting your mind take control."

rhythm - a regular repeated series of sounds or movements ท่วงทำนอง 
exterior rhythm

in sync
- moving at the same speed (working together closely)  
out of sync -
not in sync
in sync with our heartbeat

rapid - very fast and quick; happening quickly อย่างรวดเร็ว
maintain - to keep something going, keep it happening, keep at same level
maintain a rapid rhythm
maintain a rapid rhythm in our lives

stress - pressure, strain ความตึงเครียด, ความเครียด,
exhaustion -
when a person has no more strength การหมดแรง, ความเหนื่อยอ่อน
ensue - happen
stress and exhaustion will naturally ensue

No
matter what ...  - meaning: for anything
No matter what the sound ...

restore - make exist again; bring back; to cause a particular situation to exist again, especially a good one ฟื้นฟูสภาพ
equilibrium - ภาวะสมดุล,  สภาวะสมดุล
restore our equilibrium

''If an exterior rhythm is in sync with our heartbeat, then we feel relaxed and balanced. By 'rhythm' I mean the rhythm of our lifestyles and activities. If we maintain a rapid rhythm in our lives, then our hearts and our whole bodies will race, too. Stress and exhaustion will naturally ensue.'' No matter what the sound, he goes on, we can create our own rhythm and restore our equilibrium.

judge - looking at something closely to make a decision about something (whether is good or bad, for example), evaluate, assess คาดคะเน
judgemental - a person who is always deciding whether things are good or bad (everything is either good or bad) 
non-judgemental - a person who does not go around deciding whether everything is good or bad

attitude - the way you think and feel about something, as shown in behaviour
non-judgemental attitude

dissonant - an unpleasant sound when musical notes do not go together (are not in harmony)
dissonant sounds

''Just be open to all sounds and your non-judgemental attitude will help reduce the effect that dissonant sounds have on your mind.''

wrap up - end
wrap up the session

chakra - believed to be centers of the body from which a person can collect energy, part of the tantric and yogic traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism (See Wikipedia)

vibrate
- สั่น
in tune with - 
to vibrate at the same speed as; to move at the same speed as

make the body vibrate in tune with each of the seven chakras

develop self-understanding

Medhi wraps up the session with an exercise which involves making the body vibrate in tune with each of the seven chakras. ''When we're able to listen to ourselves and the world outside, that's when we develop self-understanding.''

About the author

columnist
Writer: Jon Fernquest
Position: Online Writer