Review: Awaken the Senses
by Michael Clark
Rating: 5 / 5
For untold centuries, the transformational character of music has moved the body, awakened the mind, and stirred the soul. In ancient cultures, rhythm, melody and, later on, harmony have taken human beings to places sought by themselves and by their communities. Music has facilitated rites of passage, healing and worship ceremonies, and has helped to deliver souls to favorable afterlife realms. The power of music is, indeed, diverse. Consider just how differently a Strauss waltz, the Southern Blues, a Gregorian Chant, and Tibetan throat singing may affect us.
In our time, the genre known as guided meditation found new beginnings in the early 1970’s. These projects were recorded with analog equipment and mostly distributed on cassette. Although a great idea, the sound quality and content of the material produced at that time often came off a bit thin and disconnected.
But with the advent of digital technology in the 1980’s, a growing interest proved that so-called New Age music was no mere flash in the pan. Suddenly ambient and meditation music became far more nuanced and effective. The ambient style even found its way into pop music, most notably with the British star, Enya.
Today, in the second millennium, Dr. Darryl Pokea’s Awaken the Senses, Heal the Cells: A Healing Meditation, takes voice and keyboard to an even higher level of excellence. Dr. Pokea’s intuitive sense of timing and compositional structure should hardly be surprising, considering his early training under members of the renowned Cleveland orchestra. Part music of the spheres and part impressionist journey, one reminiscent of Debussy’s La Mer and Giles Reaves’ Wunjo, at the onset of the piece my 21st century stress quickly began to dissipate. Soft, layered rhythms and Dr. Pokea’s clear, resonant voice took me far away from quotidian concerns, and deep into the self, body, and spirit. Rather than hindering or confusing the inner journey, the voice blends seamlessly within an organic field of musical textures which almost seem to collectively breathe.
Part 2 of the disc continues without voice. And in keeping with the meditation’s synesthetic approach, the score takes on an entirely different hue. We now find ourselves in the midst of a comforting sidereal symphony, as it might be described. The aural landscape seems to literally come alive, as if we’re witness to a host of incorporeal guides or perhaps a universal presence, beckoning us toward a place of profound peace, abundant wellness, and inner joy.
Because Dr. Pokea successfully integrates various classical and ambient musical forms, this work stands out as a rare and laudable achievement, one which listeners will, no doubt, cherish for many years to come.
Three Homegrown CDs
by Christine Hall
Sometimes I feel a little bit like great grandmother must have felt when the first automobiles showed-up or when her house was electrified. What a wondrous world that must have seemed, and what a wondrous world we live in today. I’m reminded of this everyday as I use the internet, which puts more information at my fingertips than any library.
The Internet isn’t the only modem miracle at our disposal. Just yesterday I listened to a couple of meditation CDs by Dr. Darryl Pokea, a New Age practitioner living in Topeka, Kansas. Both tapes are professionally presented, with beautiful cover art by his wife Jan Jennings and fancy graphics on the CDs themselves. I marvel because these are self-produced and self-issued high quality audio products, something that would have been prohibitively expensive just a few years ago. Anybody who ever tried to get a record pressed back in the days of vinyl can attest to that.
The CDs are home grown grass roots projects that offer the sort of straight forward approach to meditation you might expect from someone who calls the Midwest home. For each offering, Pokea has written and arranged some suitable music which he plays on a keyboard. Over top of this, he voices a guided meditation meant to both relax and heal, again using a straight forward no-nonsense delivery.
Don’t get the impression that the content is unsophisticated or otherwise lacking. It’s obvious that Pokea has been doing this for a while, and he definitely knows what he’s doing. He deftly utilizes techniques that pretty much represent the state-of-the-art as far as guided meditations go, while throwing in a few neat tricks of his own invention.
Awaken the Senses, Heal the Cells was the first CD I tried, and I like this one the best, mostly because the length is just about perfect, clocking-in at just under a half-hour. Here, the listener is taken on a healing journey that uses the five senses, one-by-one, to bring health to the body, mind and spirit. The rest of this CD is filled with the music track, without the voice-over meditation, which allows the listener to continue in a meditative state after the “official” meditation has ended.
The other CD is called Relax From Head to Toe. Although I liked this one, at nearly an hour I found it to be a bit long for my taste. As the title suggests, this meditation is designed for deep relaxation, beginning at the third eye and top of the head and moving all the way down through the body. I must admit, the morning after I gave this meditation a try I awoke much more relaxed and clear headed than usual.