Do You Remember Your Song?

Alan Cohen

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Awakin FeatureWhen a woman in a certain African tribe knows she is pregnant, she goes out into the wilderness with a few friends and together they pray and meditate until they hear the song of the child. They recognize that every soul has its own vibration that expresses its unique flavor and purpose. Then the women attune to the song, they sing it out loud.

Then they return to the tribe and teach it to everyone else. When the child is born, the community gathers and sings the child’s song to him or her.

Later, when the child enters education, the village gathers and chants the child’s song. When the child passes through the initiation to adulthood, the people again come together and sing.

At the time of marriage, the person hears his or her song.

Finally, when the soul is about to pass from this world, the family and friends gather at the person’s bed, just as they did at their birth, and they sing the person to the next life. In the African tribe there is one other occasion upon which the villagers sing to the child.

If at any time during his or her life, the person commits a crime or aberrant social act, the individual is called to the center of the village and the people in the community form a circle around them. Then they sing their song to them. The tribe recognizes that the correction for antisocial behaviour is not punishment; it is love and the remembrance of identity.

When you recognize your own song, you have no desire or need to do anything that would hurt another.

A friend is someone who knows your song and sings it to you when you have forgotten it. Those who love you are not fooled by mistakes you have made or dark images you hold about yourself. They remember your beauty when you feel ugly; your wholeness when you are broken; your innocence when you feel guilty; and your purpose when you are confused.

You may not have grown up in an African tribe that sings your song to you at crucial life transitions, but life is always reminding you when you are in tune with yourself and when you are not.

When you feel good, what you are doing matches your song, and when you feel awful, it doesn’t. In the end, we shall all recognize our song and sing it well. You may feel a little warbly at the moment, but so have all the great singers. Just keep singing and you’ll find your way home.

Excerpted from Alan Cohen's book Wisdom of the Heart.

Seed questions for reflection: How do you relate to the notion of a friend being someone who knows your song and sings it to you when you have forgotten it? Can you share a personal story of a time someone reminded you of your song? What helps you see beyond the mistakes of others and connect with their song instead?

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14 Previous Reflections:

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    On Dec 7, 2019 שירותי ליוו ביפו wrote:



    I really appreciate the kind of topics you post here. Thanks for sharing us a great information that is actually helpful. Good day!




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    On Dec 7, 2019 Hilary Lindsay wrote:
    Beautiful beyond words. I have songs for my sons. Songs for my pets. They are singular and come naturally, stay always the same as time goes on. I sing them to myself, to my sons from afar though they seem too childish now and to pets even when they pass Maybe this is why.

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    On Dec 4, 2019 ambika wrote:
    One of the gentlest piece of writing. Arouses such warmth within. To know that each of us is a unique, special song...with our own rhythm. How can I then dismiss any one. Do I give up a song for another? Every song has a place. It is I who needs to learn to sing the song at the right time. A chance for me to be in tune.


    From: ambika 

    1 reply: Amy | Post Your Reply
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    On Dec 3, 2019 Clarice wrote:
    I can't think of a more significant, meaningful or beautiful thing that could be gifted to a person upon birth, death and in between. I went to a workshop years ago where we were instructed on how to create our own song! First, after meditation and some journaling, we were to form a very short phrase of what we desired most in life. Mine was "to be understood and loved." To this we added, May (your name) know _______. Mine went "May Clarice know she is understood and loved." Then, he played some examples of short melodies on the piano so that we could get the gist, and surprisingly, my tune came to me, and I created my own song. That was about 7-10 years ago, and I had forgotten about it until now. When I summoned up my song, it came right to me (I was so surprised!), and I sang it to myself and felt the warmth of my love and that of the collective pour over me, and the gratitude of the people in my life that make me feel accepted and understood, along with the ... [View Full Comment] I can't think of a more significant, meaningful or beautiful thing that could be gifted to a person upon birth, death and in between. I went to a workshop years ago where we were instructed on how to create our own song! First, after meditation and some journaling, we were to form a very short phrase of what we desired most in life. Mine was "to be understood and loved." To this we added, May (your name) know _______. Mine went "May Clarice know she is understood and loved." Then, he played some examples of short melodies on the piano so that we could get the gist, and surprisingly, my tune came to me, and I created my own song. That was about 7-10 years ago, and I had forgotten about it until now. When I summoned up my song, it came right to me (I was so surprised!), and I sang it to myself and felt the warmth of my love and that of the collective pour over me, and the gratitude of the people in my life that make me feel accepted and understood, along with the gratitude I have for feeling my own deep connection to myself. It really does work! I am SO grateful to have read this wonderful post. Thank you so much! I will again make singing my song to myself part of my daily practice, and maybe have the courage to have the dear ones in my life sing it to me (that is a more challenging piece, but the thought brings a spark of light...) Love, Clarice[Hide Full Comment]

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    On Dec 3, 2019 Ruby wrote:
    Although i sing many songs on my guitar, my favorite song "Somewhere over the rainbow by IZ. This song makes me feel it is some intergral part of me. When I listen it, I feel like my father (dead) is singing to me from the skies and i am alone on a tiny tropical island in the South Pacific!!!

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    On Dec 3, 2019 Ricky Knue wrote:
    This submission has struck a chord so deep, so hidden and stirred something so universal within me I have no other words for this writing. So inspired. I have been 'seen'! Thank you!

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    On Dec 3, 2019 Jyoti wrote:
    I have known my song all my life, and it has been an inner guide with no changes from my teen years into my 50s yet. It is fascinating how art helps connect us to ourselves.

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    On Dec 2, 2019 Deepak wrote:
    Reading this story , reminded me of the ever present story within me ' Who Am I ? Where did I come
    from ? and where do I go after this birth ? and lastly What is the purpose of my life in this birth ? The
    search for the answers to the above questions still continues and I am not too sure when will I get the
    answers , where in this birth or not . However the search contiues

    1 reply: Anil | Post Your Reply
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    On Dec 2, 2019 Prasad Kaipa wrote:
    When I read the passage for this week, I was thinking about a person being filled with his/her own vibrations and experiencing them as originating primarily from oneself and reverberating in the people around that person and in the environment. That way, the resonance occurs and original frequency amplifies. While I was visualizing what it means to remember ones song, reconnecting with it and merging with the original vibration in the end, this is the picture that connected me to the passage. This picture was taken two months ago in Mt. Madonna Center in Watsonville. Baba Haridoss had created a small Hanuman temple that has been slowly becoming more famous for its simplicity, beauty and serenity. When I went there in September, somebody had created a flower decoration in water container and that is what I captured in this picture. The rose in the center is the person. Various flowers represent different people and animals and the environment. Being in the center means, the person is... [View Full Comment] When I read the passage for this week, I was thinking about a person being filled with his/her own vibrations and experiencing them as originating primarily from oneself and reverberating in the people around that person and in the environment. That way, the resonance occurs and original frequency amplifies. While I was visualizing what it means to remember ones song, reconnecting with it and merging with the original vibration in the end, this is the picture that connected me to the passage. This picture was taken two months ago in Mt. Madonna Center in Watsonville. Baba Haridoss had created a small Hanuman temple that has been slowly becoming more famous for its simplicity, beauty and serenity. When I went there in September, somebody had created a flower decoration in water container and that is what I captured in this picture. The rose in the center is the person. Various flowers represent different people and animals and the environment. Being in the center means, the person is being reminded of their original song and the resonance represents the beauty in the flower decorations that we see. When we connect with our own beauty resonating everywhere we see and everything that we see, our feeling of oneness and connectedness allows us to merge with the One while surrendering to the vibrations of the universe.



    Click on the image for higher-res photo. [Hide Full Comment]

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    On Nov 29, 2019 Jagdish P Dave wrote:
    Every one has a purpose of living. When we realize what it is we have found our song. As we go through crucial life transitions, we may forget to sing our song. We may miss the direction and take a wrong step. A true friend does not criticize us or abandonus. He or she will sing our song to remind us that we have taken the wrong turn. They do not focus on our wrong doing and judge and criticize us.. As the author Alan Cohen puts it so beautifully," They remember your beauty when you feel ugly; your wholeness when you are broken;your innocence when you feel guilty; and your purpose when you are confused." I have been blessed to have a few such noblehearted friends who stood by me when I was falling into a dark pit. They empathizedwith me, walked with me, reminding me the purpose of my life whichI had seemedto have forgotten. They held my tired hands, wiped my tears; enkindled light of hope within me when I was in the dark zone of depression. I will never forget their kindness... [View Full Comment] Every one has a purpose of living. When we realize what it is we have found our song. As we go through crucial life transitions, we may forget to sing our song. We may miss the direction and take a wrong step. A true friend does not criticize us or abandonus. He or she will sing our song to remind us that we have taken the wrong turn. They do not focus on our wrong doing and judge and criticize us.. As the author Alan Cohen puts it so beautifully," They remember your beauty when you feel ugly; your wholeness when you are broken;your innocence when you feel guilty; and your purpose when you are confused."

    I have been blessed to have a few such noblehearted friends who stood by me when I was falling into a dark pit. They empathizedwith me, walked with me, reminding me the purpose of my life whichI had seemedto have forgotten. They held my tired hands, wiped my tears; enkindled light of hope within me when I was in the dark zone of depression. I will never forget their kindness and compassion.

    The gift of unconditional love and acceptance that I got my friends has helped me to stand by others when they go through dark times in their lives. Standing by them lovingly I help them to connect with their song. It feels so good when I follow this path-the path of receiving blessings from others and being grateful to them for helping me and helpingothers when they go through hard times. It is good to recognize that we all get lost at times as we go though different passages of life and we forget our song. It is also gratifying to know that there are helping hands that help us rememberour song.

    Namaste!
    JagdishP Dave







    [Hide Full Comment]

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    On Nov 29, 2019 David Doane wrote:
    I love that story about the African women tuning into the unique song of the baby, singing it when the baby is in utero, and then teaching the community to sing it to the child throughout significant times in the child's life from birth to death. It nurtures the uniqueness of the child rather than indoctrinating the child with the songs of others. And I love that the community gathers around the individual when he or she commits a wrong behavior in order to remind the individual of his or her unique identity. Our culture is not so advanced as that African village, and sure would benefit from getting there. I do have friends who sing and support my song, and remind me of it when I forget. The bottom line of a personal story is of a time when I was down on myself and friends reminded me "I have a right to be me, I have a right to be powerful." What helps me see beyond the mistakes of others and connect with their song is knowing that they are me, knowing that while I don... [View Full Comment] I love that story about the African women tuning into the unique song of the baby, singing it when the baby is in utero, and then teaching the community to sing it to the child throughout significant times in the child's life from birth to death. It nurtures the uniqueness of the child rather than indoctrinating the child with the songs of others. And I love that the community gathers around the individual when he or she commits a wrong behavior in order to remind the individual of his or her unique identity. Our culture is not so advanced as that African village, and sure would benefit from getting there. I do have friends who sing and support my song, and remind me of it when I forget. The bottom line of a personal story is of a time when I was down on myself and friends reminded me "I have a right to be me, I have a right to be powerful." What helps me see beyond the mistakes of others and connect with their song is knowing that they are me, knowing that while I don't know what they've been through I do know that I have in me what it takes to make whatever mistakes they make, and knowing I would want others to help me get back to my song when I go wrong.[Hide Full Comment]

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    On Nov 29, 2019 ANDREW M. PROKOPIS wrote:
    It seems to me that if we, like those African women, were to sit in the wilderness of our innermost being, we would hear our song. And then we can pause, sit quietly whenever something goes wrong or we feel deeply wrong, not ourselves in some way, then the love and caring within us like those villagers will encircle us and sing our song. Loved this article!

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