Carole Weber’s ‘Meditation Cycle’ at Washington Square Methodist Church on March 12 was a sort of do-it-yourself affair. A soft five-note chord was sustained on the pipe organ all evening, while Weber and the other members of the New Wilderness Preservation Band occasionally played or sang along in a highly informal, sparse sort of way. The lights were dim most of the time, and the audience was left to deal with the situation however it liked, with the help of Weber’s program notes, which were actually instructions. Attempting to evaluate ‘Meditation Cycle’ is a bit like attempting to evaluate someone’s religion, so it seems preferable to simply quote a few of the instructions from the program and allow readers to reach their own conclusions. Besides, one of the most frustrating things about being a critic is having to deal totally with second-hand information, and Weber’s notes give me an opportunity to present some first-hand information, something readers can experience for themselves:
‘Focus your attention on your breath. You can put your hands on your back right above your hips and feel air filling up, emptying out.’ ‘Breathing in, breathing out. Bigger, smaller. A Cycle, continuous. Image: the earth breathes. It is breathing you in and out...’ ‘If your breath wants to focus to the point where it becomes sound, allow it to happen; you can make a decision to chant. Take time to find each area of vibration sensation. You can move the notes or sounds around until you feel vibration in that area. Feel O vibrating in the gut. Feel OO vibrating in the solar Plexus. Feel AH vibrating in the area of the heart. Feel EH vibrating in the throat. Feel EE vibrating in the area of the third eye. Feel MM of OM vibrating the top of the head...’ You may have trouble getting into it in your bedroom, but your own experience is bound to be less of a distortion than a mere description of someone else’s would be.