Rebecca Ray: Welcome to Hello Rebecca Ray, our collective home for courage, growth and human to human connection. I’m your host, Dr. Rebecca Ray, human, clinical psychologist, author, and educator. I know only too well how fear, comparison and self doubt can stifle your potential. This podcast is all about brave and meaningful living and how you can make your authentic contribution to the world today and every day.
Rebecca Ray: Lovely ones, welcome to Episode 57 which is part two of my discussion about embodied presence with Nilusha Dassenaike. Nilusha Dassenaike is a Sri Lankan born Australian singer who weaves south-Asian musical and spiritual roots into her compositions. She is performed at Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln centre, the Apollo theatre, among many other prestigious concert halls around the world. She is performed for Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Harry Belafonte, Hillary Clinton, and performed with Hugh Jackman, Natalie merchant, Amanda Palmer, Tina arena, and many more. NicoElectro is her current musical collaboration with programmer and producer Colin Snape and their music is described as Buddha meets Blade Runner. I hope you enjoy part two of my discussion with her about the powerful practice of embodied presence.
Rebecca Ray: If you didn’t have an embodied presence practice, how do you think your relationship with music would be different?
Nilusha Dassenaike: Oh, god. Oh, my God.
Rebecca Ray: And do you see this in your students?
Nilusha Dassenaike: Oh yes! Definitely.
Rebecca Ray: Getting violent people!
Rebecca Ray: What was that?
Rebecca Ray: You’re getting violent with the head jerk. Oh, my goodness, you need to see, for listeners, you need to see how passionately Nilusha feels about this particular question.
Nilusha Dassenaike: Because I I actually lived that for a bit. Right. It’s, it’s awful. It’s scary and it’s mean, oh, my god, it’s so mean, and hostile. And just like, you know, it’s that, you know, how we all have the capacity, you know? That awful person that lives in there. Yeah. You know, that says all the judgey things. And nobody would ever be friends with that person. If that person lived on the outside. It’s like that. Yeah, it’s like, everything you do is just fraught with insecurity. And it’s a really tough existence. Yeah, it’s really tough. And it does not need to be like that. It doesn’t
Nilusha Dassenaike: I’m assuming that shuts down your capacity to create freely.
Nilusha Dassenaike: Oh god, yes. Absolutely. Everything you do, has judgement. And you know, you know, this, in order to create, that needs to be a judgement free zone.
Rebecca Ray: That’s what happens with my writing as well, the more, the more Navy SEAL I get in my head, the worse the content I produce, you know, likely.
Nilusha Dassenaike: Exactly, exactly and that’s the thing with the critic, right? The critic never creates anything of value. The critic is just there to be a critic. Yeah. You know, so it’s like, I yeah, oh, my God, I know that. It definitely I see that in in students as well. 100%. And that’s part of the thing for, you know, like, I want to show people how the, how it can be the other, the other way of doing things. You can do it from such a wholesome, wholehearted way. That doesn’t have to be about beating oneself up or judging or, you know, any of that.
Nilusha Dassenaike: Let’s start practically, can we do an exercise that listeners can do with us? Would that be around?
Nilusha Dassenaike: Absolutely.
Rebecca Ray: My favourite, or the one that’s had the biggest impact on me so far, is the listening one. Can we do the one where we?
Nilusha Dassenaike:Oh, sure.
Rebecca Ray: You know, the one where you go from? I don’t know, what are the words you go from within a minute? Yeah, you know, sorry, listeners. Look, just trust me. She knows what she’s doing. I don’t, so we’re just gonna learn together.
Nilusha Dassenaike: Do you feel comfortable to close your eyes? Yeah, no, I’m good with that. Firstly, we’re just going to acknowledge where we are right now whether it’s standing or sitting and whatever it is just try to enjoy. Enjoy sitting, enjoy standing. There’s nothing else for you to do right now your one job is to be here fully.\
Nilusha Dassenaike: I’m going to get you to bring your attention to your nostrils or the tip of your nose and only one thing. Just feel your nostrils as air passes through them. Don’t worry about following the breath all the way through, just stay with the nostrils and the sensation in them as air passes through.
Nilusha Dassenaike: And as you sit or as you stand becoming aware of gravity, that incredible grounding force in our lives so when we’re up in the control tower of stress, anxiety, thoughts, worries, there is something that pulls us towards the Earth. Gravity pulls us towards the nourishing supportive Earth and just feel the pressure of your body or your feet against whatever they’re coming into contact with right now.
Nilusha Dassenaike: I’m gonna get you to draw your attention to your feet and I’m gonna ask that you try to feel your feet from the inside out. You might feel throbbing, pulsing, warmth, coolness, whatever it is. You might even feel that little bit of excitement, that little bit of energy in your feet. Just try feeling them from the inside out and then move your attention to the soles of your feet, what are they touching? Can you feel the ground beneath you or the inside of your shoes or your socks. Now I’m going to get you to bring your attention to your hands, try to feel them from the inside out as well. Feel them as they rest there in your lap or on your chair or by the side of you. Can you feel them from the inside out? This is you dropping into presence, this is you dropping into your body.
Nilusha Dassenaike: Now, I’m going to ask you to begin active listening. Notice the sounds in your environment. What else can you hear apart from the sound of my voice. You might hear television, you might hear an appliance, traffic, birds. Try and name them all of these incredible sounds in your environment a constantly announcing the present moment. Invite them in let them surround you.
Nilusha Dassenaike: Now I want you to try and bring your attention back to your nostrils and this time I want you to feel the sensations of your breath. Coming in, going out and just noticing. You don’t have to lengthen or shorten we’re just drawing attention to the breath. Just know that you are breathing in and know that you are breathing out. And with your next in breath, let’s just try and expand that field of concentration. See if you can feel your whole body as you breathe in. And as you breathe out. Bring your attention to your feet again. Bring attention to gravity, to the sounds, to your breath to your back to your legs, your arms.
Nilusha Dassenaike: Breathing in, just know you are breathing in, breathing out. Know you are breathing out. Keep in mind, it’s not a breathing exercise, but just an exercise in awareness. You can mentally say to yourself breathing in, I know I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know I am breathing out and if you notice the presence of thoughts or images, just softly say when you recognise it, thinking or seeing. By bringing mindfulness to those particular things, you’re actually strengthening your mindfulness. And then come back to knowing that you are breathing in and knowing that you are breathing out.
Nilusha Dassenaike: With your next in breath, mentally say breathing in, I follow my in breath all the way through. Breathing out, I follow my outbreath all the way through.
Nilusha Dassenaike: We can stay with the in out breath the whole way through this mindfulness eventually it will become uninterrupted and your quality of concentration becomes improved. With you next in breath say breathing in I am aware of my body. Breathing out I am aware of my body. So this brings the mind wholly back to the body and your mind and body become one reality. This is where you can be in touch with the miracles and the wonders of life that are available to you.
Nilusha Dassenaike: Now with your next in breath, breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I release the tension in my body. And if you like you can accentuate the outbreath to release that tension.
Nilusha Dassenaike: Still being mindful of the breath, checking in with gravity. Checking in with our feet. Checking in with the sounds in our environment. Take one beautiful deep breath in through your nose and out through your nose all the way. One more time in and out. One more beautiful cleansing breath in and release all of the tension with your outbreath.
Nilusha Dassenaike: Just sitting for one moment. Noticing how it feels to be in your body.
Nilusha Dassenaike: In a moment, I’m going to ask you to close your, open your eyes, and when you open your eyes, just try to maintain a little bit of awareness. Whether it’s with your, your breath, the sounds, your feet, your body on the chair, try to maintain a little bit for yourself. Whenever you’re ready, open your eyes ah,
Rebecca Ray: There’s something about your voice. So many reasons why I can see that you have Satya singing to share this with other people because it’s profound. You know, one of the things I love about that exercise so much is coming back to gravity. I never thought about coming back to gravity. There’s something about it not just being the breath, but being able to come back to my feet from the inside out, my hands from the inside out and gravity theres, oh, that groundedness really works for me.
Nilusha Dassenaike: I’m so glad to hear
Rebecca Ray: Thank you.
Nilusha Dassenaike: Of course.
Rebecca Ray: Thank you. You are the greatest. I just feel like I’ve had a shower.
Nilusha Dassenaike: I love that feeling.
Rebecca Ray: Yes, yes. Like so cleansed. So good. Thank you so much. Can you please share with listeners where they can find you? So one of the things that I leapt to but forgot to go was that you’ve just released your latest single with NiCo Electro. Can you please talk about that momentarily?
Nilusha Dassenaike: Absolutely. So it’s a brand new single. It’s called The Ballard of U and Me. And you is just like the letter U. And it’s, it’s just beautiful. It’s our love song. Really. It’s a love song to each other. And it’s a love song to the world. And it’s all of the gorgeous, it’s just music that we love to make. And there’s freedom in that and there’s just so much joy in that for us. So I hope that comes across in the song. So yeah, it’s on all of the streaming services and you know, everything Spotify, YouTube, Title, Amazon, everything, everything
Nilusha Dassenaike: And that’s NiCo Electro and N I C O electro. Nilusha’s referring to her partner, Colin Snape, who did he have a hand in the lyrics as well? Or did you do the lyrics?
Nilusha Dassenaike: No, I think they were mine.
Rebecca Ray: You did lyrics and vocals.
Nilusha Dassenaike: I did lyrics, vocals, melodies and he came along and changed the harmonic structure and put all those amazing ear candy sounds in there. And
Rebecca Ray: It really is ear candy. Yes, you have to listen to it. If you get a chance, please jump on, well my streaming service of choice is Spotify. And I jumped on it this morning. And it really does sound like this is the sonic version of your love. I just loved it so much. It’s so dreamy and romantic, but also really grounding. Love it.
Nilusha Dassenaike: Thank you
Rebecca Ray: And Sathiya singing is that sathiyasinging.com or.com.au.?
Nilusha Dassenaike: .com, yes,
Rebecca Ray: If you’ve loved this exercise, like I did today, then please jump over to sathiya singing because Nilusha does group meditation that you can join in online from anywhere in the world. It’s especially beautiful. And if there’s a part of you that loves to sing, and she also does singing lessons, so please make sure that you jump over and grab whatever piece of her that you possibly can. Because you know what? I can’t get enough. So I totally understand if you can’t get enough, either. Thank you Nilusha Dassenaike, thank you so much for talking with me today. I so value your time and especially your presence.
Nilusha Dassenaike: Oh my goodness Beck, you are a true joy. Honestly, spending his time with you is just it fills me. It totally fills me. So thank you. It’s been my absolute honour to be here. And if there’s anything that if you want me to explain further, please don’t hesitate
Rebecca Ray: Okay, I will.
Nilusha Dassenaike: I want to make sure that I yeah, that I’ve answered your questions. And
Rebecca Ray: No, you have, especially because what I wanted was a process and I wanted listeners to have the same thing, this kind of process to be able to walk away and go, how do I start implementing this or applying this in my own daily life now without being overwhelming?
Nilusha Dassenaike: Yes, yes, I would definitely say start with some mindful breathing. Just do a little bit of five minutes of mindful breathing a day. It makes all the difference. And you can do some loving kindness practice if you want to start extending it. But I would start with mindful breathing and just some of those phrases. Breathing in, I know I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know I am breathing out. Let that sit with you for about a minute. Yeah, and then move on to the next phrase. So yeah, that’s that’s what I would say.
Rebecca Ray: You’re brilliant\
Nilusha Dassenaike: Sing!
Rebecca Ray: That’s her answer to everything, listeners, just so you know. Her answer to everything, sing. I’m not available for singing, and that’s where this episode will end. But maybe if you’re lucky, we’ll do another episode when Nilusha can sing for you. But instead, just go to Spotify. And you can have her sing right now in your ears and you will not regret it. Thank you for being with me.
Rebecca Ray: Lovely ones. Thank you so much for listening to Hello, Rebecca Ray. If you’ve got something meaningful from this episode, then the most meaningful thing you can do is jump on over to wherever you listen to your podcast episodes and leave a review. Because it’s those reviews that help this podcast stay here. Make sure to subscribe, and if you’re generous enough to share this episode, thank you so much. I love seeing your shares on social media. So please tag me, catch you next time.