Dan Hartill, Lewiston Sun Journal, Maine: Ed Gabrielsen has spent his life trying to marry the body and the mind, first as a singer and later as an instructor of yoga and meditation. He has worked with people touched by cancer at the Dempsey Center, teaching a class titled “Music and Meditation.”
He currently teaches at Healthy for Life Wellness Center in Norway, where his wife, pediatric doctor Jill Gabrielsen, also has a medical practice.
Name: Ed Gabrielsen
Single, relationship or married? Married
Children? We have two children.
You’ve been a musician for a long time. What does music do for you? Music is an art that expresses thoughts and emotions in a way that goes beyond words. I feel very fortunate to be a musician because my life is filled with this wonderful form of communication. Music brings me experiences of joy, solace, beauty and peace.
How is music and meditation part of your daily life? Every day I find time to sing and play the piano. I also find time every day to sit quietly in stillness. These are my two basic daily practices.
When did you discover meditation? I was in my 20s, and I was miserably unhappy. My unhappiness drove me into meditation practice. Sometimes suffering does that.When you work with people struggling with cancer, either in themselves or a loved one, how do you handle their individual needs? I am not an expert on cancer or bereavement. I am just a meditation practitioner, which means I am continually striving to dwell in mindfulness, in other words, to be completely present in this moment. This turns out to be beneficial in many situations. Just be present. Be here now. Listen. Maybe say a word or two, but mostly listen.
How can someone begin learning about meditation? It’s good to sit with a group that meets weekly. Sometimes yoga centers offer meditation classes. I sometimes teach classes. There are several Buddhist groups in Maine now.
Do you see your work as bridging the mind and body? I guess you could say that. Meditation begins with the mind. We are training the mind.
Are there folks who are immune to music or meditation? There are people who are too impatient, who are looking for a quick fix. These people give up before they see any benefit. Meditation practice requires patience and persistence, just like learning to play the piano.
How do you respond to skeptics? I encourage them to be skeptical. We need to ask questions. We need to find out for ourselves what is really true. As he was dying, the Buddha said to his disciples, “Don’t just believe me. Be a lamp unto yourselves.”
Are there universal pieces of music that make everyone feel better? Listen to your breath. Breathe in. Breathe out. You are alive. Appreciate your life. Be grateful. Be content. This is the most beautiful music. Just breathing in and out.
Can music or meditation heal you? Peace is our true home. Peace is our true nature. Love, compassion, forgiveness, acceptance, letting go, wisdom: these are the things that heal us. Music and meditation are simply vehicles that lead the way home.