A Powerful Mind-Body Journey – Michael Mervosh
Here's what to do to get out of your head, so you can be in your body
Did you know you can use your body as its own resonating chamber in order to feel an exchange with the flow of the world around you?
Michael Mervosh—psychologist, founder and executive director of the Hero’s Journey Foundation, joins Jim to talk about the healing work done by the Hero’s Journey Foundation, including getting out of your head so you can be in your body, the concept of “PsychoEnergetics,” and how music can play a huge part in self-actualization and community building.
1:45 – What is the hero’s journey?
9:55 – Getting out of your head so you can be in your body
12:23 – Using the body as its own “resonating chamber”
18:12 – How music fits into healing work and the journey process
26:13 – What happens over the course of a Hero’s Journey retreat?
28:06 – What is PsychoEnergetics?
33:12 – How is music used in PsychoEnergetics?
42:02 – The Hero’s Journey mission
46:30 – How can people learn more about the Hero’s Journey?
Jim Donovan: Today on the Sound Health podcasts.
Michael Mervosh: The men started singing amazing grace to him and what moved through him moved through us all. That the depth of release that he had, the softening, then it brought back this powerful memory of his father’s dying and him singing that song to his father when his father was distressed.
Jim Donovan: Oh wow.
Michael Mervosh: It’s, we could have said something to him, right?
Jim Donovan: Yeah.
Michael Mervosh: But the fact that you’re in a dark chamber, you’re in a tight space and this song you just don’t know what it’s going to do and-
Jim Donovan: I’m getting choked up just hearing about that.
Michael Mervosh: Yeah. That has just happened time and time again.
Jim Donovan: Welcome to the show. My name is Jim Donovan. I am so happy that you’re here with us today and I’m incredibly excited. I have a guest today who’s a dear friend of mine, Mr. Michael Mervosh. Michael Mervosh is a licensed psychotherapist, facilitator and trainer from Pittsburgh with over 30 years of clinical experience.
Jim Donovan: Michael is also the founder and director of the Hero’s Journey Foundation, which is devoted to providing transformational experiences to adolescents, adults and elders. Welcome to the show. Michael, how are you doing today?
Michael Mervosh: Thank you. I’m good, Jim. It’s good to be here.
Jim Donovan: So good to have you. This is very exciting. You and I have been friends for quite a long time and done some work together and I’m really excited for our listeners to get to meet you here today. Thank you for being here. Appreciate it.
Jim Donovan: I think I just want to dig in and ask you, tell our listeners a little bit about the Hero’s Journey. What is that, what is that for, who goes to a Hero’s Journey?
Michael Mervosh: Well, the whole concept of the Hero’s Journey is based on the monomyth put together by Joseph Campbell. That’s based on this universal process of taking leave of what’s most familiar to you, going into the unknown, having experiences that consist of adventures and ordeals and having something emerge from within you that wouldn’t come without the right combination of adventures and ordeals and then bringing that back into your life.
Jim Donovan: Wow. You’ve been doing this for how long?
Michael Mervosh: I’ve been doing the work around the Hero’s Journey myth for about 25 years now.
Jim Donovan: Wow. What kind of people show up for this? Why does someone choose to partake in a journey?
Michael Mervosh: Why does anybody go after something that they really want, right?
Jim Donovan: Yeah.
Michael Mervosh: And we’re all seekers on some level and now we’re in a culture that really prescribes everything for us to do… tells us, “You do this you get that.”
Jim Donovan: Right.
Michael Mervosh: And in many ways that will work and for simple things it tends to work. But for complex things as human beings we find that when we follow a prescription handed to us by a culture, it fits a culture in general, but not people in particular as individuals. And a journey, a mythic journey is living into something that’s truer and deeper than any particular prescription or category or set up sequence of events. It’s that’s a nonlinear experience.
Michael Mervosh: And it puts you into a set of circumstances that takes you beyond who you already know yourself to be, which for many people holds great appeal. They just don’t want to have to be there when it happens.
Jim Donovan: Yeah.
Michael Mervosh: With the right amount of supports in the right kind of environment, you can become more than what you already are.
Jim Donovan: It’s like something that someone can go to to learn more about what they’re capable of.
Michael Mervosh: Yeah. It supports the realization of a potential that you would either like to have or cultivate or didn’t even know that you had that arises in the right conditions. And it’s something even though, it’s something that’s in a way very individualistic because each person has to follow their own path or their own bliss, it’s best done in groups because the rising tide lifts all the boats.
Jim Donovan: What do you think it is about the group? I know this from working with people in music making, especially people that are strangers. They come together and it’s awkward, but then something about making something with another person. When some of the process I do that you’ve experienced are people drumming together.
Jim Donovan: They meet each other for the first time that night of the workshop and then all of a sudden 10 minutes in they’re doing something together. And I know I see those people, they bond when that happens. In the work that you do, do you see, besides bonding do you see any other things that happen?
Michael Mervosh: Well, the bonding supports a process, a shared event or a shared ordeal, sets up the thing you’re longing for and resisting the most, which is to transcend yourself.
Jim Donovan: Yeah.
Michael Mervosh: You can’t often transcend yourself by yourself. Get the right conditions you can, but there’s something about experiencing your place among others being one among others where you can begin to lose yourself, but also discover yourself in a resonance and felt exchange with something larger than yourself. And I think that’s an instinctual need that we have as human beings that we are both attracted to and seek out, which is why you’d go on a journey and also can resist greatly.
Jim Donovan: Right. Now I want to get into just in a little bit like painting the picture for someone like when they arrive at this place, what happens? But before we get there, I’m really interested to hear you’ve been doing this for 25 years what possessed you to create something like this? I know for me when I’m making something, whatever it is I feel like I’m the most myself. I really feel something happens when I’m creating.
Jim Donovan: And I’m wondering for you when you made this, this is a really complex and large organization that provides something profound to people. What was it that sparked you or how did you arrive at creating this thing that now exists for quarter of a century?
Michael Mervosh: I don’t know that we ever kind of do these things exactly on purpose, but I think it’s a matter of being in the position of finding myself doing the things that I already loved, that just seemed like the next thing to do. And the combination of wilderness settings again, all these things that set up this desire to transcend yourself nature, dramatic nature settings, communal groups, sound, music, physical activities, internal emotional processes. All these things take us out of ourselves and at the same time deeper into ourselves at the same time.
Michael Mervosh: And it was literally going from one thing to another. Being at Gateway Rehab in Aliquippa, PA and as a therapist they’re working with our high elements ropes courses and saying, “Well, what a great way to work through fear.” And then going into the mountains of West Virginia and going on climbs or going down into caves and using these profound natural settings as reflecting mirrors.
Michael Mervosh: And then feeling like every time I’m in those settings that myth wakes up, where does the song come from in your head? Do you invent it? Is it just there and you choose to follow it or you don’t follow it?
Jim Donovan: Yeah. You saw in your work with people in drug and alcohol use… What I’m hearing is that you saw something in one modality and you thought, wow, I could take this and move it over here, but also do it with people that maybe aren’t in addiction. Is that kind of accurate?
Michael Mervosh: You’re right.
Jim Donovan: And then start you started to build other pieces onto that.
Michael Mervosh: Yeah. And doing men’s work at the time and again, working with men in groups to get feedback that they need to get about. It’s one thing, how do you know you’re a man? It’s by how you feel when you’re in the presence of other ones. That’s kind of what you need. You don’t read about it. You can’t just look in a mirror and you can, it doesn’t get you that far.
Jim Donovan: Yeah.
Michael Mervosh: And in those spaces again, the resonant spaces, whether it’s a circle of bodies that’s not just mental thinking, whether it’s an underground cavern, which is a great sound chamber and in something that takes you far beyond yourself that will both disorient you and reorient you.
Jim Donovan: And I heard you say just a couple moments ago about kind of get getting out of yourself and also getting deeper into yourself. You said that something like that. When you say that do you mean get out of your head and into something else or am I misreading?
Michael Mervosh: Well, who we tend to know ourselves to be is our thoughts. All right. Give us our identity and we tend to think the same basic thoughts over and over again.
Jim Donovan: True. Yea.
Michael Mervosh: We don’t do what’s useful necessarily under stress. And we don’t think what’s useful under stress. We think what we know and we tend to mental thinking. Our culture is so mentally inclined, we’re so compulsive with our behaviors, obsessive with our thinking, and we don’t really work with our bodies. A big part of the draw for me in doing the work that I do is working on a body level with the body as a resonating, vibrating vessel.
Jim Donovan: Yeah. It’s, a lot of work is… Now is maybe this is a sexist thing or a sexist way to think of it, but is, do you think that’s more of a tendency in men that we tend to overthink things more than maybe women do or is that maybe that’s not a good way to think about it?
Michael Mervosh: I think as a generalization we would say that historically women who are more in touch with their interior are more in touch with her emotional base. But I work with just as many women who ruminate and with their thinking as do men. It’s just a way to cling to yourself and to cling to what you know-
Jim Donovan: To the thoughts.
Michael Mervosh: Into your thoughts and what you know in your thoughts.
Jim Donovan: Yeah. That makes sense.
Michael Mervosh: And the fear is, we have this tremendous fear of not knowing which we make bad meaning out of as if we’re inadequate, as if we’re stupid, but they’re the primary conditions for learning and development.
Jim Donovan: And I heard you say that to get there we make experiences that are physical-
Michael Mervosh: To get out of our heads.
Jim Donovan: To get out of our heads. We do things, we are moving the body somehow or maybe we’re taxing it in a way, whether it’s exercise or it’s a climb or something like that. And then you said that, “We can actually use the body as its own resonating chamber.” Can you tell me more about that?
Michael Mervosh: Well, besides taxing it I think we also are not really… never been taught to be in our bodies as we’re quiet and still from Buddhist mindfulness practices, from the many things you’re familiar with, where the ability to let go of our minds and to drop into our breath and have the patience… I’m thinking of work we use in one of our trainings. The book Radical Wholeness by Philip Shepherd, where our wholeness is based on our sense of wellbeing, is based on our ability to feel a felt exchange with the flow of the world around us, which is not something that happens in mental thinking, but it requires the ability of me to feel my breath, have access to it and feel how it drops down into my pelvis and into the pelvic floor.
Michael Mervosh: And when I get into that still place or that embodied place, which is where I do my work out of, then when I’m listening to you I’m feeling you with all of me, and not with a narrow lens, but with a wide open resonance.
Jim Donovan: Am I accurate in understanding this, that it’s a way to widen your sensory perception. If I’m just sensing you from my mind that’s one way to do it and it’s maybe the more common way, but if I’m really breathing deeply into my belly and letting my whole body kind of be present than I’m not only thinking and hearing and seeing, but feeling more as a…
Michael Mervosh: Yeah, I’m living.
Jim Donovan: I’m living, yeah.
Michael Mervosh: I’m having a felt exchange or that’s a broadening of my horizon where I can feel what it’s like to be with you. I can have a sense of how you are now. That’s a little unsettling because you have much more of a felt sense of what’s happening, which we don’t always like to feel.
Jim Donovan: Yeah.
Michael Mervosh: But when we are restrict ourselves into thinking we do that to stay safe and to feel we are separate individuals in a world. Our whole culture now is just set up, especially if you’re in any way well to do is you… Everything is inside a chamber. The who you know yourself to be is we’re inside this studio. Now I’m going to go get inside my car and I’m going to move around inside my car. Then I’m going to go inside my house again-
Jim Donovan: Into a room inside my house.
Michael Mervosh: And then I’m going to go into that room. And again, that’s just the day to day background that says I am me and I am safe and the world is out there and I’m in here. And our thinking works in that same way, provides that same effect, which, but really it really restricts and limits consciousness as well as creativity and healing. It’s management.
Jim Donovan: Yeah. And I see that in musicians, where we start to think about what we should do and what kind of songs should I write so that the people that listened to me will like it. And we get into the… I’ve gotten into this trap of try trying to create something for someone else. Maybe for approval or maybe I think it’s going to make me money things like that. And I’ve never found that that works at all. Not one time, not one time.
Michael Mervosh: No! What’s the one the Eastern saying is, “Whoever chases two rabbits catches neither.” That if you’re really into the enjoyment of your sensory experience, music, the joy of that isn’t of itself its own reward. But now if it needs to be a hit that makes money, it just lost both of them perhaps.
Jim Donovan: Every time I found out. Every time.
Michael Mervosh: Every time. Yeah.
Jim Donovan: Yeah. The enjoyment gets sucked out and it falls, it just falls flat. In contrast when it’s just the creativity comes and like you said, you have like an impulse about seeing a ropes course and then you built upon that impulse. Wow, this would really fit nicely with this. And what I’m hearing underneath that is a philosophy of service, this could be helpful. This could help.
Jim Donovan: I’ll do this in a song where I’ll with a lyric I want the lyric to spark someone maybe not in a very direct way, but in a subconscious way, where they hear sort of the energy of the voice. I’ll even put myself in the emotion that I’m thinking about. Literally put myself in it, whether it’s tears or anger and be there so that the listener can maybe get sparked by that. But it’s more for I think of it as like a tool or something they could use. And so I’m hearing that when you were creating Hero’s Journeys there’s some similarity there.
Michael Mervosh: It was to be of service.
Jim Donovan: A lot of reward there.
Michael Mervosh: Well, it’s kind of all there is.
Jim Donovan: Have learned his thinking. Well, let me first ask you. In your clinical practice do you use music at all? Is that part of the practices or are you more just people are talking and you’re having more dialogue?
Michael Mervosh: No, I don’t. Well, I don’t purposefully use music, but I don’t think musically, but it doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t use music at some point. I use music in communal environments all the time for healing. But if someone brings a song, if they bring it I pay attention to that. To me when we were a little while ago just talking about this whole notion of being vibrating instruments. To me it’s about being in that vibratory state where you’re available and you’re witnessing what’s happening and there’s this natural calling response, which is not trying to help anybody. It’s being able to respond to something.
Michael Mervosh: And a big part of healing work in my mind, whether I’m as a practitioner as the healer or in self-healing is the ability to allow your body to be at rest in the ground, inherit the earth. And in that resting space your sensitivities awaken, where you’re not solution seeking, but you’re responding to what comes, what occurs to you, whatever it is without rejecting it. And then in listening to somebody else or being in nature a synchronicity starts to take place or you’re just aware of things that become synchronistic to you because you’re so present to what’s happening.
Jim Donovan: Yeah. Puts you in that spot of now.
Michael Mervosh: Yes.
Jim Donovan: And I can be here and if I’ve got a group of people around me or even an audience that can also be there the vibration in the room it shifts, it changes something happens. Do you, in your work with Hero’s Journey, I know that you use music because I’ve been there to do some of that with drumming. What have you seen it do to people in the journey process? How does it help them or not? I’m just interested because it’s like I think it’s a fascinating idea that people
in a personal growth activity would use music for something that wasn’t entertainment. That’s interesting to me.
Michael Mervosh: Well, it’s even in the years since you’ve been with us, it’s been more profoundly musically supported far more than we had when you were there. And what music does when you think about the songs that you love out of your lifetime. Music is wired into our brains, right? This way that sound is the way sound is organized in phrasing and in pitches to be greater than the sum of its parts. That’s what makes it so powerful. And that lays right into a mythic perspective or group perspective where you’re part of something beyond yourself.
Michael Mervosh: And in the same way that when you were 15 and finding love and lust and having songs that really moved you, that stay with you throughout your lifetime. There’s something about in the shared intensity or vulnerability of a deeper depth process when you introduce music to come underneath it or come around alongside it, they merge and that sort of crosses the blood brain barrier and it creates eternity and you’re just totally there.
Michael Mervosh: And then for some reason then, especially if you come back to that song with that group it deepens and takes you further and further and then it lives outside of time. We have those kinds of experiences that can be quite deep and we have enough shared history, cultural history because you have to have enough shared culture to have the music mean something similar unless it’s a new thing you’re all learning together.
Michael Mervosh: But the music is literally like woven into the cells of your wellbeing. And once you have that then you can draw from that. Only when you quiet yourself. You can’t make the music do it, but you have to create that same state where we dropped down with our breath where we get quiet and still and we recall that experience. And the song that comes with us will move us immediately.
Jim Donovan: It’s like it snaps you into that space almost like the brain and the body have learned that this song means we go here.
Michael Mervosh: Yes. And that’s what’s so powerful and I use poetry that way. Any artistic form will do that. The right lighting and setting holds that kind of power and that space that we’re in the mountain in West Virginia has that kind of eminence to it. When you put them all together they interlock.
Jim Donovan: And can you think of… I’m sure you’re seeing hundreds, maybe thousands of people go through some of these processes that you’d do with them. Can you think of a story or someone that you can remember without naming names, who had a cathartic experience with a musical piece or a musical device that you were using with them?
Michael Mervosh: Well, there are so many. So many of those that happen, but the first it comes to mind was a man who, older man who came on this journey was a pastor just
retired. He was 65 and on the recommendation of a close friend of his comes to do one of these. Guy has never done anything outside church walls like this.
Michael Mervosh: We’re in a cave and we’re on a relatively difficult crawl and he’s a large man. We got to a point where he was feeling like he was getting stuck and he was panicking. And then the men started singing amazing grace to him and what moved through him moved through us all that the depth of release that he had, the softening then it brought back this powerful memory of his father’s dying. And him singing that song to his father when his father was distressed.
Jim Donovan: Oh wow.
Michael Mervosh: We could’ve said something to him, right?
Jim Donovan: Yeah.
Michael Mervosh: But the fact that you’re in a dark chamber, you’re in a tight space and this song you just don’t know what it’s going to do.
Jim Donovan: I’m getting choked up just hearing about that.
Michael Mervosh: Yeah. That has just happened time and time again.
Jim Donovan: Wow. Well, that’s beautiful story. I appreciate you sharing that. Can you just real briefly paint a picture for the listener of this place? It’s a place you keep talking about West Virginia, there’s a mountain there that you go. What’s it look like? What happens over the course of the journey? Is it’s a week long experience?
Michael Mervosh: We do a week long for men, week long for women. And then we do four day coed experiences there, couple times a year. It’s in the middle of a national forest, Monongahela National Forest. And the mountains of West Virginia outside of Elkins, in the middle of nowhere Circleville. And the setting’s very unique because it has the look and feel of the West and in East. It’s in the highest point in the East. It’s 4,800 feet there.
Jim Donovan: Wow.
Michael Mervosh: And there’s nothing at all there, but these round Mongolian yurts built by Bill Coperthwaite… Renowned Mongolian Yurt builder and-
Jim Donovan: Did not know that.
Michael Mervosh: And he recently died and there’s a view you have of the horizon where you could see seven mountains over from the high plains and as far as the eye can see, which is not all that typical for around here.
Michael Mervosh: You have that kind of majesty where you’re on top of a mountain, you have weather that moves and everything is much more alive. Clouds sweep in, storms sweep in, sunset sweep in.
Jim Donovan: Wow. It’s beautiful. I’ve been there maybe four or five times and every time I get to the top it is breathtaking. And I have, I just have to stop and stand there.
Michael Mervosh: Yeah. And I think nature, the profound beauty in nature has that macro focus and can settle you into a space inside in the same way music can do that internally. Do it from the inside out.
Jim Donovan: Why don’t we switch gears and let’s talk about some of the work that you do in Europe with this process called PsychoEnergetics. Is that right? Tell me about that. What is that?
Michael Mervosh: It’s a body mind depth psychology that I developed with a colleague of mine from Spain. That involves embodiment practices, mindfulness practices and the study of depth psychology to deepen your inner experience and your inner sense of being awake and alive. And we do the same thing we do it communally, we do it in small groups, we do it in a large groups and we do it in dyads to teach people to drop in deeper.
Michael Mervosh: And it’s this ability to be in encounters, in exchanges where the practitioner is deeply embodied and deeply present who’s not there to help, not there to fix, not there to have answers, but to be in resonance, in response to whatever is coming from their client. And it creates profound states of awareness that allows people to work through fear, allows people to shed inadequacy, take risks, work through anger, be better able to tolerate difficulty and to stay interested in people different than themselves.
Jim Donovan: And so is it, I’m like hearing you say, “I’m watching your body language.” And it seems like it kind of echoes some of the work that you’re doing in Hero’s Journey where it’s body focused, physical focused and also social, which is, when I think of psychotherapy, I don’t always think of that there’s other people besides me and a therapist in the room.
Michael Mervosh: Well that’s the trick. Is that when you’re in a really good session it’s a demonstration session there. You won’t be aware of the other people in the room either.
Jim Donovan: Okay.
Michael Mervosh: The point of it is that it creates learning environments, where you can move through something like on the wilderness journeys much quicker. You get in touch with something much faster. You might feel more or might feel some more pain, but you move through it quicker and you release it because the level of support you have as much stronger.
Michael Mervosh: And a lot of these people are practitioners and they take this into their individual work with people. But it’s that same beauty that you’re a part of something where everybody’s learning the same thing. And it’s noncompetitive so that when one person is learning something, it’s a learning for everybody and you learn a lot faster and you feel a lot freer.
Jim Donovan: It’s like you’re learning that lesson for me because you’re going through it. I’m resonating with it. I’m going through it too. And thank you for that.
Michael Mervosh: And all of this has to do with my understanding of the Hero’s Journey myth, which is that you’ve got to be part of an ensemble these days in order for you to maximize who you are as an individual. It’s way… the time of the individual hero is gone. If you look at all the of the popular movies now they’re all teams of superheroes. I think all of us have got to find ways to realize we need people and we need to resonate with other people who are awake and alive because someone’s going to be that in a way that I’m not and know what I don’t know. And I can learn from them a lot faster rather than trying to learn on my own.
Michael Mervosh: And many people are not really independent. They’re just counter dependent and afraid that many of us grew up with the myth that we should be independent, which means that we don’t ever rely on other people.
Jim Donovan: Right.
Michael Mervosh: When relaying-
Jim Donovan: I call it autonomous.
Michael Mervosh: Well, it could be-
Jim Donovan: I got this.
Michael Mervosh: It could be. When you depend on other people because you won’t learn anything for yourself that’s a passive dependency. But when you depend on other people to show you the ways and help you get somewhere that strengthens you, that’s relying on people and you don’t rely on your own mind because that’s what it ends up making us neurotic. All of the work is built to do that.
Michael Mervosh: And again, in any of those communal settings, when you have shared experiences, shared vulnerability, shared ordeals, shared challenges, shared joys, music is the great… emulsifier. It just blends the whole thing and amplifies it and gives you the common ground because then when you have that shared love of the song, all it takes is to play it again.
Jim Donovan: And are there any different ways that you had used music in PsychoEnergetics that might not apply in the journey work?
Michael Mervosh: Yes and no. I think what we always do in training groups is we always sing at the end of the day because a lot of the learnings psychologically or emotionally can be painful or difficult or exhausting. And the reason we always say “what we’re going to do now is sing because we can.”
Jim Donovan: Even if we don’t know well, we can.
Michael Mervosh: If you don’t know the words, you’ll find them out soon. And it just feels so critical that a person that’s struggling can feel something bigger than the struggle they have. And that’s the one thing I think music can do.
Michael Mervosh: Sometimes in a song that this one group that I’m a part of just loves is the Beatles’ Let It Be. It has a comforting tone to it and someone just starts singing it or we’ll do some Krishna Das Kirtan dance.
Jim Donovan: Oh, sure. Yeah.
Michael Mervosh: And it provides a comfort and you’ll watch people settle in because we’re not very good at just always sitting quietly together at the end of the day, we’ve got to do something.
Jim Donovan: I got do something.
Michael Mervosh: And whether it’s tender music, whether it’s joyful music, or sorrowful music it has the sense of putting a container around something that we’ve been through and that’s a primary way we use it or to punctuate in experience.
Jim Donovan: It makes good sense. And it makes me think of the early and still the societies today who come from the indigenous world, whether they’re talking about native American people, Aboriginal folks from Australia, where the songs are songs that have been passed down from generation to generation and it was done orally. None of this stuff was ever written down. And it just makes like what you’re saying, it helps some of that make more sense because it’s, if you’re doing this in a week or are you doing this in maybe a couple of week training.
Jim Donovan: Imagine the kind of marker in a person’s being a song that’s been passed down for 3000 years. How that affects a person and puts them in that energetic spot that you’re talking about. Is that, I’m I making sense?
Michael Mervosh: That’s exactly it. And I just did a training group or training group in Spain in February and last week I was just in upstate New York with our U.S. group. And in both instances we used music in the same way and the woman in Europe was in touch with how deeply she was coming out of a depression and she was feeling so grateful to feel alive again.
Michael Mervosh: And she says, “I just want more of this, more of this, just give me more of this.” And then people started going, “More of this, more of this,” and it got tender
and it had it took a life of its own and we ended up singing it, whenever somebody was moved and they said they just wanted something they had arrived. And the group created something that lingered for the week.
Michael Mervosh: And last week we’re working with a woman whose father died. And again, a guy, a military man, not a lot into music. He goes, “You know he had a favorite song.” And so it was leaving on a jet plane. And because people were so moved by her grief, the place they sang it from they just started, “So kiss me, smile from me,” and everybody just melts. It does, music does what words, were words turned back sometimes, it slips across the threshold.
Jim Donovan: And what I’m hearing is that it gives us access to a whole other plane of existence that we wouldn’t experience had we not allowed ourselves to be in it.
Michael Mervosh: Exactly.
Jim Donovan: And that’s, it’s something that I see. If I’m working with a group of people who’ve never made their own music before, where they often, I would say 99.9% of the time are afraid that they’re going to make the mistake. And it’s only until I’ve given them some reassurance and then I’ve followed up that it’s okay if you mess up, it’s okay if you’re not perfect, just be in it. It’s the being in it with us and letting yourself create or sing or play the drum where all the good stuff comes.
Jim Donovan: I’m so happy to hear that you do it in the similar way, that’s good. We were not talking about professional singers here. We’re just talking about regular people.
Michael Mervosh: Well, we’re talking about the love of it. The love of beauty. The music is beautiful and it creates this ability to soften into something or to let go into something and for your listeners, I think it would be, I think it’s a worthwhile thing to think about what? Without understanding why, what song moves you? What’s one of your favorite songs and just rather than understand why it is, can you sing it or, or he listened to it in a way that lets reminds you why you love this, that you just love this song?
Michael Mervosh: And once you’re in that state and you’re open your thinking well, where did you learn to love it? Where did it come from? What time of life was that? Was it a song that was somebody else’s favorite song and now it’s linked you to them and you didn’t even realize it. Was it linked to a particular love? Was it linked to a particular time where you felt carefree or whatever that is? And when we’re using music is that doorway to be open, which either we become creative or we just feel like I’m not in my mental thinking.
Jim Donovan: Yeah. I’m allowing myself to be more of myself… drop into that deepest place that’s not just mental. It’s the full spectrum. I love that idea of sit with the song that you love and don’t ask yourself why you love it. Maybe what is it about this
and where did it come from and who does it connect me to? I love it. I’m going to do that.
Michael Mervosh: And then I think the beauty of something like that is then when, where I do use music, where I would’ve never done it before is in our wilderness experiences. Because when someone’s sharing there in a group, then a song comes to me and do you let it come through? Do you not let it come through? First, I didn’t even know that song, but it’s coming to me, but more a more because of how I let music take me I feel moved by the song and why am I thinking the song and why is it moving me? When the moment is right I’ll just sing it to them.
Michael Mervosh: And again, it takes a life of its own. And I think that’s the thing that music is its own entity. It’s not a song. Your songs don’t belong to you. You don’t possess them. They can have a copyright. They gather, they come around, like atmosphere comes around and they’re present to you when you’re in the right place. And if you’re in the wrong place, there’s nothing moving.
Jim Donovan: It’s like karaoke.
Michael Mervosh: Yeah.
Jim Donovan: Seriously.
Michael Mervosh: Yeah.
Jim Donovan: That’s makes really good sense. I never understood like how artists like David Bowie would say, “I just don’t want to play these songs anymore. I’m not feeling it.” And I’m like, I remember him doing that after Let’s Dance came out. He got tired of playing these, even though people love them and they were hits he had moved on, he wasn’t in that space anymore. And it helps that make a lot more sense. This is great. I’m just wondering, maybe one more question.
Jim Donovan: Can you tell me with The Hero’s Journey Foundation, why is that mission that you have for that organization why is it so important to you? What is so important about this that you are compelled to spend so much of your life supporting it?
Michael Mervosh: I think it was the first and primary thing in my life that made total sense to me that somewhat didn’t have to explain to me. Joseph Campbell had this saying where he said, “A myth is something truer than any historical fact. The myth is not a lie. A myth is a fact that’s truer than any historical truth. It’s way bigger than a fact.” And it has an animation to it. When you have your own living myth it animates you.
Michael Mervosh: And he says, “You become the zeal of eternity for incarnation in time.” I was like, I didn’t know what he was talking about, but I understood it. That where, that when I’m in that space that we’re talking about the zone that music can be
when I’m in like a space like this actually, I think to have space great for it has an atmosphere. We’re in wilderness, we’re on a stage, you’re in a setting that says, “Listen, the eternity is lacking one thing right now and that’s form and it’ll move right through you. You will be the incarnation of the passion for life, the aliveness of the eternal world through you in this moment. It’s not up to you. It just comes through you.
Jim Donovan: Yeah. The bridge for it.
Michael Mervosh: The bridge for it. That’s what happened when I would read Campbell, it would transmit that reality. I would be awake and alive and so I would just naturally have these visions of what to create, that I bet I’ll be alive in here and it’s an alchemy that says, “Well, in the same way that a cook knows what ingredients are going to make a great soup.” I’m pretty sure of what the conditions are that we need to create to make a really interesting ride.
Michael Mervosh: I would say that if someone is looking to… that would want to feel what it’s like to live their own myth besides reading some of Campbell’s material or Carl Jung’s material on a living myth. It’s the idea that you would be willing to be capable of the unexpected. That you’re going to put yourself in circumstances that get you out of your sense of separateness outside of four walls.
Michael Mervosh: And you have to have a track where you’re going to go into some kind of encounters where you don’t have a pre-conceived idea of the outcome, or a control of the experience. And you have to be capable of either being the unexpected to come from you or towards you and to live with the uncertainty of that and you have to be willing to feel foolish. There’s just no way around it. And if you don’t have that ability to feel foolish, you have to hang out with people who are that way. You have to find other people-
Jim Donovan: Soak it up.
Michael Mervosh: Who will transmit that kind of container. And then I would just call it just for today, would you practice 10 seconds of foolishness? And if you had 10 seconds of foolishness, who will that foolishness be? It might be a playful way of being. It might be a risk that you take. It might be something you say to a stranger that would make your day more interesting.
Michael Mervosh: And I think that’s, those are the practical ways that someone can begin getting beyond themselves and beyond and over identification with their own problems or their own sense of self and let their circumstances start to bring forth what’s unexpected in them.
Jim Donovan: Yeah. Well, this is such good stuff. I so appreciate hearing this. Can you remind us how can people learn more about Hero’s Journey?
Michael Mervosh: Well, our organization’s HerosJourneyFoundation.org. You can find us there or you can look at my own website, Michael Mervosh, M-E-R-V-O-S-H.com. And you find us there too.
Jim Donovan: Excellent. Michael, thank you so much for being here. It’s a great to have you on the podcast. And I hear you guys are putting a podcast together too. Is that coming up sometime soon?
Michael Mervosh: You’ll be hearing about it. We’re gonna have you on.
Jim Donovan: I’m in, let’s go. Let’s do it. Well, thanks again everybody for tuning into the podcast. We appreciate you listening every week and for sending us your feedback and well wishes. If you have a question, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We read everything you send us and eventually we’ll feature the best emails on air for everybody to enjoy.
Jim Donovan: Big love once again to Michael Mervosh for joining us today and sharing his expertise and knowledge. Remember, you can find all of his essays and work at MichaelMervosh.com. All right, fine people. Have a great rest of the week and we’ll see you again next time.
Michael Mervosh: Thanks Jim.
Jim Donovan: Now before you go, I’d like to let you know about a free resource I made for you. It’s called the Sound Health Newsletter. In it, I share the latest research in music and health in an easy to understand form. I also share beginner friendly music and wellness exercises that you can use every day to feel your best. When you sign up, you also get discounts and first access to all of my sound health products and events.
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