Sometimes – and often when we need it most – the most soothing and beautiful new age music can be not only meditational, but deeply educational. To best understand the spiritual intention behind “Akal,” the graceful, lilting and free-flowing, flute, voice and harp focused new track by quickly emerging female duo Shunia, one should know what that term means.
There is a beautiful tradition in the 3HO and Sikh Dharma communities that is done when someone dies. Whether it is a beloved friend or relative, or even someone we never knew, this tradition assists the departing soul on its journey home, as well as giving comfort to those left behind. At the time of death, “Akaal” is chanted three times. The term means “undying” and refers to the soul being released.
This sound current, which Shunia – Lisa Reagan and Suzanne Jackson – chant ethereally throughout the song, helps to guide the soul to pass out of this worldly realm and into the “Akaal Purakh,” the Undying Being. As Shakti Parwa Kaur, known as the mother of 3HO, says, “The chanting of Akaal creates a vibratory frequency that assists the departing soul on its journey through the ethers to final liberation.”
You certainly don’t need to know these deeper meanings to appreciate, and more importantly, feel and connect with, the subtle yet sweeping energy wafting through “Akal,” but it’s worth noting that this version by Shunia meets this unique moment in time in a way it might not have even a year ago. For now, in light of current events, we can hear it as an elegy (and ray of eternal hope) for all those who passed from COVID-19 and others like George Floyd and those like who have suffered (and died as a result of) racial injustice. Having released the audio track in May, the duo gifted the world with a stunning new video on June 21, which is Father’s Day in the U.S. as well as International Yoga Day and World Music Day.
Employing a detailed eye, the viewer can enjoy an expansive array of quickly moving and evolving images and bring their own life experience and narrative to what rolls by poetically and colorfully as a movement from the bleakness of icy winter to a blossoming spring to a lush summer. These are interspersed with images of musicians playing string instruments and a compelling image of a female hand reaching out – an angel, perhaps?
The clip starts with lit candles (remember, the foundation of this is elegiac in nature), then moves rapidly to show us the beauty of a moonlit sky, rolling clouds, rain, a forest (black and white for stark haunting effect), clouds, snowy mountain peaks, rain dropping past sparse leaves, snow-heavy evergreens, snow on the ground, dripping icicles, a sole red flower emerging from a snowy landscape, a stunning desert vista, clouds at sunset, bright blossoming flowers, rolling fields of red, then pink flowers at full bloom, a landscape of green fields and sunset over pink mountains at sunset.
The following is an official Artist Statement from Lisa and Suzanne about gifting the Akal video at this time:
The world feels a little strange right now.
In a moment where we’re all struggling
with how to process what is happening,
how to cope with this feeling of helplessness,
how to survive amid the chaos that surrounds us,
it is vital that we find Peace, Stillness and Hope
It’s a feeling, one that washes over us
as we accept what has happened,
grieve what has been lost
and find peace with what is.
In these difficult times, Shunia gives the world a gift: “Akal.”
It is a calling to grieve for those we have lost,
to mourn them,
to lift them up,
and to help them on their journey to eternity.
In a time where we all feel isolated,
we hope “Akal” brings us together.
And in a time when we have all lost so much,
we hope “Akal” brings you solace.
Together we mourn.
Together we grieve.
Together we heal.
Riposa in pace. Rest in peace.
For those previously unfamiliar with Shunia, it is the dynamic collaboration between Lisa and Suzanne, who powerfully merge the art forms of chant, opera and polycultural rhythms into an exciting new sound whose ultimate purpose is to bring healing and connection. This practice has the ability to shift energy and create new levels of consciousness. “When we discovered the hidden dimension and power of singing chant music, we wanted to share this profound experience,” they say. Their music captures and conveys deep energies and spirit.
The state of “shunia” means stillness and receptivity - a stillness of power, not passivity, quiet, unmoving and totally focused. Lisa and Suzanne realize nothing happens in a vacuum. Every movement, melody, and muscle have a ripple effect on everything else. Something unique emerges when two accomplished artists combine their influences, inspirations and experiences to form something new and life-affirming. Shunia’s music has the power to transport and transform, to connect you to the energy within and around you. It can put you in touch with something as simple as your five senses or as mysterious as the infinite universe.
“As we were composing ‘Akal,’” the artists say, “we thought it’d be beautiful to have a more classical counter melody line going over the top of the chant. As we worked on it, it came to us that using the Italian phrase, “risposa in pace”, which means, “rest in peace” would not only be a beautiful musical line to sing but would also be appropriate to the true meaning of the mantra. It would give an Eastern and Western connection to this human expression of mourning, and desire for our souls to have eternal life. True liberation. With all that is going on in the world, we thought it would be timely to release ‘Akal’ now, because so many people have lost their loved ones. It’s been incredibly heart breaking. We hope this song can offer some peace.”
On the “Akal” music page (https://shuniasound.com/music), you can enter to win free gifts, including: a free yoga lesson from Suzanne; a free voice lesson from Lisa; and a free autographed copy of their upcoming album.
Listen to "Akal" here; https://open.spotify.com/album/24krrRlDMZ7vnU5hI8x4jp