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Home / Articles / Columnists / Life 101 /  Broadway Yoga: Songs that point to Awakening
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Monday, June 3,2013

Broadway Yoga: Songs that point to Awakening

By Cary Bayer  

Whenever I give talks about Higher Self Healing Meditation, I always mention the three changing states of consciousness that we all go through each and every day: namely, waking, dreaming, and sleeping. Then I go on to describe the exalted fourth state of consciousness in which the body is more deeply rested than during the deepest point in sleep, yet more awake than during the usual state of wakefulness. It’s been called a bunch of names from restful alertness, to pure consciousness, to


Transcendental Consciousness, to Samadhi, in the Vedic wisdom books of India. The state is so deeply satisfying that you might refer to it—if you were Cole Porter—as delightful, delicious, de-lovely.

The other afternoon as I was coming out of that fourth state of consciousness in meditation, I heard in my mind’s ear, my wife singing “Over the Rainbow,” which she had done at our friend Lisa’s party just the night before. Having been trained in opera and a veteran of Broadway musical theater, she’s often asked by friends to sing at parties and gatherings. This time I heard the following delightful lyrics:

“Where troubles melt like lemon drops Away above the chimney tops That’s where you’ll find me.”

The Yip Harburg lyric seemed to be describing the very same consciousness that I had just experienced. Was Dorothy singing specifically about meditation? No, but L. Frank Baum, her creator, was a member of the Theosophical Society in Chicago, and he knew all about the ways of meditation and inner awakening.

This transcendental state of mind is one in which all perception of the world disappears, and all thoughts quietly fade away. We hear about this in West Side Story, when in “Tonight,” Maria sings:

“I saw you and the world went away.” In that very quiet place deep within the mind, where the waves of our individuality merge into the ocean of our universality, it hit me that the great lyricists and composers of Broadway had long been singing about the higher life that we can live when we’re deeply in the flow. After that thought, I heard Barbra Streisand deliciously invoking Stephen Sondheim’s sense of the fourth state of consciousness- -and perhaps the fifth--from West Side Story. (The fifth state—Self-Realization- -is when we live the peace of the nonchanging fourth state along with the changing phases of waking, dreaming, and sleeping.)

“There’s a place for us Somewhere, a place for us.

Peace and quite and open air Wait for us, somewhere. There’s a time for us Somewhere a time for us Time together with time to spare Wait for us somewhere.”

When you live in the timelessness of inner liberation, time stands still for you, and is truly abundant. Cosmic Creative Intelligence whispered to Sondheim so that we might glimpse a higher place that waits for us somewhere. In these higher states of consciousness, the world glows with light. Tony and Maria, a modern-day Romeo and Juliet, have glimpsed that glow through their love for each other:

“Tonight, tonight The world is full of light With suns and moons all over the place.”

In this higher state of being, life is no longer hohum; it’s exalted:

“Today, the world was just an address A place for me to live in No better than all right But here you are And what was just a world is a star Tonight.” Harburg (with composer Harold Arlen), and Sondheim (with composer Leonard Bernstein) were hardly the only great Broadway geniuses who’ve written about life lived at a higher, awakening state since the beginning of musical theater. Rodgers & Hammerstein, Porter, Lerner & Loewe, and others—Tin Pan Alley’s gods—have long been penning anthems about awakening to a life lived with the gods.

The wisdom of India, which clearly outlines higher states of consciousness, helps us see these songs in a brighter light, as if they’re pointing to that inner freedom. Moreover, from that great tradition comes meditation, a simple effortless way to allow the universe to settle our consciousness into that great peace “somewhere”—fortunately deep within our own minds.


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