Silver and Water
Miriam Hanid and Jamie Drew live in Suffolk, UK, and have been involved in meditation and music since their teenage years. They met in a heavy metal club ‘in their reckless youth’! Miriam played wind instruments and piano before coming to the Brazilian drums, but it is singing that she enjoys the most. Jamie has played guitar but now focuses on drums. They currently play in a local band called Janifour.
Miriam is also an extraordinary silversmith who has been selected for many awards and commissions. She had a solo exhibition in Edinburgh in this year’s festival. Many of her works are inspired by water.
I use water as a metaphor for the divine current of energy flowing
through all forms of life.
I record the ever-changing element of water
in drawings and photographs.
Rough sketches are transferred to the silver,
informing the visual framework.
The silver’s form then changes rapidly throughout the making process.
How did you come across Heartfulness meditation?
It was through a close friend of mine that I came to know about Heartfulness but I had for a while sensed there was a greater purpose to life. When I first met Miriam 14 years ago we talked a lot about spirituality and meditation without really understanding it. Nevertheless, the sense of purpose and wonder were there and Miriam was and still is a great inspiration.
Also my father deserves a mention, as he has been a massive influence, sharing crucial books such as The Power of Now and Buddhism Plain and Simple, and of course his own experience. I remember a time when we were in Heathrow airport on our way to Thailand, accompanied by two close friends of mine, and he gave the most inspirational talk. We were 19 at the time and were totally transfixed as he spoke about awakening to one’s true self. I asked him what had triggered this initial response and he said, “I just didn’t want to be the person who didn’t know.”
That struck a massive chord in me as I thought of all the disasters that could happen here on earth, to sort of stumble through life blindfolded, thinking that consumerism is all there is would be the greatest mistake.
These were the people who either directly or inadvertently guided me towards Heartfulness and, out of all the practices of meditation I have tried, I settled with this because of the transmission.
I started Heartfulness meditation practice after Jamie went to India for two months and returned as a changed person, after meditating daily. I instantly wanted to join and was able to learn it while I was at University.
How has it affected your lives?
From the moment I started meditating regularly, I was more focused doing my degree work, had a larger perspective on life, and felt really grounded in my own experience of meditation. I met literally hundreds of amazing people who inspired me at seminars and centres in India, Germany, Denmark and the UK.
To describe how Heartfulness has affected my life is really too vast a subject to put into words, but perhaps an attempt at this would be to say that the start of my journey led me to a small iceberg. Over the years, like a diver in a vast ocean, I have discovered that the iceberg is getting bigger and bigger and I am still only at the beginning. What is describable in words is really only a tiny portion of the immensity of the journey of the heart.
I have been very fortunate to have been guided along this path, and the support of having a heart-centered approach has been invaluable to my life, work, family and relationships.
It has made my life a lot more cherished and meaningful, being more attentive to the language of the heart, and I feel I am more determined in all areas with a strong will implanted in my mind to achieve the best. Even if I can’t always achieve everything I wish for, I feel that the determination is what counts.
Heartfulness has without doubt deepened my understanding of life. I would say to go beyond your own self-proposed limitations, to see things in a new way, is to be in touch with your inner Self. This in turn opens your mind and develops a better understanding of people because ultimately you understand yourself at a deeper level. This is the process going on within me and it is certainly a result of meditation. I have felt a depth of peace and joy, which has been at times insurmountable and even a sense of eternity.
I’ve recognised that its okay that there is an existence greater than my ego and that I’m part of a greater whole. If this life has given me an opportunity to even glimpse that through the practice of Heartfulness, then what a miracle it all truly is.
How does it come into your music?
If spirituality has something to do with going beyond the limitations of your ego then every musician out there has had a spiritual experience, whether they claim to be spiritual or not. When you are able to get out of the way and lose
yourself in your instrument, then you can truly become a vehicle through which the music can flow.
If you can be totally absorbed and unmindful of yourself, you often play things which you didn’t know you could play and feel things in a new way. This is really where the magic happens and every musician knowingly or unknowingly strives for it.
Of course there are techniques you need to develop, but technique alone is not the pinnacle of importance. The most captivating music arises when we let go and become in touch with our true nature, and then the music will reflect such a condition. This is the great challenge when playing live. Then we have the responsibility of performing, so it is no longer just the other band members and myself, but also the collective attention of a hopefully receptive audience.
Once again, if you can get lost and lose any bodily tensions and any fear, then the audience will sense this and respond accordingly.
Music to me now is a journey of sharing. Sharing the process of creating music with others, sharing my voice and connection with others, and sharing a creative process in the experience rather than the results. Music can also be encrypted with feeling and emotion, which is something the audience feels when listening to it, and meaning is inherent in the artists’ lives and timing of writing a piece of music.
How do you integrate the culture of playing in a band at gigs with spirituality?
I feel life is a spiritual dimension rather than spirituality being something you ‘do’ in life. A lot of people have questioned how I can meditate one minute but then listen to rock music. For me that is the same as asking, “How can you meditate and then watch action movies packed with violence?” Some of the most spiritual movies ever made have also contained violence. The Matrix, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings: there’s a great deal of truth within the plots of these movies, but I guess it is a case of becoming conscious of why you are watching them. Rock music reaches out to a massive audience, so if you can weave a spiritual message within it then it too becomes a great medium.
I use subtle suggestion, imagining that the whole room is filled with people who are becoming lighter and brighter in their hearts while listening to our music, that their problems of life and struggle are removed for the duration of the gig, and we are all on the same level of consciousness in the music.
What are the challenges and advantages of being young and living a spiritually focused life?
One advantage of being ‘kind of’ young is that I have lots of ideas on how to integrate spirituality into my working life; a challenge is having time to implement them all! I am also able to connect with a variety of people from different backgrounds through the medium of my work, which broadens my perspective and makes me appreciate my role as an artist in today’s world.
How has Heartfulness impacted on you as a silversmith?
I started meditation before I started my business in silversmithing, so in a sense it has always been part of my life as a silversmith. I think one of the main factors is that I feel like I’m capturing my connection to spirituality through my silver pieces, and this is reaching people in a particular way. The tactile quality of the silver pieces has always been something that collectors and clients particularly admire, and as the pieces are made with that in mind I feel that is where the connection is. I could be wrong, but that is my feeling. The visual themes of movement in the silver also speak to the people who buy my work, and I feel this is evocative of the connection that flows from artist to buyer.
What is it you feel you want to express through your art?
I draw on a range of themes and inspirations, but essentially I try to make objects that inspire and encourage people to look deeper to discover subtleties that may not be visible to the naked eye. The visual aspect of my work is only one part of it. As soon as a person picks up a piece, there are instantly the qualities of touch, temperature, weight, shape and size which travel through the nerves, send signals to the brain and ultimately are transformed into an emotion or feeling. It is this that I am expressing through my work.
Metal interwoven with light
a glimpse of sun inherent on earth
from the bounds of the deep ground.
The hands that work a material so bright
must capture a gentleness,
a cradle of the earths graceful hold.
Make me into a vessel
to hold the quietest sounds
to comfort, to nurture and bring out
your subtlest thoughts.
Make me into a river
to carry the flow of life
through generations of souls.
I know you have a vision
which lends its joyful and bright lustre
to the hands of men .
Poem written at the Heartfulness Retreat Center in Jutland, Denmark, October 2015
Interview by ROSALIND PEARMAIN
November 01, 2017
November 01, 2017
October 03, 2017