Posted on 04/16/21 by in Stories from The Well
by Christa Ebert aka UnoLady
For years, I have meditated and assumed that I was bad at it. I couldn’t pay attention for long stretches and assumed I didn’t have time to make it a consistent habit. I thought my overactive thinking was a unique curse.
I left my full-time job a few weeks before the pandemic to honor my creative calling, promote a record and tour. Those plans were postponed. Rather than completely panic and abandon my mission, I chose to use this time to double down on my commitment to my art and self-growth.
Free time to focus on art is what I craved most, pre-pandemic. I was determined to make something good come of a tragic situation. When life is full of worry, it's important to balance perspective. Even when chaos is overwhelming, there are beautiful occurrences still happening. I recognized my privilege. I can stay home. I have a home. I have a garden. How can I share these privileges while social distancing?
GROUNDED is an experimental video series and an album made of mindfulness exercises, mantras, and meditations. I spent all summer socially distant, researching, writing, growing flowers, and filming nature in my backyard. Stop-motion animations were made to visualize an active mind. To create some of the songs, I’d meditate in the garden and then go into my studio to record. Every song was sung in a positive mindset with loving and healing intentions. I wrote minute-long mantras of positive affirmations to balance out the experience of negative thoughts. I collaborated with talented friends to create breathing exercises.
I am not a doctor, but I am a self-proclaimed expert at experiencing worry and anxiety. I share my vulnerability and path to peace through my art in hopes it helps others. Making this album has helped me articulate and find a path to self-acceptance. It allowed me to acknowledge my overthinking brain and offer it kindness and love. Since making this album, I have experienced moments of mental silence for the first time.
In the past, I wrongly assumed I was too antsy to meditate. I sought out learning different forms and tried running, sitting, and standing. Chanting is what made me realize that I have been meditating my whole life. And I’m good at it! Singing is my meditation. It is deep breathing. Vocalization sends healing vibrations into the various parts of my body. Singing and songwriting is where I find flow and can be in the present moment. I think back at times when I was unable to sing, and remember feeling miserable, in pain, and experiencing mental distress. Songs are my soul singing. My breath is my spirit. Music is my medicine.
I hope this film helps you explore meditation in whatever form works for you. Please sing or hum along if you so desire. If it brings you joy, please do it. We can all use more moments of happiness right now.
Although composed in isolation, I couldn't have made this creation alone. GROUNDED is supported by the SPACES Urgent Art Fund and by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. With the grant, I was able to hire a few extremely talented local artists. Multi-media artist Sequoia Bostick contributed hypnotic animations to several of the songs in the video (Ways We Wish the World Was, Ditch Resistance, Chill Out For One Minute, and Here Now).
LaToya Kent is a Cleveland musician and meditation teacher who performs solo and as part of Mourning [A] BLKstar. She is the guiding voice on “You Are Love.” The audio is reverb-drenched vocals, field recordings of nature sounds from the French countryside, modulated space sounds recorded by NASA, and polytonal singing. The video features a timelapse of clouds and calming lavender from my garden.
It was important to me to have a meditation in Spanish because GROUNDED is a public art project. I want the piece to be accessible and inclusive in a variety of ways. I asked my talented friend Erica Snowden-Rodríguez to lend their voice and cello to the breathing exercise “Meditación.” The video for “Meditación” pairs Snowden-Rodríguez’ deep, relaxing cello drones with clouds and sunsets filmed from my backyard. The visuals melt like watercolors and paint landscapes to get lost in.
Pre-pandemic, to be honest, I was extremely burnt out. A lot of people had the same realization with this forced pause. I’ve been overextending myself for over a decade. It was starting to take a toll on my physical and mental health. Over the years, I’ve learned to channel my anxiety and overthinking into productivity and planning. My line of work magnified that demand and required constant multitasking. It left me with little silence because my mind was constantly trying to troubleshoot other people’s projects. My migraines were rampant and I often felt frustrated, angry and tired. Now that I am my own boss, I allow myself a healthier pace. My migraines are gone. My frustration and anger has subsided. This project has helped me heal. Thank you for helping me find peace and a purpose during this trying time. I hope to share this calm with you.
Mixed-media artist and activist, Christa Ebert, performs as Uno Lady and composes songs with her voice and electronic effect pedals. Her music includes dream-like vocal layers, looping ethereal tones into one lush soundscape. As a video artist, Christa creates experimental films to accompany her musical compositions. Nature footage is modulated and layered connecting the sights and sounds.
Her unique talent has been acknowledged with various awards, including SPACE’s Urgent Art Fund, Chateau Orquevaux artist-in-residency, Creative Workforce Fellow, Akron Soul Train Fellow, and the Panza Foundation award.
Christa’s educational background is in public service and sustainability. She graduated valedictorian of her college with a BA in urban studies and master's of public administration. She is passionate about helping people and the planet and has over a decade of professional organizing experience around environmental and social justice issues.
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