Spring/Summer 2021 | A conversation with Hila Plitmann
In this episode, Hila opens up about showing up as a creative in times of trauma, navigating her way through COVID, using Harmonyum to deal with anxiety and calm the nervous system, the healing power of music, and her passion and contribution to environmentalism.
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A conversation with Hila Plitmann.
Today’s Exclusive Guest.
I grew up with so much music. It became a profession from a very young age, about 14. But it was always enclosed as almost a separation. Life is life and then there’s me on stage or being able to truly bring that quality of light and have this passion for the universe, but just there. I don’t know if you used to ride at SoulCycle with Ben Bruker and then Lindsay Simcik, and then of course Gina and Janet and Madeline. They’re all so much themselves that it started creating this urge for me. I feel like I needed to sing, and they’re saying it’s okay. So I’m just gonna go ahead and do it. And it thinned those boundaries that veil those walls that we thought we had or I thought that between that quality of daily living and the kind of mysterious, mystical, elevated idea of how I really wanted to live. It broke it down. Like you said, they break you open and it broke those walls down for me. Part of it was me expressing myself in song and saying, I don’t even care.
The whole journey of my professional life has been almost a mystery to me. I’m still trying to unpack it and understand it. These days I’m less and less trying to understand it and just surrender to its flow. I think maybe that’s part of where the healing takes place or kind of entering into wellbeing, which sometimes something like an award is an expression of that. The quality of expressing myself in song and in music and on stage and also as an actress and in poetry, were always like second nature to me. That always made absolute sense since I was a little girl. I had really no choice but to follow it. That’s part of the mystery of it and I think too many artists, of course.
The process of healing is the integration of it into my daily life into recognizing that we can be very aware of who we are. I have very high energy. I have anxiety, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just there. And rather than fighting it, to start kind of threading it into the quality of how I want to live every moment of my life within the magic of what this life is. It just simply is. And the more that I do that, the more I’m discovering that life opens up for me. It’s not even in a way that is reflected by what is societally regarded as success, although sometimes it shows itself that way. It really is from the moment of waking up to the moment of closing one’s eyes, kind of holistic of experiencing a day that is just magical and a miracle.
Showing Up as Creative During Times of Trauma
One of the things that’s really an enormous gift as an artist is that you learn very early on the importance of practice. When you’re a little kid it’s annoying. You sometimes don’t want to do it, but it becomes part of the thing itself. Without it, a lot of it just doesn’t exist. Practice is what you create in your life when you want to make it hold. It actually paralleled for me and it is one of the deepest qualities in my life that carries me through. No matter where I was, whether I was completely in a desperate place, or nowadays too when you wake up, you’re hormonal, or who knows what’s happening, I just go back to the practice. I just go back to whether it’s sitting meditation or walking or moving meditation as in SoulCycle or calling a healer that really responds and resonates with me and continuing that work. Then I have to say for me, and I know that’s not an overarching truth for anybody, but I have to be safe in the deepest honesty and in deepest gratitude that whatever I was going through in life, that was difficult. For some reason, part of my upbringing, part of the genetic makeup of me, always had a quality of really just being completely in awe of life and in love with life. Truly in love with life so that even when it felt like I wasn’t quite sure cognitively or even in my heart why I’m living this life, something that was even deeper, higher self, God, Goddess, whatever one calls, it was always beckoning the idea of the sacredness of it, and the sanctity of it and the quality of its unquestionable value.
I’m in awe when I spend time outside, looking at a flower, at the ocean, at a human being smiling back at me, I can’t describe the whole body experience of thanks that I have for that. I grew up in Israel, and sometimes life seemed to overwhelm. That too actually ignited and almost turned on that quality of appreciation of life. I’m not sure yet, in my own life, how to really be able to bring that to others. I think that I do through my art in some ways.
Performing was also a stepping stone for me in this realization of taking these qualities within ourselves, no longer falling into this kind of whirlwind of false humility. It has nothing to do with showing off. It’s just recognizing that these are gifts and then starting to create a mindset that says, I want to be of service with these gifts. I want to give what I can. The only reason I say I still don’t know is because I don’t have quite yet. There’s not a system in place quite yet, except for my art because I think I can go even deeper. I do more and more teaching in groups, workshops and master classes. They center on music and vocal production and these kinds of things. I’ve given up trying to be professionally technical about them. I really incorporate anything and everything that I can that has to do with spirit, and with connecting to spirit and with meditation and that’s what I teach. I see that becoming something that will be an even greater path in my life for sharing all that.
Dealing with COVID
I learned a lot more surrender. It was a word that I had contemplated before. But this absolutely said, well, you want to contemplate it further. Here you go. Here’s a year where you might not have any work. All of these things. The people that you’re close with, you may not be able to see them. All of these things. Can you find that quality of interconnectedness, of self-connection, of absolute moving from kindness and love, regardless of what’s happening around. Really sifting through. I’ve never been a big news fan. I think it is important to know what’s happening and to be informed and also aware of where other people are and what they’re going through so that you can help them if you can, if you have something to offer, but not being in that obsessive cycle of news.
This year has actually cracked that open for me even further, of really saying, well, is this something that I’m learning about that’s just creating more drama internally? Or is it actually something that is good for me to know so I can bring it forth in a positive way. I’ve learned so much about the kindness of other people towards me. I’ve received so much support and help and surrendering to that. My journey has also been one of learning what the word receiving is, and what a humbling experience it is and what a gift it is towards the person giving you something. This year has really brought it into my awareness.
What it brought up for me is also these ideas about the divine feminine and that our world and the era that we’re entering is much more in the embrace of this quality of the divine feminine. That has to do a lot with surrender. Maybe the idea of what a goal is, what success is, what achievements are, those can pivot. We don’t have to pivot. Those things can pivot and we can start saying, the goal is the process. The goal is the connection. The goal is the way that I’m relating to somebody and to the world and to the earth and to my body.
How Harmonyum Integrated Into My Journey
This year came and then you had to stop and it was such a funny way of being introduced to something so wonderful and exciting and then be like, okay, patient, surrender and wait till she’s back. This goes back a bit to the beginning of our conversation because so much of it has to do with a vibrational quality of opening up and allowing the right vibrations to come through. I’m flabbergasted by your capacity to hone into that. It’s very musical. I don’t know if you know that but there is something very musical about it. You are almost like a musician playing on the instrument of somebody else’s body when you do that. That’s how it feels to me. That I’m this instrument and you’re allowing yourself to really play my body to its fullest potential, to its most exuberant.
It feels like a music session, and that’s part of what I absolutely love about it. Also, the quality of your concentration. It creates that carpet of oneness that we seek. That’s how I felt coming out is the non-separation really, really becomes much more apparent. You don’t feel like your own enclosed, separate little self.
Dealing with Anxiety and the Nervous System in Harmonyum
It’s almost like having more cognitive meditation, and when you really hone in to Buddhist writings and all this, when you become more of an observer of the awareness. This puts it in a very physical level of becoming more of an observer. So things like anxiety, you’re not associating. You’re not identifying. They’re not blinding you to being able to take a step back. That’s the quality that is priceless. It’s really beyond value.
It’s really tricky. I am coming from an intelligence with so much of what I do, all of these things that I’m talking about. It’s almost nonverbal. We can talk about it. We can try talking about it. We could describe, but the actual knowing, the actual intelligence sits Solar Plexus, heart, sacral center, other places in the body. The communication of it is nonverbal. We try and do our best. And really that’s my best way to describe it is actually it takes you to that space in between and allows more space to open up.
What I do
This year has been interesting. One of my artistic partners. His name is Shay Welsh. He’s a fantastic guitar player, composer, songwriter and producer as well. He and I have a real passion for environmentalism and for really healing and bringing back more of a holistic well-beingness to our earth. A side note, he’s on the board of directors of a company called Geoversity. They’re in Panama, and they’re this group that does basically rain forest conservation. That’s been the main thing.
So maybe two and a half, three years back, he brought me on to do a series of concerts for a conference they were holding. These ideas have been in the air for now a good decade or two of starting to incorporate big business people into the ideas of can their businesses become more intelligent in the ways of interconnecting with the earth and with their business practices becoming more about learning from Earth processes and these kinds of things? It blew my mind again. It was just this amazing thing. I’ve become since, very closely associated with this group as well.
Through this year, first, we were just talking a lot about environmental stuff. The air was so much cleaner and birds were starting to sing everywhere. Everybody was finding connection to this big mother that we have. You have nobody to be with and you’re going outside and just spending time with nature.
Near Christmas, we wrote a Christmas song called Merry Christmas, Mother Earth that has to do with giving back. We’ve always been very interested for a few years about making a group that incorporates world music and is very multicultural. That’s the next big project. I’m super, super excited about it. We’re going into a recording studio next week. We have this amazing Indian tabla player. His name is Aditya Kalyanpur. He joined us during this COVID year, and we’ve just been making music together. Our hope is that somehow the art incorporates itself to causes, festivals, and things that have to do with healing our earth and with some kind of possibility of helping that. A lot of the music that we’re making and covering and all of that is connected to that.
Music and Healing
Part of the healing qualities of music are non-descriptive. It’s effervescent. It’s the magic of the world. There’s something about it. The reason it’s partly healing is because it doesn’t need words. It has words and those are wonderful. It goes beyond. It’s deeper into the words or deeper into the meaning of things. From all eras of poetry, James Joyce, to Rumi to whatever, they talk about the quality of the music of our world, of the nature quality of the world. And scientifically, it really all does boil down to the vibrational relationship that we’re more and more learning in physics terms is actually true. I think there’s something there in music that really just is an arrow to that place that vibrates.
How to Find Me
Not my website. All the information there is wrong. It’s just one old page. Instagram just under my name, Facebook under my name, YouTube there’s more and more content. There’s an actual page that’s mine. Just search it up and things will start flowing your way.
A Piece of Advice
Go and get a Harmonyum session. Take it easy and try to have fun.
Grammy Award-winning vocalist, songwriter, and actress, Hilá Plitmann, is known worldwide for her unique expressive quality, as well as her effortless, glittering voice, and her ability to present challenging works of music with dexterity.
She has performed on many Grammy Award-winning albums, and continues to accumulate an impressive catalogue of virtuosic recordings: Hans Zimmer’s Grammy Award-winning soundtrack for The Da Vinci Code; Eric Whitacre’s Good Night Moon with the LSO; Oscar winner John Corigliano’s song- cycle Mr. Tambourine Man with the Buffalo Symphony (for which she won a best female vocalist Grammy); Emmy Award winner, Jeff Beal’s The Paper Lined Shack, with St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and Richard Danielpour’s The Passion of Yeshua, with Buffalo Symphony Orchestra, to name a few.
Hilá performs with many leading orchestras around the world, working with the likes of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, The National Symphony, the Israeli Symphony and the London Symphony Orchestra, and outstanding conductors such as Leonard Slatkin, EsaPekka Salonen, Thomas Adès, Carl St. Clair, Giancarlo Guerrero, Robert Spano, and JoAnn Falletta.
A unique crossover artist, her own songs and arrangements can be heard and seen on YouTube and social media platforms, and she collaborates regularly within the realms of jazz, film, classical, and world music. Her deepest wish is to spread light and love to others through her art and all her endeavors.
She has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and lives with her son and their cat in Los Angeles.
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