Sound, however, took on an entirely new meaning for Hidary when a little over ten years ago on his way home from traveling the countryside in South Africa, he looked in his rearview mirror to see that his sister Mariel, who also riding a motorcycle, was in a wreck.
“I quickly pulled over, jumped off my bike, threw my helmet to the ground, and ran as fast as I could to see her,” Hidary said in a 2018 TEDxBerkeley Talk. “What I saw would change me forever. I knelt to the ground and held her broken body in my arms. From the scene, I called my parents to let them know that their only daughter had just been killed.”
Heartbroken and dealing with tremendous despair, trauma, and depression, Hidary found solace in sound. As a dancer, his sister also had had her own connection to music.
“As a trained composer, I turned to music to heal,” he said. “I would sit at the piano every day and just play. Emotions that I had no words for, I expressed, through music.”
Hidary also immersed himself in traditions of ancient wisdom and theoretical physicals; anything he could get his hands on to help him understand what was happening in the universe.
“One day, in a moment of surrender, a surrender through music, I felt an incomparable beauty, love, and connection,” continued Hidary in his TED Talk. “It overwhelmed me. In that moment, I realized my purpose was to bring this experience, this personal musical ritual, out to the world.”
After studying moving meditation with the Japanese Zen flute, Hidary translated that process to the piano and began to lay the groundwork for what would eventually become MindTravel, a transformative musical meditation in motion. Drawing from his expertise across different disciplines, MindTravel mixes Hidary’s passions for contemporary classical music, visual art, theoretical physics, and wisdom traditions to create the space for people to have healing, reflective, and transcendent inner journeys.
During the SilentHike session, participants wear wireless headphones and embark on a hike with music, guidance, and thoughtful commentary from Hidary. After the hike, Hidary will perform a “silent” piano concert in the gardens. All the components – music, words, silence, visual cues – work in synergy to help participants connect with themselves and the world around them.
“It’s in that inner landscape that the music has the opportunity to shift us,” said Hidary in his TED Talk, “and the hope is that once we shift that inner landscape, the way we perceive our external world can also be shifted.”
Typically, traditional forms of meditation are an isolated experience, and while the headphones are meant to make the experience deeply personal, the SilentHike is an exercise in going inward while also exploring and being present in the evolving world around us. It’s a musical journey into mindfulness.
“My aspiration is to continue to explore these explorations of deeper consciousness,” says Hidary, “and one day, just maybe, maybe I’ll get to see my sister dance again.”
SilentHike. 7-9 p.m. Fri., Aug. 2. Frick Park, 2005 Beechwood Blvd., Squirrel Hill. Search “MindTravel SilentWalk in Pittsburgh” on Eventbrite.