Saturday, May 7, 2011
Where is home? The venerable Thich Nhat Hanh teaches me that home is in the present moment. Where am I? Am I in the present moment or wandering about in my mind? When I notice that I am wandering, how do I find my way back home? While the noticing is key, there then comes that moment of choice. Do I continue to allow whatever habit du jour is distracting me - usually my mind; though this can also be my emotions, or my physical cravings? Or do I gently turn my attention back to the task at hand?
How do I turn my attention back to the present moment? Throughout the day - my breath - is my most frequent ally in noticing where I am and bringing me back to the present moment. This is very useful when my monkey mind has begun to race while I am playing, as I do not have to stop playing but can just find my breath. In a sense I suppose this may take me a bit further out of the act of music making, but only until I can establish my connection once again. When I find my breath, the breath flows through the music. Listening is another way I can bring myself back. This sense should be an active part of making music, yet my mind can be such a powerful distractor that I am merely mechanically playing the notes, and not hearing what I am playing. With my listening engaged the music comes alive, as do I.
Connecting with myself through the Alexander Technique has also proven to be a powerful way to bring me back. As I direct my use via AT, I am harmonizing my body & mind in a manner similar to meditation. When I first met David Jernigan and he referred to AT as a mindfulness of the body practice, was when I really began embracing the technique.
Frequently I intersperse any of these actions with my playing. Noticing the body or the mind provides an opportunity to engage my consciousness with what I am doing. From this notice I may make a choice to more fully enter into what I am doing, be it making music or washing dishes. Present moment - only moment.