Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Sunday evening after Hurricane Irene blew out of town, I was playing my guitar on the back porch. Grateful the only damage done to our home, was the disruption to our electricity. I came upon a chord progression that caught my attention and I began to play with this and explore the possible. As darkness descended, I captured what I had on my mp3 recorder, which fortunately also operates from batteries.
I continued this exploration on Monday evening and sensed that a piece was developing. Last night I had my AT session with David Jernigan did not explore this particular idea.
Recently I have been listening to a book on CD by Edward de Bono titled Think Before it's too Late. De Bono has a variety of techniques to stimulate our thinking. As a student my analytical and judgement skills were finely honed. And a tendency to criticize rather than to keep the thinking in motion developed. Tonight as a returned to examine this musical idea, I found myself judging harshly what I had and ready to abandon the process. And just as suddenly the thought surfaced to be open to the possible. Explore and find motion within this idea. As I allowed this thinking to guide me, rather than the negative thinking that had surfaced, the idea flowed in different directions.
This moment of seeing the judge within surface once again so ready and eager to stop the process reminds me to be vigilant of my thoughts. Perhaps a guiding aphorism for the future might be Be Quick to Remain Open.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
From the opening lines of the first chapter of the Dhammapada on Choices:
We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
How many times have I read these lines, contemplated there truth, and worked to transform my thinking? But first I must become aware of my thinking, perhaps even become aware that I am alive. How to train the thinking? How to train awareness? By daily diligent practice aided with the support of a community. Wise instruction from one who has journeyed the path provides direction and then some. Time passes and awareness deepens, and then is lost. The mind is fleeting - attention directed, then distracted; pulled away and then hopefully returned.
I follow my breath, planting seeds with my thinking. Habits transmitted to me and honed finer, begin to loose their edge. Patterns of thinking and acting that I developed as my response to the world are slowly revealed, slowly replaced. But their energy is strong, watered by years and even lifetimes of use. Before I am aware, I am once again locked in habit, without a choice. But then I become aware of my thinking, aware of my actions, maybe even aware of my state. A choice becomes possible. Do I direct my thinking, raising my awareness and tasting freedom? Am I alive? Am I breathing? Am I aware of the energy of life within me and around me?
We begin again constantly - when we are fortunate, when we are devoted to waking up to life. Replacing inherited thoughts, adopted thoughts, and the thinking of others & society to which we are constantly exposed is a brave choice. A necessary choice. We are what we think. I'm not sure I even like the notion as it places the burden of responsibility so squarely on me.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Monday, August 15, 2011
Twenty-five minutes of playing suddenly seems like an eternity. How did I arrive at this? In a good way actually, through the Alexander Technique. In several posts and many evenings of silent writing, I have been practicing/playing for small increments of time. Between 10-15 minutes of playing with an AT lie down interspersed. Yesterday I created a potential 25 minute set for an upcoming gig, and did a lie down between each piece. Mind you this was not a strict AT lie down, as I was auralizing the next piece in my mind while I allowed the mechanics of the lie down process to release my body.
While this has been a very effective practice to further my freedom in playing, I felt the need today to address the set as a whole. I also needed to determine the effect, if any, of these practices on my stamina. While I suppose that it makes sense that increased freedom and effortless playing would impact my stamina positively, I found myself challenged with the prospect of playing for 25 minutes. Watching this mental activity veer towards the negative, I marveled at how easily my mind can go off track. Good solid work, now giving rise to negative thinking. I told myself that playing for 25 minutes is easy to do a few times and headed to the floor for a lie down.
Part of what I am enjoying about my new guitar is the lightness of the instrument. As the strap comes across my left shoulder, there is virtually nothing there. After tuning I paused to direct my thinking and decided that I could give the AT directions between each piece. I played through the set with no to minimal reaction to a few mistakes that manifested. At the end, I was ready and able to play longer, but I hit the floor for a lie down instead. And then more playing. Stay tuned.
Monday, August 8, 2011
Yesterday I found out about an open mic less than a half mile from my home. In general I find open mics less than satisfying experiences, but decided that it would be good for me to get out & play in front of some people again. And hey, a 1/2 mile away.
Of course when I woke this morning I began talking myself out of this. Always a sure sign I need to address a situation. Writing in my journal I decided to define why I would go to an open mic. First to work on performing - can I get right down to it and make a statement in 10 minutes? Secondly to network with some local musicians and others in attendance. Third to do something new. Next I asked myself what I could work on? Then later I added I might even sell a few cd's.
But as I readied for going to work, the reality of my obligations and responsibilities began to weigh in. I had already told Joann we could have dinner at the open mic, so now what? The this gem arrived on twitter from Jamie Ridler:
Osho Zen Card of the Day:
Adventure. Move into the unknown with a trusting spirit and even the smallest things can be the biggest...
Trust - always a key ingredient, but frequently forgotten.
Changing clothes after work I hit the floor for an AT lie down, packed my stuff, and warmed up for 20 minutes. The beginning of the warm up was sloppy, mind racing, questioning myself again as to why are you doing this. Reminding myself to trust the adventure. We left and arrived at the place in minutes to find a sign by the door announcing that they had tried to get the word out to everyone and that the open mic was on vacation for two weeks. We entered to see the renovated space of this eatery, examined the menu, and enjoyed our dinner.
Back home much sooner than expected. Another lie down and some work on right hand arpeggios. I am continuing to practice in short increments of 15 minutes or so and then another brief lie down to rest my muscle. The theory I am exploring is that as we improve our use with the Alexander Technique that the muscles we are now using are not used to the work they are doing and require rest. I suppose as they tire we slip back into our habitual use. I returned to work with Remember Quiet Evenings and explored some chord inversions that sparked my interest.
One more lie down and I played through two pieces and played with the inversions in RQE. Deciding that there was something there, I notated what I had. The adventure was not as I planned, but my attitude remained true, and useful musical work was completed.
Photo by Jackie Dervichian
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Matka Boska - Polish for Blessed Mother. I heard this words often in my youth. My Mother's prayer or plea for help with the children. I don't hear these words from her lips any more, but they still resonate within my heart. Our heart actually, Momma lives on in me. Her DNA is mine, her experience, strength, courage, and frailties are shared and alive.
Today is the anniversary of her death. The beginning of August is frequently difficult for me, because of the anniversaries of the loss of both my Mother and my sister. Tonight my wife joined me as I lit a candle before my Mother's photo and played Matka Boska in her honor. Many times today I thought of her. But rather than sadness manifesting, today was a day of happiness and lightness. I know she would have wanted it this way.