Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Quality of Active Rest

Soon I will rest

This morning as I was journaling. my thoughts turned to improvisation.  Suddenly as I have joined the Creative Pact 2011, improv is taking over.  One valuable tidbit that came out in my journaling is that when I am present with the disconnect of the musical flow when improvising that some type of learning will be possible.  This may be an area of musical knowledge that needs to be deepened, the information that I was using myself poorly and/or end gaining and lost my awareness of what I am doing.  Or that once again I was distracted in my thinking.  My intention while improvising will be to be present with my playing.  Always a challenge to maintain, and a bit more so for me when improvising.

Most evenings when I begin my guitar practice, I do an Alexander Technique lie down.  Tonight I was very physically tired from having had fun for 3.5 hours at a splash park with family.  As my back hit the floor, I noticed a bit of tension in my spine begin to release.  Usually I am tired emotionally and mentally from having been at work during the day, but tonight was as close to a pure physical tiredness as I get.  As I rested with my neck on the books, I was replaying parts of an important conversation I had earlier.  Examining it, wondering about actions and repercussions that will follow.  At one point I found myself thinking, that perhaps because I am so physically tired, I'm not going to register that energizing affect of the lie down.

As I began to roll over, I just felt tired.  The usual charge was missing.  And then I paused - yes I had been laying in a semi-supine position with my neck supported by paperback books.  But that was all.  I was not present with the process.  I was not directing my thinking, I was just laying down and rehashing the past.  Before I got up from the floor, I began my AT lie down again.  This time I did direct  my thinking and lo and behold my energy began to regenerate.  In my first lie down, the "active" part of active rest was not present and thus neither was I.

As I moved to the guitar, I choose to begin with a known piece of music.  I wanted to get the energy of music alive in me and to allow my hands to play with confidence.  Then I began with an idea that arose in an improvisation on Friday.  Taking it a bit further,  while enjoying the act of improvising,  I was pleased with the musicality of what I was playing.  Pausing to reconnect, I began again.  Varying my responses, and working with maintaining my awareness, slowly the music developed.  Taking my hands off the instrument to direct my thinking via AT, I began again.  This time just letting the notes come out, listening, taking chances, and working to remain judgement free.  At one point a fast run leapt from my fingers, followed by another one.  I pulled back a bit and then let loose with another flurry of notes, this one a bit hesitant.  Resting a second and reestablishing my connection with myself I continued to play.  Part of what transpired was uncharacteristic of me.

After a short break I explored a zone, as described in Friday nights blog.  This had more space than my earlier improv, perhaps even more of an emotional connection.  The beauty of some of the notes was surprising to me.  Pausing to play through Gathered Hearts, I then explored this zone one more time.  Something is happening, I just need to trust and allow the process to unfold.

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