Friday, March 19, 2010

Embracing My Shadows

I had an interesting and gentle practice session tonight. Reviewed and worked within a potential structure for improvisation that is stretching me at the moment. Taking in and exploring the information slowly & quietly for 20 minutes then a break to review the possibilities on paper before moving back to more time on the guitar with this. I moved on to reviewing Gathered Hearts, Kinnara, and Dancin’ Free. As the session went on I was practicing quieter & quieter, playing delicately as the hour was late and I did not want to disturb my neighbors.

Towards the end I was working with playing, while standing and allowing myself to focus on lengthening. At one point I turned and I faced the shutters. I was backlit from the right & left and cast two shadows on the shutters. Always having been fascinated by shadows, I had Joann take a photo. The shadows were not captured.

Why? Was it the camera, the intensity of the shadows, or just shift in the shadows when the flash went off?  Does not matter really. A moment of “hey look” that I attempted to be captured did trigger thinking on my part. Where do shadows go? I know they exist, and their impression can linger after the image fades.

Initially light allows a shadow to emerge. Yet as the light develops what was a shadow during one breath has now shifted or receded. Does this cycle of illumination apply to our psyche also? Twists of character once hidden from us, revealed in the sunlight of the spirit, only to slip back into darkness again and again until one day we see them anew and call out for help to shine a greater light on our shadows. Then the increased focus allows the shadow to transform, leaving behind an image closer to reality, closer to love.

How can the shadows of my playing technique reveal the shadows of my psyche? Certainly a very good and long look at the role of fear in my playing and life has been revealed. Countless experiences of wonder, peace, & joy also. Actually the latter are probably more the norm in my day to day practice with fear arising in relation to performing, yet why is fear the first aspect to manifest in thinking of my practice? Why does the shadow of fear shade all the other manifestations in my musical pursuits?

I have been told that negativity is a form of slavery. This issue of fear clouding an otherwise wonderful & joyful musical life is a tremendous example of this. Night after night I practice my guitar, not out of fear but for the shear love of playing. The great majority of my nights I am enriched by my musical practice, which is why I continue. My life is so much better for the joy that music brings me, the transformation of grief, and the expressions of love that have been given to me. Add to this the enrichment of others, and the positive aspects are multiplied. Yet my first thought continues to dredge up fear.

Amazing as I have worked through performance issues and now I am comfortable performing music. Even look forward to opportunities these days. The role of fear in my guitar playing is minor these days. May I trust that fear’s role will continue to diminish, and may I shine an ever brighter light on the ongoing positive emotions and states which arise in me thanks to music.

May I find the way now to illuminate the path that offers freedom from negativity, one that allows the positive to shine properly. Perhaps it is this shadow that shelters the negative that now needs to be unearthed within me, to dwell in the light and wither away. The practice is available to transform this.  Am I?  I have faith that this is possible, and the knowledge that faith can move mountains, one shovelful at a time.

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