Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Disrupt One Habit & Others Will Follow / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Awake at 4am, thinking of issues with a company I do business that were unresolved from yesterday. My body and mind beginning to resonate in a habitual pattern that is not healthy for me. I laid there for a bit focusing on my breath, hoping that I would return to sleep. Ten minutes later I rose from my bed and began with shaking Qi Gong. I needed to let go of these issues until later in the day at my office and more importantly I needed to find a better way to deal with these issues then, now, and always.

Twenty minutes of Qi Gong led into my sitting, which then led into an Alexander Technique lie down. Relaxed and in my body, I then chose to practice my guitar. Currently I am rising a bit early due to getting to bed earlier as a result of jet lag from our recent trip to Italy for the Guitar Craft Completion Course and the Orchestra of Crafty Guitarists III. Yesterday morning I practiced guitar before going to work and found this to be useful, providing a slight continuation of the course.  I also found it delightful to play in the morning, prior to the cares and concerns of my professional work taking root in my mind and body. Today with the professional concerns threatening to overtake my day before it even began, moving my focus to the guitar after my regular morning sitting routine extended and deepened my relaxation.

I began by focusing my attention on following my breath & sensing the movement of my rib cage. This instruction from AT Instructors Frank Sheldon and Sandra Bain Cushman has recently proven invaluable. A brief improvisation beginning on an out-breath allowed me to settle in to my practice. I am still experimenting with the strap placement on my Godin as I found out a bit of practical information about my previous experiments which could do damage to the neck of my guitar. I laughed at all the attention to necks these days. The guitar felt good on my body and I moved onto playing with Here We Are, paying more attention to the quality of my breath than to the notes. I moved onto playing Livin’ the Dream, again with the focus being my breath. I would stop when I noticed I had lost contact with the sensation of my rib cage in motion.

A break ensued with the guitar still on my body, while I was thinking of allowing my joints to open. With a focus on lengthening I brought my left hand to the guitar, followed by my right. David Jernigan, an AT teacher that I have been working with has disrupted my habit of bringing both hands to the guitar simultaneously as I way of looking at the use of my hands. This habit we are disrupting may be a good habit, but in isolating the movements I may find useful information. I began Livin’ the Dream again and then let go of the guitar. This time I brought the right hand to the instrument first followed by my left. Gently embracing the neck of the guitar with my left while the right moved to action.

Onto a quick review and play through of Matka Boska & Scattered Hearts, which I have not played in some time. I have been thinking of what material I have available for a possible set list for two upcoming house concerts with Bert Lams and Tom Griesgraber. Any set list I create should include these two pieces, hence the review. Checking the clock I saw it was time to prepare to leave for work. Smiling I wrote these reflections on this morning’s practice. Grateful that these subtle exercises to disrupt my habitual use of my body, are also interpenetrating my mind and emotions. So instead of succumbing to distress, I arrived at my office with the joy of music filling me. With my emotional habit disrupted by my musical practice, I found a lighter touch in dealing with the distributor issues. Patience guiding my words; finding the right tone of voice allowing harmony to resolve the dissonant chords previously played. 


  1. I can feel the relaxation, the pace of awareness even while reading this post. I am inspired by the way you are breaking habits, even good ones, by becoming aware of each motion. Even sitting here at the computer, I'm aware of what I might shift by bringing awareness to my movements. Really lovely Pat, thanks for sharing your personal experience with us. It's very moving.

  2. Thanks for reading Kathy. Many of us spend a lot of times at computers also. I for one am looking at how I use/misuse my body adding unnecessary stress & tension to my life. May our awareness blossom like the spring.