Tuesday, October 26, 2010
At the end of our Qi Gong session this morning I selected "Listen" as the word for today. Influenced by RF's Diary which I read prior to my Qi Gong today. Part of his post he described his practice of listening to himself while speaking. I have heard him describe this practice before and it is also one of the mindfulness trainings in Thich Nhat Hahn's tradition. While I take it on for a brief time this is not an ongoing practice of mine. My wife has mentioned the 'tone' of my voice as recently as last evening and at least one other time in the past days. If there is one person that I always want to sound beautifully to she is the one. Yet frequently I speak automatically, unaware of what I am saying; historical, familial and cultural patterns asserting themselves.
When I see or feel that one is distressed I listen deeply. Then from this place I tend to speak mindfully. But an ongoing practice of mindful speech eludes me. I tune my guitar before inviting her voice to sound, why not tune my own voice?
Various tuning practices that I have are a simple breath or three taken with awareness, sensing a part of my body, or by practicing the Alexander Technique. These compositional devices inform this musician, offering me a choice in my vocal melodies. These practices are a part of my everyday life but am I capable of maintaining them throughout a day? Focusing them just as I finely tune my instrument? Impossible? For me certainly, but with the intention to begin a practice the possible embraces the impossible. With practice the possible is realized and moves forward. By constructing this exercise in 'voice leading,' I can practice the discipline of my being aware of when I am speaking, Then I may choose my tone, dynamics, and the 'feel' of the spoken lines I offer to the world.
As my exercise in 'voice leading' unfolds, the other musicians that I am improvising with might respond harmoniously. And when the dissonant chord is sounded, the skills of a musician tuned through practice may take the verse to a new and beautiful chorus. And at the times when the cacophony arises with the vocal music turning dark, may we find rest in the measure of our being and begin tuning again.