Saturday, May 7, 2011



Where is home?  The venerable Thich Nhat Hanh teaches me that home is in the present moment.  Where am I?  Am I in the present moment or wandering about in my mind?  When I notice that I am wandering, how do I find my way back home?  While the noticing is key, there then comes that moment of choice.  Do I continue to allow whatever habit du jour is distracting me - usually my mind; though this can also be my emotions, or my physical cravings?  Or do I gently turn my attention back to the task at hand?

How do I turn my attention back to the present moment?  Throughout the day - my breath - is my most frequent ally in noticing where I am and bringing me back to the present moment.  This is very useful when my monkey mind has begun to race while I am playing, as I do not have to stop playing but can just find my breath.  In a sense I suppose this may take me a bit further out of the act of music making, but only until I can establish my connection once again. When I find my breath, the breath flows through the music.   Listening is another way I can bring myself back.  This sense should be an active part of making music, yet my mind can be such a powerful distractor that I am merely mechanically playing the notes, and not hearing what I am playing.  With my listening engaged the music comes alive, as do I.

Connecting with myself through the Alexander Technique has also proven to be a powerful way to bring me back.  As I direct my use via AT, I am harmonizing my body & mind in a manner similar to meditation.  When I first met David Jernigan and he referred to AT as a mindfulness of the body practice, was when I really began embracing the technique. 

Frequently I intersperse any of these actions with my playing.  Noticing the body or the mind provides an opportunity to engage my consciousness with what I am doing.  From this notice I may make a choice to more fully enter into what I am doing, be it making music or washing dishes.  Present moment - only moment.

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