Sunday, March 16, 2014


This morning I joined Master Li and others for Qi Gong along Sligo Creek.  These gentle movements that I have come to love gently stretching my body, opening my spirit, and quieting my mind.  The air was crisp, the trees tall & majestic with the sun slowly rising through their tops, and the bird song gathering intensity as more birds are returning north.  Alive and present, surrounded by life.

After breakfast I picked up my guitar.  Noticing that my body was rested & relaxed  after this long weekend, I wanted to maintain this openness.  I recalled a short gatha that came to me a couple weeks back when I was gripped in fear concerning a decision that myself and my family have arrived at.  A decision that will lead to more openness and refinement, yet fear arose nonetheless.  This gatha is breathing in - I am safe, breathing out - I am surrounded by love.

As I sat with my guitar I remembered that truly I am surrounded by love.  Keying on the sense of "surrounded", I took in the space around me.  In a Alexanderian sense I allowed my body to be in this space and to lengthen & widen.  Not holding onto anything, just sitting with my guitar.  As I went to tune, I noticed my right elbow "tensing" as it came to rest on the bout of the guitar.  Letting this go and beginning again, occupying the space I was in, there was still unnecessary tension in this elbow.  A habit of decades does not release overnight.  Directing myself again to be long and wide, to be safe and surrounded by love, my elbow arrived in a different place.  I decided that the aim of this morning's practice would be to remain open.

Open to whatever note might arrive and however a note might sound.  Open to being surrounded by love as I played and open to this moving through me, perhaps even moving me to a different space.  Open to allowing whatever time was needed to maintain and develop openness in my playing in this time and space.  Working on brief melodic passages in a piece ironically called Opening.  Playing, pausing, directing, and learning what it takes to just play.  Open to releasing thoughts, noticing judgements about how I was doing what I was doing, and releasing them and my body. 

After writing the above I returned to the guitar.  I remembered that earlier in the practice I was directing my hands to be open while playing.  What does this mean?  The right hand assumes a form for plucking and the left hand dances about the fretboard in various configurations of ease and occasional distress.  In Qi Gong we gently stretch and keep our hands open to foster the energy flow along & through the length of the meridians.  When my hands are relaxed, that is using necessary tension only, the quality of the sound I produce is fuller and richer.  As I move into practicing the next piece Enclosing, I aim to keep my hands as open as possible.  Finding the part where tension has caused me issues in executing the passage I focus my practice here.  Slowly releasing and finding an openness not only in my left hand, but in my thinking about this passage.  I realize that I am always surrounded by opportunities to let go.

I needed to complete my practice to be on a conference call with some very good people about an upcoming project.  Again I knew, I was surrounded by love.  What a privilege to work with such amazing & aware people.

May my body within and without be surrounded by the space and conditions needed to maintain openness in my being.  May my spirit remain gentle towards my efforts at effortlessness.  May my heart remain open to learning, open to love.   Surrounded.  What are you surrounding your self with?


  1. Beautiful thoughts, beautifully written Patrick.

  2. Dear Patrick, thank you so much for your writing! This is the first I read this (Monday) morning and it reminds me to begin the week trusting in openness and love.

  3. What a fitting piece to read on your "saint's" day, Patrick! I can feel the physicality of your Qi Gong movements flowing into your Alexander practice, flowing into creating beautiful music. May you always feel surrounded by love.

  4. Lovely Patrick. Surrounded by love, by peace...sadly we are in a place where they have not been present, but your words bring comfort and we (Robin and I) will begin this new week seeking....... - Robert H.

  5. Thank you, Patrick; surrounding myself with gentle, sweet presencing in the work of the moment-to-moment somatic awareness