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Art As A Spiritual Journey

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I'm always walking a path. This is especially true of my art. It's always a work in progress/process, because I can never really reach a point where I can say, “That's it. That's all there is to know and do. I can't go any further.” Because there is always more to do, to know, to understand, to explore.

And this is deeply locked into my spiritual journey, as the more I know my art, the more I know myself. Unless you only work on a surface level, your art is a very personal and deep expression of you, of what you are, of what you are becoming. I can't separate my artistic journey from my spiritual one because they are one in the same. Maybe other people can, but I can't.

The Journey Is The Destination

This journey is like a river—it twists and turns, rushes and recedes, floods and even sometimes dries up—but it is always flowing forward toward some unknown destination. Or maybe there really isn't any destination, because the journey itself is the destinatio…

Remember to Breathe

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Most spiritual and esoteric traditions have studies that focus on the breath. That is because the breath is everything. Think about it. If you stop breathing, what happens? You die. 

But what if you only stop breathing for a short time? Well, you die just a little. Or more specifically, your body can seize up and stop functioning at an efficient pace. Systems will start shutting down and you will experience problems in doing things.



One problem that I have found in myself, and other artists I have talked to, is unknowingly holding our breath when confronted with some sort of problem or decision. Surprisingly, when things become difficult, we often do the opposite of what we need to do: we hold our breath instead of deepening our breath.

When we hold our breath, our muscles tend to tighten. This can cause various problems. Besides making our movements stiffer (especially fine motor skills), tightened muscles can restrict the blood flow, which then affects all of our organs and systems, es…

Moving Beyond Boundaries

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We can't help but be a product of our upbringing, of our influences, and of the things we find enjoyable. I know for all of my musical endeavors that I am a sort of focal point for the things I have encountered over my life. You can find that with any artist. You can't be what you're not, unless you are seeking some artificial commercial success (some people call this selling out).

The Scope of All Things




For me, everything is focused through the lens of being a musician/percussionist, as well as a writer. While for the past 40 years I'm mostly self-taught (autodidact for you Europeans reading this) in both music and writing, my younger years in high school and university were filled with intense studying with a variety of teachers that gave me a solid foundation to build from. 

I still study today, but in a much broader context. My study in music is not limited to percussion, but encompasses many other fields that ultimately inform my percussion playing. After all these …

The Brutality of Beauty

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“No great art has ever been made without the artist having known danger.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

The great 19th century Germanic poet, Rilke, knew about danger. He also knew about art as a spiritual practice. In many ways his life's mission was to find beauty in all things. And he also knew about suffering. As brilliant as he was, he often found himself literally at a loss for words—which to a poet is a nightmare.

Rilke struggled throughout his life to achieve something great, not to be famous or rich, but to be able to come up with the perfect words to describe the indescribable. He often anguished for months at a time over just a few words, trying to convey for others, what he knew intimately in his mind.


I may have read a bit of Rilke…
I think a lot of us artists are much the same way. We can see a complete vision in our heads. It's magnificent, sacred, and unimaginable. But there is a disconnect from our heads to birthing our art in the real world for others to experience: 

“Can …

The Introvert Artist

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Where do I start? Being an introvert and a performing artist is a weird sort of mixture. While I love performing, there are times I just don't want to venture out of my front door. I oftenfind it difficult to face a crowd, face all the noise, face all the things about having to be social with people.

It's not that I dislike people, it's more that I can easily become overwhelmed by crowds and the inherent energy they have. This is a reason I rarely go to concerts in arenas or stadiums. I usually find the whole experience overwhelming. In fact, I tend to avoid most events with large crowds.

The exception the exception to this is when I'm performing. In a strange sort of way, performing is my element. And most importantly, I'm in control of my little space. When I'm up there, there is only me. There could be a million people out there, but I am alone. I rarely look at the audience, mainly because I am concentrating on what I'm doing in my own world.

Atlas shrugge…

Dealing With Change

Change is inevitable. 
Change is the only thing in life that is guaranteed.
Change is often difficult to deal with.

I will be the 1st one to say that change has never been easy for me. I like to get things going and them have them keep going, sort of cruising down the road of life, all comfortable and familiar. 

I seem to be particularly sensitive to change. I don't deal well with it. Like when a restaurant I frequent changes their menu and my favorite dish is no longer available. Or something I use a lot wears out or breaks, and there is no exact replacement available. Or when people or pets die, and they are no longer a part of my physical life. This can really throw me into chaos.

But I know from my studies of Buddhism that impermanence is the natural order of things. And grasping or clinging to what was, will only cause you suffering.

But
Damn
It's
Hard

I've had a lot of major life changes lately and they have hit me hard. Sometimes I feel stopped in my tracks. But I know that c…

Life Goes On

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It's been a difficult 3 months for me since April. Besides a very intense schedule of both gigging and teaching, my 89 year old father's health took a rapid decline and he died. Between gigs, we were visiting him as much as we could. Since he died, it's been a lot of work to just deal with his passing and trying to settle his estate. Of course my blogs all fell by the wayside. 

Next week (July 1-5) I will be in Chester, CT as part of the 1st Gong Summit. I will be presenting a master class and be a part of 3 panel discussions. I will also be hanging out all week and hope to have time to talk with everyone attending. I plan to blog daily about the whole event starting June 30 and going to July 6. Hopefully I will have the time and energy to at least post a wrap up of each day. If I can't post in detail, I'll do something later in July when I have the time. Watch for this on The Way of The Gong™.

After the Summit my wife and I will be taking a much needed bit of vacati…