The Zig Zag of Practice

Sometimes you walk a straight line and then a roadblock presents itself right in front of you. Due to the various health issues that have become my personal roadblocks, I have barely played any music in the last 4 months. In fact, almost all of my gear is packed up in my basement studio, like is was a few months ago when I had it ready to go for a gig I never played. 

I have had restrictions on not lifting anything over 10 pounds/4.54Kg. Now if you are a percussionist, 95% of the gear you own weighs over 10 pounds! So even setting up my stands and unpacking things is out of the question. Even the act of picking up sticks or mallets has been out of the question, because the act of lifting my arms and striking an instrument is too much strain. As it stands, my everyday connection and practice of playing music has ground to a halt.

Practice is never a straight line to a fixed goal. It is always a mixture of moments of confusion and moments of clarity, periods of discouragement and periods …

Spiritual Practice As An Art

I'm usually a quiet, unassuming person, but sometimes I'm easily triggered. There are certain things that can set me off. As great as the internet is, social media can be full of triggers. I used to let those triggers control me. Now I've learned to recognize them and minimize their impact. Facebook is a great example. It's so easy to read something and then quickly type out a reply, especially an angry one. Triggers are everywhere in today's society. 

There are certain people I follow on Facebook, I read their blogs, and subscribe to their newsletters. They are people who I'm not in agreement with on many issues. For me, they are trigger people. It would be so easy to just unfriend them, unsubscribe, forget them altogether. 

But I realized that they are not the problem. My reaction to them is the problem.
There, I said it, my reaction to them is the problem. The problem comes from my end. No amount of anger, criticism, or comments from me will likely change them.…

Sometime All You Have Is The Practice

I've been struggling to write this post for a while now. I've started a few times, then veered off into other territory, perhaps because I just didn't know how to write this one. The Practice is never easy, sometimes it's near impossible, and, sometimes it's all you have in your life. Like my life lately.

A metaphor for my life lately…
Life can often be routine and planned out. Things go along in an orderly fashion and you just go along with it. An established practice brings order into your personal chaos. You are able to focus and get things done. Then other things happen that turn your world upside down and you wonder “What the fuck is going on here?” And somewhere in that topsy-turvy world you now inhabit, you can't find anything to hold onto, until you remember your Practice. Then in that moment you realize why you've been doing the Practice all that time, because it's really the only thing you have left to hold onto.

In the past 4 months, I've ha…

Going Deeper

There has never been a time like today, when human beings have had so much choice in things to do. It’s also never been easier to become a jack of all trades, master of none. Besides the ubiquitous internet, we have a myriad of distractions in video games, cable TV/Netflix, recorded music of every type imaginable, books and magazines (both in print and digital), and a pace of living that has often become more of a competition to get as much done before you die, than it really is a life to live and enjoy.

We are drowning in an age of information. Even just 100 years ago, there was so much less to do, so much less assaulting our brains and senses. We live in large communities and cities, yet we don't even know our neighbors. We are connected, yet not connected.

This is where your Practice comes in

I came across this article about Going Deeper, Not Wider. Please take a minute to read it before continuing here.

Going deeper, this is what Art As A Spiritual Practice is all about. It's …

Sometimes You Have To Practice Not To Practice

The ideas of practice and discipline are 2 of the most misunderstood ideas we have. How many people have a feeling of dread just reading and thinking about those 2 words? There is such a negative connotation to the idea of both practice and discipline, like they are some sort of punishment one must perform.

“I must have discipline. I must do my practice. I must because I have to.” Photo © Cynvision Photography
First, let's look at these 2 words and the meaning behind them:

Practice means to “perform an activity repeatedly or regularly in order to improve one's proficiency.” While discipline often means punishment of some sort, as in being forced to do something, one root of the word is disciple, as in being a student, coming from the  Latin disciplina, meaning “instruction given, teaching, learning, knowledge.” Thus we need to understand both practice and discipline as a desire to learn, a desire for knowledge, a desire for improvement.

Part of our problem is that we often take thi…

Disappearing Through The Practice

I came across this quote today, from Maurine Stuart, Zen master of the Cambridge Buddhist Association, writing in Subtle Sound,
“The essence of our practice is forgetting the self. As we become less self-conscious, we become more open and more warmly present, and what we discover as this melting down takes place is that what we really are is the pure, clear, lighted mind itself—nothing else. So the . . . goal of our practice is to conduct our lives from this clear, lighted mind, this always just-beginning mind.” 
In this hyper Facebook/twitter/instagram/internet world, it seems like everyone is trying to draw attention to themselves. 

“Look at me! Look at Me!”
There is this collective competition to be seen, to be heard. As both a writer and a musician, I of course want to be seen and heard. This is my vocation after all, to communicate with words and sound. This becomes a conundrum for me. 

The path is the path…
Self promotion is never easy

I need to promote what I do, but I try to do it in…

A Merging of Conceptions

Sound. What is it's nature? Where does it come from? 

For the purpose of this blog post, I'll talk about sound, but you can easily substitute whatever art or endeavor you are involved in.

For me, sound is often the medium I work in, but it can just as easily be words, like right now. I also work in various other areas like design, music production, composition, and various cross collaborations. There was a time I saw all these as separate from each other: right now, I'm a writer. Later I will be a musician. Tomorrow I will be a graphic designer. But as I evolved along the practice, I came to see that everything was actually the same thing. The same ideas and energy can be manifested in a different outer forms. Once I realized this, I was just me. I didn't have to become the writer, or the musician, or anything else. I am just me.

But what about the sound?
But what about the sound (or words, or designs, or photos, etc.), where does that come from? In our Western view, we ar…