Don't Forget To Breathe

As well as we may know ourselves, we can never see our selves from the outside. This is the reason even veteran athletes work with trainers and coaches. These people can spot things the athlete is doing that they don't even realize.

The same can be said for artists. Sometimes we need a fresh perspective from another person. This happened to me. As a drummer, I was having some problems with my drumming. I just didn't feel comfortable and relaxed anymore. It took a friend to notice and tell me that I was holding my breath when I played. I never noticed that, because it had become something natural to do. But by holding my breath, I was inhibiting the natural flow of things.

If you play brass or winds, the breath is integral with making your music. You are taught how to breathe with the phrasing of the music. The same can be said for string players and other musicians. But as a drummer, no one had ever discussed breathing with me. No one. So I never gave it much thought. And as tim…

The Virtue of Paying Attention

Wake up.

Wake up and stop sleeping.

Wake up and pay attention to what you are doing, to what is going on around you. 

It's so easy to fall asleep at the wheel and wake up later, not knowing where you are or how you got there. This sort of artistic somnambulation is something we often struggle against everyday. 


Paying attention, it's just being aware of what you are doing at all times. One way to get through artist's block is to pay attention. There are messages and inspiration all around us. When we sleepwalk through life we miss connecting with them. A big part of our artistic spiritual practice is just being aware of our lives.

When you find yourself dozing, or just going through the motions, snap out of it. Be present. Be awake. We use the term practice because you have to actively practice it, and like all things, the more you do it, the more it becomes a natural part of what you do.

Teach yourself to pay attention.

~ MB

Practice Makes Practice

Walking. Just Walking.

Too often, I think that people expect anything spiritual to be amazing, larger than life. They expect it to be like being struck by lightning—some sort of big flash and then your life is changed forever. But it's rarely like that. Yes, while there can be spiritual ecstasy, most spiritual breakthroughs are rather ordinary. 

My teacher, Singal Rinpoche, has a favorite saying, “You must strive to become enlightened everyday,” because even after you attain enlightenment, that is only in that present moment. You go on with your day, live your life, and the next day it starts all over again, even the enlightenment. So some days we are enlightened, and some days we are not.

As artists, we need to realize that some days we will create great art, and on others, not so great art. We get up in the morning, go about our work, go to sleep at night, then get up and repeat it all again. Some days will be amazing. Some will be ordinary. Yet we still get up each morning. But that is the point, and, …

Working With Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a buzz word today, but like the word, meditation, it's also a much misunderstood. 

In its essence, mindfulness is paying attention. That's it. I know, it sounds simple, and it is, but it's also a lot more difficult to do than we can imagine. 

Electronic Monkey Mind

Paying attention, not wandering in your thoughts. But we live in a world of constant distraction: phones, computers, cable/satellite TV, the internet, and on and on. We are often over scheduled and underwhelmed. As much as our modern electronic world keeps us connected, it also distracts us. Think of all the concerts where people watch the show on the cell phone they hold up in front of themselves, instead of watching the actual performance. Talk about distraction. 

Or think about all the times you are involved in your practice and your phone rings or beeps. Do you stop and answer it, or do you keep going. And if you keep going, are you distracted by the thought of who that call or message might be fr…

Are You Ever Good Enough?

Are you ever good enough? Does doing your best in any situation really mean anything? These are important questions we artists often ask ourselves.

I think it's important to acknowledge these questions, but also to distance ourselves from them in order to look at them objectively. It's all too easy to get caught up in emotions when applying these to ourselves.

Good enough is such a subjective idea. Good enough for who or what? I feel that it is important to realize that we can only do the best we can at any given point in time. Today's best may be different than yesterday's. Things are fluid. We all have good days and bad days. The important thing is to stick with your practice. Stay on the path. If you have rituals that you do, keep doing them. If you meditate, keep meditating. If you run or work out, keep running or working out. Keep following your path.

Self Realization

You need to realize that every moment of your life is different from every other one. To try and comp…

Exploring the Idea of Reception

Reception. The act of receiving. For many of us artists it's a difficult concept to open up to. We usually expect everything we do to come from us. But the truth is, most ideas and inspiration have a genesis somewhere outside of us.

'No Man is an Island'
No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.MEDITATION XVIIDevotions upon Emergent OccasionsJohn Donne
We are not islands. We are not creatures who are totally cut off from the rest of the world. If we were, we would have few, if any, ideas over our lifetimes. The fact that we are creative artists is owed to the flow of external ideas and knowledge that we experience everyday. This blog, and …

Art and the Practice of Compassion

Compassion is a much misunderstood word. 

From Merriam-Webstercompassion
sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it 
The most important part of this definition is the word others'. This is often how we see the world, especially artists. We see the world as others outside of ourselves and our own creative bubble. And it's often easy to both feel, and have compassion, for these others, but not ourselves.

One of the main tenets of Buddhism is, “May all sentient beings be free from suffering and the root of suffering.” 

The important part here is, all sentient beings, which includes ourselves. As artists, why is it so difficult to practice self-compassion? How many famous artists were compassionate towards others, yet self destructive, whether through drugs, alcohol, or other destructive behavior?

Compassion needs to start with each one of us by being compassionate towards ourselves. A good example would be in changing how we talk, or thin…