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Showing posts from January, 2018

Art And Practice As Listening

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The late composer, Pauline Oliveros, came up with the idea of Deep Listening, which she defined as, 
“listening in every possible way to everything possible to hear no matter what one is doing.” 
Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times        
Most of the listening we do is passive listening, where we just let the sounds come to us. Most of the time we are not paying attention to them, so they don't register in our minds. Deep listening is an active and selective process. But it's also a very important part of our life, which connects to all other parts. Sound/music has a deep connection with all of us. Whether it's the sound of waves on a beach, a baby's laugh, or our favorite song, there is a deep, emotional connection that we take personally.
“Listening properly becomes a kind of harmonizing of parts of our being—our intellectual center, our emotional center, and our moving center.” – Philip Glass, Listening to Philip Glass Photo credit: Steve Pyke

Part of the problem with li…

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

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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

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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…