Archive for January 2009

Do you hear what I here? (not a typo!)

January 26, 2009

Prickly PerfectionMy friend JD got on my case today about not having posted anything lately. So, thanks JD and here goes. I want to talk about hearing the music. This is probably the hardest aspect to talk about since hearing the music seems to be the most obvious way we take it in. “Of course I hear the music.” “How can I not hear it. It’s right there.” I don’t know about you but I lose touch with the music with some frequency and have to re-member how to hear again.    Just to make sure we’re all on the same page here I am not talking about simply those forms of music which are official, written down and performed by players and singers.  I am talking about the music that is the soundtrack of life.  The music that is always present when we pay attention.  The music that ranges from birds to traffic to symphonies to stomachs gurgling to the endless chatter in my head.  For me the music is always right here and right now.  Which means we have to be here to hear. Have you ever noticed how much of the time our first reaction  to traditional music is to play “Name that Tune”?  As a result we lose both hearing and “hereing” in the process. It’s a form of self-lobotomy wherein our right brain get excised from the immediate experience while our left brain gets all full of itself and doesn’t notice that the music has been lost in the process and now we’re hearing a lecture on the music instead. If we’re lucky we have had some experiences of the right hemisphere declaring independence.  I first really was aware of this through the hymns and spritiuals of my years in the church.   And let’s not forget Elvis and Motown  and Rock and Roll.  There was no way to hear  such music and not have our bodies back in the experience. But it was when I extended my right brain’s openness to all sounds as music that things really got interesting.  It dawned on me that we hear before we see as we float around the womb.   Whenever I really am paying attention in a kind of hereing hearing I am struck by how one dimensional we experience life.  Sadly I think that all that mental traffic is the primary experience of hearing that most of us have.  I am more and more convinced that that monkey mind chatter is the left brain trying to take over again.  To again put itself and its words in the center of things.  I don’t think it is accidental that the ego seems to start setting up shop as soon as it has words. A very interesting descriptions of this experience is Jill Bolt Taylor’s book “My stroke of Insight” where she describes her stroke. (You can hear her talk about it on Amazon.  Just type in “My Stroke of Insight” and watch the video of her telling her story.  I believe that most of our immediate experiences are centered in the right hemisphere of our brains.  But what about all those words and thoughts in my left brain?  They feel pretty immediate to me.  My working hypothsis is that all those thoughts and ideas and chatter only have meaning when they are in service to something other that themselves.  There is music on both sides of the brain waiting to be heard.

Touching and being touched by the music

January 3, 2009

It looks like I am going to work through all five senses. OK, we’ve done hearing and seeing so let’s do touching next. When I speak of being touched by the music that is all around us I am not thinking of it in terms of emotion, but rather more literally. I find it when I pay attention to petting my dog. I have felt it at Rock concerts where the sounds literally vibrated my whole being. As a child with eczema I can remember “playing” with the itches that arose with a full range from exquisite teaseing to furious and bloody attacks on my skin. Remember the first time you ever rode in an open convertible, or stuck your head out of the back window in the family car and felt the wind make its music on your face? There was also the music that touches us in ways we don’t like. Anyone who has ever experienced an earthquake knows how terrifying that can be. Can’t leave out physical pains from banging our shins against a table to falling off a bicycle to broken limbs and dental procedures. I’m assuming by now that some of you are wondering where the music is in a dentist’s drill. All I can say is that that painful aspects are there, but so is the music and if I try to exclude it because I don’t enjoy this particular song my life is smaller as a result. In the book, “A Path with Heart” Jack Kornfield says, “The unawakened mind tends to make war against the way things are.” The way things are, from my point of view, is all about the music.  The hard part is paying attention on its terms rather than limiting ourselves.  We can have music or Musak.