Breathe in the Silence
All music is surrounded by silence…
If I’m playing guitar and you walk a certain distance away, you won’t be able to hear me playing anymore; so silence surrounds all music…
If we go out into nature and strip away all the sounds you hear, what is left?
A peaceful silence.
And when the birds or the crickets are chirping, or you hear a stream nearby, it still just sounds and feels like nature.
Even when that calm is disrupted by an animal attacking another animal to eat (and honestly, even those shrieking sounds that alert us, are a part of nature as well), eventually that passes and you are left with the relaxing stillness of nature.
And I’m sure we have all experienced the peaceful, connected feeling we get when we spend some time in a tranquil nature setting; go for a hike, watch a sunrise over the beach, do some paddle boarding, etc.
Let it rest in your mind that silences are very much a part of music…
The Peaceful and Serene
“The peaceful and serene is the norm of the world.” -Tao Teh Ching
There is a Japanese practice, which is now backed by years of scientific study, called Shinrin-Yoku, or forest bathing, where they have studied the effects of being surrounded by trees for even just a couple of hours a week and how healing and therapeutic it is.
There’s a really good book by the Chairman of the Japanese Society for Forest Medicine: Forest Bathing: The Japanese Art and Science of Shinrin-Yoku by Dr. Qing Li
Humans in Nature
We as human beings are animals born in nature. We also have an added element to our makeup: the ego. And this serves a purpose. The job of the ego is to tell us we are a separate being. It gives us the ability to speak of our self as “I”
“I am playing guitar. I rock!”
When we say “I” we are referring to ourself and no one else.
So we have gained self consciousness; we have gained self awareness at a level that the rest of nature does not have. We have gained individual freedom. And this comes with a price; the price of having separated ourself out from the rest of nature. We have lost our natural connection to nature.
The farther back in humanity you go you see a natural connection to nature. Since the development of the ego you see a divorce from nature. As self aware individuals it is now our job to choose, out of our own free will, to reconnect with nature in a healthy way; to be healthy for ourselves, healthy for the world around us. To do so means to take this beacon of freedom we have developed, and hold it high as a torch that shines like a star; not against nature, but consciously in tune with it.
With more freedom comes more responsibility!
Having gained self awareness, we can exist in connection with nature on a higher level.
We are Connected to Everything!
We are connected to everything. Again, it is just the ego that tells us we are separate; and we can see the function of this in the explanation above. We are, in a higher spiritual sense, One with everything! When we breathe, we are breathing with all of the world. You, yourself, are doing it right now!
“Freedom comes in there only being one you; and it includes the table and the computer and the ocean and the trees… You try to breathe without them, you know, and you can’t.” -Jim Carrey
But we forget this. We tend to think of “me” as just this being inside the body.
“My soul is not contained within the limits of my body, my body is contained within the limitlessness of my soul.” -Jim Carrey
Remember: We are all One
The ego can get out of balance. It can be destructive, to the individual, to others, even to the planet. Our large cities, with all of their pollution, are a divorce from nature. It’s a mass conglomerate of people doing people things; not on solid earth surrounded by trees, but on concrete surrounded by buildings. They are a construct of the ego; or rather of humanity, which has as part of our makeup the ego. Other animals don’t make cities; they just live in nature. If they are living in a city, it is because we built it…
(My point here is not to knock cities, indeed they have certainly served their purpose in humanity’s evolution, but to point to the workings of the ego in humanity).
On an individual level, our ego can cause us to be completely out of balance within ourselves, and with our connection to nature and to other human beings. We tend to forget that we are all One, with each other and with all of the surrounding world and cosmos.
Being in Touch with your Creative Center
Playing genuine music is something of deep inspiration. And our inspiration comes from deep within our soul!
It comes from a living connection to our own creative center!
When someone is playing music, you can hear their soul state, and just how connected to themselves they are, so to speak.
And you can hear when someone is playing through a connection with nature; when someone is playing “out of the silence.” In other words, when they understand that all music comes out of silence, or at least have a feeling for being in touch with silence.
There’s a big difference between that and when someone just comes in, kicking the door down screaming and their playing is all self-centered ego (not in the sense of coming in like a force of nature, like a tornado; but like an ego drunk on itself). There’s a certain noise in it, or a certain selfishness that isn’t really good for your mind.
I’m pointing to an extreme case just to describe the difference (note: this is not a description of styles, but of soul states). And with people who tend to lean more toward this end of the spectrum, I find they are usually people who are uncomfortable with silence. In other words, they are uncomfortable with themselves.
You should master the self-discipline of being able to sit in silence with yourself and just be…
It will have a very real effect on your guitar playing!
Music Connected to Spirit
Whether you’re playing something peaceful, or even if you’re playing heavy metal, you can hear (and feel) the difference from someone, like David Gilmour for example, who’s music has been drawn, at least in part, from a higher connection, where they are truly tapping into their creative center; versus someone who all of their striving and motivation, the very median they use to channel their music is from egotism that is centered on me-ness (in other words, an ego separated from its conscious connection to All).
👉🏼 ex. there’s a difference between writing a song when the inspiration comes and you are one with your own creative center, versus taking someone else’s song and just copying it while trying to make it sound like you didn’t copy it…😂
And as we do in fact exist in nature, so too does the ego exist in nature, in us. And an individual that is truly divorced within from nature is divorced from themselves. How can you know yourself if you don’t know or have any sense for the fact that you are a part of everything!
This is the reason why there is something special in the playing of David Gilmour, Jimi Hendrix, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, and of course others. They were a median for something Higher coming in through their music!
And personally, that’s the kind of stuff I love! Music with Soul! Music with a real connection to Spirit! It’s like looking within and honestly expressing what is there… or looking up to the stars and feeling the Harmony of the Spheres and letting that light shine into your music!
If someone can capture even just a glimpse of that in their playing, it’s something special…
And that’s not to say that there wasn’t any ego in there. They are certainly going through the evolution of their ego just as you and I. My point is not to demonize ego. Not at all! The ego is an important member of our being. I am me, you are you.
What I am saying is that it is important to develop a healthy sense of your individual self (Temet Nosce ~ know thyself)… and then to find the connection of your self to All (ex Deo nascimur ~ We are born out of the Divine Spirit)!
Wherever you are on the unfolding of this evolution absolutely is reflected in your music and in your playing!
Living in Harmony
Instead of developing gross forms of egotism, selfishness, and narcissism, we should focus on growing our sense of self in a healthy way that can relax and attune with nature; that can relax in the face of Spirit, that can relax into silence as we attune to Spirit!
A person who does this, whether through meditation, yoga, walks on the beach, or playing guitar, tends to be more internally healthy and able to express genuine human emotion…
We all love deep, raw, genuine emotion that makes us feel more connected to our self! And we love experiences that connect us to the bigger picture (like sunsets on the beach, or the moon rising over the mountains)…
Music is about all of this stuff! Our connection to ourself, our connection to the world, our connection to Spirit…
Finding a sense of Completion
It’s an interesting thing that when we start playing music, our inner stuff starts coming up. Some people just use ego to blow past it (which is something we tend to learn in western culture), and some people choose to work their way through it, to feel and think their way through it.
You start playing in front of someone and make a mistake, suddenly shame comes up, fear of making mistakes and looking bad, etc. You keep messing up, or can’t get your C chord, and you get angry… even down on yourself… 🥀
In connecting to music we are connecting to something that is connected to all of existence, and we are connecting to ourselves.
So it is natural that these things come up, because they are things we are carrying (our ego is carrying) within us. Underneath anger is fear, and underneath fear is shame. And it can be stuff from our childhood or teenage years. A parent left, or was abusive, so we develop a sense of shame that we are not good enough to be loved (there can be many scenarios).
Childhood is messy, because everything is happening to us, and until we begin to ask “Why?” we are as an open vessel accepting everything happening to us without question; and no matter how awesome our parents are, parenting is not a perfect system…
So we all carry stuff from our parents (God bless them). Not to mention all the other stuff we carry from family and cultural conditioning.
It becomes unconscious, because our culture doesn’t teach us how to handle this stuff or how to heal it. Instead we’re taught to ignore it; to move on and keep trying to fit in.
To Play Music is to Go Deep Within
Modern day humanity lives mostly in the upper-ego consciousness, so we’re usually not very good at tapping into our so-called subconscious; or deeper levels of consciousness. And we hold a lot of things there.
And when you play music you are tapping into these deeper levels of consciousness, and so it is natural for these things to come up. Rather than trying to ignore them, I recommend facing them, feeling them out, and letting them go…
In this way music can be very healing!
I like to think of it as being blocked up…
It’s like we all have this huge shit tank we have to clean. And as we do clean it, eventually the bigger chunks come up; things like traumatic events in our life: a parent dying, a big breakup, etc.
You can tell the people who don’t want to do this work; the ones that are backed up. They tend to be abusive, to get angry at the tip of a hat, and project their stuff onto the world with all kinds of self-importance and egotism attached; even to the point of narcissism where they are saying or doing anything they want to other people, and constantly obsessed with controlling others.
Or it may just manifest in poor self-esteem, and not going for what you want in life (everyone has their own story)…
Most people do not want to do this kind of inner work. They have learned to ignore it all their life and they’re afraid that if they do face their stuff that it will be too intense and overwhelm them! That’s just fear being a player in your life. And like Jim Carrey said, “Fear is going to be a player in your life, but you get to decide how much.”
Don’t be afraid to face yourself! When you do your letting go, you will begin to feel better, to feel more like yourself! You will be more free in a very real sense!
You will find balance in your life
You see, these things we are holding inside, they create patterns in our life. We find ourselves going through the same patterns with the same results, even though they’re different situations.
Well as someone living in our upper-ego consciousness we just want to blow past it and focus on creating a new me, or think our way through it. This is us still just operating through the ego.
You have to be okay with feeling your way through it…
Face it, feel it out, and let it go!
That’s the key that has worked wonders for me and transformed my life!
I invite you try this in your life. When an emotion like shame, fear, or anger comes up; sit with it. Feel it out. It’s ok to have these emotions. Let go of trying to think your way through it and just feel it out.
The realizations will come as you do. You’ll see things from a different perspective.
You can even start with something small, like spilling a little coffee on the desk. See how it makes you feel. Observe the feeling, without attachment. And let it go…
With bigger things it might take a lot of feeling it out, a lot of letting go; even crying it out. And that’s okay.
Be committed to seeing it through as something healthy you are doing for yourself!
If not for yourself, then do it for others. Do it for your family, your kids…
Because when you learn to let go you become a more balanced, reasonable, compassionate person that is healthier for those around you. It’s taking responsibility for your emotions, your inner states, and the things you carry.
On the other side of letting go… is gratitude. You let go of the upsetting emotion of spilling the coffee and you come to an awareness of the fact, “you know what, it isn’t a big deal, and I’m fortunate to be in a position where I can even have good coffee. In fact, I’m so fortunate that I can go make another cup if I like.” Suddenly it turns into a good day and you enjoy the coffee! ☀️ ☕
It’s a way of smoothing out your energy and getting you back to your best self; to the real YOU!
And this works with the big stuff too! My mother left when I was 2. For years it was something that happened to me. And it set patterns in my life that were painful. By facing it, feeling it out, and letting it go (and there was A LOT of letting go to do around it!), I now have an understanding for her, for that part of my life and its function (even from a higher perspective), and I have love and gratitude for her. I’m grateful that she birthed me in the first place so that I can have this wonderful life!
Our normal reaction to this would be to ignore it, hate her, seek mother figures in our life, and do our best to power our way forward through life unaware of the patterns we are living through by carrying it with us…
Best to face this stuff so we can get on with our life, living forward into life as a truly free person, who is cleared of this stuff and can focus on love!
“All you need is love” -The Beatles
So what is this post really about?
It’s about inspiration.
It’s about working through our stuff so we can get to know ourself and connect to the bigger picture!
And it’s about understanding that Music is a living force that can help us to do this. Music connects us to Everything! It’s a path we walk on. It’s a path of Life!
And so it is that playing guitar is a way of self-knowledge and presence in our life!
“All art works on the same level, and that is Presence!” -Jim Carrey
And when we make a mistake playing guitar we just say, “that’s ok” and keep moving forward! We even laugh it off!
Enjoy playing Guitar!!!
And when shame or fear does come up, don’t ignore it; calmly accept it… Feel it out… Let it go… And keep moving forward, with genuine interest.
“Meisner, one of the tenets of his technique is that if you are actually interested in what you’re doing, you’ll be interesting to watch. And that’s why we watch babies, because they discover things for the first time.” -Jim Carrey
Be at one with yourself through your guitar playing! Be at one with the World!!
Breathe in the silence… and create!