Chapter 14 - Meditation #2

Let yourself get comfortable. Relax, take a few deep breaths.
Begin to let your mind get quiet again. Each deep breath is like a wave that you can ride back into the ocean of the inner self.
Let yourself get back to the place you reached in the first meditation. Once you design that place inside yourself, it becomes easier to go back there.

You want to experience moments when you’re not driven by these desires. Start to imagine what it feels like to play without these desires. Before you can do it while playing, you have to be able to do it while just sitting.

Let yourself rest in that comfortable, quiet space … and imagine that you could do anything from that space. Imagine that you don’t have to leave that space to function. See yourself playing your instrument from that effortless space.

Imagine yourself on the stage of Carnegie Hall. A blinding spotlight is on you. There are a hundred-thousand people in the audience. They’re all looking at you, and you’re not doing anything but breathing! You’re sitting there and your hands, or lips, or whatever you use to make music, are working by themselves. You’re sitting there just breathing, and your body is playing the instrument without your participation. You’re not involved.

Now imagine that what’s coming out is the greatest music you’ve ever heard! (This can be an enjoyable visualization.) Take another deep
breath … and go deeper into the world of your imagination. You’re trying to imagine what mastery looks and feels like on you.
Something has taken you over … and music is being played through you.

You’re beaming at the audience, and you’re listening right along with them as it comes through you. Along with the audience, you’re thinking, ”Wow, this is great! Who’s playing this?” … The greatest music you’ve ever heard is coming out of you, and you’re not doing anything. Imagine that.

Just see it. Get a taste. See it inside you.
imagine you died and became the ocean. You have no identity, no beginning, no end. You no longer play music. You ARE music.
”I have no mind, I have no will, I have no control, I am the vessel, and music pours through me.”

Go deep inside now … and see the ocean inside your heart. Call up your most profound memory of an ocean … and see it in your own heart. Imagine that ocean is made of great, unlimited, brilliant ideas. See it inside you. Now imagine yourself opening up wide … so wide that the ocean can pour through you.
Imagine it pouring through you into and out of your instrument, and if you’re a singer, imagine yourself singing wild, amazing ideas! … You are like the mouth of a river: strong, silent and still, but channeling a never-ending current of ideas.

More and more, the things you do would have mastery. More and more, the things you played would have mastery, but you must burn this thought into your consciousness and burn away all falsehoods. You must program yourself.

If you think, ”I am limited,” that becomes true. If you think, ”I am not too good,” that becomes true. But if you think, ”I am God,” that also becomes true.
If you think, ”Every note I play is the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard,” that becomes true.
Contemplate it.

Imagine each thought is on a boat, sailing out of the mouth of the river and into the ocean of your heart. Every thought… put it on the boat… sail it down the river.

Thought #1: I am a master. sailing off into the sunset. Imagine the sun is the center of your heart and the boat is sailing towards it. On the boat is the precious cargo: I am a master.
Thought #2: Music is easy.
Thought #3: I play music effortlessly. Send that down.
Thought #4: I play music masterfully.
Thought #5: Every note I play is the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard.

If you could program yourself into believing these things … you would get a little crazy!… Insane with joy … insane … with ecstasy… enjoying every note you play… laughing at the wrong notes … loving them … and making everyone believe … THAT THEY ARE THE NEW RIGHT NOTES!

Reprogramming

Think about it. Why should practicing this for ten minutes a day scare you? You waste more time than that every day. And you’ll happily do that for the rest of your life.


Chapter 15 - Affirmations: Programming New Belief Systems

The experience of playing is colored by what you believe about music and what you believe about yourself.
A belief system is not like an intellectual belief, which can be changed by proof to the contrary. Rather, it is a deeply-held and often subconscious belief about the way things are.
To change over time, those beliefs need consistent reprogramming.
Affirmations are statements used for creating new, positive results. They can be valuable tools of reprogramming.

I’ve known great players who, no matter how much adulation they received worldwide, deluded themselves in the belief that they play badly, or in some way are not worthy of success.

Affirmations are messages given over time. They may be true, but they don’t have to be. I like to think of them as statements of truths yet unrealized
In this way, I can grow to accept the truth they contain.
Affirmations can also be expressed in the form of visualization. You affirm a situation or a program change by ”seeing yourself as that.” You can literally see yourself in the situation you would like to create.

Affirmations given over time can change the program, create something you want, or change the patterns of your life so that you can bring about better results.
You have to be patient, give the affirmation time to gestate, and, just as with practicing, detach from the results.

MUSIC IS EASY

If something is hard to play, my gut feeling is that I haven’t seen the simplicity in it yet.

THERE ARE NO WRONG NOTES

Wrongness only exists in the mind.
It is vibration that makes music; it is vibration that makes matter, including our bodies. We are vibration, therefore, it may be said that we are music. So vibration is the raw clay. With our minds, we mold it into whatever we want.

We are programmed to believe in a certain order of things musically.
Why destroy that programming? Because that order is confining our spirits.
If the musician has evolved to embrace the belief that there are no wrong notes, then he can play all the wrong notes, and they’ll sound right.

sit at a piano and play different intervals. Meditate on them as you play them slowly and quietly over and over. Contemplate their sound without forming any opinions. Try to resist all previous attitudes toward the sound and just … listen. The sound will become more and more consonant, more friendly, more personal. Your relationship to it will go through many levels until it is yours. It will be inside you.
About the only sound in the twelve tone system that still has any illusion of dissonance is the flat 9 interval, a half-step wider than an octave, generally considered to be a ”clashing” sound.
Make that clash the sweetest sound in your mind. Form a personal relationship to every interval, every chord, indeed to every sound in the universe.
Consonance is simply a harmonious relationship.

We view people who are different with discomfort and distrust.
Usually, a personal experience over time with people of different backgrounds wipes away preconceptions and helps us view them as individuals worthy of love and respect.
When we transcend such barriers, we feel liberated. It is the same when you transcend musical barriers.

EVERY NOTE I PLAY IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SOUND I’VE EVER HEARD.

At first, it seems absurd.
Right now, you are programmed to view and hear beauty in a very narrow frequency. The music you hear beyond a limited range seems chaotic. Without preconceptions, you could handle and enjoy much more chaos in music.

If you drop your two hands heavily on the piano and let it ring, you might not be programmed to regard that as the most beautiful sound you ever heard, but what if you hit your refrigerator or stove and it made the same sound? You’d stand there all day like a fool beating your refrigerator, or you’d invite your friends over to hear your stove!

Don’t forget: music is something we just made up. It doesn’t actually exist as anything but a game for us, so how did we get trapped in our own game? By imposing values on it.

”love thy neighbor as thyself.”
God in ourselves and in each other.
When, through practice, one adapts that awareness, one exists in heaven while on earth, intoxicated by beauty all around and filled with compassion for all things great and small.

The thing to realize is that everything we think now, every opinion we have about everything - is the result of some kind of programming. We do not possess absolute objectivity.
as they shed light on it for the purposes of observation, the light changes its composition. This is known as the ”uncertainty principle.”
All of this shows us that what we think, see, and hear is subjective.
Therefore, it might behoove us to adopt the beliefs from which we get the most mileage.
Believing that every sound is beautiful will open the way for more inspired playing.
”I never met a note I didn’t like.”


Chapter 16 - The Steps To Change

The meaningful path is a path of action.
The goal is achieved through practice. Without practices, a path is mere philosophy.
A philosophy is thought about and talked about, but a path is for walking.

A good path is reduced to mere philosophy because one has not done the work to attain its fruits like the alcoholic who can speak eloquently about how to stop drinking, but can’t actually do it.
Many people talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk.
No significant changes occur without practice.
Talk is cheap, and in fact may be harmful to growth, because as you talk about the path, you may dissipate its power to change you.
You also risk freezing the experience so that you won’t be able to recognize the spontaneous way wisdom wants to manifest today.
As surely as one practices an instrument, so must one practice the implementation of wisdom

Remember: you can be aware of all the philosophy and still be unable to attain its fruits while playing.
We have talked a lot about the impurities of your purpose, your playing, and your practicing. Now we are going to look at a method of deprogramming and reprogramming.

Step One introduces you to the inner self.

It is a kind of meditation, a sharp contrast to the space people usually play in.
many have experienced this state from activities like riding a bicycle, running or swimming, meditating and chanting, various martial arts and ancient tea ceremonies. Zen and yogic traditions are drenched in the awareness of this space.

you must surrender the need to sound good. Otherwise, you can’t really let go!
Simple, but not easy!
Learn a way of attaining inner balance and approach your instrument while in that space
The first two steps will help you observe all the thoughts and pressures connected with your instrument.
You will learn to let go and love whatever you hear coming out. This is absolutely necessary to escape your dilemma.
Step One will help you get in touch with your intuitive self by bypassing the conscious mind, the epitome of all limited playing.
Physically, you will intuitively move towards the most effortless and efficient way of playing your particular instrument.
Daily practice will allow you to become familiar with the more effortless stance, or perfect embouchure, head position, or whatever. You will gravitate to the physical position that allows you to play without leaving the space.

Step Two is the retention of that awareness

the retention of that awareness while the hands explore the instrument in a free improvisation.
Your hands are free to wander, without your conscious participation. Again, this is only possible if you can release the need to sound good for a few moments.

Step Three is beginning to walk

Steps One and Two are analogous to crawling.
n Step Three you will learn how to do simple things from this consciousness.
The natural space you developed forms a foundation from which you relearn how to play. In this step, music begins to play through you in intelligent form.
You start to experience what wants to be played, and what you can comfortably play.
You learn to stay within yourself and not be seduced by your ego.

Just as the space established your natural connection to your instrument and sound, it now establishes what can be played effortlessly over form, time, changes, written music or whatever.
It will be humbling to discover your true level of play. But it will also be the start of becoming real, and your playing will be built on more solid ground. Leaving the ego out of the playing will remove the drama of trying to play what you wish you could play.

The space itself is the teacher, and life becomes centered around learning to connect with the space.
Music becomes secondary. You remember gigs not by how well you played, but by how much you let go.
You’re no longer bothered by what is out there, but absorbed by what is in here.

Step Four you begin a process of change and growth

You are not condemned to your present level of playing for life.
Built on the solid foundation of the first three steps, with detachment and calm, and with self- love, you begin practicing things that can’t be played effortlessly.
Not only do you practice from the space, but you don’t assume you’ve mastered anything until it plays itself from that space.
Step Four will help you acquire a taste for absorption into a subject, rather than skimming uselessly over many subjects.
The discipline of patience overtakes you as you wait in a detached way for mastery to occur on what you are practicing.
Every practice session becomes a link in a chain, a patient process that moves you toward your goal.

These steps can be life-transforming. You’ll feel as free as a bird when you play, yet have great discipline in all your studies. If patiently followed, these four steps will transform your practice and performance.