What is your “Path With A Heart?” Know it–for it is the only path that is any good.


path 2If I  don’t “make it” as an artist, should I quit?

That isn’t the question, that isn’t even the even the…That misses the whole point.  A musician friend on Facebook posted that he was discouraged about not making more money with music and not getting emotional support from community and family–thus he was thinking of quitting.

I wrote to him:

either or, do or not…anytime there is a side we must take there is stress…No side needs to be taken, this is Zen so it may go by un-clarified…but…no need to choose a side…An old Zen Koan said, Eat your food wash your bowl. Get up, music, eat sleep, live, take out trash, feed dogs…life.. The path with a heart is the only path that is any good (paraphrased from Carlos Castaneda).

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Every moment we walk on a beautiful path, if we don’t lose our way

imagesBelow are some words from another post. I gratefully acknowledge the New Earth Heartbeat for posting this most invaluable writing. You can read the entire post via the link below, but I copied some parts below that I wanted to discuss.

http://newearthpulse.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/being-the-boss/

I am moved by the words from that post stating that if we cannot admit we are Buddha then we don’t understand Buddha nature. This means to me allowing Buddha to be, versus trying to explain or prove something about it. No one can get another to use this teaching that does not already have the propensity to do so. That is not to say it is worthless to write and speak about it—for there are many who DO have the propensity, and YOUR WORDS may be just what the doctor ordered to allow them to know and be Buddha nature, to stop seeking to understand, and to know that they already know

And if we seek to understand it, we cannot understand it. This phrase empowers me to tap into what is already there, the part that we all have that is one with nature and with all humanity, that knows what to do, that is always the boss. Focusing on this, I realize that I am the boss, because Buddha nature is the boss, someone far more capable than the ego part of me, someone I surrender to, trust completely to love and be kind to me and everyone else. That is the only way Buddha can be – loving, kind, wise, always able to protect us from losing our way. Buddha nature shows us what to do next, and how to do it, right here and right now—how to eliminate stress, to commit to the next thing–brushing your teeth or painting a glorious work of art, or making a call to set a doctor’s appointment—all those tasks are equal, when done with Buddha nature, all those tasks bring peace and are equally important. There is a way to do each of those diverse things that will bring about loving kindness in yourself today and in everyone you encounter today.

Another part of the post that struck a chord in me is “this means you should not lose your way”….

Today I will not lose my way, even though I did five minutes ago or yesterday or last year or 20 years ago, today I no longer need to lose my way, nothing else matters. If you are lost and you’ve been through many errors, failures, tragedies, and so on—if you have done wrong, or wrong has been done to you…why would you want to continue to be in that mess when you can be Buddha the one that will no longer lose his or her way?

The music of today is in the spirit of knowing that in me is a place beyond consciousness where music and art live in the most beautiful and effortless forms, and from that place things I thought were too hard suddenly become easy, or the process of breaking them down and learning them becomes a basic and joyful labor of love, leading to the level of musicianship infused with love that I aspire to…This process holds for whatever art or job or family rising or relationship making you are doing today.

 

“…When we ask what Buddha nature is, it vanishes; but when we just practice zazen, we have full understanding of it.”

“…So what Buddha meant by Buddha nature was to be there as he was, beyond the realm of consciousness.”

“…Buddha nature is our original nature; we have it before we practice zazen and before we acknowledge it in terms of consciousness.”

“If you want to understand it, you cannot understand it. When you give up trying to understand it, true understanding is always there.”

“…if you are under the idea of doing or not doing zazen, or if you cannot admit that you are Buddha, then you understand neither Buddha nature nor zazen.”

“Wherever we go, we should not lose this way of life. That is called ‘being Buddha,’ or ‘being the boss.’”

“Wherever you go you should be the master of your surroundings. This means you should not lose your way.”

Productivity, Here-Now–Tending to The Task At Hand: Instant Cure for Depression

Here is some great jazz to start the day, and then my thoughts on the here and now and the task at hand–the ultimate cure for depression.

From time to time I post quotes by Marcus Aurelius — when I first read him about 1999 it changed my life.  It amazed me that all the self help books said many of the same things.  I took his words to heart and applied them.  Today I thought of the following quote. It empowers me to cease the hamster like thoughts going round and round and serving no purpose except to drain my energy and leave me with nothing accomplished. When I read this quote I immediately accepted as fact that I DO have the authority to direct my thoughts, to produce something of value–in my case my art in my music–and to get off the hamster wheel

Another area where this quote applies is to social media–I can become like a hamster chasing after everyone’s Facebook posts for the cute cat, the song, the weird science discovery, until I realize that is like in the quote where Aurelius says “we ought then to check in the series of our thoughts everything that is without purpose and useless, but most of all the over-curious feeling and the malignant”

Isn’t that a good description of Facebook, a bunch of stuff to be over-curious about, and sometimes malignant–who got killed in your hometown, the store that got robbed down the street and on and on.  Now there are times when social media is definitely good and purposeful, I refer to the times when it isn’t..

So consider the quote below, and read it with the spirit of someone in another place and time, in the time it was written, without prejudgment.

Upon directing my thoughts and thereby increasing my productivity, I just learned yesterday what I was doing that was messing up my jazz guitar picking.  That was a moment of rapture, as I played a fast riff and the fingers flowed like velvet. My friend came in the studio as it happened– he said he didn’t want to interfere because I was so into it, and he noticed how much better the music sounded!

So, I vow to tend to the task at hand–with the ultimate benefit: For someone like me prone to depression, doing a task that requires my full attention makes it impossible for me to be depressed:)  Someone once said that depression is focusing on the past and anxiety is focusing on the future, and freedom, fun and joy is the here and now.

Do not waste the remainder of thy life in thoughts about others, when thou dost not refer thy thoughts to some object of common utility. For thou losest the opportunity of doing something else when thou hast such thoughts as these, What is such a person doing, and why, and what is he saying, and what is he thinking of, and what is he contriving, and whatever else of the kind makes us wander away from the observation of our own ruling power. We ought then to check in the series of our thoughts everything that is without a purpose and useless, but most of all the over-curiousfeeling and the malignant; and a man should use himself to think of those things only about which if one should suddenly ask, What hast thou now in thy thoughts? With perfect openness thou mightest, immediately answer, This or That; so that from thy words it should be plain that everything in thee is simple and benevolent, and such as befits a social animal, 

All Blues by Miles Davis- Guitar Version..Transcending the Pain of Life

Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue made me feel jazz and love it – the kind of blues (no pun intended) that I like that is, and I don’t like it all .. I think folks who say they don’t like it have heard a KIND that they don’t like and have yet to hear something so mellow and spiritual as tunes like All Blues, or Round Midnight ..I hope that is true.

Today is a lovely day as the birds feed out on the balcony.  I will return today to the deepest place in my heart and be fully present in all I do, guitar, washing clothes…all of it.  Anything and everything I do is a good time to feel the ecstasy of being fully present with nature, not censoring or judging anything that you feel or think, but instead letting the buddha within you address each and every thing that comes up and offer you comfort – allow you to no longer hide anything from yourself..In realeasing all that is being submerging the knack for full joy like a child returns once again and you are home, above all the pain – personal and worldwide, – breakups, death, was, Ebola, racial divides…can all be there and yet you may have joy, passion, ecstasy, even the feeling of the first time you fell in love–only better because this doesn’t rely on anther person to love you, it is within you-you are both the lover and the lovee- this sounds impossible but it is in fact very possible.

Wes Montgomery for your Saturday Jazz Medicine

For your Saturday jazz fix, the one and only Wes Montgomery.  If I am down and listen to this it is not possible to remain there.  Jazz is this thing, like love or zen, that isn’t translatable to words, really.  The feeling that it evokes, when it is good, is just magic

So I am very lucky indeed to be given a chance to learn to play and sing it.  As you watch Wes in this video, he is so happy, relaxed, yet exuding joy.  Maybe he was feeling how lucky he was to be such a great player.  He kinda reminds me of the cat that swallowed the canary, like, if you people only knew how much fun it is to play this music, you would all want to do it too!

Help! Is this Hard Bop? Be Bop?

 

 

Here is Russell Malone, great player.  Hope you will give comment on my question above.

I love this style, so as I learn to play it I want to be sure I am using the term that  generally applies to this “type” of jazz .

 

Today I have had more trouble with pain as I work on the arpeggios in each key.

 

But that will not stop me.  I took 600 mg of ibuprofen and used an icy hot patch.

Here goes for 4.5 hours today.  Also breaking it into nine sessions to avoid repetitive stress on the mussels and joints.  Speaking of joints……ah…just kidding…no really.  I could use one about now.

 

On another note, there is a book I have mentioned before, but it bears repeating.  It is called “The Perfect Wrong Note”

This bear looks like the attitude I need today to get my practice done.  Damn it, I am mad as hell that I  don’t know the scale patterns yet and  I’ll be darned if anything will stop me, so watch out world!

Back the the afore mentioned book:  When I spoke about some of its concepts to a former guitar teacher, he was NOT receptive. I believe some of the approaches require one  to be a bit ZEN like.  I am all for that.Perhaps I will revisit the book where he addresses pain caused by long hours of practice.

 

…Readers, stay with me, over the coming posts I will be sharing my insights on zen and music, on making a difference in the world rather than complaining about politics and  such, and especially on my continued love affair with jazz guitar, with being an adult learner, and breaking through my life long inability to stick to something and become excellent.  To actually succeed via my own firm commitment.

 

This will entail overcoming my fear that when I do well I will be expected to keep doing well, and I will become somewhat well known at least regionally…

Which will make me feel like a phony, or too public, or, I don’t know – afraid I won’t be me anymore.  That I will try to be what or who I think the people that like my music think I am.  Or I will try to be like some other female jazz guitarist or singer.  If you have gone from obscurity to a small degree of local fame, how have you kept on your original path, avoided a swelled head, and continued to work as hard as when you were just trying to get out of the starting gate?

You see I am a very private person who likes to be soft and gentle–not all gutsy like those guitar shredders I  have read about.    Emily Remler in particular. Don’t get me wrong, she was a great player.  But whatever she was doing in her life, she ended up addicted to H and died in her 30s.

This is a big challenge for me as you can see.  But life is either a daring adventure or nothing as someone once said.

If You Don’ Know How, First Learn HOW to know HOW: Blogging Will HELP YOU LEARN

learnToday I have pain from my hours of guitar practice. But I will not let that stop me.  I can take ibuprofen, stretch my arms and hands every 30 minutes. That should do it.

Today I am breaking through on how to play improvised jazz. It is all in the scale patterns. Memorizing them in each key…then, when I am playing a song, based on what key it is in, I can improvise all up and down the fretboard using scale patterns one through seven.

Never thought I would be able to – and I still don’t know how YET.  But I think I know HOW to know HOW. When it is a more complex goal, this step – how to know how – could make all the difference. I will let you know how it works.

If you are wondering will I ever post music of my own, this blog is for me to say things that I don’t have to worry about anyone judging.  Since I work in music, a potential client reading about me doubting my skills could be detrimental to me getting gigs.

I love WordPress and this community.  It has helped me to start each day taking the ZEN attitude – by writing what I know and feel spiritually. Without this blog it was hard for me to stay positive.

This blog/writing a “journal”, is life changing. IF YOU DON’T HAVE A BLOG – GET ONE!  Or at least start journaling.

Blogging brings about huge personal growth for people like me–people wishing to get beyond their baggage and to realize their dream. I have dreamed all my life of success in music.  I am on my way now,  BY GEORGE!

HOW WILL I GET THROUGH TODAY WITHOUT GIVING IN TO DEPRESSION?

Each day there is that pull, to just sit in the chair and stare at videos on you tube or tv, eat all day even though I am not hungry, and just quit my jazz guitar adventure….but this blog is helping me to commit to something greater.  Each day i have to be aware that the habit of just becoming a depressed blob is there, and I have to read, write  meditate (NOT medicate), take a walk…do anything I can to rally myself to be on my own side, to not pretend that I don’t exist…

To me, depression is a feeling like you don’t exist, and yet you are here…the pain that, yes, you ARE here and you must accept yourself.

How do you accept yourself, love yourself, show yourself the loving kindness you would to a friend or a child?  There, I have begun to turn it around…

I imagine a kid on Christmas, a child…the child in me…what right do I have to deny her the chance to live, to have fun, to hurl off the fetters of depression and low self esteem and just declare “I AM HERE, YOU BETTER NOT FUCK ME OVER TODAY YOU BITCH”

Maybe that is me talking to the bad person my mom sometimes was to me, the mom that wished i would just disappear –the “uncaring mom” that now lives in my head.. that thinks i am too much trouble to have around…

BUT THERE ALSO THE LOVING MOM..the one in my head, and the one my mom was before we become disconnected from each other.

That is the mom I will have with me today, the one that loves me and wants me to succeed, to love playing jazz guitar, to eat in a healthy and tasty way, and to get exercise in the outdoors–by the way, studies have shown that exercise is as effective as anti depressants at countering depression!!!!

YEP it is time to LIVE my life, play jazz music, and try to be part of the solution for me and others like me, that artists  the sensitive ones…here is to all of you my fellow bloggers!

Here is a fav jazz player, Herb Ellis, so free in his playing…now THAT is something that washes away your depression! learning to play jazz guitar…(or _____ – insert whatever works for you, something that demands you be in the PRESENT!)

Peace with my Past

All my life I have had this sad feeling whenever i think of anything past, people who’ve gone, jobs lost, a lost time in my life.  Today i will reframe this — I don’t like the sad feeling, like things were good then but now nothing matter,  That is an habitual response whenever something triggers a connection to a past person or time or place.  Currently i have a new response when those feelings are triggered. I have researched physics and other writings about time- that it is an illusion – this concept enables me to be free from pain about the past or wistful nostalgia – as if those times were better.  Since my mom died recently it is more clear than ever to me, that the present is all we have. And the “have my cake and eat it too” in all this is: Since there is only now, all those things that trigger in my memory are not really PAST.  They are all part of the here and now, not gone.  Feelings i had then, i have now, if i choose to.  Feelings of pain about the past, or regrets, become suddenly light weight and no longer have power to depress me, once i realize there is only now and that all that has happened, will happen and is happening is all RIGHT NOW. That all i AM is here and now – I am not the past, nor defined by it, nor a victim of it, anymore than if i were to see a movie in which a person was victimized and from then on i would be a victim.

When you think of the tiny dot of time that humans have been alive, it is easier to realize that my tiny amount of time on earth, my past, present and future is all one event, not some long drawn out linear thing… This is going somewhere…umm…it means that the pain, the draining of motivation, that accompanies thoughts and feelings about past things…can be obliterated… How can that be?  Here is how; When i think of a past thing, like my mom in the kitchen when i was 5, since i come from the vantage point that time is an illusion, i don’t need to feel some deep sadness that my mon died or that i am no longer this little child without the harsh experiences of an adult. because really when I was 5  i was also 50, and when i am 50 i am also 5.  I have access to all times, feelings, happiness, innocence, to the blazingly bright and perfect worldview of that little girl, only now with the wisdom of a zen guru added in, making live all the more amazing and opened to all the best infinite possibilites.

The past no longer has to be suppressed – i used to suppress thots or feelings about the past –that can be triggered in many ways, many times a day: a song, a photo, driving by a place i lived before.  I suppressed the feelings because i wanted to prove how the past didn’t matter, that i was smarter now and did not care about it.  The suppressing ate up my energy and enjoyment of the present.

But now i don’t have to suppress it. that means i can be in power in the present, allow the feelings to occur, and acknowledge they are part of the here and now, not some past tragic/happy thing that is gone forever..then if they help me do better in the here and now I enjoy the feelings/thoughts  of the past, if they don’t help, i say to myself – that is an illusion just as time is an illusion – that event from 1960 or whatever is not determining my here and now, except to the extent i can learn from it…