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LIVING SOUND : Music Practice

Weary of the news? No time for what you really care about? Fed-up with opinions from others on subjects such as: (a) How to prevent the planet from going down the plug-hole (b) How to achieve enlightenment by staring at a wall (c) What type of chocolate to spend your hard earned money on?

Here’s a simple practice that I enjoy and find useful, particularly at the start of the day. Allow yourself twenty minutes for this playful sound meditation and note how you feel before and after the session. First though, a short elucidation by Rumi, taken from his poem Spring Giddiness (interpreted by Coleman Barks). Perhaps some of the pressures of life back in 13th century Persia were not so different from today.

‘Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
 and frightened. Don't open the door to the study
 and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
 Let the beauty we love be what we do.
 There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground’.

and skipping to the last verse...

‘All day and night, music,
a quiet, bright
reedsong. If it
fades, we fade’.

(for full poem see here: http://www.indranet.com/potpourri/poetry/rumi/rumi2.html)


PREPARING A PRACTICE SPACE

Make a quiet space in your home for musical play.
Reduce or eliminate extraneous noise i.e., TV, radio, computers, clocks.
Reduce or eliminate clutter and visual distractions.
Choose an instrument with a good tone which is easy to play, e.g., singing bowl, sansula, guitar,
If singing, choose and instrument to accompany you on the same basis as above, i.e., shruti box, harmonium, lyre.
Keep your instrument on display and within easy reach. Treat it with care and respect.


ON ENTERING THE SPACE

Drop all prior intentions, desires and rationale.
Relax any preconceptions about your technical ability.
Sit in silence for a minute or two to let the inner dialogue settle by itself.
Let your ears take in the sounds around and within you, effortlessly.
Loosen up with some gentle movement to release excess tension in the body.
Free the voice with a few scales or making different sounds ranging from low to high.


LETTING THE PLAY BEGIN

Start by singing or playing one note only and give your full attention to its birth and decay.
Listen to the sound with your ears and simultaneously be aware of any physical sensations.
Relax any tendency to interpret what you hear or feel.
Remain listening and if an impulse to interact with the sound arises then do so.
Wait for the next impulse, while being receptive to the periods of silence in-between the notes in exactly the same way as above.


If it begins to feel like work then you may also find your body is tightening up. Go easy on yourself, and allow whatever happens to happen without controlling the outcome. Remembering to smile may indeed be useful.

Close with sitting or lying down in silence for a minute or so.

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