’09 February

I originally planned to write about my backpacking experience on New Year’s Eve.  My ramble turned into a novella.  I compared cutting up a big tree with a small bow saw to the advantages of practicing slowly.  I will likely use this for another newsletter someday, but I was all over the map with my focus and I’m not happy with it in its current state.

I am in the process of illustrating my song, Flying Down King Street, to be published as a children’s book later this year.  This book will target the Charleston, South Carolina market.  I’m doing a lot of research to make the illustrations as accurate as possible.  I was using my illustrations as a distraction from the newsletter, the newsletter as a distraction from the illustrations.  I had a bad case of Monkey Mind.

Woo Woo Warning:  I am about to discuss Monkey Mind.  You will be challenged to think about how you’re sabotaging your own practice sessions just as I have been sabotaging my illustrations.

I am currently reading ‘The Energy of Money’ by Maria Nemeth.  I couldn’t care any less about money but she makes some very good points about bringing the metaphysical realm into physical reality.

When we dream of being better musicians we are thinking in the metaphysical realm.  When we practice to be better musicians we are bringing the metaphysical realm into physical reality.

Let me share a few passages from ‘The Energy of Money’ with you:

When you begin to move an idea from the metaphysical realm into physical reality, you must cross the Border between these two very different worlds.  And at the Border, the inspiration and fun of the original idea encounters the energy requirement of the physical reality.

At the Border, we may meet doubts and fears so strong that they seem to stop us in our tracks almost before our journey begins.  We experience inertia.

Trouble at the Border is inevitable.  If you recognize the truth of this statement you can start to relax.

Physical science provides the perfect metaphor for Trouble at the Border: liftoff.  A rocket burns most of its fuel during the first few moments of flight, as it overcomes inertia and the gravitational pull of the earth.  That’s what it’s like for us as we launch our dreams into physical reality.

Maria Nemeth takes the next few pages to discuss Monkey Mind: a mind that jumps from thought to thought like a monkey jumps from tree to tree.  It doesn’t like change, it doesn’t like to take risks, and it doesn’t appreciate any steps we take toward the Border.  Monkey Mind chatters the most loudly when we threaten to change the status quo-even if the status quo is something we long to leave behind.

When you set down to practice you must stay focused.  How do you sabotage a practice session?  By not being present and methodical, by playing too fast, by jumping around and not staying on task, by daydreaming, inconsistent fingerings, negative thoughts, sloppy and unnecessary movements.  The Monkey Mind fills your head with chatter, you are no longer in control of your session.

Monkey Mind has also been compared to a beehive.  We can easily provoke the bees into chasing and stinging us. Or we can leave them alone.

The last two paragraphs from this chapter of ‘The Energy of Money’ read:
We can stir up our active mind chatter or Monkey Mind by trying to analyze it, suppress it, or argue with it, which only makes it louder.  Or we can refrain from turning our energy toward the mind in this way.  If we turn our attention away from the chatter, Monkey Mind won’t hider us.  Successful people have learned not to poke at the beehive.  They hear Monkey Mind reminding them of their doubts, fears and worries.  But they recognize that these anxieties are always going to be there when they’re at the Border.  They also see that Monkey Mind’s activity is not relevant to who they are or to their aims in life.  They focus instead on energizing their goals.

Watch out for the monkeys and the bees…