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Creating Space: How Music Becomes Meditation

Since I was 18 my motto has been “Follow the Music”.

“Music” has come to mean many things in my life. It’s playing guitar and singing, for sure. But it also has a deeper meaning, one that transcends the actual experience of playing or listening to music.

To me, music is a way of life that starts deep in my gut. “Following the music” meankks listening to my intuition as I move through my day and make choices for my life. We are all musical beings because the music resides in the deepest, tiniest places of our physical world: our vibrating cells. And when I “follow the music”, I’m listening to the song that is humming in my body at every moment of every day.

These days the pace of our lives is moving faster and faster than ever before. There is an obsession with “being busy” that has thrown us all out of the groove. Most days after getting the kids to bed, I find myself watching TV and feeling frustrated that I didn’t get enough done. It means that I stay up too late on the computer. It means that I have a hard time waking up in the morning. It means that I’m never living up to my own (very high) expectations. And it means that I often feel anxious.

Mediation is such an effective stress reliever because it slows down the pace (tempo) that a person is moving at when they are under stress. It slows breathing which slows heart rate and blood flow. It slows thoughts and creates space between those incessant inner voices.

I wish I could say I have a solid meditation practice but to be honest, as much as I know about the benefits of it, I’m a bit intimidated. I don’t know what it is about the practice of meditation that scares me so much. It’s like I’m afraid of slipping away from what is “real”. Like if I start letting my mind wander then I will float away from my body or something. And apparently there is a lot that I’m attached to in this life… I don’t want to float away!

And so I find myself in the same cycle every night; needing and wanting to create space for my mind, but being afraid of going too deep.

Music as Meditation

Then one night I grabbed my guitar and put it into the spot that I would normally sit for mediation, my peace corner. I didn’t play it at first. But when I got out of the shower I decided to pick it up instead of turning on the TV.

And I just sat there with my hands on the fretboards, running them up and down the strings gently, but not playing anything. Instead, I heard my children snoring softly in the next room, the soothing hum of the fan above my head, the ebb and flow rhythm of the dish washer, my heart beating faintly in my chest.

I don’t know how much time passed in this state of openness I was experiencing, but all of a sudden I was aware that the stress of the day had been washed away. All I was left with was a feeling of calm.

In that same moment I was compelled to  journal and in only 10 minutes a new song popped out onto the page. Just like that!

Meditation, at first glance, does not seems like a musical experience because you are tapping into silence – which is the opposite of music. But in this moment I was reminded that you can’t actually have music without silence. Silence is the breath before the song. When I stopped and listened to what was happening around me the pressure to DO started to fade away. I remembered for a moment how to just BE.

With the pressure gone there was all this space left in my head to create something new, and the music just popped through.

I’m playing in Nashville at the Women’s International Music Network Showcase on July 13th where I will debut my new song.

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