Zen proverbs reference the concept all the time: “do one thing and do it well”.
The notion repeats itself across spiritual, philosophical and even religious doctrines in so many words. When I was getting my yoga teacher training certification at Laughing Lotus Yoga School I dove into understanding the eight fold path of yoga. It’s right there again as the sixth step, Dharana: “unbending concentration of the mind”. I even have it emblomized on my left forearm, along with the other seven steps described by Patanjali to living peacefully, should I ever need the reminder (um, every day).
I have always felt that music is the language of my life, the mother tongue of all spiritual essence that I relate to, and the way I myself speak my most true. You could say that music is my yoga; yoga is my music; the teacher through which I learn my lessons; the life long practices exemplified. When I was a young violinist I would perform at my 7 or 8 year old recital and my mom would ask me how I felt it went. Time and time again I would not being able to recall the details of my performance. I would remember standing on stage and playing, but beyond that, it was just music. It occurred to me somewhat later in life that I didn’t remember any “thing” because “things” were thoughts, and I had none when I was performing. And then quite a bit later in life, I realized that little Shaina was completely present, devoid of thoughts of past, future, critical. Without trying, or even knowing what it was, I was with a completely one pointed mind.
And that happened. Wasn’t that nice? I was a little sage for like, a minute, before I became a normal city dwelling twenty something year old musician with approximately one million three hundred thousand sixty four things on my plate and directions to run – or sprint, depending on the day – at any given moment. To tell you the truth, I really thrive on that life style and generally balance the plate at least decently well (my secret involves the art of catching fallen items mid air before they hit jagged ground). I enjoy wearing the different hats and the patchwork quilt which became my life. There is always excitement, something new, and several doors swinging on their hinges waiting to fly open. While I am not exactly the personification of Dharana, I always try to remember the birds on my arm and why I decided to make them part of me for ever.
So… all this background to get to now. Haha. Ironic. But basically, with this new job, I was thrust into the present moment and I was so in it I didn’t even have thoughts enough to realize it, until the other day. For all of December, learning my massive amount of Barrage music was my mantra: over and over again all day and night I was living it, and it’s all I did. One pointed mind. Then I was suddenly on stage in China, thinking constantly about every limb of my body in each second, practicing and rehearsing during the days. Again, one pointed mind. Of course it was out of necessity. There wasn’t enough time to think about anything else, and the task at hand was such that I would literally fall off if I let my mind wonder for even a moment. But still, it brought me to a really special state of mind.
Now the music is under my fingers, our set feels awesome and I have a blast on stage nightly. Finally! Ive been dreaming about this day for months! And you see too that I have enough mental space that my mind is woooonnndering… at least enough to think about all of this. I have become comfortable with this routine and am just sort of in the swing of tour. I think about when I will get to go home, sleep in my own bed, and see my loved ones. Unfortunately there is no answer to that question yet, which partially drives my crazy, but I also see as a great opportunity to engage my tools and stay present. It’s an extraordinary gift I’ve been given – this time, almost outside of time, doing what I love, yet having time to go for runs in the fairy tale woods (totally saw Hanzel and Gretel’s crumbs, Rapunzel’s tower, and seven funny lookin little bearded dudes this morning), watch birds and bunnies, practice, read, and write. Time out of time. One pointed mind. Dharana.