There is a beautiful image that captures the great chasm between a peace of mind that most of us strive to attain and the quiet desperation that most people live and experience. That image is of a great river. For me, that river is the lordly Hudson. Its surface can be as smooth as glass, tight as a drum skin, or whipped up into varying degrees of agitation, from rough to rippling. Yet underneath it all, invisible, inviolate, is the steady, powerful and constant current. Both the surface and current are a metaphor for the polarity of our lives – the surface being the world of the outer directed ego, perpetually tossed about by the outside elements at the speed of life, with its constant barrage of images and sound bites. Yet when we take the luxury and time to slow down through the practice of yoga, meditation, journaling, nature walks, or listening to great music, life opens up vertically, then expands, as if, out of nowhere. We have taken the plunge beneath the surface into the current of heart and soul. Suddenly the instincts, the intuition, the deep emotions, even divine inspiration are accessible once more. Then it is possible to hear (not merely listen) profoundly to the music that calls to us, to the artists who speak to us. We can endure and sustain focus for the entire emotional life span of a song, or other musical form. We are able to apprehend the eternal verities of beauty, truth and love that are embodied in the work. We are able to comprehend the unique voice and style of the artist because our mind’s eye and our hearts are clear and open – child-like and expanded. We can suspend our disbelief and we can step off the treadmill and exchange it for a momentary bit of eternity.
This constant dance between the outer surface and the interior worlds below the surface, reflect the tension and resolution in music. It is precisely this tension that is required for forward motion.
For some wonderful musical meditations, guaranteed to bring you below the surface, I highly recommend:
Bill Evans and Tony Bennett Together Again
Chet Baker The 1959 Milano Sessions
Irene Kral Where is Love?