Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Noise, Noise, Noise, NOISE, Noise!

I wish I could say that I was one of those people who has a "practice" of meditation. That each day I would go to a certain place and follow my practice of meditation. But I am not.

That being said, I do have to say that meditation has taught me alot about observation, and about being better able to quiet all the noise around me. This quiet is the only way I know to be able to really find my "voice". To be able to listen to the ideas that surface. They mostly come to me at other times, when I am not in a meditative state. But it was through meditation that I learned how to focus and turn up the volume on that tiny little voice that pipes up from time to time, and might otherwise be drowned out.

Sometimes I am not even aware of the level of background noise that is constantly around. I am always amazed when there is a power outage at how much quieter everything is. The constant background hum of motors is silenced. Suddenly the "tick,...tick,...tick,..." of my battery run clock is the loudest noise around. And when the power goes back on, it is not just lights or blinking LED's that signal it's return. It is the rising hum and whir.

It is easy to fill in the blanks with sound and other stimulation. Turning on the TV or radio, listening to an iPod, or even getting on the computer, are all done with such ease that it is not even conscious most of the time. Just habit. I am an NPR junkie. I can rattle off the schedule of my favorite local NPR station with way too much ease. It is on in my studio, in my car, in the kitchen. I even wake up to it most mornings! But lately I find the need to just turn it off a bit more often.

I became more aware of the power that silence has through guided meditation. I used to hate to meditate. I thought I couldn't, actually. But when it was finally explained to me that all those thoughts about everything I had to do that start pouring through my brain are absolutely normal. All I had to do was gently guide my attention away from them, and back to my breath. The noises in the background. Observe them and then go back to your breath. That was it. No right or wrong really. Just gentle attention and focus. I could do that.

I found it was just the remedy I needed at those times when I thought my head was going to explode from all the things I was trying to juggle. It calmed me down, and focused my energy.

One of the most amazing things I observed during meditation was the pause. The space between the inhale and the exhale. When your breathing slows down, and your focus increases that pause becomes another moment in time. To me, it was almost like time was suspended for a moment. And I guess there are days that this is exactly what I am craving. "Stop the clock! Let me breath for a minute!" With meditation I was able to do that. It really takes slowing down and focusing to observe the pause. And if we can observe the pause, what other things are there that we can observe if we just slow down and focus.

If you have never meditated. Give it a try. If you used to meditate. Try it again. You don't have to do it everyday. But you might want to. For me, it is the perfect antidote to a harried life, and a valuable tool for an artist's life.

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