Monday, January 31, 2011

Music as a way to deepen focus

Whether I'm speaking as a photographer or as a contemplative, I cannot really carry out my tasks without some awareness of the importance of focus.

For years, working often in low light situations with long lenses, focus was a real issue for me as a photographer, and I was forced to discard numerous images because they were out of focus when I wanted and needed them to be sharp.

Now, of course, with digital cameras, auto focus, and Vibration Reduction, focus is less of an issue for me, even though my own vision has become somewhat less reliable.  And now it's more of a challenge to find ways to SOFTEN focus; to convey shapes and colors without getting distracted by specific identities.

... which is not so different from my struggles in meditation: it's hard to keep my mind unfocused; hard to rein it in, to keep it from galloping off like a puppy after every butterfly of a thought that flutters across my mental horizon.

So it was with great joy that I discovered the power of music this morning.  I've always loved music: both my parents were musicians, my first husband was a musician, and I've been singing in choirs and other choral groups since I was two.  But until this morning I've not tended to include music as part of my meditation practice.  Today, however, I embarked on the Spirituality and Practice website's course on Interspiritual Meditation, and we are invited to begin every day with a guided meditation that they provide.  That guided meditation is delivered to the accompaniment of sacred music from every major discipline -- The Monastic Choir of St. Peter's Abbey, Camille Helminski, Carlos Nakai, Swami Atmarupananda doing a sanskrit chant, and the Monks of Gyurme Monastery doing their deep intonations -- and punctuated throughout with a deep gong.

Omigosh -- I had forgotten how much deeper music can take me.  And to go into that deep space with such clear intentions is exactly what I've been hungering for: suddenly my focus has been moved from the yammering of my egoic brain into that deep unitive space where I can begin to care for all of creation.

So, on the off chance that you might have been struggling with focus as well, and might be as susceptible to music as I am, I heartily recommend you try meditating to music a few times, just to see if it helps.  I also heartily recommend this e-course.  I'm really looking forward to hearing from all these spiritual masters about finding ways to unite various spiritual disciplines.  But at this point I feel I've already gotten my money's worth -- just with this one meditation.

Hmm.  Maybe I'll start meditating TWICE a day instead of just in the mornings... it could get addictive... 

1 comment:

Louise Gallagher said...

I can feel your excitement from here!

the meditation practice I follow uses music -- and it is powerful. We are invited to imagine we are a tree, on top of a hill, the music is flowing through our leaves like the wind...