Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Stop and Hear the Music

(Collected from email, March 2010) Worth thinking about...

In Washington, DC, at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, this man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.

About 4 minutes later:
The violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

At 6 minutes:
A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

At 10 minutes:
A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent - without exception - forced their children to move on quickly.

At 45 minutes:
The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

After 1 hour:
He finished playing and silence took over.  No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $200 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities.

This experiment raised several questions:
  • In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?
  • If so, do we stop to appreciate it?
  • Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made . . .

How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?

Monday, March 8, 2010

River of Gold

"Each moment is actually a stepping stone--another chance at bliss." ~ N.M.

Last Friday, I had the opportunity to see "Man of La Mancha". In one of the scenes, Don Quixote was observing that as he held dying comrades in his arms, their eyes seemed to ask him why. He said: "I do not think they were asking why they were dying... but why they had ever lived."

That line struck a chord inside me. Why do we live at all?

I have been contemplating that question. Why do we bother to live at all? Why do we come here?

Many of us might think that we didn't choose to be here and were just plunked down by happenstance. We could have been dropped on a different planet, but here we are on Earth right now, reading this newsletter.

But, what if we did choose our presence here? Why did we come to live in this body, in this particular time-space?

A few days later, as I was walking in nature, enjoying the spring-like weather, I found my answer.

I was walking on this muddy rocky path, looking at the green hills yonder, basking in the gentle breeze. The sun shining just ahead of me made the muddy path looked like it had a river of gold streaming in the middle of it. It was magical!

My brain knew it was muddy, wet clay underneath my shoes. My heart skipped a beat seeing the beauty and marveling at what I saw. That great feeling, an instant only, was enough to answer my question.

For that instant, I knew that the mud path was a blessing to me! It had value beyond its physical appearance. It had given me a safe place to put my feet on the ground and, at the same time, it uplifted my spirit to a higher perspective to touch the divine! The existence of this path was a blessing to all that crossed it. It was a glorious path!

I knew, then, that I live because life is glorious! I live because I am a glorious life, and like that path, I am a blessing to All There Is!

You live because you, too, are a glorious life! You are a blessing to All There Is! I invite you to surrender to this delicious possibility. Allow yourself to believe it, be it and live it!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Secret of Happiness

(From "The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness" by Joel ben Izzy. This book is about the author, a storyteller, who lost his voice due to cancer and his healing journey. This is an inspiring and wonderful book!)

Story Origin: Sufi Muslim, Turkey

Nasrudin is known much for his wisdom as his foolishness, and many are those who have sought out his teaching.

One devotee tracked him down for many years before finding him in the marketplace sitting atop a pile of banana peels - no one knows why.

"Oh great sage, Nasrudin," said the eager student. "I must ask you a very important question, the answer to which we all seek: What is the secret to attaining happiness?"

Nasrudin thought for a time, then responded. "The secret of happiness is good judgment."

"Ah," said the student. "But how do we attain good judgment?"

"From experience," answered Nasrudin.

"Yes," said the student. "But how do we attain experience?

"Bad judgment."

An Invitation to Blossom

(This article was first published in the March 2006 edition of Metta Center Newsletter.)

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." ~ Anaïs Nin

When I first read this quote, years ago, I was struck by the enormity of the truth resonating from these words. I felt it with my entire being. It has since been one of my favorite quotes that I go back to when I need an inspiration to renew my hope and grow my courage.

This quote is so poignant to me now as we move into Spring where renewal and growth are obvious to the senses. Spring is practically bursting with new life: the flower buds are swollen and some even have blossomed, new branches are extending, soft green shoots are poking out from the cold ground, fresh flower fragrance is in the air. Mother nature is renewing herself after a winter of quietly gathering her potential for growth. It is as if She is telling us, “Trust that spring comes after winter. Enjoy the show.”

I remembered how my whole body felt quiet as I absorbed the impact of Anaïs’ words in my being. I remembered feeling deeply touched, teary-eyed and relieved at the same time. I was reminded, in a very gentle way, that the universe has a built-in and fail-safe mechanism to help me grow to my fullest potential, if I ever decide to do so. I was reminded to have faith that change always happens, even if it doesn’t look like anything had or could or would. I was also reminded that it is up to the flowers, not the farmer or the gardener, to decide when to blossom.

It is up to us to decide when we will change from bud to blossom. It is up to us decide when we will stop playing small and embrace our magnificence. It is up to us when we will transform our pains to joy. It is up to us to decide how much pain we want to endure before we decide to recognize and answer our spirit’s invitation for us to heal, change, grow and shine.

That’s a lot of power and responsibility, you say.

Yes, that is. And, when you decide to take the risk to change, you can trust that you have the wisdom within you to guide you through the fascinating process of renewal and growth.

Enjoy the show.

No More Singing Jitters!

Diane (not her real name) felt stage-fright singing in front of a huge audience. She knew she was a talented singer because she had received many accolades for her work. Yet, when it came to singing in front of a big audience, she would fumble, forget her lyrics or just feel ill with anxiety.

When we talked, she was a few days away from performing in front of an audience of 200. She felt nervous just thinking about it, with an intensity of about 3 or a 4. She said that perhaps if she was sick before the performance then she would have an excuse for not performing perfectly. I asked her what would happen if she “failed.” And she replied that it would be the end of the world for her.

With such a strong statement, I suspected that her intensity was in fact higher than what she reported.
I inquired into why she needed to be perfect, and she recounted the story of hearing her brother being hit by her father because he wasn’t “perfect.”

We tapped:
“Even though I feel nervous, I don’t know the words for the whole song yet, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
“Even though if I failed, that would be the end of the world for me, and that won’t do, I want to trust that I will be OK anyway.”
“Even though I need to be perfect, if I am not, I will be hit just like my brother was, I deeply and completely accept how I feel.”

The tapping about her brother brought up a lot of sadness (intensity level 9) and tightness in her throat. She felt fearful and hurt for him. Diane was surprised at how intensely she felt her feelings. So we tapped on the event where she remembered her brother being punished.

“Even though I can still hear his screams, I deeply and completely forgive myself for not coming to his aid, what can a little girl do?”
“Even though I can still hear his cries, I felt so sad and hurt for him, I honor how hard it was for us both.”
“Even though I have this ‘bedroom’ scene in my head, I choose to let it go. I was sad, scared and confused, and I accept how I felt.”

Then we tapped on the meridian points:
“His screams…”
“Still echo in my ears…”
“I couldn’t help him…”
“What could a little girl do…”
“I need to be perfect…”
“It’s not fair…”
“I forgive myself for not helping him out…”
“I would get hit too if I try to help my brother…”
“I forgive myself for feeling afraid of being hit and hurt…”
“I was confused, scared and sad for both of us…”

After several rounds, she reported that she felt lighter and her throat was less tight. The intensity had fallen to 0.

Then Diane suddenly remembered a specific event from long ago: she forgot her lyrics as she sang in front of her entire graduating class in her high school graduation ceremony. There were 400 people watching her.

“Even though I forgot my lyrics in front of my whole school, I forgive myself.”
“Even though I saw their eyes looking at me, and something in me got spooked that I forgot the lyrics I had practiced over and over again, I forgive myself.”
“Even though it was unforgiveable what I did, how could I let myself down in front of the whole school, it was so humiliating! I want to forgive and accept myself anyway.”

“I mixed up the words…”
“Hit three wrong notes…”
“In front of the entire crowd…”
“What an embarrassment…”
“I was a failure…”
“I had to compete to win this opportunity, and how could I let myself down this time…”
“Their eyes…”
“The look on their faces, I can’t bear it…”
“I was imperfect and I felt so humiliated…”

We did several rounds of tapping on this scene. Then I asked her to run the scene in her mind again using the movie technique, and asked if there was any remaining intensity. She said that it was all 0.

Again,  a new movie came into her mind. This one was a more recent incident where she sang in front of a crowd and again, forgot her lyrics. She felt that she had let herself and her singing teacher down. We tapped on this incident, which had an intensity of 6, and got it down to a 0.

I asked her what she would like to experience instead of the nervous feelings. She quickly answered that she would like to uplift her audience. She would like to be able to allow God’s gift to come through her so people can be in joy as they listen to her. She knew she has a gift from God, yet she was getting in her own way. As she spoke, her intensity soared again to a 10, and her throat became tight.

She burst out saying that she didn’t want to live up to her audience’s expectations. She wanted them to hear the sound of God without associating it with her. She would like the audience to just enjoy God. She would like everyone to be touched, to feel the message and experience the sound. She would like her audience to leave with the feeling of joy and light.

We tapped:
“Even though I feel nervous singing in front of a huge group, what if I forgot my lyrics again and embarrassed myself again, I choose to remember I am singing because I want to let God’s voice pass through me and uplift my audience.”
“Even though I feel afraid of letting myself down again, I choose to be the vehicle of God’s voice and allow this voice to bless my audience.”
“Even though I am afraid to forget my lyrics again, it’s easier to believe that I will just fail again, I am willing to be the channel of God’s grace.”

“I might forget my lyrics again…”
“Or I might not...”
“I invite the part of me that forget the lyrics to relax…”
“To be a vehicle of God…”
“To be a vehicle for peace…”
“I am wishing to be the channel of God…”
“I would like to let God’s voice to pass through me…”
“Letting me be the vehicle of grace…”
“Starting with me, being at peace with myself…”
“Allowing myself to feel light and joyful…”

We did a few more rounds of tapping on her intention to uplift the audience and allowing herself to be a vehicle for God’s voice. Her throat was open and relaxed by the end of our session.

A few weeks later, I emailed her to find out how her performance went. This was what she said: "The performance went well. I had little or no problems with nerves. I even had issues with phlegm in my throat and had to stop a couple times - which would have freaked me out before - but I was fine."

She sent me an mp3 of her performance, and what I heard uplifted my spirit indeed!