MoK: The Songspinner

You took on a challenge. You volunteered for the March of Kindness. Rather than just wanting the world to be kinder you lead the way and you were kinder by example. Undoubtedly along the way you even encouraged someone who didn’t even know what the March of Kindness was and yet you would have influenced them to do something positive. You should feel good about that.

On the final day of the march we’re going to focus on the kindness that is you. You can do nice things, and you can take action you wouldn’t normally take, but if we really want to impact the world we must appreciate that our general disposition is like a chemical we add to the mix of daily reality. We can be caustic or inert, we can flow we can fizzle, but if we’re looking closely we can see that our frame of mind–our mood–helps set the tone for others around us. Today is about you recognising that power.

Yes, you are important. No matter who you thought you were, you are like a radio station that has the ability to play music people dance to or you can play music that brings tears to people’s eyes. Which songs you play are up to you. But just as others experience your frame of mind as a part of their landscape, it is also part of yours. Recognising the value of you being in a positive frame of mind is largely what motivates people to stay there. It’s simply a nicer place to be.

Today you want to choose a good mood. You want to see your frame of mind as coming from your intentions, not the fluke of the events in your day. The one thing you do have control over is your own mind. You may not be used to taking control, but there’s no one thinking those thoughts but you. You started them, you can stop them.

If we look with the wonder of a child we see that the world is filled with glorious beauty. And if we look at the world and see all that we don’t approve of, then the world appears ugly and our enthusiasm for life drops. Today is about you fully owning the fact that your little radio station does impact the listeners in your station’s range. The people who interact with you will be impacted, the only question is how.

Start to see that you are the DJ spinning the tunes. Remember that if you feel a sad ballad within you that’s because you played one. And if you feel something that makes you feel like dancing, then that too is you. Start owning that radio station and start impacting your world by being more conscious regarding your choice of songs. Don’t want things to be different, play different songs and make the world different.

Today your final steps in the March of Kindness are about recognising yourself as a constant source of reality. You can’t expect to always do it but, as often as possible, if you intentionally play happy, lively songs, then you can expect a life that is happier and has more life in it. Crying has it’s place. But we’re better to spend more of our life dancing.

Today, you be the music. And never forget, long after the March of Kindness is over, you will carry with you each and every day the ability to impact your world and the lives of the people around you. That’s not just a responsibility, that’s also empowerment. Wield your power wisely and enjoy your day and your life. Thank you for joining me for this year’s march.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

Music as a Spiritual Metaphor

1035-relax-and-succeed-nice-people-dancingEssentially everyone likes at least some pop, that’s why it’s called popular music. At the same time, a lot of people find jazz’s unpredictability and flexibility to be frustrating and unpleasant. So it is with freedom. If you’re looking for me to pick favourites I don’t see the world that way. I like both genres, but this is a metaphor so don’t take offence to the surface details; focus on what it is I’m trying to convey about you relaxing more.

Pop’s danceability and group-shared head-bops and food-taps grow directly out of the fact that the genre asks all of the players to meet very often and very regularly. Every four beats to be specific. In this way Pop is like ego: to be acceptable, both the players and the dancers alike must agree to meet according to external rules mounted to an external framework.

There are genuine emotional rewards for pop’s kind of synchronisation and the dancing certainly makes more sense, but as satisfying as those group experiences can be they are not the same as the rewards received when experiencing the soul of jazz. In jazz people meet you because that’s what they chose to do, not because something outside of themselves instructed them to do so.

1035-relax-and-succeed-art-enables-us-to-find-ourselvesJazz is willing to go for many more beats before the musicians meet, with some forms seemingly never meeting. Even more uncertain is the fact that the musicians can each themselves impact the others through their choices, so in this way jazz is like causality. One musician makes no demands of the others; the others are still free, and yet it behooves them to find a way to cooperate. In that way it expands the space they all get to move around in.

The pop-like ego is focused on and is all about pattern-matching, whereas the soul of jazz is more like cooperative freedom. If pop is communism then jazz is tribal. Interestingly, pop can fit within jazz, it is however more difficult for jazz to fit within pop, precisely because it challenges the mass cooperation that pop requires on a regular basis.

You can have diversions of jazz within pop, but it must be framed within the tight constraints of pop or too much of it will take the pop apart. At the same time, a lot of pop within jazz makes jazz broader and more capable of plugging into other forms, although the pop aspect cannot go as far as including those cultures that naturally use larger scales than western civilisations. Jazz has more opportunities to incorporate those additional notes, whereas the more rigid form of pop simply cannot fully make use of all of those possibilities. This is how racism can exist in ego but not in our souls.

1035-relax-and-succeed-love-is-like-playing-the-pianoThere is nothing wrong with pop bands and dancing. These things have their place and are of great value to us. At the same time, having to tap your feet can get tiresome, and maybe you don’t want to dance or even sway. Maybe you want something surprising or unexpected or new. And when you’re ready to step out of the box of certain-acceptability, jazz–and your soul–are just waiting for you to give them the power of your consciousness.

There are times to dance and times to be free just as there are times to live James Carse’s  finite game in ego, and there are other times to live in what Carse calls the infinite game, where the point is nothing more than enjoying the act of playing the song at all. There are rewards for getting along with other souls and yet at the same time science has shown us that there is nothing more like the mind of an enlightened monk meditating than one of a jazz musician improvising.

Tap your feet when you feel like it. Be free when that’s your nature. Your freedom might feel problematic to people trying to maintain the certainty and predictability of four-four time, but that won’t make it wrong, because just as the pop people will find your freedom troublesome, the friends prepared to play jazz will be happy to have another friend joining them in their exploration of freedom.

A lot of your life and work are likely to be built around pop-like forms. Do not see this is a problem, for nothing ever prevents you from enjoyably using those sections of pop within the larger framework of the free creative space in which you live your personal jazz-like life.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

The Music of Your Life

Today could turn out to be a very good day for you. When you’ve been teaching this for a while it gets tough to come up with new metaphors and analogies to describe the very simple central truth that everyones seeking–the one that will bring them peace. But every now and then one of us stumbles into a new way of saying the oldest thing ever and this is one of those days.

822 Relax and Succeed - To play a wrong noteIt’s nice to see vinyl records making a comeback. I still remember walking into Mr. Sound and buying the entire Beatles collection of albums at once. I was a huge audiophile, reading Absolute Sound, buying handmade amplifiers by serial number because they were made by true genius electronics pioneers. They’re like the times you live in: they impact what your song sounds like in surprisingly dramatic ways.

I ran things like Linn Sondek turntables with an Infinity Widow arm holding a Grado Signature III. And at the end of that incredibly expensive cartridge was a tiny diamond. That diamond represents you. You’re so sure the way you are can’t be right. You must need to change. But maybe you’re just not relaxing into your own groove.

There are an infinite number of turntables. Our turntable is our world and its laws etc, and its spinning is time. The groove is your life–the people you meet, the experiences you have, your language, your schooling, where you live, how you were raised etc. Those things define the borders of your beliefs–the edges of the groove. And you bumping up against those things is what creates the music of your life.

The problem comes from your knowledge of other turntables, other records, other sounds. Your ego does this thing called comparison and you get the idea that your song can be wrong. The song can’t be wrong okay? No sounds are wrong. Just because your sound doesn’t mix well with someone else’s song doesn’t make yours or their songs wrong. They just don’t harmonize.

822 Relax and Succeed - When you playThe people playing hip hop will be friends, but that doesn’t mean that the people playing opera aren’t valid. There are people playing nature sounds and others playing documentaries. All are valid. The only problems come for us as individuals comes when we want out of our own groove and so we add resistance to our lives. We constantly lean against our groove in our attempt to force ourselves onto a different record, as though that was possible, when all it really does is make our own song sound unbalanced.

It is not the needle’s job to question the groove. The needle does not need to concern itself with what was previously played from the recording nor does it need to worry about or create expectations around the song further down the groove. Maybe the composer of the universe threw a weird bridge into the song. Just be in the moment you’re in and bounce through it naturally as you and it will all sound perfect. Perfectly you. That’s all we were ever looking for. Because that is the music of you.

As I often write, we all change numerous times in our lifetime. Don’t worry if you’re currently experiencing the bounces of a broken-hearted ballad. Time will ensure that a new song will arrive to you naturally. There is nothing you need to fix or do. Simply live and life will uncoil. Never fear. No matter which path you take, you’re always in your groove.

peace, s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.

Mood Music

I think this metaphor will really stick and be effective for a lot of readers.742 Relax and Succeed - You are wise

Lots of people will charge themselves up for a workout with music. They’ll plug in their earbuds and play their era’s version of Eye of the Tiger. The associations your brain makes to that music lead you to react chemically, which in turn gets you physically aroused and you feel stronger. You can choose music to stir an emotion but that system works both ways. That’s why Rene Zellweger is playing All By Myself at the start of Bridget Jones Diary. We can musically incite emotions or, emotions can incite our musical choices.

So if you’ve loaded some angry music up on your player it’s to match your tone. And that  holds for whether you feel happy, energetic, tired or contemplative. That’s why Songza is divided up by mood. So people are already sound-tracking their lives. And more and more that’s what they’re doing. They’re not listening to music as many will argue. They have morphed into sound-tracking their thoughts.

In a previous blog I mentioned a test where I pulled out a bunch of people’s earbuds as an experiment and I asked them each what they hearing. Shockingly few had any idea what song they were just listening to. They were lost in thought. So we gotta get you un-lost. That way you can enjoy life more fully by living it more consciously and deeply.

742 Relax and Succeed - How does one becomeThink of your emotions like you would think of listening to your song choice. You choose them from playlists of possible thoughts that fit into various genres. So you have happy songs or sad songs or angry songs or victim songs or worry songs or blame songs and you go through your day and you keep choosing a song for the current moment. You either say it to yourself or you say it to other people but unless you’ve practiced being internally quiet and open, you always have something playing on your emotional tuner. It’s only a matter of whether or not you’re aware of what kind of song you chose.

Fortunately you have the perfect feedback mechanism: you can check in with how you feel. Make that simple thing a habit: every 15 minutes check in with how you feel. Know that you chose that playlist out of countless. Yes, your boss or lover or whoever might have highlighted some tracks they strongly suggested you play, but that was then this is now. You’re an adult. You can run with scissors. You get to be truly powerful as a person when you know that the choice is always yours despite whatever apparent pressures appear to exist.742 Relax and Succeed - Be okay with where you are

Whether you pay attention to it or not you’re listening to music all day. You feel emotions all day. Stop putting more time into your musical choices than you do your emotional ones. Because you can blame others for how you feel. You can blame a situation, a diagnosis, a parent, a disease or any other thing and that’s fine for a time. But eventually you have to explain Stephen Hawking. You can use your personal thinking to crush yourself out of existence or you can expand yourself to the ends of the universe. The choice is yours.

You are the universe’s HP3 Player. The Human Potential Player. You sit in potentiality, with the world suggesting a song and you choosing one, the world suggesting one and you choosing one. And you cycle through life like that one moment, one song, one feeling at a time. You never have to worry about the future because you have all of those choices in between. And you can forget the past because those are songs already played. The band cannot take them back once they have graced your ears. You can play the same song again, but you can never hear it again for the first time.

If you pick some angry or sad music every now and then there is nothing wrong with that. But don’t dwell unnecessarily for too long in any emotional state you’re not finding genuinely rewarding. To surrender that choice is to deny the legitimacy of your own music, your own song. And that’s a big deal. Because the universe created you with no other purpose than to sing it. So go sing. Confidently and aware of your choices. You are loved.

peace. s

The Friday Dose #47

563 Relax and Succeed - Creativity is a drug

This week’s Friday Dose is all about stirring your insides. And to do that stirring I’ll use three different kinds of music with three different groups. It may not appeal to everyone but it should get your blood pumping for a good percentage of you. We’ll start off with Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars doing Uptown Funk. I didn’t do some deep lyrical analysis on it, it’s just got a great beat and a very addictive bass line. In showing it to people I find it makes them happier as they watch the video and listen to the song so let’s hope that’s your experience too!

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Next we’ll jump to Nigel Stanford and Cymatics, where science and music meet in nature. It can be a bit mesmerizing to finally see sound waves made real through their effects in the material world. The longer the video goes the more dramatic the examples are until they eventually find themselves in Faraday Cage Suits. It truly is a great toe-tapping science experiment. Enjoy:

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And we’ll finish off with some class by including 2Cellos, featuring Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser. This Smooth Criminal—based Michael Jackson tribute is loaded with artistry and flair. Both men know how to work an audience and the director makes good use of that in this video, which features very simple but very evocative production design.

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And as a bonus, I’ll add another piece by Sulic and Hauser—this time we’ll listen to their version of AC/DC‘s Thunderstruck, and in this case their production design is decidedly not simple:

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You go have yourself a stupendous weekend. Big hugs.

peace. s

The Friday Dose is a collection of cool, interesting and surprising things that are chosen for their potential to distract you away from any painful thought loops that may currently be disrupting your sense of perspective. Focus on these and change your mind. Enjoy.

The Friday Dose #35

Winner: 2014’s Dose of the Year

485 Relax and Succeed - We are awakened by joy

Wow have I got some fun stuff for you. Life can be heavy. It’s good to buoy ourselves up on a routine basis. It should be an active part of your mental health regime to ensure that you ingest some enjoyable experiences during your day. Many of these will come from interactions with other people—your customers, co-workers or friends—but some will come from media as well. So encourage the sad people to join you because it will help make them happier, but choose friends who are good at being happy and then go do happy things. Play sports, run, play board games, converse, whatever. And if you’re going to take in any media, try to have it tip heavily towards positive things. You feel what your brain eats and digests. So be mindful of what you give it. I would recommend something along these lines. If you don’t think the world around you is conscious then maybe your thoughts just travel at the wrong speed. What if you sped the world around you up? Would it seem more intentional then?

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Next you’ll see the incredible artistry of Melody Yang, daughter of Fan Yang the renowned Canadian artist. There’s nothing I can really say here other than I’m confident you’ll be impressed by the mixture of art and science, she’s got some remarkable skills, and it’s easy to enjoy:

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And finally we’ll send you off by sending you around the world to a the sort of street artists you too-often walk past on your own streets. I remember hearing in an interview that Tom Petty and members of the Eagles used to busk on street corners and people had no idea who they were walking past. There are certainly some brilliant artists working on the street in my city and I’m sure there are in yours too. Pay more attention. It would be good for you and them. This really is very, very good. Enjoy. 😉

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That should have you feeling pretty good so carry that feeling forward. You’re an awesome person who has a lot to give. Feel your own wealth by sharing it with others. Go out and create a great day with positive vibes and patient, tolerant and helpful good deeds and that will be all we’ll need for the world to get better. Love you all.

peace. s

The Friday Dose is a collection of cool, interesting and surprising discoveries chosen for their potential to distract you from any painful thought loops that may be disrupting your sense of peace. Enjoy.

The Friday Dose #33

The Friday Dose is a collection of cool, interesting and surprising things that are chosen for their potential to distract you away from any painful thought loops that may currently be disrupting your sense of perspective. Enjoy.

473 Relax and Succeed - The art of being happy

We lost Robin Williams this week so we’re going to focus on regenerative thoughts. And oh it’s going to be so easy this week. Are you kidding? You barely have to move your eyeballs. This week’s Friday Dose is an all-video instalment and it’s cool and fascinating and profound. We’ll start off with some awesome breakdowns of everyday experiences that show how fascinating our everyday world truly is. Here’s the musical genius Chilly Gonzales explaining why you love the music you love and why simplicity is harder than you think:

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This second video, by Vsauce, challenges your belief about what you believe is real. Seeing might be believing, but that doesn’t make it the truth. There’s a lot of life you’ve never stopped to really ponder but, if you do, you realize that the most common things are thoroughly fascinating. Here’s an example—a discussion of the age-old question, do you see the same colours I see?

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The third video asks why you’re so hard on yourself. Seriously. I love you. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Sometimes life sucks. But it doesn’t stay that way if we just keep our eye open for opportunities for happiness. And you’d be surprised at how often you can be your own source of happiness. It’s virtually always:

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And why not add a fourth? In the opening piece, Chilly was describing the structure of a Pharrell Williams hit. I’ve posted Pharrell performing Happy in a previous Friday Dose, but here it is again, presented by one of my favourite groups, Walk Off The Earth. Enjoy.

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Let’s let the terrible tragedy of this week be a reminder for everyone to share our love with those around us. Share it clearly, share it openly and share it often. Do that and everyone wins. Love you.

peace. s