Music Inspiration Journal: #3 Ethereal and Physical Bodies in Music

8/19/2020

Please use a discerning gaze when reading these claims, which deserve critical examination. This documentation represents a snapshot of my internal landscape at a certain point in time in my life during my collegiate career.

3.

Original Entry
Ethereal and Physical Bodies in Music:

My mind is part of a non-physical, energetic continuum that merges with a physical expression of this energy.

Before I play, I engage and focus my mind in sitting; I engage and focus my body in juggling, stimulating an experience of rhythm and harmony in motion.

Guitar is an intricate interaction of my physical and non-physical aspects of being, through time and space, in sound. Warming up and engaging both aspects of my being awakens fresh clay to mold with my intention and awareness.

Current reflection:

This is another short entry, so I thought I might unpack some of the ideas.

Around the time that I wrote this little snippet, I was first encountering some wisdom from my teacher, Jay Rinsen Weik, who was encouraging me to think about the different roles I inhabit in my life and the responsibilities associated with each. For example, at the time, I was inhabiting the active roll of undergraduate music student at the University of Toledo. Some of my responsibilities included: showing up to classes on time, finishing homework, and practicing. Pretty easy. I was also inhabiting the role of Zen Student, practicing with the community at the Buddhist Temple of Toledo; here I had a different set of responsibilities and roles, some of which included: taking care of my daily meditation practice, or Zazen, showing up to physical services when I could (this was back before the entire world was shut down from COVID), and sometimes filling liturgical roles, like clomping on a drum or playing certain bells during chants and moments of ceremony.

This entry, Ethereal and Physical Bodies in Music, was an extension and exploration of these, ‘The Roles of My Life at This Current Moment in Time – Sam Rugg, Undergraduate, early 2010’s’

Within my first sentence, “My mind is part of a non-physical, energetic continuum that merges with a physical expression of this energy,” I was appreciating the recognition of the apparent dichotomy that my body and mind seems to share. Clearly, if I sit and just think about how nice it would be to have a cheeseburger, alas, no cheeseburger will arise. But If I get my ass up and take some initiative with my body, I can bring my cheeseburger vision to life. As I continue to live, breathe, and practice my craft and engage with my Zen Training, my understanding keeps evolving and changing, but at its heart I think was really trying to acknowledge, “Hey I have a mind that thinks and a body that acts.”

At the same time that these two aspects of myself, mind and body seem to inhabit different spheres, I was also beginning to realize that, “Hey, maybe this mind/body split is less concrete than I have believed up to this moment.” I was starting to sense that my mind and body were woven into the same continuum, that their apparent separateness might actually be an incomplete perception. I started really diggin’ the thought that my mind and body were expressions of the same thing, but just across multiple dimensions.

“Maybe my body is the manifestation of my life through space, and my mind is the manifestation of my life through time!” I might think to myself.

Is it?

I don’t know.

But, however these two aspects of my being map out onto reality, I was feeling a deeper connection that I wanted to acknowledge, a seed of awareness that I wanted to cultivate.

The next line: “Before I play, I engage and focus my mind in sitting; I engage and focus my body in juggling, stimulating an experience of rhythm and harmony in motion.” Here, I am invoking some intentions that, if I’m being honest, sound really great to me from this current vantage point. I definitely have not been regularly framing my musical practice with these two warm-ups, meant to engage my ethereal and physical bodies before I hunker down to practice my instrument.

I reasoned that, if I took five or ten minutes to practice Zazen (my seated meditation), then I could effectively focus my mind and bring myself back to my center, internally. If I took another five or ten minutes to roll this focus into my juggling practice, (yes, I definitely have a juggling practice that I have been cultivating since late 2011) then I could engage my body with the natural rhythm of throwing and catching objects, spatial and temporal awareness, and the feeling of flow.

Focus the mind, focus the body, then hit the wood shed to sharpen my musical craft and training? Fuck yes. That still sounds great to me. Definitely have NOT been doing this over the last 5 – 7 years.

It’s funny, in this moment, I’m recognizing how wonderful it would be to intentionally frame my guitar practice with these specific, and almost liturgical practices: Focus mind, Focus Body, Warm Up on the Guitar, Shed my craft at the edge of my ability, then cool off, offer the merits, log the work, and close the book. Perhaps I was writing this entry, from all those years ago, to me now. I have the capacity and time to take this up. I wonder what this ritualized practice might yield for my life?

“Guitar is an intricate interaction of my physical and non-physical aspects of being, through time and space, in sound. Warming up and engaging both aspects of my being awakens fresh clay to mold with my intention and awareness.”

The coda. As I read over this entry and unpack it, I’m recognizing more and more the liturgical nature of this compact entry. In this last set of lines, I am tying up all of my intentions, tuning my mind and heart to a particular feeling-tone and quality that I would like to cultivate as I continue to engage with my spiritual, physical, and musical practices. In our own way, I think we each want to bring the best aspects of ourselves forward to the activities we cherish most in our life, striving to do the best we can with the circumstances we are given. Can we cherish all of the circumstances, not just the super-cool and most engaging moments, bringing our best to the most mundane and the most difficult moments of our lives?

May it be so.

_/\_

Sam
Kogen

Musical Liturgy #1

My mind is part of a non-physical, energetic continuum that merges with a physical expression of this energy.

Before I play, I engage and focus my mind in sitting; I engage and focus my body in juggling, stimulating an experience of rhythm and harmony in motion.

Guitar is an intricate interaction of my physical and non-physical aspects of being, through time and space, in sound. Warming up and engaging both aspects of my being awakens fresh clay to mold with my intention and awareness.”

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