Many of us have practices, things that we do to honor that sense of the sacred in our lives. We may have a meditation practice, or a yoga practice. I was just reading about some who go a little farther and consider themselves to have a gardening practice, or what they call an exercise practice.
At our house, we are all about our sanctuary practice, as you can imagine, if you’ve read Lisa’s blog at all (and if you haven’t, I highly recommend it).
I have what I call a dish-washing practice. Yes, it’s funny, but it’s also serious. I have hated washing dishes my whole life (you can ask Cam, who shared an apartment with me in college). But when Lisa and I were dating, I began to see what utter magic she creates in the kitchen. Whether it’s a quick grilled ham and cheese sandwich for me, a pot of the most delicious chicken soup for us, or a complete Thanksgiving feast for my extended family, she’s an amazing and creative chef. And so I began to contribute with the best that I had to offer in the kitchen: low-level labor.
This was not my favorite thing (I’d much rather be the gravy taster), but everybody has to pitch in. So that was my offering.
But about two years ago, while staring at a mounting pile of pots and pans, I realized that this does not have to be onerous. This could actually be an opportunity. When you’re washing dishes, there isn’t much else you need to think about. I realized that this was a potentially delicious occasion to be present in my body, to focus on my breath, and to just feel the water washing over my hands. This was a moment that I could just let everything else go and simply be. And I could do it every night.
So I began to practice the art of washing dishes. It’s a win-win. I get a refreshed spirit and a clean kitchen. AND a grateful wife. That makes it a win-win-win.
But what about that thing that I love so much — writing music? This week I began to ask: Why I haven’t approached this, one of my very favorite activities, with the same sense of wonder, reverence, and purpose? After all, I am working on a new album of music that is actually all about mindfulness, all about being in the moment. It would seem a travesty not to approach the work in a way that honors the deepest intention of the music I’m trying to create.
But what does that look like?
I imagine that it looks a lot like what Lisa has been encouraging me to do all along — to make my studio my sanctuary. Maybe I could keep the area a little neater and put away the jumble of books, equipment, and random musical pieces-parts that clutter up the space, giving my mind and my spirit more room to move and breathe. Maybe, when the time comes to work on music at 8:30 every night, I bring a nibble of my favorite dark chocolate with me. Maybe I light a candle, set an intention for the time, and make a decision to honor the work of my hands and the movement of my spirit over the next hour. In this way creation becomes a ritual.
Music has always been a spiritual practice for me, a way to touch something sacred in the center of my soul, and bring it out to share with those around me. I see this “music practice” as a way of acknowledging that truth within the physical realm of my music studio. This is a way to make the time I spend creating a more deeply soulful experience.
And that’s what it’s really about — the experience. The moment. This moment.