unpolished thoughts 7/30/2019
I’ve started sharing music online, every day a new “Song of the Day.”
It’s easy to do because not only do I have a large music collection, but I’ve also made many mixes over the years so I already have most of my absolute best stuff neatly organized.
In each post, I also include a “movement suggestion” to invite the listener to experience more of what the music has to offer.
If people just hit “play” and hear something new to them, I’m happy. But for me, these songs are worth much more.
In all cases, these are worlds I have lost myself in – and also found myself – again and again.
These are songs that have picked me up when I’m down – or simply met me exactly where I was at without trying to change me.
These are songs that have made every hair on my body stand on end.
These are songs that have made me fall deeply in love, even when I had no available object for my affection.
These are songs that cut in an instant through all the bullshit in my world and told me the unflinching, undeniable truth.
These are songs that reminded me of things that I hadn’t felt for a long, long time. These are songs that made me feel things I’d never felt before.
These are the songs that, for me, make every gulp of oxygen taste better than the last one.
That’s the real reason I wanted to share this music.
I know that no one will experience it exactly as I do, but I want to invite people to feel more – by listening deeper than what they might typically do.
For years, before it ever occurred to me that one could cultivate a deliberate practice of self-knowing, it was through music that I knew myself the best.
It was through the total safety of this perfectly sculpted sound worlds that I felt myself held the way I wanted to be held.
It was the first proof that there was someone out there – whoever made this music – that understood what my heart needed and was willing to give it to me.
Now that I have a formal practice of self-inquiry (Feldenkrais Method) and I have more or less figured out my path in the world, I’m increasingly intrigued with the transformative potential of deliberately combining deep listening to music through the emotional body with expressive movement.
Not long ago, I invited people a number of people to try out an experiment with me and I guided them through experience I called “Deep Body Listening.”
First I asked them to sit and tune into themselves – their connection to the ground and any other supporting surface (for example, the chair if they were sitting), their breathing, and the surrounding space (especially the visual and sonic field).
Then I invited them to notice if the rhythms of their body (breath and heartbeat) were somehow interacting with the rhythms of the surrounding environment.
Only then did I play some music.
I asked them to not only listen to the music, but also to the sense of ongoing rhythm in and around their bodies that now became influenced by the new sounds and rhythms entering their space.
Afterwards, I asked them:
Where did new movements arise inside you? Where did feel the resonance? What is your movement impulse? Did you follow it? What happened after that?
Once they understood this basic process, I invited them to take it further on their own, incorporating the questions that their own lives were already asking them:
What are some of your strong habits? What challenges do you face? What are some qualities of experience that you wish you could have more of? What do you want to feel more in your body?
I encouraged them to use these ideas to intentionally guide the way they listened to their insides and outsides while immersing themselves in the sounds. Once I understood their goals and interests a little better, I did my best to find just the right song to offer them illuminating new perspective and sensations through a suggested movement improvisation.
The guidelines for the improvisation were generally very open-ended, simply a place to start. I made sure to point out the option of ignoring them completely.
But I hoped that my suggestion would make clear that the song I had chosen offered more than a simple opportunity to move. There was another potential here, to journey with the body and discover a new kind of self-knowing, to open up new possibilities.
The formula couldn’t guarantee that anyone would receive the same kind of soul rejuvenation that I’ve felt all these years, but that was certainly the intention.
These days, what feels most natural is to simply share the music online and see who responds.
Some have responded already and I hope you will too.
Below are links to the music/movement suggestions I’ve already posted with a few adjectives describing these sound worlds to help you choose where to start.
(If you enjoy what you find, I encourage you to share these posts so others can discover them too…)
Caetano Veloso – Manhata (Warm, Gentle, Expansive)
Björk – Undo (Enveloping, Restorative, Healing)
Ntjam Rosie – Never Give Up (Uplifting, Energizing, Confident)
Anthony Braxton – Composition 23B (Wild, Masterful, Uncompromising)
Sun Ra – Advice For Medics (Magical, Ethereal, Otherworldly)
Zuco 103 – Conscience (Rhythmic, Layered, Meditative)
Amel Larrieux – Magic (Grounded, Real, Supportive)
John Adams – Road Movies I: Relaxed Groove (Flowing, Graceful, Farseeing)
Stereolab – Brakhage (Building, Continuous, Colorful)
Future Songs of the Day will always be posted here.