web analytics

Because hippies can’t be wrong about EVERYthing

I would have liked to’ve been a musician. But at some point in my teens, I plateaued at a place that really wasn’t good enough and figured I’d hit the limit of my talents. I’ve just widdled around and played for fun ever since.

A year or so ago, I decided to see if I could push back the boundaries a little. I started practicing, not necessarily for long periods, but in a focused and disciplined way. And, um…sonofa bitch. Practice works. I can almost hear new neural pathways sprouting like potatoes. I’ll never be great, but is sure does scratch an old itch.

I never knew until recently, reading up on it, how many hours the average professional musician puts into practicing. I had just assumed they were crazy talented. I know that’s a simple thing not to grasp until late middle age, but my universe includes whole galaxies of stupid.

So I started meditating. I figured if I could make new brain channels for difficult scales, I could practice being happy and get better at it. When I read that the US Marine Corps was looking into mindfulness training for stress reduction, I thought, “fuck yeah! It’s not just for hippies any more.”

And son-of-a-bitch! It works! The most tangible and measurable benefit is, I’ve seen a dramatic improvement in the hell that is insomnia. Most noticeably, it’s easier to fall back asleep in the morning after the light wakes me.

There’s a shit-ton of free stuff on the web, including guided meditation MP3s — very helpful at first. I started about the beginning of the New Year, twenty to thirty minutes every day (I miss some days). Basic mindfulness meditation, no chanting or anything. Just focusing on breathing mostly. And then sometimes, when monkeybrain is quiet, sneaking in some happy thoughts. Picturing my chickens running up to me. It’s a chicken-based meditation practice, basically.

So, anybody else want to cop to this? With or without chickens?


Comment from Gromulin
Time: April 1, 2013, 11:23 pm

Most noticeably, it’s easier to fall back asleep in the morning after the light wakes me. We used to call that wake-and-bake, back in the day. 🙂

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: April 1, 2013, 11:31 pm

Her Stoatliness neglects to mention THE INCENSE

‘slike this. Weasels have no sense of smell. Badgers have an exaggerated one. Which means that you should NEVER let a weasel buy its own incense.


Trust me.

Comment from tomfrompv
Time: April 1, 2013, 11:36 pm

I hate being grumpy, but if I were a Marine these days I would take every single course I could. No matter how insipid, it would keep me off a battlefield where I’m the only one who follows rules. And if I were an ex-captain, I would certainly sign up to teach any course, no matter how insipid. They pay me! And if I were a 58 year old general, with 2 years before retired after my rank –GOD YES, I would testify that the course was the best thing since the model 1911.

Not to be a grump, but I think the NBC link was just BS. In its rawest form. If we want to lower stress in our soldiers, then start TREATING them like soldiers.

Please note my grump has nothing to do with the value of meditation. IMHO, a vacation is just as good. Ask Michelle or Barack or Joe! No stress in that bunch.

Comment from Redd
Time: April 1, 2013, 11:37 pm

I heard that they now think we are descended from prehistoric weasels. Is that true?

Comment from Frit
Time: April 1, 2013, 11:43 pm

Uncle Badger: Weasels may not have a sense of smell, but ferrets certainly do! Mr. Dragon tells me I can smell things that just don’t register on his olfactory organs. Fortunately, for the things he can smell, he and I have similar tastes in what is good, so it’s easy to pick up scented candles. (No incense; smoke of any sort does nasty things to my lungs, even in small doses.)

As for meditation, and practicing being happy, yes, Stoaty, I’ve been doing that for a while now, and yes, it does help! The theory that got me started was: wherever you put your attention/energy, that is what you get more of.
So, if you put more attention/energy towards things that piss you off or upset you, you’ll end up having more of the same to feel the same way, and if you put your attention/energy towards things that make you feel good, happy and such, you’ll end up with more things which encourage feeling good and happy and such.
It works for me, at any rate. 🙂

Comment from Gromulin
Time: April 2, 2013, 12:00 am

Uncle B – You can’t be talking about Patchouli, can you? If so, an intervention may be in order. Also, Doritos.

Comment from tomfrompv
Time: April 2, 2013, 12:03 am

I used to hear that “early morning waking” was a sure sign of depression and/or anxiety. So science came up with medicating, rather than meditating. “Take this pill and sleep thru the night….”

I’m not so sure every human is supposed to sleep for a solid 8 hours. Maybe getting up at daylight is normal. And sometime around 2 you’re supposed to nap for 90 minutes. Then back to work for a couple hours.

For me, sleeping til 10 or 11 seems right. Who cares if the sun is up? Or down?

Comment from Mitchell TAFKAEY
Time: April 2, 2013, 12:07 am

Back in the 90’s I experimented with self-hypnotic trances. It was…odd. If I achieved a trance state it felt like I was slipping out my body and sliding *through* the couch I was on. Very trippy. There were side effects though: lucid dreams were much more common (good) and I started getting plagued with night terrors (bad). It’s not good your teeth too as you go completely rigid and your jaw clenches really hard. A mouthguard would help with that I suppose.

Comment from Doubting Rich
Time: April 2, 2013, 12:19 am

My wife works with some of the most talented musicians in the world in their field. Basically they practise obsessively. In one case, of a particularly anti-social character, he is not known to do anything else. He sees eating as a waste of time.

Comment from Nicole
Time: April 2, 2013, 12:24 am

I went to a hypnotist last year for weight loss. I haven’t lost any weight but I will say that doing the self-hypnosis (which is just meditation focused on breathing) really does help me relax enough to sleep. And I feel less stressed overall when I make the time to do it for 10 minutes or so a night.

Comment from Deborah
Time: April 2, 2013, 12:56 am

Jack Pardee has gone on ahead.

Comment from Skandia Recluse
Time: April 2, 2013, 1:50 am

Practice. Ya, that didn’t really mean anything to me either. Now it’s too late. Too soon old, too late smart.

Now I see things younger people need to know, and they won’t listen. Instead we get public education, regimented indoctrination. It’s a wonder the species continues to survive.

Comment from P2
Time: April 2, 2013, 4:08 am

Sheesh…. Next thing ya know you’ll have a puke green Subaru wagon in the drive, an extra pair of Birkenstocks, and be streaming NPR…. You start votin labour and I’ll know you’ve gone round the proverbial bend…..lol

Comment from Dave R
Time: April 2, 2013, 5:55 am

Do you mind sharing your sources, for the MP3s and whatever else you use? I’ve looked at it in passing before, and haven’t wanted to wade through the new age and mystic stuff to find what works.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: April 2, 2013, 9:43 am

I listed to a bunch from the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center and picked out a few favorites. Usually, I listen to a half hour MP3 of white noise, but if I start losing the plot, I’ll resort to one of these. There’s a fairly high proportion of hippie crap here, as you can tell from the titles, but there’s some really helpful stuff in there as well. Most helpfully, that if your mind wanders all over the place and you’re bored and restless and think you must be the worst meditator that ever lived — that’s pretty much normal. Just keep bringing it back to your breath.

The downside of these is that they didn’t trim them, so there’s, like, ten minutes of chatter before the session begins. I edited that out before putting them on my MP3 player, but it’s a huge pain.

Comment from Timothy S. Carlson
Time: April 2, 2013, 10:01 am

I used to be extremely stressed, but then I found medically-forced retirement and XANAX.


Comment from AltBBrown
Time: April 2, 2013, 10:01 am

For the Dick!

Comment from Timothy S. Carlson
Time: April 2, 2013, 10:06 am

Was AltB anywhere near Denver? I smell shenanigans!

Congrats, AltB!

Comment from AltBBrown
Time: April 2, 2013, 1:35 pm

Thank you, TSC!
It was touch ‘n go getting that powder safely into that Happy April Fool’s Day card.

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: April 2, 2013, 1:58 pm

For me shenanigans always smelled like Patchouli…. just sayin’

On the meditation front, well yeah. I came to it through two angles, one more formal than the other. The formal approach (sit on the floor, legs crossed, palms up and thumbs touching, tongue to the roof of the mouth just touching the teeth) came from Buddhism to which I was intoduced by Mrs (Japanese) Vegetable. The Buddhists use small candles and short sticks -decidedly not hippy-value-pack size of incense and mentally chant a mantra (Nama Shin No Ichi No Dihatsu No Hankyu). The mantra gives you somthing to keep your mind out of the way till you drift into the void; the incense and candles are both to occupy the senses (look into the candle, my pretty!) and nice silent time measuring devices.

The other route into meditation isn’t really about meditation per se but about how to clear your mind to fall asleep quickly, although in the end it really takes you down the same path. In the early 50’s my father was discovered to have a brain tumor about the size of a mandarin orange. It had to come out. Scientific knowledge and tools were pretty primitive in those days. Doctors took two drinks and had a smoke to steady their hands, cut open your skull, and cut out everything that looked like a tumor, using a small sharp scapel. They knew enough of course to avoid cutting up the brain more than necessary, so my father escaped any damage more than deafness and loss of balance in one ear, and loss of control of the muscles on one side of his face. Still, at age 30, with the older of the children four years old, he was left rather freaked out by the whole experience and during his some-months in the hospital had trouble sleeping.

He developed a routine of visualization and association to let him fall asleep. He visualized the ‘perfect apple’ spinning slow,y in space in front of him while he carefully inspected its every detail. After some time, he developed the association to the point where he just put his head on the pillow and thought ‘apple!’ and he would fall asleep. He taught me the idea, although I prefer visualizing the perfect long almost-straight country road winding through a beautiful lush and green farmland valley.
I start driving towards the horizon, top down in my little sports car. I never, ever reach the horizon……

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: April 2, 2013, 2:16 pm

Calling it for AltBBrown. Are you still in the dick queue, AltB? You’ve won before, yes?

Comment from AltBBrown
Time: April 2, 2013, 2:30 pm

Yes’m, I is.
Art in lieu of Dick will be just peachy.
I already have Mapp.

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: April 2, 2013, 3:51 pm

I was trying to find some of the lovely Donald Pleasence motivational stuff from “Warrior of the Lost World”, but apparently that’s been relegated to the Forbidden Zone of yout ube.

Comment from Bob Mulroy
Time: April 2, 2013, 3:54 pm

“If I don’t practice for three days, the public will notice. If I don’t practice for two days, the critics will notice. And if I don’t prectice for one day, I will notice.”

Ignacy Jan Paderewski

Comment from Bikeboy
Time: April 2, 2013, 6:56 pm

I believe SOME musicians have “the gift” – indeed, they are “crazy talented.” NEVER so much that practice wouldn’t enhance their ability, but talented enough that they can bypass much of the rehearsing required by us mere mortals.

As an example, I remember once that Wynton Marsalis, an incredibly-gifted trumpet player, expressed some resentment that his brother Branford, who plays sax (and used to be the band guy on the early-Leno-era “Tonight Show”) needed hardly any practice to be a master sax player.

At the other end of the spectrum are people who could practice 14 hours a day, and would still STINK as musicians! (And many of them make millions selling CDs! Go figure!)

Comment from Mitchell TAFKAEY
Time: April 2, 2013, 7:50 pm

Ha! I found something for you brain-trippers. BEHOLD http://www.squareeater.com

Comment from Wiccapundit
Time: April 3, 2013, 5:20 pm

A University of Chicago study of basketball players working to improve their free throw percentages set up three groups.

The first group did not practice each day.
The second group practiced each day.
The third group merely visualized successfully shooting free throws each day.


The first group did not improve.
The second group improved their free throw percentage by 24%.
The third group, which only VISUALIZED success, improved by 23%.

Yes, creative visualization of success works, and I use it all the time.

Comment from David Gillies
Time: April 3, 2013, 7:50 pm

I’ve always found it really easy to get into a meditative state. I can sit on my own in a room for an hour not really thinking about anything at all but just being aware of my surroundings. Body scan is good for mindfulness too. The problem is if I do it when I’m in bed I’ll be asleep in three minutes. Being able to zone out makes long bus and plane trips a lot easier. I think it’s really a form of auto-hypnosis.

Comment from jwpaine
Time: April 6, 2013, 5:53 pm

I don’t meditate, but I suspect I do some sort of self-hypnosis when I am forced to kill time, passenger on a long car trip, or I’m in the dentist chair: I willfully fall asleep. I thought everyone did it, but I seem to have a real talent for it. I can sleep anywhere, any time.

I guess that is my super-power. Could be worse, I guess. Coulda been strawberry-scented farts.

Write a comment

(as if I cared)

(yeah. I'm going to write)

(oooo! you have a website?)

Beware: more than one link in a comment is apt to earn you a trip to the spam filter, where you will remain -- cold, frightened and alone -- until I remember to clean the trap. But, hey, without Akismet, we'd be up to our asses in...well, ass porn, mostly.

<< carry me back to ol' virginny