Chakras made of sunlight

Fill in the blanks with thoughts from the mind

Blank mind fills itself endlessly

Dropping leaves of thought

Ever growing upward

Toward the unknown but perceived Sun

Following guesses, hunches, and perceptions

Following what feels right

Ever working on the calm, steady mind

Now chanting, daily 108 times

Chakras made of sunlight

Banjo

The first time I heard the banjo was, probably like many others my age, on the theme song to the old TV show the Beverly Hillbillies.

I was later to learn the song was called The Ballad of Jed Clampett by a duo called Flatt & Scruggs.

I found it pretty memorable at the time for the speed and catchy melody, but I soon became more interested in Eddy Van Halen and Jimmy Page than old time-y banjo.

From Psychedelia to Bluegrass

Years and years later my interest in psychedelic music, especially the album Live Dead, got me interested in the Grateful Dead.

Slowly I started listening to more and more of their albums and along the way discovered an album by a group called Old & In the Way with Jerry Garcia on banjo.


It was in particular a song called Pig in a Pen which had a great banjo riff and silly, simple lyrics.

This began a journey which took me deep into bluegrass music. Back to Flatt & Scruggs, Bill Monroe, and the like. For a year or so bluegrass was pretty much all I listened to.

I borrowed an old banjo from my brother and although the fretting part wasn’t too different from guitar and pretty straightforward, the Scruggs style picking with the two fingerpicks and thumbpick took quite a while to get comfortable with.

I struggled with the old Scruggs banjo book my brother had lent me and learned a few rolls, but I didn’t practice enough to become a real banjo player. Just a guitar player who played banjo (as one audience member described me with a back-handed compliment years later).

Good Ol’ Grateful Dead

As with many other things I figured learning by doing is the best way, so I started to look for people to play with. I came across and ad from a bass player looking for a banjo player to jam with. It turns out he had come the same route to bluegrass through the Grateful Dead.

We began playing some of our favourite songs, me hacking along on the banjo trying to remember the chords and playing the only roll I knew with my right hand.

We had a grand time, we hardly spoke about anything just got right into playing for a few hours with lots of laughing then went home.

Before too long he invited me to join his other band on banjo. They played mainly roots-y folk style songs, most of which I’d never heard before. It was a bit mellow for my taste at first but I gave it a try.

Look out, he’s got a banjo!

At first it was myself on banjo, with bass, guitar, and mandolin. Soon an amazing violin player and vocalist joined and we were a complete unit. More on that band, Cellar Door, later.

It turned out to be a great opportunity and opened many new musical doors for me. I bought a proper banjo, one that’s heavy enough to break your shoulder, and we started playing gigs.

A strange force behind the thoughts

Stop. Breathe, Listen.

I recognized behind the thoughts, just out of the view of the conscious mind, an urge or veiled belief that there was an endless need to keep pushing forward. That any rest or stopping would mean failure. This unceasing subtle push to endlessly keep moving forward kept me from taking stock.  It kept me from orienting myself within my life and recognizing whether I was heading in the direction I truly wanted to head.


By recognizing this strange subtle pressure, I am able to release it – in so doing I find a place of openness and space in which I can take a moment and look at my life without a sense that I need to hurry up and take the next action or miss out on something.


What is this subtle pressure and from where did it arise?  Could it be that this itself is stress?  Or is it a symptom of stress?  Or a driver of stress?


In any case, I have recently come to realize that the ultimate driver of hurried and ill-considered decisions and actions is none other than stress.


Stopping.  Breathing.  Thinking slowly.  This is what I need.


Planting a seed and having the patience and un-rushed sense of calmness to let it grow at it’s own pace.


There is always a good decision that can be made, in any circumstance.  Of course there are opportunities that arise and fade, but they don’t all have to be grasped without consideration.

 
Stop.  Breathe.  Listen to your mind.


Is there a push from behind that’s keeping you off-balance?   Turn around and look at that push – what is driving it? How did it arise?  How long has it been there.  Stare it in the face, not with anger but with intent.  

Recognize that many of these semi-conscious drives have been set in motion by mistakes or without thought.  They are spinning tops using part of your energy to keep themselves going.   Trying to keep these endlessly spinning tops of thoughts from falling is Stress.  

Stop. Breathe.  Listen.


Slowly and patiently conduct and inventory.  What are the subtle drives that are alive inside of you?  Are they necessary?  Are they serving your purpose?

 
If not you can put your hand on them, stop them from spinning, and reclaim that energy.

 
Stop all the little tops spinning off in all directions.

 
That freed up energy can be reclaimed.  It can be redirected and redeployed toward your intentionally set, important goals in life.


Stop. Breathe. Listen.

What are your intentions?  Perhaps it’s been a while since you stopped and thought about them.


Schedule an hour, 15 minutes even to sit quietly by yourself.  Not exactly meditation – but sit and ask yourself what are the most meaningful things  in your life.  What do you want?  What do you truly want?  If everything could go your way.  Without worrying about the doubts and obstacles to reaching those goals, just allow yourself to reflect on what would truly make you satisfied.  What would bring you peace.


There are likely one or two things which were vitally important to you in the past which for one reason or another got pushed into the background.  

Gently and without judgement see if you can recognize what they are.  

Are they still relevant to your life?  Do they still call to you and ask you to complete or achieve them?   If so, write them down.  If not, thank them and let them go.  Reclaim that energy. 

Doing this may bring up emotions which had been suppressed. Pockets of energy locked up in those desires which upon being recognized reawaken into your consciousness.   They may be pleasant, they may be painful.  Just allow them to emerge.  Recognize them for what they are – allow them to emerge into your consciousness and see how they interact with the present-day you.  

Do they reawaken something exciting within you?  Do you feel a spark of intuition and gratitude?  If so write this down too, a keyword or a paragraph or pages, whatever it evokes from you.

Or does it awaken a painful memory?  Is it something that is no longer possible or workable in your life that you weren’t able to close off properly for some reason?  If so recognize this.  Thank it and let it go.  Go ahead and feel that pain, process it. This is the reintegration of that locked up energy into your power grid.  It is good, allow yourself to feel and process.  Once you have the energy is yours again to use.

Stop. Breathe. Listen.

This may happen quickly, it may just take a few minutes for you to recognize and reorient yourself to your deeper inner vision.  It may take hours, or multiple sessions.  But guaranteed it will be much easier than you expect. And you will find some very valuable insights.  You are precious and filled with a glowing diamond energy.

Love is the source of peace.  Inside of you is a desire that drives you, it is strong and beautiful.  It is the main driver in your life.  Even so, it’s easy to be distracted by smaller spinning tops of minor desires and frustrations, so much so that we can forgot about that main driver for many years. 

However, once we take the time – and it doesn’t take long, to rediscover that inner source of love, we can reorient our lives around it.  We can use that as our driver.  All of our smaller stresses and frustrations will begin to unravel and return their energy back into the main main driver.  

Stop. Breathe.  Listen.  

Exercise – remember a time when you couldn’t stop laughing.  Try to go back to the earliest memory you have like this.  Feel that laughter well up in your heart.  Remember the exact feeling, enter back into that pure joy. 

If you can’t remember a time that’s fine, just imagine yourself laughing and laughing.  Pure belly laughs as hard and long as you’ve ever laughed. 

Feel that laughing energy enter into your heart – direct it toward any tight or tense spots in your chest, in your body. Feel it as warmth.  This laughter is a pure manifestation of love. 

Let the laughter reverberate throughout your body. It shakes loose any tightness.  It melts frozen emotions.  It heals and brings energy flowing to locked off parts of the body and emotion.  

the slow monk

The Slow Monk awakes
Shines lightly stepping forward
Across seasons and valleys

Pathways to be followed
Above all garments & adornments
Truth begets trust begins Love

Smiling flowing forward toward
Sweet dark forest rivers glowing
Swift lavender wishes splashing & flashing

Years asleep in the crops of Krishna
Fragrance pungent with delights

Uplift indwelling residents intent upon
Enlightening all Sentient Beings