6th February 2012
With a new publishing deal adding incentive, Iíve been using these first few weeks of the year to write and record some new songs. Jessica has just added a lovely lead vocal and sax part to a couple of rock ballads that needed stronger vocals and a spark of young blood to enliven them. Itís a great credit to her talent that she sang them in my soprano keys, several tones higher than she would have chosen. Iíve heard her on her own songs and also belting out Queen classics in the original keys too, so I know very well her vocal range and power.
My poor Mac has caught a winter chill and so we (the Mac and I) are enjoying an enforced weekend rest by the fire in the sitting room. So, since recording is not an option, Iím turning my mind to the more organic aspects of music, sitting with my guitar and writing some lyrics. Iím also using the time to de-stress after a rather heavy past year, so itís high time I got back to some meditation.
I believe that meditation is the best method for relieving stress. Red wine comes a close second, but the effects are not lasting, unless followed by more of the same, and that has its disadvantages. Like many of you, Iíve dabbled in various techniques for stilling the mind and taming the wild horses that regularly stampede through my head, but all life-enhancing pursuits need a certain level of commitment, so there comes a time when one just has to get on with it. So here I go againÖ
Advised by seasoned meditators to avoid any expectations, I fully expect to be enlightened by Easter. Having chosen the simplest of all methods, I am perched on a cushion at the very edge of the sofa, thereby straightening the spine, with a mound of cushions to prop me up. Wary of getting permanently stuck in Full Lotus position, which might prove embarrassing when the neighbours eventually missed me and came in search of the body, I strike a simple pose.
To begin. Follow the breathing, counting each breath. InÖ one. OutÖ two. Count up to ten and repeat, keeping the attention on the breath. What could be simpler? Not too long for the first session, though Ė Iíll just give it fifteen minutes. Ready. Breathe in. Good grief, this cushionís lumpy. I replace it with a softer one and start again. Breathe in. One. Itís a bit nippy in here. Iíll just grab a blanket. Start again, paying attention to the breath. One. Should I have my eyes open or closed? Shall I clasp my fingers or place the hands on the knees? Does it matter? Itís more comfy if I cross my ankles butÖ oh, shut up! Bringing the attention gently back to the breathÖ One. My nose is itching and so is my left ankle but I will resist. Two. I am master of my body and I resolutely hold out for a full six seconds before succumbing to a blissful scratch. Itís all going very well, donít you think?
Contrary to expectations I was not meant to have, my first session has been unexpectedly active. During these few minutes, and with increasing exasperation, I have rearranged the cushions several times, scratched various itches, clasped, unclasped, re-clasped my hands. I have experimented with eyes open, causing streaming tears and eyes closed, when I dozed off. Eyes half-open - more tears. Eyes crossed. Is blinking allowed? Is swearing aloud?
Meanwhile, I have drafted three business letters, amended some lyrics to a new song, planned a little holiday, organised my wardrobe, packed my suitcase and sent myself an early memo: ďmust not forget passportĒ.
So as to remain undistracted by the occasional stray thought, I also mistakenly tried repeating that memorable line, 'I must think of a brick wall,' which inevitably led to a fast- forward viewing of ďThe Village of the DamnedĒ in its entirety, following which I reflected upon the sad demise of George Sanders, both in the film and in real life.
As to the state of my mind, these fifteen minutes have indeed been enlightening. I emerge from the dark recesses of my mind having achieved the full realization that counting to ten is utterly IMPOSSIBLE.
Yours, in piecesÖ