Archive for November, 2010

Moving into Unknown Territory

November 24, 2010

I recently had an agent agree to read my book proposal on the story of how I came to play singing bowls. (I want Catherine Zeta Jones to be me in the movie version.)

This creates an odd threshold. If the agent thinks the idea and sample writing have merit, the agent goes looking for a publisher and I write like mad and organize all the pieces I’ve developed so far. Everything rolls that way then. Or if the agent declines the proposal, I continue my search for the right agent who can help me get published, and I still keep writing.

In developing the book proposal, I had to give an engaging synopsis of each chapter to provide a “feel” for the book, determine how many pages it will be, and offer a full publicity campaign as well as a complete sample chapter. I hadn’t yet written the book and yet I had to give it form. I was moving into unknown territory, as I am now. I’ve never had a book published of my own writing. What do I know?

Well, I know how to put one foot in front of the other. I’ve been a free-lance writer for 18 years, and now I’ve been playing the singing bowls for over a year. There is some magic, and there is no magic. I make lots of phone calls to people I’ve never met. I try to convey my vision. When they offer me a gig, they launch me into the unknown, the unpredictable, the un-anticipate-able. But there are maps and directions, time, date and place to center me. Then I enter the room, bowls in tow. Once again, what I know is what I see, but what is about to happen is unknown to me. People enter for the program, some I may know, others are strangers to me. I know what I’m supposed to do, and I begin telling a story. The information is always given a bit differently, but I know the points I want to make and a few surefire crowd-pleasers to include. Then I play, and again I move into unknown territory.

Generally, the bowls and the sounds beckon me into their realm. While I may not know what will happen next, the bowls and patterns with them also make the playing process somewhat familiar and exhilirating in its exploration. And of coure that process is welcomed for what it brings both to me and those for whom I play. 

I have little anxiety when I am in this state of the unknown. Nothing matters but playing. And so I play. As I continue on this process of publishing my journey with the bowls, I want to continue in that state of play, riding a wave into an unknown territory that I want to explore and enjoy.

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Gaining Spaciousness

November 12, 2010

Have you ever been in a car, come to an open field and decided to get out and walk? What did you feel? Spaciousness.

How do we create that sense in our everyday lives? Well, I believe one way is by playing the bowls and feeling a “clear”-ing taking place, an opening into ourselves and the world around us that didn’t seem to exist before. Our possibilities just feel bigger, wider, more limitless.

Truly, we should feel limitless. We bind ourselves continually. We live within structures, with particular expectations, formulas and roles. We do the predictable and acceptable not out of concern that we not harm others, but because that is the conventional way of life. And we create boundaries so that others can’t infringe upon us, but what are we protecting? If we were filled with joy (or compassion for that matter), who could hurt us?

So let’s look for ways to gain that feeling of spaciousness, of being bigger and wider than we generally feel we are. Then let’s see how long we can maintain that sensibility.

We can take a first step easily. Clean out a drawer or a closet of things you don’t use. Walk outside, breathe the air and look at the sky to get lost in it. Sing sounds loudly in a room and feel how big your voice gets (who’s singing?). Or play a bowl.

If you try this, you’ll start to find what you’re attached to and maybe even discover why it’s this and not that. I have recently discovered I am attached to nostalgia. I thought I was keeping objects because they were gifts from friends and represented them in some way or our relationship. But it was the memory prompt of good times, not the friends per se. I still have those friends, or if not, I know that this object is not my friend or friendship. So let me release it, and feel the increased dimensions of the new and unknown. Nothing’s lost, I just gained some space.

Sitting with a Bowl

November 4, 2010

Some people might consider it odd to see me simply sitting with a singing bowl in my lap. Perhaps it is. Odd or not, it is a great pleasure you should try if you own a bowl. Or hold one in a store sometime, and wait a minute before asking it to sing.

Without even playing the bowl, you can relax with its beauty, consciousness, and yes sound. You may learn things you have never  heard with the bowl before. Enjoy that time together.

To sit with a bowl means to enter into a place of stillness. And we all know what can happen when we become still. Nothing. Or maybe a moment of wonder or an insight or more stillness.

People sometimes say to me, “This bowl is quiet.” And I think that can be a good thing. We may need to simply let it be and show respect for that “inactivity.” Perhaps it is quiet, perhaps shy or renewing itself with a bit of rest. Maybe we can learn to move a little more slowly too, even take time to rest a while ourselves. 

Maybe we spend more time listening.  Becoming still. Letting go.

Sit with a bowl. Hold it lovingly. Breathe.