I recently had the honor of teaching an esteemed colleague how to meditate. The next week he told me of an immediate benefit:

“I was walking through my college campus during the Viola da Gamba Society Conclave—hundreds of viola da gambas everywhere—and passed a group of musicians listening intently to a master player in one of the common rooms.

“Normally, I would have paid little attention and gone on to the next of many things I had to do. You know how it is: we build up musical scar tissue that makes it difficult to enjoy the simple, yet profound beauty. But that day, I was able to relax and enjoy sublime music more deeply than I had in a long time. Meditation clearly helped!”

musical-scar-tissue-2Here are a few ways musical scar tissue forms:

  1. The pure joy and love of music we experience as children and young adults begins to crust over with the harshness of judgmental listening. We learn how to take healthy discrimination of what needs work and turn it into cutting criticism, not only of ourselves, but also of others.
  2. We become more dependent upon praise from others so that our egos can keep their edge. We remove ourselves from enjoying the talent of others, especially those who may be in competition with us.
  3. We seek fulfillment in the next job position, where things will finally be perfect. We ignore the opportunities that are right in front of us, simply because we think our talent deserves better.
  4. We get hurt emotionally and close our heart. Furthermore, we foster the reactive process that leads to negativity.
  5. We practice distraction.

Are you interested in enjoying things on a deeper level again?

Just as you can heal scar tissue on your body, you can heal the musical scar tissue of heart, mind and soul.

The healing process is simple, yet challenging:

  1. While keeping keen discrimination, let go of the ingrained practice of judgment.
  2. Practice self-acceptance without sacrificing aspiration or pursuit of excellence.
  3. Look for hidden opportunities within your immediate surroundings.
  4. Open your heart to the possibility of Joy.
  5. Enjoy the beauty in the present moment.

A word of caution: things might get messy.

20 years ago I started working on my scar tissue. My heart burst open and all my stifled longing for true Joy came flooding out.

Yet as I practiced meditation, the “cells” of my musical scar tissue quietly transformed from stiff barriers of protection to receptive gateways for subtleties of feeling and nuances of inspiration. My emotional releases quickly gave way to a deep contentment that to this day expands into deeper levels of fulfillment.

Every time I work to soften and stretch the physical scar tissue of road rash on my shoulder from being hit by a car, I remind myself to relax my heart, expand my mind into ever-new possibility, and massage the practice of presence into my listening.

It’s time to heal. Your listeners deserve it.


5 Ways to Soften Musical “Scar Tissue”

2 thoughts on “5 Ways to Soften Musical “Scar Tissue”

  • August 8, 2016 at 6:42 am

    Thank you for another thought-provoking article — I always enjoy finding some resonating note within the piece that speaks to me. Step #2, “Practice self-acceptance without sacrificing aspiration or pursuit of excellence” is applicable to so many facets of life. I’ve heard some people say that they are reluctant to practice meditation or self-acceptance because they are worried it might dull their competitive edge in the workplace, in the gym, at school, etc. Yet, by detaching from the ego, you are free to find your flow.

    • August 8, 2016 at 8:09 am

      Thanks, Kim, especially for the “competitive edge”. I need to write about that next!


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