Last night I hosted a screening of a beloved movie, after which I experienced what is commonly called a “shift in consciousness”. I felt deep joy and connectedness, and my mind rose above worries for the future. All I wanted was for this expanded state of awareness to continue as long as possible.

As musicians, we experience this more than most humans. Music gives us experiences above the everyday mundane. The trouble is, most of us don’t know what to do with them when they come.

What are your own favorite moments? My teenage experiences include hearing Bernstein conducting West Side Story Symphonic Dances at Tanglewood and seeing the Joffrey Ballet perform a duet to the slow movement of Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand. Extraordinary moments took me into a bigger experience of myself and the music.

The thing was, I had no clue as to how to hang on to those moments. The piece ended, we clapped, we went out and my life returned to its normal level of consciousness.

But a few years later when I started to meditate, a whole new world of experience opened up for me. Not only was meditation giving me experiences of deep peace, love, and joy, but musical experiences deepened as well.

So here I am this evening, faced with this challenge: how long can I possibly expect to hold onto the joy that I experienced last night? Here’s my strategy:

  1. My physical posture can either hold or disperse this consciousness, so I’m practicing sitting and standing tall, chest open, head balanced, eyes uplifted as I can.
  2. I’m avoiding diving into the news at the moment—amazing how much things stay the same, with seemingly even more gloom.
  3. I’m meditating with increased desire and receptivity. I’m not pushing as much, and am able to enjoy just be-ing.
  4. I’m striving to resolutely quell my “normal” (but certainly not the best) inclinations of thought which drag my mind into desire, attachment, and worry.
  5. I try to go to sleep with the intention of keeping this higher level of consciousness when I awake. In the morning, I try to find something that inspires me right off the bat—a picture, a passage from a book, or music. And then meditate as soon as possible.

How long will this last? I’m honestly not sure. It’s been 24 hours, but I’m certainly hoping for more.

If you want to explore a deeper experience of music for yourself, here are some additional tips:

  • practice meditation to create a deep state of ready receptivity.
  • open your heart more deeply to experiences you know will be safe.
  • watch intently for subtle changes in your feelings, thoughts, and awareness.
  • dive into any expansion of heart and consciousness.

I sincerely wish you the deepest experiences that music can bring.

Musical Shifts of Consciousness

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