The other day at my Tuesday night weekly drum lesson my teacher had showed me new polyrhythms to play. After watching him demonstrate for a couple of minutes, I turned to the drum kit and with my eyes closed tried to “feel” my way through the exercise. He stopped me midway and said something like, “You should really keep your eyes open when you practice. You wouldn’t go to a gig and close your eyes. You have to be fully aware of your surroundings; know what’s really happening so you clearly understand how it all comes together with the other players.” And of course I saw the metaphor in that example.
In the Soto-Zen practice of Zazen (sitting meditation), we sit with our eyes mostly closed, but still slightly open. Although I’m typically facing a wall and the downward gaze is soft and my vision heavily blurred, I can’t help but be reminded that there is a world outside myself. It can be safe to close my eyes where I can be sleepy and warm and cozy in my own little world, but the reality is that I’m not alone. We are not alone. We live among billions of people. Sometimes it’s a good thing to really open our eyes and see outside our iPods, Cars, phones, offices, cubicles, homes, books and whatever other “pods of safety” you choose to use so you don’t have deal with others. Don’t get me wrong, I like all that stuff as much as the next gal. But at the end of the day, I think I’d prefer to see the connection for what it really is and try to understand how it all comes together with the other players. Maybe I will end up making a good drummer after all.
The Zenful Blogger