Music as My Muse

"Antonio Stradivari made some of his most beautiful violins from a pile of broken, waterlogged oars he found on the docks of Venice one day. Like the David hiding inside Michelangelo's rough block of marble, or the prophets and sibyls hiding behind the emptiness of wet, freshly prepared fresco walls, in Stradivari's imagination the form of the finished violin was tangibly present in the raw chunks of wood. The fulcrum of the transformation is the mind at play, having nothing to gain and nothing to lose, working and playing around the limits and resistances of the tools we hold in our hands." - Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman

I'd like to say I love music, but the truth is, it's not the music I love but the physical and emotional feelings that come over me when I listen to music-and I mean listen.

Music is something I feel deserves my total attention. Like a lover beckoning for my touch or my eyes, listening turns music into my muse. Listening gets me to pay attention. The "paying attention" I am talking about is sacred attention, in which I recognize that all 50 trillion of my cells are vibrating, dancing and responding to the vibrations of sound and silence: a song.

It is impossible to ignore the seductive power music has over us. Much as we may try, once the tunes are turned on, it takes a great amount of mindfulness to ignore the push and pull of our cellular vibrations. If you pay attention to what happens in your body when music plays, you will notice your foot tapping, your hips swaying; a smile may even sneak across your face. This is the magic of The Body's Way doing what it does: listening and responding to the stimulation of sound vibrations.

What I love most about music is its power to shake me out of a slump, to kick me out of depression, to shift me into feeling hopeful in a split second. No matter what I am feeling, when my music-muse shows up, my "cellular attention" turns on and everything in and around me changes. My attention shifts and changes how I feel. This might be why our ancient ancestors are often found buried with musical instruments; they were secretly saying, "Pay attention to music. Keep your sound-making instruments close, as they have great power!"

In Nia, we don't just dance to the beat of the music-we dance with the music. This is a huge distinction. We develop our ability to listen and appreciate music, versus simply using it as a tool, as a beat to dance to. I am lucky: I teach Nia. I get to listen and move to all kinds of music, from classical to rock, jazz and new age. You name it-I can dance to it. This is because Nia aligns herself with the song, the vibration of the moment, inspiring me to move my body in powerful and harmonious ways, no matter what the speed or type of sound may be.

Noticing your body's responses to music empowers you to respond back with conscious, self-expressive behavior and emotion. If you learn to listen to sound and silence as intently as your body listens to vibration, you will naturally begin to dance to the music that is always pulsing through your body-turning life into a dance!

Today or tonight, take some time to listen to music. To get started, read more about The Art of Listening, then follow these exercises from Nia's practice of RAW and the 8BC system. Who knows-you just might fall in love with your music-muse!