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    Managing The Rock Bands in My Mind

            Meditating is a big challenge for me. Like many of us, there’s a lot of noise inside my head. Some people refer to it as static, chatter, or babble, but those quaint terms are completely inadequate. I would describe a typical moment inside my mind like this: Imagine being surrounded by a dozen stages. On each stage is a rock band. A loud rock band, like Deep Purple or Van Halen. Each band is packing it’s full P.A. and amplification system, they’ve cranked it up to eleven, and they’re all playing, balls to the wall. At once. THAT’S the cacophony of mayhem that’s going on inside of me all too often. And my twelve rock band analogy is probably an apt description for a lot of us.
             I meditate every day. On some days, there are actually moments of peace and quiet. On others, the bands in my head add an extra guitar or two and jam my brains out. Today, however, I had a wonderful new experience.
             A few minutes into my meditation, I was aware of the peace and quiet within me. The lack of noise brought my attention to my body. I felt something happening. My body was rocking itself. Involuntarily. I was not consciously sending signals from my brain to my body to move the muscles necessary to rock me back and forth. My body was doing it all by itself. I opened my eyes, just to make sure that I wasn’t hallucinating, and looked at my hands on top of my legs. They were moving, ever so slightly, back and forth. Rocking. Along with the rest of me.
             I don’t know if this has happened before and I just never noticed it. I don’t know if the force of my heart beat and the expansion and contraction of my lungs was causing the motion. All I knew was that my body was rocking itself. And it felt great.
             It’s well documented that the motion of rocking is a soothing and tranquil experience for most people. It’s one of those primal human motions that mothers instinctively do to calm babies. We have a memory of that motion in our DNA, so we come out of the womb loving to be rocked.
             When I would snuggle with my ex-girlfriend, with one arm under her head and the other wrapped around her beautiful, warm body, I would softly grab her shoulder and rock her gently back and forth. She would let out a quiet moan that always warmed my heart. If you haven’t done this in bed with the person you love, try it. It’s an intimate, loving experience for both of you. And it’s so simple.
             However it happened, my body was taking care of me by providing a soothing motion. To help me relax. To give me peace. My body was, on it’s own, without guidance form my rock band infested mind, doing what it could to bring me calmness and serenity, which I need more of in my life. Meditation and prayer are but two ways that I’m using to bring me more of that. Actually, it’s not so much bring me more of it as it is stripping away all the madness and remembering how to give something to myself that I’ve always known how to do. My body certainly does, if I just let it.
             I haven’t been meditating long, and I’m curious if any of you veterans have ever experienced this involuntary body rocking, or something similar. If you have, I would love to hear about it. Please tell me in the “Comments” section of this post.
             The irony that the term “Rocking” describes the madness in my mind, the soothing calm of a peaceful motion, and my behavior when I’m listening to a song I love, is not lost on me. Music, particularly rock ‘n’ roll, has given me more than I could have ever imagined. Maybe the twelve rock bands in my mind, all playing at once and at maximum volume, can learn to play one at a time. One rock band, playing with all it’s intensity and volume and focus and passion, is just what I need sometimes. Other times, when I need some peace but not quiet, I could switch acts and listen to James Taylor, instead of Motley Crue. And other times, I could just turn them all off and have complete silence.
             Managing the rock bands of my mind. That’s a job I could get into.

    ©2009 Clint Piatelli. All Rights (and a sold out arena full of Wrongs) reserved.

    Reader Comments (6)

    Hey Clint. lots of info here, I'm going to go back and read again.

    I hear you on the rocking being primal, how we rock infants to
    sleep, swingsets as children, and how that can manifest in our adult life.
    (a retirement swing on the front porch?) a gentle rocking soothes the
    central nervous system.

    In class I have students sit still, close their eyes, smooth out the breath,
    then visualize their sitting bones as the base of a candle flame in a very
    still room. then... just a hint of breeze, there's a little sway, not quite
    moving, not quite still, that's peaceful suppleness, where the body can
    shed tension, and the mind can become still. feel each thought as
    a shimmer in the flame, and breathe back to stillness. ahhh.....

    Been a long time since I've listened to Van Halen, but that first
    album was like a flag for my generation. perhaps I'll see if it's still
    in my archives, the dusty closet of stuff that used to be me.

    I used to run, very fast, to Rage Against the Machine. Was I running
    torwards something or running away? hmmmm.

    Turn down the volume of the thoughts, turn up the volume of the breath.

    keep sitting, keep rockin.


    February 20, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjohn Calabria

    John, thank you so much for your words of wisdom and guidance. I will try the exercise that you teach in your class.

    I encourage you to go back and crank up the Van Halen once again. Even though you're a different person now, music often allows us to sink into the best of what we were at the time. Old music can ignite long dormant ideas, passions, and shades of emotions that we may have left behind in our growth. The beauty is that re-discovering that music doesn't cause us to regress, but can energize elements of ourselves that may need a good kick in the pants. Or gentle pat on the butt, depending on the music.

    Rage Against The Machine...awesome stuff dude. Brutal and beautiful, all at once. And I love your question of running towards or away.

    I will keep sitting. I will keep breathing. And I will keep rocking (both during meditation and through music).


    February 20, 2009 | Registered CommenterClint Piatelli

    Just caught a recent motley crue concert and was backstage
    and ran into mick mars security guard who is a friend of mine.
    Mick opens his dressing room door and asks him a questtion.
    Now Mick is showing some age here and I can attest to that
    seeing him within a few feet away. However i will also add
    (i had to look this up) at 58 years of age the man still has it!
    My only hope is that we all "still have it" like he does.

    Live Wire

    February 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLive Wire

    Thanx, Live Wire (killer song by The Crue, by the way). I'm envious of your back stage foray, but I'm happy for you as well. Rock 'N" Roll, if you let it, helps keep the youthful spirit, that's always somewhere in us, alive and well. This can allow us to "still have it" at any age.


    February 23, 2009 | Registered CommenterClint Piatelli

    love the piece about the "old music". music definitely does conjure up memories and feelings. the stuff we heard on the school bus as kids, the songs played at proms and parties, music associated with events, lovers..... some we leave behind because it is painful. some we think we have outgrown. new tastes emerge, but the "old" persona is still there, waiting to be triggered by the music of that era. Scary? Possibly, if its something we wanted to move makes sense to listen anyway- drum, dance, breathe, squirm, explore the past it dredges up. After all, the way out is through, right?

    February 24, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterasven

    Touche, asven. The "old" persona could also be pieces of ourselves that, even though we've moved beyond, still have something to say to us. For example, I don't carry nearly as much anger with me as I used to, but I still love angry music (Tool, Rage Against The Machine). The music touches the passion and the fury and the power of anger that's still in me, if not the anger itself. The music makes me feel powerful, alive, even. Angry music still moves me just as much as it did when I was always angry. Even songs that I used to listen to all the time, that I don't listen to much anymore, when I hear them, they touch me. They rekindle that esoteric "something" that they did long ago. That's a piece of a healthy youthful attitude. Wow. What you said sure kicked up a lot in me. Thanx asven.


    February 25, 2009 | Registered CommenterClint Piatelli

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