Awakening the True Self

There is a place I go when I’m playing drums, on stage, with the monitor distorting the guitar line and lights streaking heat onto my eyelids. As decibels rage and as my body bends and powers and strikes, I drop into a place where time hangs in silence. Thoughts of moments past, thoughts of moments future, they drift through this silent place and try to catch me in their nets. Sometimes I can’t help but be brought up to the surface, to the noise and fracture and worry, and when that happens I’m dropped abruptly into the cacophony of the venue around me.

But more and more these days, when I play drums, I stay in that still, quiet place. Here, I live in the heart of the song, played by the song itself. Here, the song is effortless as a heartbeat. Every note rings out and living things are created: this song, this moment. I rest there, and Clementine falls away.

The next day, as I walk through the streets, I again fall into this place and am breathed by the day. I play with perspective of sky and trees and movement on pavement, detached yet aware. I watch as thoughts come again, the past, the future, the worry, pain, sadness, fear, physical sensations of dread and despair. I allow them each in, and then with a breath I fall through it all, even as I walk, through the midst of humanity. I fall into stillness, into peacefulness. I let go of thoughts and emotions, and I open to this moment, this day, this place. It is quiet again, and my daily experience is animated from the same place as it was on stage, in the center of the song.

***

It is frustrating how thoughts always enter, while I’m playing drums, while I’m walking down the street, while I’m interacting with people and my life. To be human is to be an ego, which means I identify with all these thoughts and emotions. A sense of injury, a sense of justice, a sense of entitlement, the human struggle with insults and frustrations: I get caught up and struck down by insecurities. I fall into holes of depression and regret. Sometimes, I get so worked up that I can’t find that still center, and I feel so far from peace that I feel like giving up.

But then, I remember. I fall into the heart. I fall into that place in the center of the song, the song I have been set to play out through this lifetime on Earth. This is the still, eternal peace of that true self, that melody that animates this Clementine. This is where happiness is found.

It has been over 25 years that I have been playing music, trying to hear this way. It has been over 30 years that I have been falling into this place in meditation, in search of the self. If I am reading the signs correctly, it has been many songs I have been singing through this exploration, through lifetimes.

Now, I am here, and find myself working with people to help guide them to find this peace and energy. It is a great joy to help point the way to that song, the song we all know, but forget.

When I work with musicians, we let go of insecurities and the stories we tell ourselves about our ability. We find that place in the center of the song and experience what it’s like to have the song play us.

With other artists, we let go of creative blocks and find our pure voice, and the truth we all seek to tell.

With others, it’s about mindfulness and meditation. We discover how to step back from reacting to our thoughts and we release the anxiety caused by identifying with them.

We let go of patterns that keep us trapped. We allow ourselves to truly experience emotions for the first time and realize we are not slave to them. We rediscover compassion for ourselves. We find a wide expanse of peace and truly experience our life from moment to moment. We find stamina and creative spark. We learn how to access this place at any time.

We meet our true self. The one that is peaceful, and perfect, and infinite. The beautiful thing is that this isn’t work that is foreign to any of us. So far, everyone I have worked with has had a sense of remembering something deeply known. We just need to be reminded how to find it. What a gift it is to help people find it.

***

I have lived so much of my life critical, caustic, cynical and doubting. I love science and reason and dirty jokes and rock and roll. I am not a model of health or modernity or citizenry or humanity. No one, any time soon, is nominating me for sainthood.

What I have learned though, and what I feel driven to help people discover, is happiness. For all of the battles of the ego and all of the unenlightened moments, the more we do this work the more those moments spent thrashing about in the mind get fewer and fewer, more easy, less weighty. We discover our true potential and live from our highest self. From here we change the world, and our reality. Who knows how that ripples out and effects change.

***

One day, we awake, and there is stillness and joy. One day, time is different. One day, conflict seems to fade. When you live from this place of truth, the life you choose changes. There is more stillness in moments, but maybe because you start to see not just those difficult times in which we are tested, but all those other moments in which there is only silence, and the awareness of this truth. Peacefulness no longer means boring, but instead, you see that behind it all, you might actually be happy.

Happy like listening to a forgotten song. You forgot how beautiful it was, and you never noticed that melody running through it, right through the center, as clear and as lovely as a bell. You never noticed how the sound of the bell stayed with you, and seems to have always been there. Now that you think of it, maybe the sound of that bell has been with you since the first time you ever heard that song, or maybe before. Maybe that sound is the song of you.

***

You can hear me read this here: https://soundcloud.com/clemthegreat/awakening-the-true-self

Find more information about the guidance I write about: www.awakeningthetrueself.com

4 thoughts on “Awakening the True Self”

  1. In so many traditions we have this notion of ‘spirituality’ or ‘sainthood’ being something almost otherworldly – quiet, controlled, minimalistic and not stained by hedonistic joys of the world… Well, personally, since my teenage years I’ve felt that there might be another path, too =)

    I was inspired by some zen ideas of how retiring to the quiet of a monastery might help finding the Enlightenment, but once found ones inner tranquility might be so firm that one can face the world and not get disturbed by its mundane turbulence. That sent me looking for more into that direction; to find a connection of Joy and spirituality – surely good food, wine, sex, jokes and dancing could be a way to celebrate the spiritual connection, instead of being seen as mere distractions or misguided egoistic pleasures? Maybe there could be ways to apply the zen to the challenges of mundane life, learning to interact with other people in such a way that it won’t disturb the inner spiritual presence?

    In my own life, my years as a stay-at-home dad were kind of the ultimate test, the monastery training, the joy of finding – finding how the inner spiritual awakening helps to maintain calm, joy and love even when sleep-deprived and waking up to soothe a toddler screaming because of nightmares. And indeed, when playing with the kids in the neighborhood, what else is the joy and happiness in their eyes but the pure presence of the eternal truth? There is no higher wisdom, no more deeper secrets to discover, than the pure joy sparking in the eyes of playing children.

    And from that point of view, I’ve found some phenomenons of pop culture quite as deeply spiritual as any old texts or something. After all, we are human beings and we need to eat, to work for food, to build shelters, to raise kids, to explore and to err and to learn – so the question is; how to do all that in such a way that it maintains the inner connection with the ancient melody, the dance of kalapas? I see Zepparellas’ interconnected stage presence as beaconing towards that. Far from sainthood, yes, but who wants to be a detached saint if you can rock and roll and laugh and dance together with your fellows and the entire Universe?

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