We rely on keeping our sight, hearing, and thoughts in sync with one another. It is necessary for everyday tasks such as walking, extraordinary abilities such as sinking 3-point shots in basketball, or just about anything we do in musical performance. Indeed, I am often reminded when performing in ensembles how important it is to keep all three of those processes tightly coupled.
But decoupling has tremendous value as well and relates directly to what I termed “the disintegration of thought” in a previous article. It is a practice that has been particularly welcome in the past couple of days as psychic entropy reached a crescendo. Indeed, doing so this afternoon relieved some of that stress, even as personal and professional challenges and relentless cruelty of current events swirl around.
It is a relatively simple process, and not that different from more traditional forms of meditation except that there is no focus or control. One lies flat in a comfortable place, not too dark but not too bright. It should be quiet but not silent to allow for deep listening. I find the bedroom area of HQ during the day perfect for this. The urban sounds beyond the windows form a gentle syncopation with just enough detail. With eyes closed, one turns to mental visuals – I once heard them described as “eyelid movies”. It’s important not to concentrate on either the internal visuals or the sounds, but not to ignore them either. Just experience them decoupled. In this way, thoughts seem to organize themselves into their own separate stream, often nonsensical but organized nonetheless. The decoupled channels together form a complex free improvisation, not too different from free improvisation in music when it is at it best.
Most of the thoughts are words are forgettable. But in a session this afternoon, one phrase, in particular, popped out: fifth nest. I have no idea what it means, and honestly, it doesn’t really matter. I didn’t want to dwell on it, as it would break the spell of the experience.
Today’s session was successful in that I emerged calm with much of the entropy dissipated but not groggy the way one would after a nap (it’s important not to fall asleep). There is a deep melancholy in the calm, but that is OK. And the phrase “fifth nest” seems to have stayed with me. I still have no idea what it means, but it could be a point of departure for a piece of music or creative writing in the future.