Easy Does It!

Or hard-ly so...

I wonder if the reader is able to make anything of the teaching involved in the above image.  We have a mountain, an arrow and a bit of seemingly impossible advice.

We are brainwashed from our earliest days to see life and progress as an uphill struggle, something to start from the bottom and work our way through to a destination.  This invariably goes hand-in-hand with notions, experiences and expectations of struggle, difficulty, time-wasting and self-doubt; things which make our journey so much more difficult, even leading to absolute failure.  After all, it's easier to walk down a mountain than up it; camping being easiest of all.

(Consider my new eBook: Water Pianism)

To better understand this image, first of all come to realise in your own time that the labels of 'difficult' and 'easy' must be ignored, rejected and removed altogether, for they themselves are the root cause of our inability to make smooth, enjoyable progress.  It is important to accept that

Second of all, the reader is advised to separate the body and the mind into two separate concepts.  After all, the mind can go places the body could not possibly reach; the mind has fantasy, freedom and imaginative powers that the body does not possess, and even if it did, it would take time and energy to move the body towards those places of potential paradise.

By having achieved such a frame of mind, one may now see the picture in the way it should be seen:  with two components, and no amount of difficulty or ease; it simply is what it is in all its effortless natural beauty.

The first component is the mind; able to place itself instantly on the top of any mountain it desires and enjoy the view in any direction it pleases, looking down at the long, upward journey the body would have had to endure to reach such a point.  The power of the mind, therefore, cannot be denied.  Put yourself on the top of this mountain and you will see a world the body cannot yet fathom.

The second component is the body; unable to transport itself instantly to any location the mind desires and at the mercy of the ego.  The mind is atop the mountain, the ego demands the body to hurry, the body cannot, so it stops.  Such is the outcome of many a human ambition.

See your body as a tool of the mind; it requires an awareness of its limits and how it may be used to achieve a desired mental result without force.  Far too many pianists are unaware of the idea that the body must be cultivated by the mind and not forced into providing immediate results as per strict commands of the ego.

A seed is watered before the plant may grow; all energy is wasted forcing the leaves to appear.

Applying this mentality to your piano efforts is very simple and requires five actions:

1.  Affirm consciously that you are capable of achieving whatever it is that is required of you, ignoring every valiant attempt of your ego to tell you otherwise (remember that, for the body, going downhill is always easier than going uphill).

This may be likened to 'starting at the top of the mountain';

2.  Pay constant attention to the current physical abilities of your tool, the body, recognising that it must be cultivated to grow without force as it effortlessly progresses upwards.

This may be likened to 'managing your climbing gear';

3.  Never, at any point, allow your mind to drift or wander from the peak of the mountain.  It has the absolute freedom and ability to go where it wishes and is prone to ego interference.  Stay atop the mountain in your mind and the body will follow.

This may be likened to 'following your map and compass';

4.  When tired, stop and sleep.  When lost, stop and reorientate.  When hungry, stop and eat.  When thirsty, stop and drink.  When doubting, stop and focus on your mind.

This may be likened to 'achieving the greater things by managing the smaller things';

5.  Once the body has joined the mind at the top of the mountain, do not expect to stay for too long since the mind will constantly seek a new mountain to climb and await the body once more.  A river which ceases to flow will become stale and useless; as the river, never expect to reach a final destination and remain never motionless in mind or body, seeking always a new mountain to climb.

This may be likened to 'living'.

At each stage of your journeying, do not allow your interfering, negative ego to keep reminding you that it is easier to walk your body downhill.  Managing small things, which for the pianist may involve a little finger repetition to enhance precision of a particular passage or tackling an off-beat syncopated rhythm, is part of the fun.  The mistake is in labelling these moments as 'difficult'.  They must be labelled as nothing at all so that You may consider them a game, an equal part of the journey just as much as those moments you found easier.

A further negative reason for labelling things as easy and difficult is that the body gets used to playing the easier parts and stays away from the perceived difficult parts.  It does so because the ego has interfered with the pure mind atop the mountain waiting for the body to arrive and blocked any chance of ascent; a kind of avalanche or blizzard.  It is a simple matter of consciously deciding to ignore the ego, following the steps above and experience the momentary 'difficulty' as a fun part of the experience of the journey upwards; something which will not impede your progress.

Above all, acknowledge that your tool, the body, is entirely capable of achieving whatever it must achieve to meet the mind which has already arrived.  Simply because it is impossible to charge up the mountain in a few minutes to meet the mind is absolutely no reason for frustration.  The mind wants the body to enjoy itself on the way up; the pure mind never forces.

We enjoy the slow bloom of flowers and trees.  Apply this to your own progress.  All lessons for life may be found in nature if one simply takes the time to observe. 

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