Does what I had for breakfast last Monday have any affect on my performance Saturday night? An emphatic YES! We constantly hear the promoting of a holistic lifestyle. The things we eat, watch, read, and do in our spare time do affect our overall wellbeing as well as our performance. Artists are known for either being too busy or not busy at all. We seem to have a pattern of doing whatever is necessary during busy times, i.e.- grab whatever to eat, skip meditation and exercise, stop reading, watching crap from any tube outlet, etc. And when we are not busy we “pull our life together” and work on our mental/emotional wellness… A sort of destruction creation pattern. How do we create consistency? How can we create a balance without degenerating in one direction or another? Life at times can feel like that old arcade game “Whac A Mole,” where you have to smash down the heads of the moles as they pop up. The Zen response to that game would be not to whack anything, but instead to do nothing. Let the moles come up and just observe. Is this concept adaptable to our performance life balance? Yes! Do nothing is the greatest asset we have to empower our lives. How does this work? Part of the pattern I have observed being a working musician is that we come home physically and emotionally exhausted from a performance, and the first thing we do is grab high calorie, nutrition-less food (and probably something naughty to drink) and fulfillment is attained! Or, just plop on to the couch and flip through channels so that every image a manipulative marketer wants engrained in us is at work. Thus assuming some sort of “decompressing” is taking place, when in actuality the opposite is happening. Now a mental habit is being created… Need crap to consume (whether media or food) to get by! How about do nothing until a “good choice” arises? But I know the doubts. Sitting and doing nothing is creepy! And if I sit still I may go crazy with my thoughts and feelings. Well, it clearly looks like you may have some internal work to do! Addressing our fears and emotions always leads to a greater level of being, awareness, and positive communication. These feeling that seem distracting are actually necessary seeds to deal through for growth. In our society we are expected to be (or just look) productive. What’s wrong with watching a bit of boob tube and eating crap? Plenty is wrong with that. Whether in the form of food or alcohol, refined sugar is an addictive drug (so is television!) that eats away the frontal lobe of the brain. The frontal lobe is responsible for everything from cognition, choice making, memory, and mood/emotional swings. I think for any human being, particularly an artist, you want this part of you functioning at the greatest capacity. So dropping down a pint of ice cream, or having a few drinks will definitely affect your future performances in some way. And the more a habit and addiction of consuming toxins is engrained, the more the quality of our output and lives are degenerated.
Negative media consumption is part and parcel with negative food consumption. We all respond to images and titles much deeper than we think. Think of the conscious mind as momentarily attaching to an object and pondering that object into the subconscious. That is how our cognition basically works. So if I am cruising the internet and flip by “10 Sexiest WHOEVERS of 2015,” I’m now attached to that message-pondering it whether I am aware or not, let alone interested or not. The message is engraining in my mind as societal importance. Instead I choose to search the web and consume myself with specific subjects of personal beneficial interests - like “The 10 Sexiest Module Synthesizers of 2015.” But for me, I much rather glance at a Jackson Pollack (or any artist’s) painting and ponder that affect in any direction. Even a drawing my 8 year-old daughter conceived is well enlightening, trying to understand what is being expressed and communicated with her mind and heart, and how that expression affects me. In an age of infinite choice and available information we must be deeply mindful of EVERTHING we consume. It affects every aspect of our lives and the whole.