The Benefits of Collaborating with other Artists

To collaborate with people is sometimes quite a scary prospect. One is revealed in all of their glory and their downfalls. Yet this is why it is such a valuable process.

The process of a shared practice gives you the opportunity to emotionally involve yourself in your growth. You become motivated to be better, and you grow (simply by the process of assimilation).

EVEN if you are a guitar player, for instance,  jamming with a piano player: You will learn about the piano players process, musical knowledge, repertoire, strengths, shortcomings, the list goes on… This knowledge that you have gathered through shared practice is actionable and invaluable to you a person, and as an artist. This analogy is applies to every walk of life.

Just make sure that you are either doing this in your leisure time, OR that it is directly contributing to your primary goal/purpose. Otherwise you may find yourself learning about the bassoon while you’re trying to get your rock album down… that could be a waste of time.

Be willing to suck. You won’t suck for long.

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” —Henry Ford

Also… couldn’t leave this out:

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” —Isaac Newton


-Ben

If you liked this post, then check this post out that I think you’ll like.

Photography by Pok Rie

Why YOU Should Meditate.

Walking down the road today from the train station to a cafe down the road. I counted about 40-50 thoughts roughly. That was a 10 minute journey.

The majority of people have the same problem. To focus on one thing is almost impossible, because their processing power is all over the place, they are trying to download 50 files at once on 4G.

In fact most people think even more than this! It’s a scientific fact that humans can only think consciously about one thing at a time. Try it: Think about an image of empire state building and the shape of England at the same time….

A quick google search shows that: “…When we have between 50,000-70,000 thoughts per day, this means between 35 and 48 thoughts per minute per person.”

Well NO WONDER we can’t get anything done!

When’s the last time you just sat in silence for 10 minutes and watched your thoughts?

My Martial Arts teacher likened the flow of thoughts to a train station. The station is the mind, the train is the thought, and the little person standing on the platform is the awareness. Most people’s stations are flipping Waterloo at rush-hour.

Meditation is the practice of observing the trains come and go as they will, completely out of your control. They they come and go, come and go, come and go, until eventually the flow of trains begins to slow down. Instead of a constant flow of trains rushing by urgently, there seems to be silence in between the passings by, and there is simply emptiness until another slowly potters through. Able to fully feel the breeze on your face and the smell of fresh leaves on the wind, this train comes past, and you watch it… then it passes, and again all is quiet.

Most people know that meditation is good for them. However thoughts are terrified at the idea of not being in control. Thoughts will come and say “To sit in silence?! A waste of time! Stupid!” And so we are enslaved by our thoughts, the master becomes mastered by his tools.

The big barrier that stops people from actually practicing is the trust in the silence…

In order for more people to cultivate trust in the consistent practice meditation, it would be helpful to understand the place from which all of our thoughts come. Because you don’t chose your thoughts… your thought come to you. Where from?

The stillness. This stillness is a gift to you. From stillness one can see clearly, and from from emptiness one can discern.

Meditation is about cultivating your stillness. It is about nourishing your awareness through the practice of prolonged attention to your stillness. By cultivating your awareness in the stillness, you are more able to see clearly that which is not still, increasing your presence, and fundamentally increasing your sensitivity and thus your vitality.

When one meditates, it is not that nothing is going on, it is that SO much is going on, in the doing of nothing. Doing in no-doing, by no-doing; Doing the no-doing.

One must give the silence it’s due, listen to it’s voice, if one is to reap the gifts of discernment. To listen to both yin and yang, the whole world becomes larger.

Turn the blur into a piece of artwork, and see and touch every little piece of it as you runs your awareness over it.

Good place to start in regards to meditation:

  1. Sit quietly, ideally somewhere quite (it doesn’t matter, but does allow for further unguardedness) and where you will not be disturbed.

2. As you allow the breath to pass through you – no pulling in of air but simply allowing it to fill and empty itself through you – pay attention to your nose. Simply place your awareness on it and watch it.

3. Your attention will likely stray to thoughts, and that is fine, no matter, just again place your attention on your nose. That was a repetition.

4. Continue to bring your attention into focus from the straying into thoughts and distractions. When you feel proficient at focusing on your nose, now you may bring your awareness to rest on your entire face. Not trying to control anything, simply resting your awareness on it, relaxing, and allowing whatever comes to come and go. Watch thoughts and feelings as they come and go. If a particularly potent one comes along that feels urgent, simply take a mental note for later and continue the practice, watch it pass.

5. Again, when you feel proficient, bring your awareness to rest on a larger entity, your entire body. Again, noticing thoughts and feelings as they come and go, bringing your awareness back when it strays, being relaxed and impartial… simply watching.

Now those are the principles.

These principles can be applied as you will. You can do this while walking, or washing dishes, anything, just remember it is about relaxation, impartial watching, and cultivating awareness through guiding your focus back to stillness.

When you feel confident at meditating in this way, try bringing your awareness back into itself. Who is watching the thoughts and feelings? Watch the watcher. See what you find.

“We cling to our own point of view, as though everything depended on it. Yet our opinions have no permanence; like autumn and winter, they gradually pass away.” -Chuang Tzu


-Ben

If you liked this post, then here is another post that you might like.

Why you should READ.

I once read a statistic that said this: “If one were to read 1 book on their chosen subject for a month, in 3 years they would be in the top 5% most knowledgable in their field”

WHAT?! You’re telling me that all I have to do is read a book a month?

With a book one disappears  into a world of their creation, all the while learning and being taught anything that they could possibly want to know. The possibilities are literally limitless. Books are the door into your very own intricately detailed brain cinema… that can also teach you things!

So why do so few people actually do it?!

Most people will say “Yeah… I should read but I just don’t have time”

“Or yeah I should, and I do really like it, I don’t know, I just don’t really do it.”

Often when I hear this, the person I’m talking to sat on their phone, or we are down at the pub, or they are watching tv… often not even good tv.

There is a reason for this.

One reason is that there are so many alternatives to reading that are so much more sensorially stimulating. One can sit in front of a TV for hours and just be spoon fed entertainment without having to lift a greasy finger.

Another reason is consistency.

Reading is a participatory. One has to sit down and use their brain muscles. Reading is a practice. And a practice has to be practiced… Mind blown right?

Most people are out of this habit, and so when they do read, they find it difficult or a chore. Surely this should be unsurprising; any level of ability and fitness has to be built and maintained… but often it’s not. And often it’s a discouraging enough experience that people give up after a session. It’s like the new years gym rush in reading form.

Like any other muscle in the body, if you don’t use it then it simply shrinks. We’ve got to train our reading muscles! And it’s a speedy spring-back for sure.

My estimate based on my own experience of reading relapse is that it takes me one and a half weeks to two weeks of being in the habit of picking up a book and reading it daily for it to become simply effortless. To the point where it is as easy to read a book as watch a film except, like eating a salad instead of the chips, reading the book feels healthy and stimulating in regards to my growth, not my complacency.

The trick is to know WHY you are reading, and to be able to discern the feeling of growth from the feeling of deterioration…

So… Why are you reading? Do you want to be the best musician in your field? How many musicians do you recon pick up books in their free time to read about theory applications and jazz history…  Is it for leisure? Great! Just know that… And when you decide to begin reading because you want to learn how to be a great leader, or manage a workforce, or build a motorbike, keep your eyes on the reason and feel it coming closer into your sphere of reach.

Another factor to consider. Rising to the challenge. Do you have a HIGHER purpose in mind that you are working towards everyday?

When you have a higher purpose, reading, exercising, working, and doing anything in alignment with it that purpose comes effortlessly. When what you are doing is in alignment with your purpose, you are excited and fulfilled in dance and movement your own progression, and reading is a vehicle for that momentum. (If you’re having trouble finding your higher purpose, here is a resource for you that I wrote.)

Reading raises your consciousness up. It is part of the vital interplay between the inner and outer consciousness. Both the inner and outer game are on their own path towards growth, and in turn each feeds its counterpart.

If you are interested in growing in any capacity, reading is not only your friend, but your mentor and closest ally.

Books don’t don’t discriminate, they just give. Be a book.


My advice is to think of reading (like meditation) as a practice that is a guiding light: A grounding force: A sturdy hand pointing the way for intuition on your Hero’s Journey.

If you’re still not bought on the idea of reading, consider some of the greatest teachers and leaders ever to have lived: You can have lunch with Gandhi, and Tea with Malcom X, dinner with Steven Hawking, and drinks with Arnold Schwarzenegger… Lives and lives worth of tips, tricks, lessons, and mistakes, compiled into a book that can be held in the palm of your hand and enjoyed at your leisure.

If you are not sure where to start on your reading journey, here’s where I started, and it is a great place to start for anyone: ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People.’

This is about outer game. This is about becoming the most educated version of yourself in order that you can bring yourself and others up. To educate is to elevate. True education is self guided, and it’s there for the taking. Elevate yourself, and bring others with you. Share your gifts. Take your power.

Reading, unlike most modern media, is not just entertainment. Reading is a practice. It will reveal things to you about yourself, and take you to places on your own journey of personal development that you never thought possible.

Who knows… maybe one day you will end up writing your own book. May it be filled with tellings of wonder and success.

Take it from Abraham Lincoln:

“My Best Friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read.”


-Ben

If you liked this post, then I’d recommend checking out this post also…

Also if you are still not bought on the idea of reading: here’s an interesting article that might aid your decision,

How Music Can Bring People UP

Always I’ve had a back and forth between my artistic development, and my own development. Always it seemed to be a choice… Music or Self…

This is a false dichotomy. It’s taken me so many years to realise that one can be an artist and also allow his own self-development to be his first and foremost priority.

Music is culture. 

Culture is all about bringing other people up. I don’t care what anyone else says. Whether it is intentional or misled, cultures are created as a way of sharing and empowering one another. Music is no exception.

The cliches and stereotypes regarding the ‘popular’ music industry has tainted it’s image to it’s very core. I’d been misled in regards to what it’s all about, even though both of my parents flipping work in the wider music industry.

For instance: Due to bad experiences with prescription drugs in my teens, I tend to try and avoid all drugs, even mere Ibuprofen. There have been many times when I have considered not entering the music industry and pursuing that career path purely because I was led to believe that all musicians are into drugs, and that they took part in a culture of self-destruction. I didn’t want to be part of that.

This was pure ignorance on my behalf, and even though this is not uncommon, this is FAR from the case for the majority, and I can only take responsibility for my former views, regardless of how much of this belief was actually perpetuated by myself.

now look back at those times and feel that I should have known that the feelings that I got when I listened to music; the inspiration, the feeling of empowerment and excitement the feeling of possiblity; That in and of itself was what it was what it was all about. I wanted to give people the feeling that I felt when I listened to my favourite artists. I wanted to touch people in the way that music has touched me, to my very core.

The arts are CULTS. Cults are vehicles for education and empowerment… If wielded correctly.

Now: Here’s a potent point by my main man Abraham Lincoln:

“Nearly all men can stand the test of adversity, but if you really want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

Music at it’s core is about bringing other people up. And this is what musicians do. They pour their heart out in order that others are not alone. They share their deepest darkest secrets, as does any artist, giving you their hearts on a plate for you to share and stand with, or to move on without.

It’s not about what you do, it’s about who you are. And what you do is an expression of those gifts; How do you give your gifts?

Here’s another I found while searching for the former. I couldn’t leave it out:

“To ease another’s heartache is to forget one’s own.” -Abraham Lincoln


-Ben

If you liked this post, then check out this post also! 

Be a Madman for Your Purpose.

All of us should give our gifts in this lifetime. This is it; are you seizing the moment? Do you have FIRE in your belly? Are you passionate about your life and your purpose?

What is your meaning?

We are all here to be challenged… can you grow in the face of adversity? This is the game.

Most people don’t live in alignment, and don’t give their utmost gifts because they are scared. Fear ties them down. And on your inspired journey, you will feel fear. To deny yourself of fear is to deny yourself of your purpose.

If you are to give your gifts, then you must feel your fear and do it anyway. You must meet your fears with equal energy and kiss them, look them in the eye, punch them in the face if need be! Then you continue onwards towards your purpose, fulfilling your meaning…

This is to ‘Eat your Shadows’. Through eating your shadows, you become twice the Man or Woman that you once were. And it was already inside of you.

You’ve gotta feel it baby. Enjoy the challenge. When you know why, it becomes a play, and I am challenging you now. If you do not know what it is, then Find your purpose.

Find it inside of YOU.

You do not need a purpose that is going to be your be all and end all purpose, but you need a purpose for now. If you know something that makes you passionate, but it doesn’t seem to be right when you think about it. Look: THAT is your purpose now. Your purpose may change over time. To quote Shrek “purposes are like onions, they have layers.”  The thing that excites you, that fills you with energy; you must give 100% to this. The rest will unravel and reveal itself to you over time throughout this process, layer by layer and each one will be more fulfilling, and fill you more and more with purpose.


People of integrity live in alignment with their life’s purpose.

If you are to be fulfilled in your purpose. You must live in alignment with your purpose. Otherwise you are sacrificing your integrity.

If you are to live in alignment with your life’s purpose, you must be constantly asking yourself: “Is what I am doing now contributing to me giving my gifts in this world? Is it contributing to the fulfilment of my life’s purpose?”.

If you cannot answer these questions with a clear “yes” then you are probably sacrificing your some of your integrity, because it is probably not in alignment with your purpose.

Those of us who are giving our gifts know that in the giving of your gifts, every single moment is the feeling of the fulfilment in life, in and of itself. These are the same people who forget to eat because they are so absorbed with there purpose, it becomes them, they become fuelled with the desire to make change, to make their mark, to penetrate the world with their legacy.

You know someone in your life who is doing something that you used to do. You might have even just seen them in the street as you were passing by, or they might be a close family member or a lover. They are doing something that you did that was to your detriment. And you see their pain under the surface, under the mask of rock or porcelain smiles.

You want to tell them and show them that this isn’t the way. You feel sorry for them, but you know that you can’t tell them to change. You can’t tell them to do things differently, because you know where they are coming from. You want to help but you feel like you can’t. This is what you can do:

BE the change. Be an example of a better way. Be a madman for your purpose. Show them that they are not alone; because we are all mad for that which is closest to our heart. Show people that they can be the person that they truly want to be, and that really, they truly are this person; if only they say yes to life and all it’s pain and pleasures.

If you don’t do it for you, do it for them.

And just remember, that same pain that caused you so much grief, it made you the person that you are today. It is the pleasure in your heart when you see something beautiful. It is the love in your smile, it is the joy and excitement in your stomach.

Live in alignment with your purpose. Give your gift…

Ponder this:

“To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

-Ben

If you liked this post, then I’d recommend you check out this post also. 

Last Ralph Waldo Emerson quote for a while… I promise… *wink*

How to get out of a Rut!

We all want to be our best selves, we all want to live our best lives.

Yet so few of us actually do so! Bucket loads of potential is wasted every day by plethoras of people thinking about what could have been done, or why it cannot be done now; Most people do this. That is why most people are NOT their best selves.

I say this only as someone who has partaken in negative thinking incessantly for the vast majority of my life. SO much energy wasted on creating negative patterns of thinking which led to negative actions and behaviour, which led to me feeling… you guessed it, like a pile of s***.

I call this pattern a rut. You’ve heard the saying. ‘Being stuck in a rut‘. Never did I think about what this really means.

Litterally: A rut is a vehicle track created by repeating the same path over and over and over, so much so that it becomes the only easy path to it’s end once a vehicle is in it.

To get out of a rut, one has to get out of the vehicle that they are travelling in, take a good look around, decide he’s had enough, and climb the hell out of there. To get out of a rut, one needs to remove HIMSELF from the rut, and take a NEW path. This involves leaving the well trodden trail behind. This involves going your own way: putting YOUR purpose FIRST.

Be your own vehicle for change.

Now if you feel like you are stuck in a rut, which most of us are to some degree. Here is what I would offer you:


STOP what you are doing now. I want you to look at the thoughts that come up for yourself. Are they positive, are they negative? Are they conducive to LOVE and CREATION? and most importantly, DO THEY SUPPORT YOU?

If your thoughts are not supporting you, then I reccomend checking out


YOU first. If you want to grow, you must prioritise your purpose on this earth before all else. And once you begin to say yes to this, your purpose will come to you, oh yes it will, and you will float up the fruits of the tree of life and receive the blessings from your toil.

But this ain’t going to be easy, this is why anyone rarely does it. They stay in the rut, and moan about being in a rut to themselves. I’ve done it too. A lot.

To face your fears is to ‘kiss your shadows’ and become intimate with that which causes you pain. This is a part of life… and to live fully is oh so full of life.

For those of you in a rut. Who do you need to be in order to share your gift with the world? Who do you need to be in order to fulfil your true purpose in life? Only you can know. One can only ask for guidance in return for the expression of your gifts.

To finish, following my former post, another quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

‘To be great is to be misunderstood.’

Be great. Be true. Be you.

P.S. If you have any interesting resources that you’d like to share, send them over! I’m always looking for new insight and inspiration.

Your friend,

Ben


If you liked this post then here’s another post that you might enjoy. 

Photography by James Frid