What a surprise when Chris Peters arrived to stay in my yurt, and announced that he was a theramin player. I had never heard of the theramin so when I expressed my curiosity he promised a demonstration. After dinner he brought all of his equipment into my livingroom and began to set it up. Once he had everything arranged, he explained that the instrument was played using our own energy field. Then he planted his feet and began to wave his arms around two stainless steel poles. He didn't touch a thing but out came an eerie sound familiar to me from old science fiction movies. My first thought was that it was joke, that he had something behind him or in his pocket that was making that sound. Was this some kind of magic trick? When he proceeded to play some common melodies, I was amazed! It looked like he was pulling the sound out of the thin air.
Then he offered for me to step up and give it a try. He explained that one pole regulated the pitch and the other the volume. Changes were made by moving your hands closer or further away from the poles. I believed his rational explanations but what I had observed looked more like he was channeling sound out of the universe. I planted my feet as I had watched him do, thinking maybe I might receive some kind of a jolt I guess. He showed me how to move my hands closer and further from the rods and sure enough I could do it too.
Admittedly, I'd have to practice to learn to play songs but this instrument seemed tailor made for wild improvisation, really wild improvisation, in which everything sounded interesting. I found myself in an experience of pure exploration. There could be no mistakes, what freedom! But there was more. Musicians always want to get inside of their music, to somehow bridge the gap between their instrument and themselves, to get inside the sound they are making. Here, I was having the experience that there was nothing to get "inside of." Indeed, we are already there! The sound, me, the energy field, all were one.
The experience left me giddy. I found it hysterically funny. So much so that it was hard to keep playing. I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. Every movement was a surprise, echoed in sound. It was a powerful feeling of connection and it was pure fun!
It wasn't until the next day that I got the biggest surprise of all. I woke up and started to go about my day as usual but very soon noticed that something was really different. I was suddenly very aware of my hands. It was as if I had new ones! They felt strong, powerful and very, very competent. They moved through space as if the air was thick.There was a feeling that maybe I could move that space around and create whatever I wanted to create. It was completely empowering. All things seemed possible.
We all know that "practice makes perfect," that there is virtue in having the discipline that moves us towards mastery but sometimes we need to learn just the opposite. We need to learn that things can be effortless, that we don't have to work so hard, all the time, that sometimes things fall into place by themselves. We have all had the experience of finding our way to mastery through practicing something but to dedicate ourselves to the radical surrender that "lets thing happen" is much harder to come by. If we can do it, we enter that magic place from which true creation springs.
That night with Chris and the theramin, I found that place. I reflect on it now but that night, it wasn't a thought but rather, a body experience and the the body doesn't forget as easily as the mind. Now, even weeks later, when I remember that night, my "magic hands" live again. When I sit down to the piano, I call on them. Passages that were difficult have taken new wings. I feel new freedom and relaxation. It is thrilling to hear the music take flight.
It is even more thrilling to feel the reverberations of that night in the bigger picture of my life. In the spirit of M.C. Richards who wrote, "All the arts we practice are apprenticeship. The big art is our life," I always bring my explorations in the arts back into the context of my life. This experience of my energy field as not separate from what is all around me, that I can with intention bring things into manifestation because of that connection is a deep lesson. The realization that I could relax more and let things unfold from that space is truly something I want to know from the inside out. I know how to practice. I know how to work hard to make things happen. Those skills are important. But I'm curious to see what happens when I let myself step into this other kind of magic. What will be possible for me then? How about you?
Expressive Arts Experience
Let your imagination wander. Make a drawing of that mysterious place from where, you imagine, creation springs. Put yourself in the picture. Put your picture somewhere where you will see it each day. Write about the times, you feel you entered there. What did you manifest from that space? In your art? In your music? In your writing? In your life?
This blog is dedicated to the healing power of nature and the arts. It encourages a different way of looking at the purpose of the arts in our lives. While we can all appreciate well known artists, musicians and writers, it is good to remember that expressing ourselves through the arts belongs to all of us. It is part of being human. The arts and time in nature take us out of our small selves into something so much bigger. We need this larger perspective to guide our daily lives. I have a Masters Degree in Psychology, am a Registered Expressive Arts Therapist and am owner and founder of For The Joy Of It! Creative Retreat in Mendocino CA.