Sunday, July 3, 2016

If it improves upon the silence

Recently I have come across the Mahatma Gandhi quote, "Speak only if it improves upon the silence." This quote reminds me in music to play what is genuine, and in speech to say what is true.

This week I wanted to focus on how jazz has helped me find the tools and motivation to improve my life. While jazz is a music, it has really developed to be a sort of backbone to my life. 

In June, I created a series on how to start listening to jazz including Discover jazz, Planting the seedsThrough one album and Learn at your library

If it improves upon the silence

1. Jazz has helped me find outlets for myself. 

Music is a way to express yourself. In my life I have found that in addition to music, I need to have some separation in order to find purpose. In other words, I need to find silence in my mind to find sound clarity in music. 

This has translated into my newfound love of Tai chi, which I practice on a weekly basis. While Tai chi seemingly has no connection to jazz, this slow martial art works on balance, focus and energy throughout the body. Tai chi has numerous healing benefits, such as improved circulation. As a martial art, Tai chi teaches you to defend yourself through balance and redirection of energy. Perhaps my favorite part of Tai chi is how we are learning to sense the energy around us, and incorporate ways to bring more positivity into our space. This in turn can uplift others. 

2. Jazz has given me a reason to improve the quality of my life.

We all have and set goals. My goals have taught me that sometimes you need to go outside of music in order to combat your problems within music. 

This has translated into a new focus on my health and wellbeing. It is easy when you become focused on a goal to forget about your physical and mental health, yet by ignoring these aspects you will not be able to fully reach your goals. Earlier this year I became an ethical vegan overnight, and have incorporated exercise into my daily life. This has in turn given me an abundance of energy, mental clarity, stress relief and strength. Also, I feel that my life and actions can have a direct impact on the animals I want to help, which has in turn helped my confidence and self image. 

3. Jazz has given me perspective. 

It is easy to become absorbed in our own problems and worries. This sense of worry in the past has caused me to have bouts of depression, anxiety, self doubt. Yet, by the push of music I have found ways to stop focusing on my own selfishness, and to find positivity through gratitude.

This has translated into keeping a gratitude journal. I have kept a gratitude journal for several years, and I write in it 1-2 times a day. Every morning I write down 3 things I am grateful for and 3 things I plan to do to find happiness in the day, in addition to 1 daily affirmation. At night I write down 3 things that went well in my day, and 1 way I could have improved my day. It's amazing how there is so much to be grateful for in every day, no matter how bad it may seem. I have realized my problems are so small, and that I am in control of my own happiness.  

This has also translated into meditations. I do guided meditations based around affirmations. My favorite meditation is called "living with ease," which focuses on accepting yourself, and realizing how every living being wants the same level of ease and happiness as you do. This has helped me feel more empathy, since every living being is interconnected. 

Final Thoughts: 
While Tai chi, veganism, gratitude journals and meditations do not seem connected to jazz, they all have been implemented in my life as part of my passion for music. At the end of the day, jazz improved upon the silence, bringing joyous music to each day. 

Has music helped you change your life for the better? 

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Since September 2015 I have been the JazzBoston newsletter writer-editor. Please sign up for the monthly newsletter to learn more about the Boston jazz scene.   

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