It’s common for musicians I work with to share stories of their peak career performance experiences. Their descriptions of these events are often quite similar: they find themselves onstage performing, but at the same time they are also at the back of the hall watching themselves onstage. Time and space warp, and they say they feel huge... filling the entire room... playing way beyond themselves and merged with the audience in a profound way.
I hear this story fairly often. Some call it a "once in a lifetime experience." So what has to happen for them to get there again... maybe in a more accessible and meaningful way?
Whenever we become an expanded conduit for whatever insight and creative impetus might spontaneously come through, the party can really begin! I hope you enjoy these session notes. Comments on this post are welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Calculus is the study of change. Its two main processes are differentiation and integration. To differentiate is to identify, separate and refine component parts. To integrate is to combine or add parts to produce a more unified whole. Differentiation can lead to integration. This is the essence of some Yogas, and the method of this meditation.”
THE CALCULUS OF LIFE
The following is a description of a session I had in early February, 2020, with a close friend of over 30 years. He is an accomplished musician who has witnessed the effects of Energetics of Performance work in other musician friends for years, but who had never had an EOP session himself. His guided meditation took about forty five minutes. By the end of the session, he saw things that were familiar to him in a new and expanded way.
We started by having him bring his attention to his breath through the nose. He then slowed down his breathing, scanning to assess how his breath was moving in, out and through his body. His inhale breath came up easily to about his mid chest - which is about the usual first constriction point most people experience when filling up the lungs.
After taking several reference breaths, I asked him to assess his presence and his perceived “size” in the room. He said he felt himself extend out an average of about six inches beyond his physical body; slightly more in his upper body and slightly less in his lower body. He said this level of expansion was fairly normal for him, and that he was comfortable with this degree of presence extending out into the room.
I then asked him to make a full body physical scan, from head to toe. He noticed more physical sensation on the right side of his lower body than on his left side by about ten or fifteen percent. He also noticed that his left leg felt slightly less connected to his torso than his right leg. This imbalance in perceived appendage connection from one side to the other is almost universal at the start of these sessions.
We talked through acknowledging and relaxing every part of his physical body: the feet, knees, legs, hips, pelvis, low back, lower abdominal area, kidneys, liver, chest, lungs, spine, hands, arms, shoulders, heart, neck, throat, jaw, mouth, nose, forehead, ears, top of head… even his hair. He felt it all, taking in the slow, relaxing physical body awareness work.
By the time the physical scan was completed, he had released enough tension that his physical alignment had improved significantly. His breath was more effortless and complete coming up his chest and extending all through his body. His perceived size had opened up to projecting out about ten inches beyond his skin. We called this good, and proceeded to the next part of the meditation; a scan of his mental body.
As mentioned previously, the mental body scan is not so much about what someone is thinking as it is about where in the body their thoughts seem to be coming from. He identified his first thoughts in the scan as coming from the upper, front part of his brain. I had him shift his thoughts around to various subjects. His described his thought source location as moving around from front to back and from high to low, depending on what he was thinking about; but he said his mental body stayed contained in his head through all of it. This is common (but not a given) in these sessions.
I had him imagine he could inhale through the top of his head, and asked him to let the breath come in and feed his mental body. He immediately described this sensation as feeling like a balloon was being blown up. He paced the breath work without rushing or forcing, and the expansion allowed his mental body to eventually fill his entire head. He described the effect as filling in areas that had previously been void. I asked if he was comfortable proceeding, and he said he was very comfortable and was really enjoying it.
I encouraged him to go slow and see where the balloon wanted to expand to next. It stayed inside his body, extending down into his throat. He described this as being obvious; it was easy for him to sense this as it was happening. On the next round of our meditation dialog, the shift in his voice was obvious; more depth, more resonance and more definitive answers to my inquiries.
The next big jump in this part of his mental body work was when the “balloon” extended down and started to envelop his heart. As stated previously, this is sometimes so intense for clients that it’s appropriate to take an “off ramp” and conclude the session to give them time to themselves to begin to process this shift. In this case, we had only been in the meditation for about twenty minutes, and he said he felt fresh and energized… ready for more.
We continued having him feed and expand his mental body. The expansion seemed to stall out as the “balloon” filled the entire upper half of his torso. This was a big expansion to take in, so we called it good and moved on to locating and working with his emotional body.
When scanning for his emotional body, he identified it quickly as being located in the middle of his body; filling his upper torso. He used his hand to outline the shape and location. I asked him to scan his perceived age in the emotional body, which he said was 35 years old. This was twenty years younger than his chronological age. (It’s common in these meditations that clients experience their “emotional age” to be quite a bit younger or older than their chronological age). In this case, at twenty years younger, he said he felt happy; excited and energized by the birth of his first child. He felt secure in his new role as a father.
He said his emotional body extended out beyond his physical body about three or four inches in front, which he said felt comfortable. I asked him to breathe in alternately through the top of the head and then through the feet, feeding the “balloon” of the emotional body to see how and where he might want to expand. His expansion first came up into his throat, and then higher up into his head. He continued breathing in through the feet, with the emotional body now extending down into the pelvis and hips. Eventually the expansion continued down into his legs to his knees, and finally full body down into his feet. I asked him to describe his perception of the progression of expansion, which he was able to in great detail. It was obvious that he was really enjoying this work.
By the time we finished this expansion and alignment, he was fully engaged head to toe. He described his expanded emotional body as extending out about eight inches in all directions from his physical body. This seems to be about as large as the emotional body usually gets with full expansion and integration in these sessions.
The next layer of “body” work most people progress to in this meditation after the emotional body work is to shift into the expanded awareness of the Astral Body. In this session, as is often the case, no dialog on this was needed: the previous work just automatically took him there.
At this point, my friend mentioned experiencing an expansion beyond just the emotional body. So I asked him how he perceived his presence in the room compared to at the start of the meditation. He said that while he was still aware of his physical body sitting on the couch with his newly expanded mental and emotional bodies, he said he also felt even more of himself expanding out beyond the room.
He proceeded to describe being in two places at once; sitting on the couch in the room, but also being outside the building, hovering about eight to ten feet up in the air out above the parking lot. I asked if he was comfortable out there above the parking lot, and he said yes - it was quite enjoyable. I asked him what he saw, and he described the area around where he was floating. He said he was not trying to move around too much out there; he said that just being in two places at once was so new to him that he wanted to just “hover around” and enjoy it.
He took in the view of trees and buildings in the area, focusing in on as many specific details as possible. It’s common in these experiences for people to focus in on what they are “seeing,” so they can later validate the experience by observing the same scene through their physical senses.
After letting him enjoy this first experience of “being in two places at once” for several more minutes, he told me he was ready to “come back in” to his physical body. He mentioned being able to move at the speed of his thoughts, rather than the slower speed we are all used to when we have the physical body to move around. Again, this ability to move as fast as one can think is common during these experiences.
When he came back into the room, he said he felt ecstatic; he described his new projection as completely filling the room and beyond. He commented that the room seemed smaller than he remembered, which is common when people expand their presence and awareness. The room seems much smaller because they are much larger.
My friend often experiences his upper body as being fairly collapsed, with his shoulders rounded forward and held high and tight. I have been threatening to get him on the table for a hands on structural session for several years. As we finished this session, he looked extremely bright and vibrant. When he stood up, his shoulders were noticeably relaxed down and placed fully back, without being elevated and rounded forward as they commonly are. He was easily standing an inch taller than normal, which he noticed immediately and repeatedly commented on. Another friend who knows him well and saw him right after the session immediately commented on these differences as well.
Even though I witness the results of this work many times a week, it is still validating for me when these hands-off, guided meditation sessions make such a profound impact on one’s physical stature, alignment and presence. My friend was literally glowing. This reinforces the larger truth of this meditation: we surely are more than the sum of our parts.
We finished this session by walking outdoors to the exact location he had visited in his meditation. He enjoyed looking around in his physical body, with the opportunity to confirm the details of what he had just seen ten minutes earlier with his subtle vision. He said he was completely comfortable with the meditation, even though the session had taken him to new levels of awareness that were well beyond his previous experience. He asked if there were other meditations I could show him, which we will likely pursue together.
ASTRAL AWARENESS IS JUST ONE OF MANY LAYERS MAKING UP THE TOTALITY OF WHO WE ARE...
Many musicians have either had similar experiences to the one described above, or they have a friend who has had this same type of experience and told them about it. Other musicians may have heard a friend in concert give the performance of a lifetime, and wondered what happened - only to have the friend later describe an otherworldly sensation that took them out beyond their normal awareness and abilities. Sometimes musicians find themselves at a loss for words to describe the experience… so they don’t talk about it because it seems so crazy. But they know they want to experience it again...
Expanding beyond the limits of three dimensional awareness is common among top musicians I work with. With a little coaching on the techniques described here, many of my clients are able to recreate these experiences of expanded awareness on their own - without having to be onstage in a musical setting.
One of the first EOP clients I worked with years ago came in on his first visit for two days of sessions. He experienced a peak expansion/integration through this same "Calculus of Life" meditation. He said the work we did and the experience he had expanded his reality. He called me a few weeks after his Portland visit to tell me about being out on tour for the previous week. He said that every night when out in front soloing, he found himself also at the back of the hall watching himself onstage, soaring through his improvisations like never before. He said his band mates remarked on his enhanced performance; some asking what mind altering drugs he was on!
Musicians find these windows to access more of themselves by being present in the moment and getting out of the way to be a conduit for something much larger than themselves to come through. What they bring in comes from inspired, spontaneous receptivity.
It is my hope that the lessons learned from my work with musicians and the techniques described here and in coming posts will appeal to more than just musicians. I believe that expanding one’s awareness and welcoming in a heightened connection to all that is can be channeled to enhance performance in any activity; including how to address the most profound challenges of our time.