Musicians who Meditate: Music, Infinity, Reality
In the past I’ve had the pleasure of meeting accomplished composing, recording and performing artists, including George Harrison, who told me that the Transcendental Meditation program helped to awaken and sustain creativity. More recently I’ve become curious about the personal qualities of a musician’s perception and expression and the unique influence of music. I interviewed musician and Professor Isabelle Matzkin to get some more insight.
Isabelle Matzkin studied at the Conservatory of Music of Luxembourg where she earned first prizes with distinction in piano performance, music theory, and chamber music. She’s taught at three Conservatories in Luxembourg and performed with the Luxembourg Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Professor Matzkin told me that an important 19th century social commentator—Scottish writer, philosopher, and teacher Thomas Carlyle—said, “Who is there that, in logical words, can express the effect music has on us? A kind of inarticulate, unfathomable speech, which leads us to the edge of the infinite, and lets us for moments gaze into that!”
What makes a house into a home is not the number of walls but the empty spaces between the walls. Now that empty space has always been there—the walls simply highlight and quantify that space so that we now enjoy it as our kitchen, living room, etc. The space itself doesn’t change—our experience of it does. That’s the same with rhythm: the beat simply highlights the silence in between the beats. Infinite silence is always there—it doesn’t change—however, our experience of it does. The same is true for the notes of a melody or the words of a poem, the lines and colors in a painting, and so forth. The meaning in art is not derived only from the concrete medium with which the artist works but the real meaning—the beauty the depth, the artistry—are discovered between the lines. So an architect uses walls to highlight space and the composer uses musical sounds to highlight silence. Many musicians have noted this experience. For example, the American guitarist Jim Hall has said that music is an intelligent way of moving from one silence to another; the Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu said, “I am a gardener of infinite time.”
Musical creativity comes from within and can be cultivated. Neurologist Dr. Gary Kaplan said, “To resonate with deeper levels of the mind, music must reflect the structure of the infinite field that gives rise to the activity of the mind.”
The Transcendental Meditation technique allows the mind to spontaneously settle inward beyond boundaries, beyond more concrete levels of thought to subtler levels, and arrive at a silent state of pure full unbounded potentiality—the source of all expression but unexpressed and infinite itself. This is the silence within the self—pure consciousness—the very ground state of our own being, the unexpressed source of our creative intelligence Through this regular daily process of transcending during TM, the awareness begins to express more and more from the level of infinite silent potential, like a tree growing from the hollow of a seed.
Dr. Matzkin said, “Studies have shown that with regular TM practice the experience of pure consciousness carries over into activity. In other words, one begins to function from that expanded level of silent consciousness even while engaged in actions such as composing music. So the beauty of infinity, of pure silence, becomes highlighted more and more through every boundary at every stage of relative existence.”
Grammy Award winning American jazz flautist, saxophonist, composer and TM practitioner Paul Horn said, “to transcend is to touch the source of creativity and knowledge and energy.”
Matter is vibrating energy at the most fundamental level, so the power of music—sound, pitch, vibration, melody, rhythm—on the human physiology is that it can resonate and increase well-being or cause a disturbance and diminish well-being. Music can affect our moods, our health, and even highlight the infinite for the listener. So it is the responsibility of all musicians to take into account how their compositions affect the listener. As musicians meditate regularly over time, their consciousness is elevated and grows more in harmony with the infinite field from which all the laws of nature and all matter arise. In this way, their music eventually can fulfill the responsibility that comes with influence: to enliven the deepest level of harmony within us.
Here are a few of the many American female musicians who practice and publicly endorse the TM program:
Brenda Boozer is a mezzo-soprano who has had a brilliant international career performing in operas and concerts from Los Angeles to London, from Florence to Frankfurt. She was a member of the famous Metropolitan Opera in nyc for 11 seasons.
Sheryl Crow is a singer-songwriter, musician, producer, actress
Sharon Isbin is a multi-Grammy Award winner; hailed as “the pre-eminent classical guitarist of our time”. She has appeared as soloist with over 170 orchestras, and has commissioned more concerti than any other guitarist.
Katy Perry is a singer and songwriter who has received many nominations and awards including Female Artist, International Female Solo and International Album of the Year.
About the Author
Janet Hoffman is the executive director of TM for Women Professionals in the USA.
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