Zen for Ten 16: Meditation with Bach

It’s hard to stay away from political commentary these days. After a while I start to feel like a four-note wonder: fear, anger, depression, anxiety, scrub, rinse, repeat.

Like so many of us, I’m thinking a lot about where my place is in “all of this.” Activism doesn’t come naturally to me, but I’m glad to be pushed to get involved. For those of us – like me – who generally dozed off between election cycles, maybe this time around is a much-needed and permanent wake-up call.

It’s also true, though, that we all need time and space to breathe and recharge our energy. Finding that balance between activity and rest, that place in which our anger stimulates us without burning us out, can be difficult.

The late, great Carrie Fisher famously told us to “Take your broken heart and make it into art.” Lately I’ve been working on a new short story, maybe the most difficult I’ve done yet. It deals with illegal immigration and what happens to one particular family in the wake of a police crackdown. When I started working on it, only a couple of weeks ago, I thought it might be dystopian and unrealistic. Since then, in the news stories that have become more frequent and more disturbing, I’ve seen that what I’m writing is all too real.

I want to write this story, and many others. My pen (or keyboard) is one of my few weapons. Nothing I write will be perfect, and a lot of it might be pretty lousy, but I’ll use my voice as well as I can.

Also, though, I like to see part of my role as an artist as helping others to recharge. To do that, today I’d like to share some of my own favorite meditation music.

When I’m stuck in a writing project, I often find that practicing, especially playing music by certain composers, can help me find solutions to problems. J.S. Bach is one of those composers. His writing keeps both my brain and my hands busy. While I’m concentrating on the notes on the page, and the precise motions of my hands on the keys, stories can simmer away in the back of my mind and come together.

Today’s video features two of the pieces Bach called Two-part Inventions. These pieces are fun and challenging because the hands are totally independent of each other. In a lot of piano writing, you play a melody with your right hand and an accompaniment with your left, so that one hand is dominant and the other can pretty much coast. Bach’s Inventions are different. You can play either hand by itself and have a complete melody, and then you can put the two together in an intricate dialogue. The back-and-forth between them is fun to play and to hear.

Today’s two Inventions are both relaxed, not too busy or technical. As you listen to them, I hope you’ll find the mental refreshment you need, and maybe a solution or two, if you’re looking for some.

As always, thanks so much for visiting the blog! See you next time.



3 thoughts on “Zen for Ten 16: Meditation with Bach

  1. Randi Anderson

    Best of luck on your story — sounds like a challenging subject to tackle, and I don’t think I could do it believably. (Though perhaps even if you followed a news story to the letter, it would still feel implausible…)

    Lovely Bach performance šŸ™‚ Thank you as always!


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