Tuesday, 16 October 2012

The Greatest Rock'n'Roll Band You Never Heard Of

We tend to think that talent and accomplishment mean fame and success. One Toronto band, the Monitors, who in my estimation created awesome music, got very little recognition, didn't last long, and no doubt was completely paid for out of the band members pockets.
I first heard them around 2006 in a tiny little place on Queen Street called the Smiling Buddha bar. When they got up to play I had no idea who they were but immediately realized how great they were.
Keith on his Melody Maker
Their last show was several years later at Clinton's. Some band got up before them, did a tasteful set, showed how good they were on their instruments and behaved like they thought a rock band should. Ho Hum. Then the Monitors got up and tore the place apart like they had no choice. And that was that.
Diego Shea
Special mention goes to Diego Shea, who did main vocals and songwriting. He's currently playing in the Castros. The Monitors Myspace page is still available, with four great songs you can hear, of which Easy Rider is my favourite. Go to Myspace and search for "themonitorsmusic". I'm happy owner of a copy of all demos extant (thanks Keith). Sometimes world-class bands play just down the street for free.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Why Meditate ?

glass of water
I have been meditating for about 12 years, on and off. I'm not sure about the benefits. I think I may have received benefits, but its not something I can point to with words. Things can be subtle but still very powerful. Maybe I'm more relaxed, maybe I'm more patient, more grounded, more content, more able to take time to smell the roses. It's hard to say. 

It's important to see what our condition is. I believe that all us modern folks are actually weird and dysfunctional versions of humanity. Most spiritual paths have a way of talking about this and the usual idea is that we each have two selves, one that is essential and exists in the moment, and one that is conditioned and focused on past/future and grasp/avoid.

Meditation is a chance for your essential self to get its time in the light, so to speak. But when we are in the present we don't care about benefits. And being concerned about benefits keeps us from being in the present moment. 

So rather than benefits, think of meditation as a chance to practice being, or to just be. 

If meditation has one obvious benefit, its that it helps us see how our mind works, and what we're really thinking about. And where our attention usually is (which ain't the present moment). As my (then) teenage son said to me after his first meditation class "Dad, I can't stop thinking!". So one of the benefits is seeing what going on inside yourself, learning about yourself. You'd be surprised at the misconceptions we have about what goes on in our own minds.

Some people meditate to have blissful experiences, or become more peaceful, or to calm down. That's fine, but when you have a idea like that, your setting a goal, having expectations, judging and rejecting anything that doesn't seem to be giving you the experience you want. But being in the moment requires that you accept the moment for what it is, not what you want it to be. Its hard because its so simple.

Even sitting cross legged on a cushion can be a trap, as I think of myself as "meditating" and being "spiritual". Better to meditate by just sitting in a chair alone in a room for half an hour and doing nothing. 

I think the only thing to try to do, when your thinking mind will let you remember, is to place your attention on some sensation, be it a sound, a visual detail, or the feeling of space around you in the room. This is "doing" yes, but it then allows you to have a few moments perhaps of "being", and surely it is a good thing to just "be" fully in our life once and a while.