May 15, 2019 by Klaus Crow
Photo by Taylor McBride
Every morning when I wake up I read a chapter from the Tao Te Ching or something that is related to Taoism or Zen.
(The Tao Te Ching is a book about how to live a virtuous life and it’s amongst the most translated works in world literature)
When I finished reading I meditate on the wise words of Lao Tzu so I can put it to practice in my daily life.
I use the app Insight Timer for meditating, because it’s got some nice bells to start and finish my meditation session and it shows all the people from around the globe meditating with me at the same time which is really inspiring.
Then I do some Yoga just before the kids wake up.
It’s a really nice morning ritual and although I’m quite consistent, I don’t force myself to do these things everyday.
It just feels naturally because I love doing it. Just like playing guitar.
I don’t have a ritual or routine for guitar playing. I just play throughout the day any moment I feel like it.
And I’ll practice what I’m obsessed about at that particular moment. One day it might be Blues or Jazz and the next day I’ll play and sing songs of Ryan Adams on my acoustic.
Now that I mention this. I just came from the supermarket and heard a Ryan Adams song on the radio “Chains of Love” It’s nice to hear good music on the radio. After I finished writing this post I’m gonna transcribe that song and play it. Oh I can’t wait. Sorry let’s get back to where I was…..
Other days I’ll play scales, triads, intervals and licks for weeks in a row because I love to enhance my guitar vocabulary and develop the ability and freedom to play whatever I want across the entire fretboard.
But hold on a minute… No goals… Goals make me anxious and they create stress.
Just whatever feels good at the moment I’ll surrender myself fully to that. And that could be the same thing for a long time or different things for a shorter period of time. It doesn’t matter as long as I’m having fun. Productivity will find it’s way.
Oh yeah, and then I have a couple of other hobbies, like spending time with my wife and kids, teaching guitar, running, blogging, cooking, walking, reading, writing, bicycling, gardening and growing my own vegetables. Did I mention playing guitar? Well I probably forgot a bunch of stuff.
The point is, there was a time that I believed it wasn’t possible to do all these things, because there weren’t enough hours in the day.
But I discovered that my limited thinking held me back from doing a lot of things that I loved. And why shouldn’t I do everything that I like? Hey I might draw, paint or make a buddha if I feel like it or I’ll try to fix my own guitar amp. I know I have two left hands, but I might enjoy it en learn something out of it. Why not? It’s called spontaneous living.
So how do you create more time to play guitar, enjoy gigs, transcribe songs, workout, put together your dream repertoire, jam with your friends or a bunch of other great things that life has to offer.
Well here are a few of the keys:
– Wake Up. Yes try to wake up earlier. WAIT! don’t skip this one yet. It’s a tough one..I know, but hold on. If you read this post you might change your mind and change your life. Try to think outside of the box for a second.
– Watch Less TV. So obvious, but so tempting when you feel lazy or tired. The moment you give in on watching TV takes just a second. If in that same second you ignore that thought and replace it for something that you’d love to do instead.. and then go for that.. without hesitating.. you’ll gain 30 minutes to an hour of free time easily.
– Turn it Off. You really don’t need your smartphone. Turn it off more often or better yet turn if off entirely. Yes yes you can take it with you for emergencies but just turn it off. Believe me, you can do without. Try it for 10 days in a row and you’ll be surprised. You’ll be wondering why you wasted so much of your precious time for a useless addictive habit.
– No News. Stop reading or watching the news. If it is really important people will let you know about it and sometimes it’s better if they don’t (after all the world didn’t end on december 21, 2012)
– Simplify Your Tasks. Chunk your tasks into smaller ones. Break them down into concrete steps and make it easy for yourself. Small step are easy to manage. And try to do everything in the most efficient way possible.
– Be Effective. Eliminate unnecessary tasks. Only do what is really really important and leave out the rest. Don’t just assume or except that everything is important. It’s not! Think really carefully about what is important and what is not. Dare to eliminate.
– Think Outside of The Box. Do things differently. If something doesn’t work for you, change it.
One of my favorite quotes: “If you do what everyone else does, you are going to get what everybody else gets.”
– Phonecalls. Stop answering every single phonecall. Let people leave you a message on your answering machine or send you an email. On the other hand if you need to know something don’t spend all your time on google searching for it. You’ll waste hours in no time. Preferably pick up the phone and call someone who knows how to do what you want to do. Get used to it.
– Declutter. Get rid of stuff. Less stuff and less clutter means less organizing, cleaning, maintaining, repairing and distraction. Stuff and clutter is unconsciously time consuming.
– Make Less Commitments. and reduce obligations to free up your time. Rather visit people spontaneously or make a commitment not to long in advance.
– Learn to Say No. Be polite, but clear. Respect yourself by saying no if time doesn’t allow it or if you don’t feel comfortable with it. Just tell people that it’s not convenient at the moment or be politely honest if you dare.
– Outsource. Try to automate or outsource dull or repeating tasks in your life. Let other people do for you what they can do better and let people benefit from your talent or skills in return.
– Stop Procastanating. Start doing what you always wanted to do. Live your dream by doing it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a really small dream or a major big one. Just take the first step.
Everyday a small step and you’ll come closer to living your dream and doing what you want to do. As long as the path your walking is fun and enjoyable. Don’t wait for the perfect time or the perfect surcumestances. There aren’t any. Just do it now!
An ant on the move does more than a dozing ox. – Lao Tzu
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Byron Lovering says
I also love playing the guitar but I would not make a religious experience out of it. It is good that you are in pursuit of the spiritual but how can you or I live a perfect life? Even if all of our past was forgiven we would mess it up again within five minutes. We need something outside of ourselves to rescue us. Deep down inside we know that something is not right and what we end up doing is making little minor “dos and don’ts” in life to make us feel that we are kind of OK. In truth we are really messed up and we are spiritually dead. We need a savior bigger that ourselves. That person is the Man-God Jesus Christ who lived the perfect life for all and gave His live in our place so we could receive freedom from our sinful bondage. That’s is good news! It is a free gift from God and you can’t earn it.
Klaus Crow says
I’m not saying or trying to give the impression that I’m living a perfect life. I’m not. Nor do I make a religious experience out of it since Taoism is not a religion but a philosophy. However I do find many improvements in my life since I started reading about Taoism and Zen. And if the people around me benefit from that I couldn’t be happier.
Byron Lovering says
Happiness and a positive life is a good thing. When you have the downturns/tragedies in life and look inside yourself and cannot find the answers where does someone turn then? The Bible show us that our creator comes to earth (Christmas) and becomes the God-man Jesus Christ. He lives the perfect life we could never live and He takes the entire sins of the world and pays for the sins on a criminals cross, even though he never did anything wrong. Then He proves that He is God by rising from the dead (Easter). He satisfied the justice of God for you and for me. By way of a gift, He gives us a legal document that says “All of your debt has been paid.” and all we need to do is believe it. And, even the ability to believe also comes from God. I know it sounds crazy but that is the story we read in the Bible. It’s not about us doing stuff and following spiritual steps to happiness. It is about God seeing the mess humanity is in and fixing it in a way only He can.
Nice and inspiring article. I really like playing guitar and singing as well although i suck in it haha. I started playing guitar 3-4 years ago but I am still in the same place. No progress at all. Because I really cannot focus in these video tutorials. I like learning in person. I did join a guitar class and it was good though but because of some reasons couldnot continue. And I am stucked here in the same place. Since I am living in another country right now I don’t have any friends here. I did buy a guitar. But whenever I try playing, I cannot get it right and I leave it. I know nobody can get it right in first try. But still I am not able to move forward. Just learned some chords and some exercises that’s it. Hope I will get better someday though I know I won’t. I will look around here if I can find something for me! Nice blog!
Klaus Crow says
You can do this on your own. I know you can. Go through the archive and read some posts that will inspire and motivate you. I’m all with you on trying to get lessons from a personal teacher, but in the meanwhile there’s a lot you can do to improve on your own. In fact there’s nothing you cannot do on your own.
Start learning now and just take small steps everyday. Don’t try to strive for any goals but just practice and enjoy guitar playing without aiming for a destination. Don’t think about that. Just enjoy the path your walking on and you’ll improve step by step. That’s all there is to it. Believe in yourself!
Ahmed Nihal says
Wonderful article as always .
Just wondering if you might know any ebooks of any sorts related to Taoism and zen
Klaus Crow says
The Shift from Wayne Deyer is a great book about Taoism
The “Tao Te Ching” from Lao Tzu is the most famous book about Taoism
Tao Te Ching
Then there is Chuang Tzu which is a book for the fanatic.(it’s difficult to read)
The Book of Chuang Tzu (Penguin Classics)
And finally there is a book about Lieh Tzu which I still have to read myself.
The Book of Master Lie
Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu and Lieh Tzu are the three people who contributed the most to the legacy of Taoism.
Wayne Deyer wrote a great book that is really nice to read.
Javier Alonso says
A book I reread year after year: “Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance”, by Robert M. Pirsig. It’s a foundational work on the concept of “Quality”.
I really appreciated this article. It’s refreshing to see someone apply the Taoist philosophy to playing the guitar, and it makes sense considering that the philosophy itself teaches that there is an “art” to every action in our lives, should we choose to view it as such. Very well written, and I hope more people see it with an open mind, as there is a lot to learn from it. I was a pastor for many years in the christian faith as well, so just to address the criticism directed towards your theologic approach, I recommend people remember that even jesus was not a believer at first and had to learn from the jewish elders before he took the mantle of “the son of god”. Looking back now, Judaism and Christianity are viewed by the known world now to be completely different faiths, and the idea that one is right and the other “wrong” is not the teaching that proper christianity should employ. So learning other faiths is not only a great idea, it is the example that Jesus set for his people. I myself am simply a student of many beliefs, so thank you for the enlightening approach to learning more about the art that I enjoy :)
Big Chief says
May I suggest two books on Zen Buddhism. Both are written by Chinese Gentlemen who are practioners, and the books may be hard to obtain but are well worth it. Try Amazon
The first is THe Practice or Zen by C. C. Chang.
The second is Chan and Zen Teachings by Lu K’uan Yu
Both are deep oceans of knowledge, without bottoms.
Of course there are the books of DT Suzuki , a Japanese practioners.
I believee all three men had the awakening and are highly qualified to bring the information to us.
The autobiographies of three Masters recounting in detail how they reached the awakening ,in the The Practice of Zen is a guidepost