The Instrumental Music of Being

The Instrumental Music of Being

“Music is an outburst of the soul.”
― Frederick Delius

I’ve been taking yoga classes (in Spanish) every weekday while here in San José for the past two weeks. I have a lot of Bikram yoga experience, but since the postures in Bikram yoga are set and never change, I feel as though I have had a very limited exposure to yoga in general; but I certainly enjoy the challenge nonetheless.

I’m improving my Spanish vocabulary little by little each day. I can’t always remember the words I want to use, but I figure with consistent exposure, the language will start to stick more and more during my stay. That said, I don’t always know what Paula, my yoga instructor, is saying; but I can usually pick out words here and there, and I’ve begun to recognize certain terms, postures, body parts, left and right, etc.

In yesterday’s class, her use of the word instrumento stood out for me. Obviously, this is Spanish for the word instrument, but that’s not what struck me about the word.

It’s not uncommon to refer to our bodies as instruments. Such terminology is especially used somewhat commonly in the realm of theatre and performance. But yesterday, as I was laying on my back in Savasana, I began to wonder… “If our bodies are instruments, then… Who is the player? Who is the musician?”

In response to this question, I suppose we can think of our mind as being the musician, and our body the instrument. If this is the case, we must differentiate between the mind and the brain, because the brain is also part of the physical body/instrument; even though mind and brain are usually considered to be synonymous, what we often define as one’s “mind” — personality, thought patterns, etc —  sometimes seems to exist as something apart from the brain.

Case in point: Take Hemispherectomy, a procedure in which half of someone’s brain is surgically removed. Even with half a brain missing, studies have found that those who have undergone such a procedure have not displayed any significant long-term effects in terms of one’s memory, personality, or humor, and minimal changes in cognitive function overall.

I find this to be utterly fascinating.

I hope that some day we will know with precision and certainty where in the brain the mind truly lives, as there’s still so much we don’t fully understand about the brain, the mind, and that magical spark of life that transforms simple carbon matter into a collection of living, growing cells that we call Life.

This path of thought led to me thinking about the possibility of the universe existing as an entity unto itself. What if the entire universe is akin to some kind of living and breathing organism? What if the evolution of the universe is merely representative of its ongoing growth process, where the big bang denotes its moment of inception? Or, what if its own evolution is not too unlike that of our own species? What if conscious beings in the universe somehow have the same impact as the trillions of bacteria we have in our own system? …What if, like bacteria in humans, we as conscious beings are somehow essential to the health, development, and evolution of the universe as a whole?

Maybe we are but elements of the larger instrument that is the universe, not too unlike the strings of a violin or a piano.

If we are instruments, then we are simultaneously composers and musicians, composing and playing out the melodies, harmonies, and dissonances of our own lives.

How will the music of your life sound?

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