Adam Rafferty – Guitar and Spirit

All about music, guitar, spirituality, personal development and being happy


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Thoughts Become Things and Things Become Thoughts

And if you watch Victoria’s Secrect ads you’ll know that thongs become thoughts and thoughts become thongs. Thongs can then become things.

All joking aside…

There is plenty written online about “thoughts becoming things”. That is a pretty solid cornerstone in the concept of manifesting the things in life that you want, right? You think of the cup of coffee- and it’s just an idea, an image. In a short time, relatively effortlessly – you can manifest that cup of coffee.

It’s the self help du jour, and very interesting to discuss “removing resistance” when you or I want something more – something bigger, more costly or more time consuming to get or achieve. So if I have a vision of a master’s degree or career change, that will take some time, money and effort, right? As well, if I wanted a rolls-royce or a new house, or a better job that would involve what I feel to money and effort.

But for some reason I wanted to look through this thoughts to things “rabbit hole” backwards.

But first – a word from our sponsor – TIME.

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Time does not exist. I’m no Einstein, I know – but time is totally connected to our minds and is inside us, not outside. It is a humans way, though five senses, of “decoding” an ever present now. Meditation will bring you to a timeless state, and you’ll see that time is relative to our mind.

Someone once said that time is our way of not experiencing eternity and everything at once so we don’t go completely mad.

I hate to gloss over this, but just let’s take time out of the equation for now. There is really only a present moment and memory. Past and future are actually quite similar for us – and experiments have shown that imagining and remembering are incredibly similar. There is NOW and then there is the “imagined somewhere else” idea.

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Back to thoughts and things. If we take time (and money) out of the equation – we see that whether it is a term paper, a musical project, a cup of coffee, a vacation to a far away place – the thing has manifested as a result of thought.

How about if we looked the other way? When you look at a thing, you get a thought.

Example – I am walking down the street in lovely peaceful NYC and I see a couple walking with venti starbucks coffee cups. I go get a cup. I hold it in my hand – it is a thing…

And the thing, in my hand gives me thoughts. The warmth, the taste, the smell, the cafeine buzz – are a thought, right? The thing is just a thought.

Let me share with you the real example that made me think of this. I did a major clutter removal and clean up in my apartment and am enjoying things like a clear desk, folded and put away clothing, a clean swept floor.

On a quantum level, I think everything in my house that I started with was still here – every speck of dust included. The clean up thoughts shifted things, and then looking at a clean place gives me thoughts.

These things don’t make me feel good – the THOUGHTS make me feel good, free and inspired. Pretty crazy that a clean desk can unlock such a great feeling.

(What is happening is my creative thoughts can flow unimpeded without the distractions of my past – bills, objects. All the clutter gives you/me thoughts and your / my mind becomes like a car swerving on the road instead of going straight with an idea. The clean desk allows a flow of thought. That then feels good!)

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Then of course, the “thing becomes a thought and the thought becomes a thing” cycle endlessly with no seeming begging or end. I suppose it all had to start with thought.

(Please hang in there until the end -I am getting to my point!!!)

Thought: You saw coffee.
Thing:You drank it.
Thought:You like it, so now you envision it.
Thing: You buy and drink it.
Thought: You enjoy it and think about it.

And you are now in the endless feedback loop of T & T.

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The more I ponder this – and look “backwards” through the “rabbit hole” it seems that there is this “swinging door” between thoughts and things – and here’s the whammy – PHYSICAL MANIFESTATION OF IT DOES NOT MATTER MUCH AT ALL – it’s a simple swinging door in us, our mind. The manifestation, the will, the want – and the dissatisfaction unless we manifest it – is inside us. Whether it’s learning to play a Mozart Sonata or steaming broccoli for dinner – the urge and need starts in us. So the “inside us” and “outside us” are like a swinging door as well.

Take out the proving to others, the proving to oneself, the money, the time, the fear and all that is left is this swinging door. It’s a given, there’s no way out – and it is effortless to make thoughts into things.

We can know now that there is very little difference between the thought and the thing, as if we can just take pleasure in the thought because it is a thin veil between the idea and material.

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I say this all because I am my own guinea pig. In 2006 I wanted to play around with this idea – the manifesting being really fun and exciting to me. I decided to embark on my journey of solo acoustic guitar and saw in my minds eye a CD, gigs, tours, performing, and practicing. I saw in my minds eye happy faces of people who I am playing music for.

I didn’t even own a steel string guitar, and I had no solo repertoire under my fingers. All I had was inspiration. When I spoke with my girlfriend (we had just met at the time) about my plans, she looked at me and I don’t know what she thought, but I sensed a “well, we’ll see” speck of doubt. I declared – “Watch and be amazed! It is done!” Needless to say – she’s amazed at my results and my biggest fan!

And lo – it’s happening. CD is done, touring is happening. I’m happy. And it happened in a blink. Time doesn’t matter, and is only an idea. (Also, money is an idea as well. I know, that’s a hard one for us Americans!)

But – here’s the point. I look at the thing, the tour, the CD- and I get these happy thoughts. It is not too different a feeling from before any of it was manifested….so what is the point of manifesting stuff? Can we be happy not bothering to manifest?

Ahh – the conclusion, for now. There is some deep, deep, deepak, deep thing about “knowing oneself as creator”. It is an unearthly, loving, spiritual satisfaction to be part of this process. I remember composing a fugue and feeling an unearthly satisfaction and connection “to it all” when I was done. The music was wiggle in the field – out there and I manifested it by writing it.

Just think – if you saw a magic act and someone manifested a person out of thin air, it looks and feels like utter magic to you, right? Well – take time out of the equation – slow down the video of them doing the trick, and it looks like the reality you are used to.

Then, look at something you have achieved and “speed up” the video – and it looks like the guy doing magic. That’s because what you did was in fact magic. Take time out of the equation. You getting that car, house, graduating, learning that new thing – is magic.

All you have ever been doing is manifesting ideas into reality and probably don’t see how magical it is! It’s so magical that most humans walk around deadened to this mysterious, delicious, miraculous cosmic reality. It’s like a fish not realizing the feeling of water.

Spend time with your thoughts and think big, now that you know you’ll get what you think about! But know – the thing won’t make you happy – the “creating” will.

You are creator!

Here is Yogi Gupta talking about similar stuff:
http://ecomall.com/greenshopping/gupta2.htm


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Organize and You’ll Be More Productive and Happier

Hi friends. Boy do I feel great! I can attribute it to many things – but I’d like to stress the importance of cleaning up, throwing junk out, putting things away and all-around organizing.

I hired an organizer / assistant for a few hours here and there and just a few of her suggestions were very valuable:

1) Things, files, objects etc get divided into “present tense” & “past or future” (my interpretation). Objects you really use get to stay out. That’s valuable real estate – “your mind”. Stuff you need to see and that’s easy to get to has to be numero uno important.

2) Establish “homes” for things. I had AA batteries on the window – sill. I had stacks of magazines and yellow pads stuffed together inside living room type furniture. No good. You have to establish and declare homes for stuff.

2.5) Old stuff that you want to keep but never use – that gets put in a hard to reach, back of the closet type place. .

3) Throw out and donate. Example – Empty boxes for electronic equipment – Bye – in the garbage.

Clothes – old sweaters that you never actually wear, but remember wearing in a past life – just drop them at the Salvation Army. Example – my old guitars will get parked at my music school for student use.

Again – those are all “past tense” objects, seeking “future use” that never comes. Christmas bows? Throw ’em out and buy new ones next year. For the low price of $5, you have less crap lying around for a year.

4) Allow for clear space. It’s GOOD for a corner to have nothing in it. It’s good for a desk or wall to have nothing on it. A great artist / designer once told me “not every part of the space has to be filled up”.

The same goes for your computer desktop.

5) THE BIG ONE – don’t de-clutter and organize and clean at the same time. Those are 3 different steps. I learned this basic idea from a book entitled “Getting things Done” by David Allen. (I can’t find my copy,will probably buy again)

I didn’t do his whole system but here’s what I do: collect all crap and throw it in a box first. Decide on where it goes and what to do later. That gets your space clean and clear FAST – and you can think clearly and effectively. Then at a later time, put away & process the stuff. I use big plastic bins from staples and raid my apartment for :

bills
guitar picks
receipts
books
pens
ac adaptors
CD’s
etc

Throw them in the box – DO NOT PUT THEM AWAY AND LOOK FOR PLACES TO JUST GET THEM OUT OF SITE, BECAUSE YOU’LL NEVER GET THE PLACE CLEAN. Just put them in your crap box for now.

Get the place looking clean and clear of junk. Then, clean up (sweep, dust), and then lastly, usually another day – go through the box.

The same applies for you computer. How much crap is on your desktop? Do this and you’ll see what I mean:

a) Create a new folder on the desktop called “junk_1-30-2008” or whatever the date is. Note the use of underscores and hyphens.

b) highlight everything EXCEPT the hard drive of your computer.

c) drop it in the folder

d) enjoy the clarity of thought looking at a blank desktop.

e) In your documents folder create a NEW folder simply called “clean_up”. You can drop the “junk_1-30-2008” folder in there and sort things out later. This way if you accumulate a junk folder every few weeks or week, you’ll have a clean up method and can organize at a later time. Each folder will be sorted by date.

6) When you go through the physical bin or “junk_1-30-2008” type folder – determine what needs immediate action and establish a place for immediate action. It’s really only for RIGHT NOW items.

I recently created and IMMEDIATE ACTION folder in my email program. Scanning past social emails to search for gig offers, customers and radio contacts was too exhausting and time consuming.

This works for me better than various folders like “Gigs”, “Recording”, “Bills” etc because I’d have to still go looking for what is on a “front burner”. At a glance I can deal with the most necessary, urgent stuff.

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The Result?
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You’ll experience an uncanny spiritual rush when things are clean – as if a weight is lifted off of you. Your attention will not be pulled in several directions at once, and you’ll be able to hit the bullseye with more of your actions and feel good.

There is a natural energy in keeping things tidy and organized – why do you think Zen monks clean the monastery every single day?

Try the computer desktop suggestion NOW. Then buy a bin at Staples or Office max and de-clutter. You’ll see – it’s awesome!


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Musical Imitation, Realization and Maturity

Last week I had decided to put up some more YOUTUBE videos because it had been a while since I posted, and it was time to keep in touch with fans. The unbelievably supportive comments I get really keep me going and inspire me!

I recorded / video’d the following 3 tunes: “Superstition” and “Overjoyed” by Stevie Wonder and “Tall Fiddler” by Tommy Emmanuel.

My musical guru Mike Longo taught me something very profound – which he refers to as the 3 phases of musicianship:

1) Imitation
2) Realization
3) Maturity

Phase 1, “imitation” is similar to a little kid parroting things back. This indicates musical talent, and actually the imitative stage can last long into one’s life. There are many “great” professional musicians who are highly evolved imitators. There is a kind of feel to this type of musician – when you hear them play, it “sounds good” but does not necessarily “feel good”. I hear plenty of music that does not totally touch my soul. Quite often this type of musician learns by imitating off records. I started this way.

Phase 2, “realization” is the first glimpse into seeing music flow properly through oneself due to the proper application of a musical concept, at least sort of. For me, practicing African rhythms on hand drums (again – thank you Mike Longo) led me to being able to lay my own groove down. Many musicians will say “go for a such and such feel” – and unless you know how the musical gears need to mesh – any attempt at a such and such feel will be an attempt at imitation.

It’s tricky to describe, but “realization” musically is devoid of any attempt to imitate.

For example – Wes Montgomery’s octave soloing was a signature sound. I may use a “texture” of octaves but groove it according to my feel and body rhythm and sense of melody. Another guitarist may be trying to copy Wes’s octave sound.

So, what appears to be 2 guitarists playing similar ideas can have an underpinning of imitation or realization and maturity.

Another example would be a composer who learns the principles of counterpoint can write fugues, yet may not be trying at all to imitate the sound of Johann Sebastian Bach.

Do you see how music can have an underpinning of imitation or realization?

Imagine how silly it would be to “imitate” another chess players mannerisms and moves – that would not win the game. Be yourself, but apply his or her concepts and maybe you’ll have a chance at winning! Get it?

3) Maturity: After realization bakes, maturity dawns. It is the polish, the depth, the artistry that is built on phase 2.

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Part of my psychological makeup is “there is nothing I cannot do”, if I choose to do it. Nothing “gets my goat” more than a collective mentality of lots of people gawking and saying “such and such is impossible”. It’s like – I see people limiting themselves and I want to scream “FOLKS! YOU CAN DO IT – WATCH ME!!! IT’S NOT IMPOSSIBLE, BUT DO-ABLE!”.

So I can get like a cat who sits on the side of a closed door and will meow until that door gets opened. That was my personal challenge with “Tall Fiddler” by Tommy Emmanuel. I had to know that this piece – which many people consider unplayable – is playable!!! (I’ll have to practice this one more – but it’s coming along)

And like I said in a post earlier about his tune “The Hunt” – I love having stand-alone, mouth frothing songs to offer a contrast at my concerts and gigs.

“Tall Fiddler – Tommy Emmanuel”

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Yet there’s a problem: music is not about “proving I can” do anything. I caught myself in this ego trip 24 hrs after having posted, and lay myself bare for you the reader. True music has a life of it’s own. “You” are not even playing it – the music just is. Proving anything – even and especially to oneself – through a piece of music means there’s the “me” and “the music”. The ego strikes again.

24 hours after posting I went back to view my other videos – “Superstition” and “Overjoyed” and they rang much more of truth to me. The music touched me and the grooves flowed along.

I saw that these arrangements started off way back coming from “the right place”. The launching pad, or inspiration was pure – the music of Stevie Wonder touched my heart. I then used every bit of guitar knowledge and music knowledge to map these out onto a solo guitar. They are not imitations of another player – they are solutions to a riddle, but LOVE was the motivating force.

“Overjoyed – Stevie Wonder”

The difference is subtle, yet profound.

The lesson of the story?

You can never be someone else. NO matter how good you imitate – you can’t be someone else’s essence – they themselves have that market cornered. A simple song from a standpoint of realization speaks volumes more than virtuosity on an imitative level.

“Superstition – Stevie Wonder”

The good news? No one can be YOU – so the more you dive into your own realization and maturity, anyone who tries to imitate you will be at the level of imitating, and not touch people the same way.

Music stemmming from a basis of maturity and realization will touch people, speak to people and get under their skin whereas imitative music will simply dribble off the skin and likely be forgotten. Doesn’t matter how much it’s promoted! šŸ™‚

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My plans:

I plan to keep practicing this tune “Tall Fiddler” but will now look for ways to make it my own – for my own enjoyment. Turn it upside down, look for different ways to approach the ferocious groove on it, move sections around etc. Maybe use techniques I learned from it to create my own songs.

Hope you enjoyed this! Time for me to get practicing!


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Are You a “Do it Yourself” Type Person?

As a musician, I have been a “do it yourself”, “lone wolf” type person for years (until now). I guess it started when I was a teenager with no money, having to make gig postcards or something, I got used to doing everything that surrounded my music.

As well, I had a teacher who still has a very successful music book mail order business. As it turns out he delegates the copying & binding of the books – but in an effort to emulate his product I went to kinkos, bought a binding machine and made similar books. The difference? I had to be hands on.

Making gig flyers, publishing my own books, burning CD demos, fixing up my own websites have been the m.o. in my past. Things I was forced / chose to delegate / hire someone were studio recording and CD production – yet everything else, I felt I had to be hands on to get it done right and cheaply.

Does this sound like you?

If you are like me, it’s easy to feel that “only I can do it right, best, fastest cheapest”.

Guess what? All the success books I have been studying teach the opposite. Focus on your core genius and delegate the rest.

See, the problem with the “I have to do everything” attitude is that it is easy to spend an 8 hour day making xeroxes and saving $50 – but in that same time (for example) I could be practicing and improving my craft which will lead to much more than $50.

What if I used that time to draft a workshop outline, a new book, make a new you tube video, etc? So – cheaper is not cheaper. It robs me / us of our most valuable asset – time.

Even worse is that I got to be known for good web skills and pretty good (but not awesome) design skills – like laying out a CD cover. So others would hire me. Some people might think “ooh – great you have something to fall back on”, but now the likelihood of getting further away from my most important tasks is compounded.

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So I did a test. “No more!” I declared. For my new CD Gratitude I hired a GREAT photographer, and allowed the CD duplication company “Discmakers” to design it. Discmakers charges about $500 for the design.

In the past I have used scanned photos, and done layouts myself in inDesign or Quark. My CD’s have looked “pretty ok”, “acceptable”…you get the idea.

The result of delegating this new project? My new CD looks TOP NOTCH! GREAT! Gorgeous. 10 stars! And it was painless! I found myself playing guitar and lining up important things like gigs, magazine reviews, etc – and spent NO time in front of an Adobe program. The $500 spent got me much more than I had bargained for – saved time, great result. Now when anyone (customer, promoter, festival) sees this – it will stand out from all the shlocky looking stuff. Oh, and did I mention that they also designed posters and t-shirts as well (all included in the $500)?

ā€œGratitudeā€ albumĀ cover

Not only that – the result is WAY BETTER – like 1000% better, than if I had done it myself. It smacks of “world class”, “this guy takes himself seriously”, and “successful musician”.

Delegation does not have to cost a lot. You can ask friends & family for favors here and there to get stuff off your plate. John Assaraf repeatedly says “find people who play at the things you work at”.

It also means “visualizing” things getting done easily and effortlessly around you. I’ll keep you posted on my productivity from delegation.

Straight Ahead!!! Comments and ideas welcome…