Middle Yin and Middle Yang

“I can’t believe she did that to me!”  –  “I can believe that she did that me, it makes total sense”

“What a jerk!”  –  “I get it, I understand their behaviors”

“I need to forgive her”  –  “I’ll never forgive her”

“I hate myself”  –  “I don’t hate myself”

I don’t know.  What is bothering you?  Say it and then say the exact opposite.  Lakes and mountains.  Heaven and Earth.  Fire and Water.  Wood and Metal.  Yin and Yang.  Where are you leaning more towards one area?  As an exercise take that area and say the opposite like some of the examples above.  They are quite generic as only you can make it specific and useful.  The idea is to be middle yin or middle yang.  The more stable of the areas.  You see, in the I Ching you read hexagrams, which are 6 lines, really it’s two sets of 3 lines.  In each 3 line set you want to be the middle line.  The not exaggerated view point.  Try to see those situations that really drive you nuts from the exact opposites.   Look at this picture:


The exaggerated highs (full yang) and lows (full yin) are to be avoided.  So if you find yourself exaggerating some of your thoughts on a particular topic, like the experience of your last relationship, then try saying the exact opposite exaggeration with the goal of bringing your perspective more towards the straight line.  Middle yin and middle yang.

If your life can be represented by a string of a finite length then the more exaggerated the highs and lows are then the less your length it will be able to cover ie; a shorter life.  So the more you can keep your life steady and stable (it will never be a straight line as that doesn’t exist in nature) then the longer your life and health will be.

Forgiveness, free writing, burning

This topic is hard but essential.  I am by no means an expert or have a heightened understanding of forgiveness but I do know the value of it.  To be honest, all we can really do in our interactions with others is forgive.  It is really more complicated than that.  Here’s my suggestions for forgiving because we probably know it is important or have those things (actions people did in the past) that we just cannot seem to let go and are tortured by.  Well here’s what I recommend.

A worthy investment is a spiral bound notebook of ruled paper and some pens.  You might spend $4 USD.  This is worth the time and money to get these materials.  Then, free write on the subject, write without re-reading or editing, write even if it means just scribbles, write knowing that after you finish writing however many pages you are going to crumple them up and burn them so that no one can ever see them.  Burning the pages is important.  It is not enough to just throw them away and definitely do not leave them in the notebook.  One of the points of this is to have a safe outlet to get whatever is in your mind out of your mind without any judgement or holding back.  You can only do that successfully if the pages are then burned.


A WORD OF CAUTION.  If you do cathartic writing like this make no mistake, someone you do not want to find it will, and they will read it.  Even if someone says they love you, they will violate your privacy if tempted.  Unless they are a very highly developed, mature and spiritual person who is in a totally calm state they will read through you personal information.  This means, burn pages, lock your iPad, lock your iPhone and change passwords on all your devices to things not easily decipherable.  Don’t be blind sighted.  If something bad can happen it will – so take care of protecting your information.  In this technological age you have to spend time every few weeks pruning your chat history, emails, messengers, profiles, etc.  Unfortunately perception is reality and the person violating your privacy is looking for something to hold against you and they will find it regardless of the validity of their claim against you with it.

And of course after this person violates you, well, now you have a whole new opportunity to learn to forgive.  Write about what they did, free write, let it fly, anything goes – then burn it and take a nap.

A fire pit, or non-flammable bowl serves well to house the burning material.  Use caution, buy a cooking lighter (one with length), and be sure to extinguish any ashes.  You should also clean out the area and erase traces of your activities.  These exercises are for your development not for others to inquire about.

Making Decisions

This topic is so important to me personally.  My biggest area of struggle is second guessing myself.  This leads to undermining myself, sabotaging myself and setting myself up for failure.  All horrible things!  And why would someone do that to themselves!?

From an early age I concluded that life was confusing.  We each have family situations that offer various forms of dysfunction.  Mine was the death of a parent before age 3.  Kids cope in unbelievable ways and I’m beginning to see that I decided to accept that all of life was confusing and never really made sense or was trust-able.  I love the description of a tiger from the Chinese zodiac, although positive this stinger rings too true:  over-confidence and mistrust.  I interpret that as trusting nothing but thinking you can always meet the new challenge.  These traits enable me to pull back on decisions.  This is bad for mental health!  Life needs direction and purpose.


There’s a lot to deal with here and I’ve got my hands full.  Life, however, will teach me and through experience I’ll gain wisdom and maturity as long as I continue to self-reflect and work on myself.  My advice for someone struggling with making choices is to:

  • make a list of pros and cons ignore “what if’s” or outside pressures from people who haven’t demonstrated an investment in you (which sadly will be mostly everyone)
  • get your mind off it
  • do something that makes you smile
  • be calm and quiet, meditate
  • and ask your gut, your body, your inner being if this is right for you

You may not get a loud and clear response.  The next steps would be to imagine yourself making the choice and really “look where you are stepping.”  See all the details of daily in and out life if you make this choice.  Do research but not too much – there’s more power in your imagination than any YouTube video you may view.  Finally, if you feel positive and excited about it, maybe you should go for it!  If it crashes and burns you’ll learn a lesson AND you will have worked on your ability to make a choice.  If you feel like it would be punishing yourself do not make the choice.  If you are looking for the negatives and talking yourself out of it – stop doing that as it is your old habit clouding your mind.

Life is short.  Life has plans.  The worst thing to do is to be stuck.  Are you stuck?  Make a choice and then believe in it.  All there is here to do is to learn, there are really no wrong choices.  All there is here to do is learn. 

Alter Ego

You probably have an alter ego if you have ever made choices and either a few minutes, hours or weeks later really regretted them and wondered why, why did you do that?!
Why do we have alter egos?  Well, why do we have egos?  It’s only my guess but an ego is where we take the beliefs we have learned about the world and formulate a singular point from which we can operate under those beliefs.  For example, if you think gravity is real, your ego will not try to fly.  Ok more complicated, if you think you are a bad person, your ego will work to hide or conceal that fact while simultaneously enabling you to be bad.  I really don’t understand egos but they are a formulated mask or shield that allows you to maintain a sense of self and operating system for dealing with the world.  It is a good thing to be able to disengage your ego when receiving communication from others in relationships particularly if you value the other person such as a partner or a teacher.  This can be difficult.  And, rest assured, they will mostly likely have an ego too!

So, the alter ego, this may be where you have two sets of beliefs that conflict with one another and when your primary ego can’t integrate an event that has taken place in your life, for example your girlfriend cheating on you, then you will subconsciously resort to the alter ego who can then alleviate your primary sense of self from acknowledging the facts.  To continue the example, gf cheated so alter ego comes along and says I don’t need anyone and pushes the ex away and runs away, buys a pack of cigarettes and abandons projects.

A confusing question is how many alter egos do you have?  They may not all be negative.  When I find myself saying “yea you know what just forget this, I don’t need this I’ll just do ____” that is probably my alter ego talking and no, it won’t make me happy.  You can’t follow an alter ego because eventually your primary ego will come back and look at what’s happened and say “how did I get here?”  The key, as always, is awareness and centeredness.  Keep steady, be patient, wait and relax.

Look for what’s right

If I could live every moment seeing only the things that are right, the things I’m doing right, the things to feel good about, to feel proud of, to rejoice in…I can’t even imagine how much improved my life would be.  What really is the use in looking for what’s wrong?

In every moment you can see ways in which things are right or ways in which things are wrong.  Where your default setting comes from may vary and I don’t think it’s a simple answer or simple solution.  I realized tonight in a bikram yoga class that a large part of my seeing the negatives comes from a competitive mindset.  A gal in class was doing poses better than me and I noticed that – instead of noticing how well I was doing on the poses myself, my commitment to coming to class, and my general physical well-being.  How silly right?

We are taught competitiveness early in life and definitely in music.  What if that is a sick way of teaching children?  Instead of competitive how about thinking impressive.  Instead of finding all the faults how about praising the good things.  Build your strength and transmute your weakness through ..well I’m not sure about that.  Some very wise people (Master Ni, Master San Gee Tam) remind me, force me, shove it in my face at times, to be aware of and look at my severe shortcomings.

So there must be a balance.  A person who never slows down to examine themselves and consider their issues probably spells trouble for themselves and those they interact with.  However, maybe it is best to always see the good in your daily life.  Never compete since you’ll always just be trying to see who’s better and how you lack.  And set aside time daily for examination and working on yourself.

glass half full

Truly the glass is half full and half empty.  But there are humongous implications to your mental health and social well-being depending on which viewpoint you take.  Clearly, half full is the best choice.  Appreciate what’s good in every moment – there’s a lot of it.

You are to blame (try it)

Ask yourself – when is the last time I looked at my actions and accepted responsibility for any negative situations I’ve been blaming others for?

If we all stopped blaming others for any of our issues and owned up to our choices, beliefs, behaviors and alter-egos the world would surely improve.  Most definitely personal relationships would improve.

One great exercise:  take a situation where you felt you were wronged, where the other person totally stepped out of line and violated you, abused you, disrespected or insulted you THEN re-frame your lens so that 100% of everything that went wrong was YOUR fault.  Really dig into that until you start to believe it…spend some time on it, 10 minutes at least if not 30-1 hour or more.  Now regarding the other person, have your thoughts and feelings changed?  Do you feel more empathy?  Do you feel more responsibility, ownership or control?  Perhaps some of the negative feelings you had for that other have been removed and now other deeper feelings for them can surface.


This exercise is very extreme and quite wild.  Very few of your friends would ever encourage you to do this.  Most likely after a negative situation with someone else you’ll go to your friends, family, etc. and tell them the story how you are feeling it and they’ll of course take your side and tell you what they think you want to hear.  This may not be a good thing.  Love those friends of yours…but are they really helping you to RESOLVE the issue in a peaceful and loving way with the other?

I don’t recommend doing this exercise to beat yourself up or to make quick decisions immediately afterward but as a learning experience it is useful.  Find people who will tell you the truth and not just what you want to hear (or what they think you want to hear).  Find people to advise you and ask them “what are some options for how I could handle this situation?”  instead of just letting them stir up your already emotional state and push you further down whatever destructive road you are on.

It is my belief that it is not the higher road to be silent, faux-peaceful.  These things are actually avoidant and do not honor or respect yourself and the other.  Deal with life.


Finding a Good Picc

That’s right, picc, not pic as in picture of yourself at your gig looking sharp 😉

I’ve played many piccolo trumpets over the years, A side, Bb side, and eventually settled on a Kanstul 920.  Also played were a Yamaha picc and a Schilke picc.  I’ve tricked out my picc by getting an osmun leadpipe (Bb side) and a Bob Reeves valve alignment.  Both were nice improvements.  Here’s a vid of me playing said picc:

Luckily I’m playing with some great musicians and we pulled that piece off quite well.  This is a fantastic picc piece from the Baroque era, composed by Bach, “Grosse Herr” from the Christmas oratorio.

Now for something completely different!  Here is one of my earlier forays into piccolo trumpet playing and I’m not ashamed to reveal it was with a drum and bugle corps.  In fact this show won the world championships in 2006…long time ago!  The piccolos begin about 1/4 through the video.

Pretty wild that we picked up those piccs from the sideline every day in the hot summer sun and played them, what a concept!

So how to find a good picc?  Well I’ll tell you when I figure that out!  Until then…try different mouthpieces lol!