The Zen of Control

I'm using Jump by Van Halen for developing hand independence. The left hand part is so simple, I can't imagine a better song to start with. And it's working. Under an hour of total practice time and my left hand is playing independent of the right.

While practicing, I recognize an important truth about control: when I focus on either hand I flub up immediately, but when I zoom out and just observe, I play better. It reminds me of something Shunryu Suzuki wrote in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind.

About control, Suzuki said:

To give your sheep or cow a large, spacious meadow is the way to control him. So it is with people: first let them do what they want, and watch them. This is the best policy. To ignore them is not good; that is the worst policy. The second worst is trying to control them. The best one is to watch them, just to watch them, without trying to control them.

This is so true. At my new job at the homeless shelter, I serve all different kinds of people. Many have a mental illness or drug addiction, and some self medicate their mental illness or trauma with hard drugs. Others have violent or anti social temperaments. Most are angry. None want to be there. All of them want their own space and live independently, but due to life circumstances they cannot survive without the shelter's help.

As a staff member, I try to give as much leeway and as many choices as possible. If they are in violation of one of the shelter's rules, I inform them but then step back and give them space. With a bit of time and space, most people of sound mind do the right thing of their own accord.

Suzuki goes on to say:

The true purpose is to see things as they are, to observe things as they are, and to let everything go as it goes. This is to put everything under control under the widest sense.

Try the Zen of Control for dealing with people in the fairest possible manner, and paradoxically enough, for developing left hand independence. Just add Van Halen's Jump for best results.

Meditation Time bookstanding today: 40 Quality of meditation (out of 10): 5

Practice Minutes on the keyboard today (out of 40): 15 minutes Quality of practice (out of 10): 6

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