Grammy Award for Dancing on Water – Peter Kater

Over the last 14 years I’ve been nominated for the Grammy Award for Best New Age Album 13 times.

peter kater grammy 2018 dancing on water

I went to the Grammy's every year to enjoy the festivities and with the prospect of winning. I could usually tell when the nominations first came out who was going to win and for the most part I was right.

This last year I released my DANCING ON WATER recording, an all improvised solo piano album. It was doing well on Amazon and Billboard but I was thinking that even if it got nominated that I probably wouldn’t go to the awards event. Not only was I getting tired of not winning but it was also a long way to from Maui to New York City.

But the buzz about the album was so sweet and people seemed to really like the album a lot and I felt very moved by the support growing not only in the public but in the Grammy voting community. And when the nominations came out and I saw that I was in the company of artists that I knew personally and admired, even after 12 losses and a daunting 11 hour trip to the cold east coast I decided to go and to take my 13 year old son, Nathan, with me.

nathan kater peter kater 2018 grammy's

Then began all the comments about “This is your year, Peter!”

The seduction to believe that they might be right but the awareness that so many people have said that every year for the last 13 years. This continued through both the first round and final round voting periods. But this year I felt more support than ever and I started to believe that I actually had a chance. That’s a scary thing to give into because when you get your hopes up and then it doesn’t happen it feels like a let down.

But even though it hadn’t worked out in the 12 prior nominations I let myself go into occasional optimism and the larger acceptance that I’ll go and whatever will be, will be. Even though I totally admire and respect all my fellow nominees I felt that India.arie was my biggest competition because she wasn’t really a “new age” artist, had a large following and had already won 4 Grammy Awards.

But then something unexpected and very interesting happened that night that last round voting ended for the final ballots.

Dec. 21st was the last day of voting and what ever was to happen on Jan 28th at the Grammy Awards was already decided the night of Dec. 21st. I wasn’t thinking about it too much. I had already voted several days earlier. But on the morning of Dec. 22nd I woke up and distinctly remembered being told in my sleep that night that I would win by a large margin of votes. It was a voice that I heard. There was no place or face attached.

Just a voice that came from “above on the left” that told me that. It was very clear, neutral, neither masculine or feminine and just gave me the info. I thought “wow, that’s pretty interesting”. Was it wishful thinking or some sort of omen?

I decided not to tell anyone about it or talk about it in anyway and just keep it for myself as some sort of comfort and a symbol or hope that I might actually win this time

But as time went on I would go in and out of believing and doubting the experience and would waiver between thinking I was going to win or that India.arie was going to.

My son and I went to NYC the Thursday before the Grammys and basically did New York types of things. A couple shows, dinners at restaurants you can only find in NY etc. I stayed away from the Grammy parties and networking events because I just didn’t want to be in the whole energy of “is this my year or not”. My closest friends and some new friends were all super encouraging and very convincing that this was to be my year for the long deserved award. I felt pretty cool and detached from the whole thing as long as I wasn’t thinking about it.

But then the morning of the Grammy's I woke up and literally felt almost nauseous with anxiety and nervousness.

I woke up at 7:30am and literally stayed in bed till 1pm not wanting to get out from under my blanket and face the world. I even for a few moments considered not going to the Premier (pre-event) Show where they give out 75 of the 90 or so awards before the Telecast, including my category. At about 1pm I did the math and realized that if I didn’t get up I might be late to the event which started at 3pm.

I dragged myself out of bed, took a shower and woke up my son. I ran across the street and got us some wraps to eat real quick because we had to eat something before the long event. We got dressed and headed down stairs to get a taxi over to Madison Square Garden. As fate would have it the taxi driver didn’t speak much english and didn’t know what I meant by Grammy Awards and “red carpet” access with the green VIP pass I had and after sitting in traffic for a while we decided to get out and walk the last few blocks to Madison Square Garden.

We walked around the building for a while trying to find the red carpet arriving just after 2:30pm. By the time we got there I was actually feeling pretty good. I guess lying in bed for almost 5 hours feeling my fear and anxiety was enough to feel it and let it go. My son and I did the whole red carpet thing which is honestly less than gratifying because ALL the media there is only interested in speaking with the nominees in the top 10 - 15 categories that are in the televised show (even though there are 75 awards give out in the Premier event prior to the telecast). 

2018 grammy awards

We arrived at the Theater moments before the start of the awards and soon the categories, nominees and winners were being announced at rapid pace. Winners speeches were limited to 45 seconds which included the time that it took you to get from your seat to the stage. The New Age category was #25 on the list of 75 and there were only two musical performances between the beginning of the show and my category. About five categories from the New Age category was a performance by India.arie. It was beautiful. She was beautiful. Her dress was beautiful. The song, the lyrics and her voice were beautiful. And I thought . . . she’s going to win

she’s going to win

The categories kept coming and soon mine was next. The sense of overwhelm and a flood of energy was intense. It’s almost hard to think straight at that point. Heart pounding. Increased nervousness. An almost numbing sense of intensity. I remember thinking that I just needed to let go. Whatever was going to happen had already happened. It was out of my control and there was nothing for me to do. I heard them announce all the nominees. And then the next thing I know they’re opening the envelope and I was waiting to hear the name announced. Was it India.arie? Was it Peter Kater?

Then I heard “Dancing on . . . “

Then I heard “Dancing on . . . “ and it took me a few seconds to realize that was my album. I don’t remember hearing my name at all. But I knew that I had to get up and walk up to the stage and that my 45 seconds were counting.

The feeling was amazing. I was so surprised that I was able to walk out of the my row of seats through several people. Then I even remembered to button my jacket as I walked down the isle. I even ran up the steps and didn’t trip or fall down and I remember feeling relieved that I got to the stage, held the statue and was standing in front of the mic without an embarrassing incident. And then I even started to speak. I was speaking but also at the same time feeling kind of impressed that I actually had remembered to say the few things that I wanted to express and I felt like myself and genuine and truly well received and even loved by the audience. It really felt amazing.

And then I was escorted back stage and was standing there for second and someone came up to me and said something like “Congratulations. My name is so and so and I’m going to be leading you through the photo and interview process, if you’ll follow me”. It was at that moment that I realized that I was in some sort of shock. I had a hard time understanding what it was I was supposed to do next. I felt kind of helpless but not scared. But I was standing there in a place and situation that I have never been in before. I kind of didn’t know how to navigate through it. It was a completely new experience that had eluded me for 12 years (or even all my life). It was like the person came up to me and said “Peter, you’ve been in an accident. But everything’s going to be okay if you’ll just listen to my voice and follow my instructions”.

And then we started to walk. I was following him and explaining to him how amazing this was. I told him I felt like I was kind of in shock and asked him that happened often back here and he said that yes it did. I was so grateful for his soft tone and kindness. I mean, it was disorienting. He explained that we would be going to several locations. I would get my official award acceptance photos for the media. Then I would go to the press interviews and be asked questions about my award and my work. And then we’d go to the Grammy Pro interview section. And then we would go to get my personal photos taken with the award. And somewhere in there he said we’d be going to the backstage vodka bar. One of the first things we did was go to the gift section where I was shown the commemorative BULVGA watch that I was to receive engraved with my name and award. I didn’t know that winners got free high-end watches! There were several award winners in the same space 

Most notably the winners for some aspect of the music production for LALA Land. At one point one of them, a woman, turned to me and asked, “Are you Peter Kater?”. I happily said “yes” (feeling excited and flattered that someone actually knew who I was) and she complimented me for my score for BURN THIS, a Broadway play that I had written the music score for almost 30 years ago. She said she listened to it everyday for years. I felt so gratified that she knew of that part of my life and thought how interesting it was that I had so much success in New York in the past (scored the music for 11 On & Off-Broadway dramatic plays) and here I was again receiving an award that had eluded me for 12 years in Los Angeles.

After going through the whole process back stage and after a second stop at the vodka bar another Grammy winner and I were escorted to the freight elevator, taken up a couple floors and then kind of dropped off in an empty hallway and congratulated one final time. We proceeded down the hallway came to a couple turns with no idea where to go and just kinda used our best judgement which some how brought us to the backstage entrance to Madison Square Garden where the rehearsal for the telecast had just ended. “Wrong way” we were told and then we walked through a couple makeup rooms and another few hallways, escalators and literally after about 25 minutes of wandering around finally found our way back to the Theater where the Premier Awards were still going on. I was happy to rejoin my son and friends and for the rest of the day everything just seemed perfect. It finally happened. Phew . . . . what a relief!

My Retreat in Whitefish, Montana July 1-8, 2018

I first arrived in Whitefish, Montana in mid September 2017. R. Carlos Nakai and I were scheduled to perform a concert in Kalispell but it got moved to Whitefish at the last minute. I had never been to that part of Montana before. We were also to perform briefly at a Gala Fund Raiser and Auction at the Dancing Spirit Ranch where we were staying.

I flew in from Maui. I took a redeye from Maui to Denver and then a flight from Denver to Kalispell. It was chilly in Kalispell and rainy. It felt like a harsh contrast from the beautiful warm weather on Maui. And even though I’d only been living full-time on Maui for 16 months my body was very accustomed to it’s warmth. I immediately felt chilled in the wet Montana fall weather. Usually when I travel for concerts I stay in nice hotels. Usually four stars, sometimes five. On this trip we were staying at the Dancing Spirit Ranch just outside of Whitefish and I really didn’t know what to expect. I saw a few photos but didn’t really know anything about the place. I arrived there in the early evening and was shown the “Bunk House” and allowed to pick a room. There wasn’t anyone else staying at the bunk house and there were 7 rooms to pick from.

I picked a room and immediately turned up the heat to 80 degrees. There was no way I was gonna stay alone in a big old bunk house on a cold and rainy fall night and be chilly. Honestly, the contrast between my home on my beloved tropical Maui and the chilly bunkhouse on the empty ranch was just a bit too extreme for me after a long journey. And to be very honest, sometimes it takes me a little while to adjust to extreme geological and climate transitions. That night I was not a happy camper. I felt alone, isolated and way too cold. But I do adjust well to time zone changes for some reason. I find that wherever I travel to, no matter how far, I always wake up at the very crack of dawn and go to sleep at normal hours as well. No jetlag. I don’t know if this comes from traveling long distances since I was 3 years old or if it comes from my very intimate and focused relationship with the sun. I’ve done thousands of hours of sun gazing and sunsets and have had seriously wonderful and somewhat mystical experiences in doing so. But in any case, I woke up at my usual time of 6:30am and decided to take a walk around the property.

The first thing that struck me, besides the chilly wet air, was the trees. There were these beautiful tall old evergreen trees all around the property.   So magnificent and solid and deeply rooted.  I also noticed the rich dark smell of the earth.   So grounding and vibrant.   I walked through the trees to the nearby pond and saw the sky reflected in it’s clear glassy surface.   After a while the sun began to rise and it’s warmth was a welcomed contrast to the crisp but invigorating fresh air.   And I’m talking “fresh” air.  These trees were putting out some pretty sweet smelling oxygen and my body was saying “yes!”.

The rest of the morning continued to unfold in this beautiful way.  I have spent decades all around Colorado and love the Rocky Mountains there.   But up here in northern Montana only 20 minutes from Glacier National Park and a half hour from the Canadian border I was in a new world.   Actually an old world of stout majestic trees and fertile soil with an abundance of deer and rivers and lakes.  I was having an “experience”.  The kind of experience that changes lives.   After lunch I felt drawn to a spot alongside the large pond and threw down a blanket and took a nap in the warmth of the afternoon sun.   I still had my layers on but the sun felt warm on my face and I fell into a deep nourishing sleep being drawn deeper down into the earth and the roots of the trees.    It was probably the sweetest nap I’ve ever taken.  And when I awoke supported firmly and lovingly by the earth, in the presence of trees and birds and held softly by the warm light of the Sun, I knew that I wanted to hold a retreat there.   This place was special.  Magical.  Healing.  And it was speaking to me.  Calling to me.   Inviting me in.  Deeper.   Deeper into my Self.  It was asking me to be fully present, here . . . now.    And I was just brushing the surface of the potential that I know exists there.

I felt so moved that I immediately started to talking with the Dancing Spirit Ranch about my inspiration to hold a retreat there.   Everything fell into place effortlessly and inspiringly.   I’m so excited about this retreat.   There will be lots of music, a grand piano, crystal singing bowls, delicious organic farm to table meals, sacred nature and geometric sites, exercises and experiences in deep presence, connection with our Selves and each other, afternoon naps in the sun by the lake, evening fire circles, river tubing, canoeing and paddle boarding and so much more.  Come join me July 1-8, 2018 for a full week of discovery, presence, inspiration and healing. Check this website for more information about “The Art of Presence”.

Join me . . . in the presence of Trees.
Where the Earth beckons a deeper listen
As it draws you down into it’s peace. 

Join me . . . on the edge
of the known and unfamiliar.
In the company of intimate strangers.

Join me . . . for an eternal moment
Within the eye of spiraling time.
As we reclaim what we’ve lost.

Join me . . . in loving emancipation
In blinding night and blinding light.
To awaken once more and again.

- Peter Kater

Creativity: The Art of Presence…

I wrote the following about my approach to playing the piano.  But I think it’s applicable to any creative endeavor whether it’s music, art, writing, cooking or even moving through your day.   It’s about being present, showing up fully, breathing and expressing what you know and listening for what’s next.

I love to improvise.   When I’m playing for myself that is mostly what I do.   Also about 50% of my live concerts are improvised.  When improvising I’m just exploring certain ideas or emotions and expressing them without an agenda other than just to explore and express them.  I sit at the piano, take a few deep breaths and clear my head and I usually get an image in my mind as to where to start.   It’s usually a certain key or pattern of notes.   Just a beginning.  I have no idea where it’s going.  It’s only a starting point.   I play what I was “shown” and then I listen to it.   Then I receive another “idea” or “impulse”.   Then I play that and again, I listen.

My intention is to respond to each impulse, each spark, fully, without hesitation and then immediately let it go, moving onto the next and the next.    When I say “impulse” or “spark” I mean it’s like an “idea flash”.  They happen very quickly.  It’s a quickly passing thought or impulse.  It’s clear but swift and they come one at a time.  It’s so important to act and respond to the first initial idea.  Because if I don’t express the first impulse without hesitation then immediately following that is a “second guess” doubting the first impulse.    I believe that the initial spark comes from something higher than my ego mind.  You could say that it comes from my Muse, the Universe or God, whatever you want to call it.  Or you could call it some kind of guidance or intuition.  The “second guess” comes from my ego in fear that the initial spark was incorrect or not good enough.    This might sound funny, but I’ve talked to many other musicians (my peers and mentors) about this and they all concur.    The first impulse is that “still small voice” that we need to practice listening to.   It happens so fast and then our egos are so quick to respond with compensating thoughts and distractions.   It’s like we want to believe in an ultimate universal perfection and intelligence (call it what you will) but our doubt and fear is sometimes louder and more frequent.

For me, it’s like following a trail of breadcrumbs.  I don’t see the whole picture but I know what’s next and next and next.   And if my trust and swift response is solid and consistent then it just becomes one continuous inspired pulse.   It’s like a series of sparks igniting quickly enough to where a fire starts to burn on it’s own and then I’m just in the experience and expression of that creative flame.  Breathing into it.   Listening to and witnessing it.   Enjoying it as a participant and an observer.  And it burns and burns until it’s finished. No longer, no shorter.

It’s important not to judge the impulse or spark.  Don't question if it’s the right one.   Embrace it, express it and then let it go.  Staying present is key to the process.  Thinking about the future (the next passage) is just as counterproductive as is lingering on a misplaced note in the recent past.   Both are not about the present.   Play each note or line with totality and then immediately let it go.    Let it go if it's a perceived mistake or even if it’s perceived genius.   It's over.   Let it go.   Any thoughts invite our egos and separate us from source and take us out of the moment.   Something new is presenting itself now.  And now.  The past or future is not important.  What’s important is being present with each note, phrase, nuance and spark of inspiration.

In the past in concerts I would get so flustered and annoyed with myself for making a mistake, hitting a wrong note or chord; a clam that I would be thinking about for seconds or even minutes afterwards.    In the past, one mistake would sometimes ruin a whole song for me because I could no longer be present in the song afterwards because I’d be thinking about it or feeling embarrassed.   Again, if I’m thinking about something I did a few seconds or minutes ago then I can't be present with what I’m doing now. 

Fortunately now, after many many years of practice in presence (and forgiveness and compassion), I leave an error behind in just a few notes.   We all make mistakes.  Perfection is a human-made concept that doesn’t really exist.   Compassion and forgiveness are actually key attributes to letting go of perceived “mistakes” and staying present with what “is”.  This is obviously true both creatively and in life in general.

I also really like to record my improvisations.   As a professional musician it’s good to be recording as often as possible.  Even if I’m just playing around and improvising for myself.   Not only is good to have the recordings to listen back to if something “inspired” happens.  But it’s also good to get used to relaxing and playing freely while in “record” mode to help get over the “I’m recording so I better not make a mistake” perspective. 

Presence is sometimes harder to achieve when other’s are watching/listening or when something perceived as “special” is going on.   So it’s good to practice presence in all kinds of situations, not just the easy ones when we’re alone by our selves.   Then it becomes easier to drop into it in any and all circumstances.    Enjoy!!

Something Sacred…Something Free

When I first moved to Maui in 2007 I learned to paddle board and I can honestly say that the ocean experiences I’ve had since have changed my life.   Here is a recap of one of my first such adventures.

I headed out on my paddle board very early one morning looking for . . . an experience.  The ocean and winds were calm so I ventured further out than normal and probably further than would have been advisable given that the sun had not yet risen and I was the only one on the water as far as I could see.  But I REALLY wanted . . . an experience.  

I paddled for a while, breathing deeply into the fears that sometimes surfaced in my mind and stomach.  Fears about sharks and unexpected winds and my own vulnerability and mortality.  As soon as one set of inner "disturbances" or "ripples" of fear dispersed, another surfaced.  But I kept breathing into them and relaxing my body and mind.  Setting my sights on the horizon as I paddled forward I kept breathing, waiting patiently for the layers of my thoughts to disintegrate so that I could simply be "present".   And finally this thought surfaced . . . “But I'm so far from shore!”.  That struck me as an obvious but interesting thought to have.  I looked down at my feet standing on top of my beautiful red striped board and I thought . . . “But I am HERE, standing on my board!". 

Life isn't on the shore.  Life isn't elsewhere.  It's here.  Like it or not, where ever we go, there we are.   And I was here, simply standing on my board, holding my paddle, somewhere out on the ocean with Maui’s shore far in the distance.   And that is all.  And that was the last of my distracting thoughts for that morning.  And finally . . . I was present.

I asked myself what was I was searching for out here on the ocean, alone, so early in the morning?  And the thought occurred to me . . . "something sacred . . . something free".   I wanted to touch on something that was intrinsically just it-Self.  Something completely free and wild. Something that was not defined by it's productivity or assigned some relative value or worth based on what it did or didn't do.  Something that didn't need to practice "being".  I wanted an experience that could remind and reconnect me with the essential part of my self that existed before all the concepts, ideals and values have been layered and layered upon me.  I wanted to experience the part of me that transcends even the loftiest and most well-meaning of spiritual aspirations.  Spiritual ideals, values and concepts are merely vehicles to guide and transport us to a place where they are no longer useful or relevant.  They are only stepping stones, not a destination.  I wanted to experience something natural.   Something sacred  . . .  something free.

I wanted to feel true freedom. I wanted to experience my essence.  Any thoughts or rational thinking of what our experience of true essence and presence may look or feel like are often just distractions and obstacles to experiencing the real thing.  We can "Ohm" and "affirm" all we want but until we throw our spiritual concepts and emotional attachments away we're still going be just "Ohming" and “affirming".  It's like we can swing on that swing over and over again until we go higher and higher, but then if we don't jump off that swing at just the right time and soar freely through the air, then we're just clinging to a rope tied to a tree.   Do we want to experience life as a kite from the end of a string or do we want to soar and fly free?

We hug our concepts and beliefs close to ourselves like a favorite soft blanket, protecting us from the cold. We hug it so close we don't even realize that we've blanketed our eyes and hearts as well. Even the most comforting, well-meaning thoughts and intentions can blind and separate us from what is present and right in front of us.  It's like now it’s Spring we forget that we’re still carrying the blanket and snow boots we needed in winter.  I'm realizing that "here" is very different than anywhere I've ever been so far in my life.  And being "here" is requiring a lot more breathing and letting go.  

We can not take all our "knowing" with us to a new place!  We can't wrap all our "knowing" around us and then expect to be touched by a greater experience of wonderment and awe!  True inspiration doesn't come from a place of "knowing"!  Quite the opposite.  True inspiration comes from venturing into unknowing, new territory.   Letting go into a new awareness.   A new breath.   An experience of "grace" can't survive an inquisition or desire to sustain it.  You have to be unquestionably standing in the presence and experience of it.  You have to be willing to let go of what you know, of what is familiar to relinquish control and experience something new with open eyes and hearts.  

I started paddling out on my board hugging my identity, concepts, fears and aspirations close to me. And one by one I dropped them into the ocean and they submerged. I became more and more vulnerable and present as I disarmed myself of my illusion of separateness and of my identity.  And finally there I stood alone, just me and my board a mile or more off-shore watching the sunrise shimmering brightly over the crater peak of Maui.  And then I heard it.  A huge, wet exhale.  The sound of water and air spraying out with one giant breath into the atmosphere.  Compared to the quiet lapping of water on my board this new sound was like a freight train blowing it's whistle into the dawn.  And I then I heard it again and I turned to look and saw it!  It's dark long rolling back, surfacing up along the water and then, many yards later, rolling back down into the ocean.  It rolled and rolled, submerging like a giant sea serpent from some mythological fairytale.  It's body was maybe 45ft. to 50ft. long and it's huge tail fins were wider than the full length of my board.  It gracefully sliced through the water until it completely submerged with a playful SLAP of it's tail fin!  This beautiful humpback whale, less than 30 ft. away, was now heading directly towards me!

I dropped to my hands and knees on my board looking for more stability.  It was once again quiet.  Very quiet.  For several minutes again there was that sense of just me out there on top of the water. But now, not alone. In fact, I had tons of company, literally.  This is what I was looking for!  First an encounter with myself and then with a living breathing ambassador for something sacred and free.  A mascot of my inherent desire and right to freedom.  Freedom of Self, freedom of thought, freedom to “be”.  Transcending concepts and logic and the need to justify or define oneself.  The whale just “is”.  A giant symbol of the "unknown" from a world I can only peer into for a few seconds at a time. A creature that is so foreign to the world I live in, so free from the goals, aspirations and ailments of the culture that I've adopted and invested most of my life into, but yet, at this moment, we share the same water and breathe the same air.  

It finally surfaced again on the other side of my board.  It swam underneath me and was now heading away from me.  Then, with a sudden surge of energy, blind enthusiasm and fearless motivation, I jumped to my feet and paddled hard and deep after my new found ocean companion.  I hoped that I could keep up for at least a few minutes before it disappeared into the ocean again.  I felt it's salty exhale spray on my face and cringed at the smell of it’s fishy krill breath.   I saw it's huge amazing body slice thru the water over and over again.   In-between paddling hard to keep up with it I also sat patiently, quietly, waiting for it to resurface again for the air that we both shared.  In some ways the waiting and listening was my favorite part.  

The air was thick with mystery and anticipation. I submerged my head into the water to listen to it's whale song and couldn't believe how loud and clear it was.  The whale surfaced and submerged a few more times before heading further out to sea.  I had gone as far out as my mind could tolerate and slowly paddled back to shore.   I was and still am completely moved by the grace of this animal and humbled by it's magnificence.   Something about it's very existence has me spell bound.

That was one of my very first experiences with the Humpback Whales that migrate from Alaska to Maui from December to April every year to mate and have their offspring.   Since then I’ve had dozens and dozens of beautiful amazing experiences with them.  Their ancient intelligence is palpable as is the beautiful “aloha” energy of Maui.  I am grateful to live in a place where their presence is so strong and frequent.   It has changed my life.  I’ll tell another whale story in a future blog.   Thanks for reading. 

Presence and Slowing Down

One of the many things I love about being in nature is that it gives me the opportunity to be truly present and to slow way down.  And the more I slow down the more I see and experience.  For example, I arrive at the beach or a park and set up my blanket and get situated and I finally sit down and start to relax.  You can do this in any natural setting.  And if you don’t even have a part, then you can look up at the sky (birds and clouds).  I mostly go to the beach so I’ll focus this blog there but you can do this really in any location.  At first I’m looking around at everything in general.  I’m enjoying seeing the sky and clouds, the beach and ocean.  I take a few deep breaths and let go just a little more.   After a while I notice the little sand crabs that are exactly the same color as the sand.   At first I see one.  Then another.  And as I relax more into it I notice that the whole beach is full of dozens and dozens of sand crabs peaking their heads out of their holes, slowly and inconspicuously moving around from one hole to another.   At first I didn’t see them at all but now they’re everywhere.  Even just a few inches from me.

I’ve already noticed the clouds in the sky.  But as I relax more into looking at them I notice that they’re moving slowly in one direction.  But after a while longer I notice that there’s another layer of clouds moving in the opposite direction above them.   I relax into observing them and finally notice that there is another higher layer of clouds moving in yet a different direction.    The feeling of opening up my vision and perception to see the clouds in the sky moving in layers in different directions is very interesting.   I have a very tangible experience in my head, in my awareness and actually in my body observing this.   I not only see and experience it outside of me, but I also feel and experience the movement inside of me. 

I notice a butterfly passing by.   And then a bird sitting in the tree near me.   Suddenly I see another butterfly and a tree gecko.  The bird is chirping and I notice it’s in conversation with another bird across the beach.   The breeze moves the palms and they make a subtle clicking/rattling sound. It almost sounds like rain. And then I notice more sounds.  More birds. So many different kinds of birds and sounds.   I listen closer, deeper. My peripheral vision looks straight out in front of me. 

Without focusing on anything in particular, using my soft gaze, I gradually perceive more and more of what’s going on all around me.   Actually, I not only see but I can “feel” the layers of clouds above me moving in different directions.   Yes, I can feel it inside of me.   In my awareness I “sense” the movement of the crabs on the beach.   Different birds and butterflies pass through my field of vision.   I start to feel the sensation of movement in my subtle body.  My energy body.   Yes, it’s real.  As I expand my perception and relax into my sensitivity my energy body expands as well and it feels more and more as if the clouds are moving through me.   The birds are swooping through me.  The trees softly sway and as I observe and hear them it is as if they are massaging my senses, massaging me.   I can feel it and so can you.

The more I relax and allow and just perceive (with less and less thought) the more I feel my senses expand out into the world around me and the more I can let in.   It’s a simultaneous experience of expanding my energy, my senses, my perception while letting the environment enter, penetrate and pass into and through me.  There is less and less distinction between me and the world around me.  I am myself, I am the space around me and I am that which is within the space around me.   In this moment I am all that I perceive.  All that is.  There is no inside or outside, space or distance, me or other.   There is only perception or awareness and movement and now.

I love to do this kind of meditation with my eyes open.   Obviously this is pleasing to do in a beautiful natural environment but it will work anywhere.   It’s an experience of being fully present.   I’m not trying to be “spiritual” or do my daily “discipline”.  I’m not trying to do anything.   It’s more like an “undoing”.  There is no agenda other than to be present.  Be here, now, fully.   Once I’ve had some time relaxing into this awareness I can take it even further into the awareness of touch.   I can touch my blanket, the sand, my skin, someone else’s skin with amazing sensitivity and feeling.  The texture, the color, the weight, the lightness, the taste.   

It’s about slowing down.   And the more we slow down the more there is to take in and the larger and more tangible the experience becomes.  The more present we become, the more there is to be present with and the more we become a part of everything in our presence.   Personally I feel this is one of the most rewarding experiences available to us.   And we can have it anytime and anywhere.   How cool is that?