Amadeus, Starbucks, and turning down life’s volume
It was only week two of a two month stretch of back to back trips. A variety of things were happening and I was in a place where my rubber band was stretched as far as it could go. I felt on edge, and to top it off, the building where I was staying was under construction. Each morning at 7:30am the jack hammers would start chipping away on the roof. The debris was sent down a metal shoot just outside my window. The noise was unbearable.
My “office” was wherever I could find wifi, a table, and some coffee. I fought with the Decobike machine, and rode two miles to Starbucks. Sometimes things meant to make life easier–like bike sharing–just seem to add to the stress by not working right.
After finally sitting down with my coffee, it was hard to focus. It seemed like everything else was extra loud that day. The traffic. The guy having a conversation at the next table. The sound of sliding chairs against the floor. Even my to-do list was screaming at me in my head.
It was as if someone had turned the volume way up on the television and I couldn’t get it to go down.
In a moment of desperation to find a place of peace and quiet, I put on my headphones, and started listening to Mozart’s “Serenade for Winds”. I closed my eyes and began taking deep breaths. Six minutes later I felt so much better I hit repeat and did the exact same thing. I listened to the song again, eyes closed, breathing deeply.
When I opened my eyes everything was the same, but nothing was the same.
There was still traffic and the guy talking next to me. But peace had flooded my soul. The volume had been turned way down and I found it was again at a comfortable level. I felt focused and anchored and ready to tackle my to-do list.
The experience has stayed with me because of how powerful something so simple became in that moment. The discipline of breathing and some form of meditation has been practiced by people all over the world through the centuries… and it actually works. The change after 6 minutes was so dramatic. At 12 minutes, my world had turned around. Stress level way reduced. Focused. Productive. At peace.
I realized that what I experienced that day is a practice that I can incorporate into my daily life to deepen my sense of inner peace and renew my focus. What’s missing is not the knowledge of it — it’s the practice. I know breathing and meditation is a tool I can use. I just have seldom picked it up–until now.
Breathing prayer is now a part of my daily routine and something I am just beginning to learn how to do. Wise sages who have gone before have experienced great depth, clarity, focus, and connection through the practice. But even simple meditative breathing takes a lifetime to learn well and experience all it has to offer.
I’ll share more about this in my journey. The good news is that all it takes to start is the ability to breathe…
One of my favorite scenes from the movie Amadeus is where Salieri describes–or rather experiences–Mozart’s “Serenade for Winds” and says, “it seemed to me I was hearing the voice of God.”
It’s worth the minute it will take (1:22 to be exact) to watch the clip and hear the song in a new way. I suggest after you watch it, listen to the whole thing, eyes closed, breathing deeply, and let life’s volume get turned way down: