Being An Artist In A Fast Changing World

Davidson Yeager spiritual teacher and musician

“How’s your writing going?” someone asked me today. She was referring to my songwriting. I was flattered like anybody is when someone is interested in what we do.

“It’s going great!” I confidently shot back. And in truth, it is. This person is a musician also (in a professional orchestra) and was in town for rehearsals and shows.

sidenote: this took place after a Zumba class where Mary will often play my songs for the cool down at the end of classes.

I explained further that I am fortunate to work on it everyday — albeit and hour here, 2 hours there, 30 minutes there.

I went further and shared that I’d made a decision many years ago that no matter what the world said or didn’t say in regard to my music didn’t matter.

“I don’t need the world’s permission to be an artist!” I said.

She agreed. Then she said, “ but it must be so hard. I mean everybody here loves your music and appreciates it, but there’s so much competition (and noise!)”

I replied “true, but that’s how I know that there are people who will genuinely appreciate my music. It’s up to me to find more of them somehow.”

 

Being An Artist…

This brief conversation got me reflecting on my decisions a bit. And I decided to write about it here.

I know I’ve talked before about being at the “crossroads.” And it wasn’t to make a deal with the devil, it was feeling frustrated with being a musician.

Having a calling can be a double edged sword. A blessing or a curse depending upon how you look at it.

And the view can change dynamically in real time as your life unfolds and depending upon context.

It also depends a great deal upon how you’ve integrated the lessons involved.

By lessons I mean there’s a wild untamed spirit inside of us all. We get socialized. I have nothing against society. There are many benefits to being a member.

But I realize that I’ve never allowed my wild spirit to be completley squandered. By wild spirit I’m not talking about having issues with authority and rebelling (been there, done that!) .

 

How I Managed To Do This Despite The Best Efforts Of Others Is Revealed Below…

It’s useful to be able to use the various personas and masks that we all develop in order to interact with society.

I just never completely bought into them. I almost have at times. But fortunately for me, I always managed to escape at the last minute.

I’m finally beginning to learn and assimilate how to be true to myself and also contribute to society and the lives of others at the same time.

Most of us are unbalanced on one side or the other. Many people sacrifice themselves and then end up resenting or being cynical. It’s not easy — no one gets taught these things in school, that’s for sure! Of course, it’s the opposite.

 

Beginners In Love

You could say that society and relationships were first designed for survival. But we all know that Life is more than mere survival. “Work to get money to buy food to get strength to work to get money to buy food to get strength…”

But after thousands of years, humans in general seem to be at a crossroads. One where relationships are chosen for a sense of connection and intimacy. A synergy between the partners.

I’ve seen this type of relationship coined a “vital” relationship.

And this synergy can expand into the community and into the world.

So we’re all beginners in this expansion  together. It’s pretty cool do this dance. Is there one word I could use to say what method I personally used? Yes. Love.

If you read this far, keep the fires of love for yourself and Life burning. Whatever it takes, do this! This creates an alchemy of character and soul that no science can ever explain.

Nothing in the world will ever be able to hurt you.

Why Am I A Spiritual Teacher?

Why am I a spiritual teacher and what do I bring to the table? Someone recently inquired as to my background. Teachers I’ve studied with, books I’ve read, practices, etc.

So I thought it may be helpful for some of you to understand what has led to my being a spiritual teacher.

Amongst other things, of course.

Childhood Mystical Experiences

As a child I had “mystical” experiences. As an adult reflecting upon those experiences it was very tempting to put them off as childhood imaginings.

However, upon doing more research and thinking, I’ve come to the conclusion that they were valid experiences.

One of the motifs in my teaching and philosophy is that we are heavily conditioned by the current myth of scientific materialism.

Note: I have no issue with science, of course. It’s helped humanity immensely. I only take issue with the fundamentalist approach whether that is in spiritual matters or science.

 

Existential Angst And Scientific Materialism

This environment of materialism — that only things that can be measured are real — has led to an epidemic of existential angst. Depression, anxieties and the like are all extremely common in our culture.

 

Memories Of Reincarnation?

Back to childhood. One of the most vivid experiences I had was when I was 4 or 5 years old and living in Winnipeg. I can recall going down the stairs to the basement of a neighbor’s house and suddenly being overcome by the knowingness that I’d been here before.

A voice inside said “Oh! This place again. I’m here again.” Meaning in physical form upon the earth.

I had many other experiences as a child such as knowing what song was about to play on the radio or who was calling on the phone.

“Some things have to be believed to be seen.” Ralph Hodgson

 

Follow Your Heart

As a teenager, I can remember thinking about what the Christian churches were teaching. And I remember thinking to myself that if good deeds and kindness didn’t come from the heart, but were just an obedience out of fear of punishment, then it didn’t mean anything true.

I thought about things like this a lot as a teen.

“Make sure that your religion is a matter between you and God only.” Wittgenstein

 

Sex, Drugs And Rock n Roll

Too many “aha moments” and “satori” to list here. I’ll skip ahead to my next major awakening. I’d been going through a period in my life where I was really lost and depressed.

I was playing in rock bands at the top clubs around Toronto at night and working in kitchens and teaching guitar by day.

And I was drinking and doing drugs. My life was out of control.

I tried stopping on my own. And I’d succeed from time to time. A couple of weeks here, a month there, a few days there. But the behaviour patterns that were driving me were compulsive.

One day I got on my knees and prayed for help. I felt a sudden calm. I was drawn to the closest public library.

I went in to the psychology section and took down all the books relating to addiction I could find.

Several books suggested AA as being one of the best ways to really deal with the issue of addiction.

That was it. I looked up meetings in Toronto and I was at my first meeting that night. Over the course of the next 6 months, I went to no less than one meeting everyday. I worked the 12 steps with my sponsor and am now closing in on 20 years of sobriety.

If you’re reading this and addiction to alcohol or drugs is an issue, I can’t recommend AA highly enough.

Even though after 6 months I never went to anymore meetings. That was my path. We all have our own path to navigate.

My internal guidance at this time said it was time for me to spread my wings. I didn’t want to tell the story of my being “wounded” anymore.

 

Freedom

I was free of that story.

By this time I had cultivated a dedicated and strong spiritual connection with my Higher Power. I had a meditation practice in place and dove into studying and working on myself.

One of the first things I did was read John Bradshaw’s work on the inner child and family dynamics. I also did most of the exercises he suggested.
I then got into studying some Buddhism along with all the psychology I could get my hands on.

One of the coolest spiritual practices I engaged with was allowing myself to feel what I was feeling instead of distracting myself.

This led to quite a bit of healing. To the point where having been estranged from my family as a teenage runaway, I was now on very good terms with them.

10 years ago I discovered and began to practice one of the single most powerful tools I’ve ever encountered. It’s called the Sedona Method.

In a nutshell, it’s the practice of letting go of negativity and limiting feelings/thoughts.

I’ve been using this daily — and I can honestly say that if someone approaches this tool with sincerity and honesty, they can achieve as much in a few months as doing several years of traditional meditation.

I still use traditional meditation along with the Sedona Method.

 

The Power Of Now

Another teacher who had a huge impact on me when I first read The Power of Now back in 1999 or 2000 was Eckhart Tolle. I remember at the time of reading I thought “so this is what Krishnamurti was talking about!”  (J. Krishnamurti is a very powerful spiritual teacher from the 20th century who I read a lot of as a teen. I was then living and working in Toronto on my own).

Thanks to Tolle’s teachings, I still practice being present. Noticing if I’m avoiding the “present moment” by using it as a means to an end or not. Feeling my inner energy field.

Am I feeling resistance to things that are happening? Can I say “yes” to these things I’m resisting — including the resistance itself?  These are practices that have been ingrained in my daily life whether I’m in a conversation or typing an article such as this.

Note: By the way, saying “yes” to the present moment doesn’t mean giving up the power to change things. As a matter of fact, we have more power, creativity and intelligence at our disposal when we are not in a state of emotional resistance to “what is.” This requires a willingness to be honest with oneself, of course 🙂

I still get triggered and feel negative emotional states. But now I have tools to deal with them rather quickly.

Most of the time I’m able to let go of them within seconds or minutes. Sometimes it takes a little longer, but never longer than an hour or so. Once in a blue moon something’s lasted a bit longer than that. Perhaps 2 hours or so.

These are not set parameters — just a way for me to communicate that we can take our power back. We do have the power to choose happiness and freedom over wanting to control things.

And like anyone, I’ve had my share of disappointments, “failures”, and challenges. But through all of that, I can say that it’s been many many years since I’ve had a bad day.

 

Why Am I A Spiritual Teacher?

I feel called to be a spiritual teacher. I don’t think I “know” anything that anybody else doesn’t know.

Just that when I say things, it may resonate with a deeper part of you that you previously didn’t have access to.

I’m simply a friend along the way. Maybe I’ve got a candle that you can use to light your own candle.

My motive is that I want to be the change I wish to see in the world. And if the Universe conspires to bring people to listen to the words I’m using to point at the moon with, then great! Maybe we can all change this world together.

Optimistically yours,
Dave

Let Go And Let God part 1

This is Part 1 in a series.

I had been so inspired with my guitar playing recently.  I’d been practicing and thinking about it virtually non stop since early fall 2015.

And this after playing most days of my life since my teenaged years. Self taught.

And of course, I’ve been teaching guitar professionally for 22 years now.

I also majored in guitar at one of Canada’s finest music colleges. Graduated at the top of my class.

After graduation, I did a bunch of things guitar related. Played in cover bands, original bands (lots of girls!), solo gigs at conferences and weddings (nice pay!), started my teaching biz.

Played a thousand open mics. Literally.

Not to mention that last year (2015) I finally was able to produce an EP of 5 of my songs of totally professional quality.

This is no easy task — even though home recording is so accessible. To learn the engineering and then use the equipment to get professional results is a formidable task.

With some help and mentoring (Thanks Gary!), and lots of practice over the years, I was finally able to do it in my small home studio.

I also had support from many of you who are reading this too — by pre purchasing the CD “Hey Mary Hey.” Thank you 🙂

This is all just to say that guitar and music has been a big part of my life and my goals.

A few weeks ago, I decided to google a service in GTA (Greater Toronto Area for those not familiar with Toronto, Canada — or T-dot for short) to fix a minor issue with my guitar amp.

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Fuzz Pedals

It led me to a guy in the suburbs who builds his own amps and guitar pedals from scratch. All based on the gear in the late sixties and early seventies.

Point to point hand wired amps, germanium transistors in the fuzz pedals instead of silicon. Vintage.

The stuff that created the magic tones of Jimi Hendrix, David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) and other “guitar heroes.”

The amp, pedals and guitar one instrument of only wood, steel and glass.

I was intrigued and inspired by his concept when we chatted over the phone. So I decided to go to his shop and check out a germanium fuzz pedal.

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Frustrated Geniuses

The day before I was scheduled to head over, he called me up to confirm. We ended up chatting a bit more about the music business and being a musician.

He said something completely unintentional that hit me like a ton of bricks.

He said something along the lines of “Yeah, like those frustrated geniuses that think they need to suffer for their art. They’re still really trying to make their music work.”

And I thought “Is that me?” And this question continued to work it’s way into my consciousness for the rest of the day.

And while I slept and dreamt that night.

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The next morning, a Monday, I was “dazed and confused.” I didn’t know what was happening to me.

I was able to function, but I was just going through the motions. I felt disconnected from my usual surroundings somehow.

I decided it was some weird temporary thing and that the best thing to do would be simply push through with my original plans as best I could.

I drove out to the burbs and met Steve. The guy who builds amps and fuzz pedals, etc.

I tried his pedals. Sounded great, but I wasn’t excited because I was so zapped out from not knowing what was going on.

“Was music even my thing anymore?” I kept asking myself silently.

I saw how Steve had a young family (a couple of toddlers), a nice little house and a rack of guitars and gear.

He basically played for fun, and while I was there another dude showed up to pick up a Marshall amp that Steve had fixed up for him.

I decided to get the fuzz pedal in the hopes that I was just in a temporary delusional state — and that my “normal” inspiration and confidence would return.

I handed Steve a wad of cash after the other dude left (after he handed Steve an even bigger wad of cash).

I thought “Wow. Steve’s just treating it like a hobby. And look at the money!”

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Money

Ok. Money. A hot issue with everyone.

Everyone is either chasing after it, or they have an aversion to it.

Or some “driving with the brakes on” combo of the two. But we all need it.

note: Money is also a cool tune by the above mentioned Pink Floyd. It’s in 7/4 time.

In the past, I had mixed programming regarding money. I grew up in a middle class home where money was not the problem.

The problem was an abusive father. Physically and mentally.

I don’t want to get into that too much other than to shed some light on things.

And there may be readers who have similar issues and they can benefit from my story.

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Because of the relentless pressure from the relationship with my father, I decided to leave home at the tender age of 17 and I ended up on the streets of Toronto.

This lasted for a little while until I was able to start getting work, etc. I was directed by a compassionate hostel worker to a social worker who helped me.

I was able to use their phone, get a resume typed (yes, typed!) up, etc. Feel some acceptance for who I was.

Others in my family (uncles, cousins, etc.) were even upper middle class and a couple were even rich.

I saw that people weren’t necessarily happy, therefore money wasn’t the source of happiness.

Nothing external is. External things reflect our happiness –or unhappiness — back to us.

Or they are simply neutral and we project our stuff onto it.

Toward the end of high school, I  thought that when I did earn a living, I at least wanted to do something I enjoyed.

Not just for the money. Something I could feel passionate about.

So part of my programming came about as a reaction or rebellion to the way I was brought up.

I was kind of anti money. Definitely as far as the “keeping up appearances” kind of having money.

Plus, starting on the Toronto streets (hanging out in the Eaton Centre and Salvation Army drop in centres to stay warm — very tough at Christmas watching the shoppers) and scratching my way up from there — well, let’s just say I missed more meals than your average college student.

Besides the rebelliousness toward money and the WASP (white anglo saxon protestant) status quo of my family, I also developed “poverty consciousness.”

I began to believe that I was less than others. I didn’t deserve.

I formed these false beliefs from my first years being on my own with little to no support.

After many years of working on myself and various issues, I think I’ve made some great progress.

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Changes

In the areas of health, I’m doing great. I’m full of vitality and regular exercise is an installed habit.

I don’t smoke or drink and have no trouble sticking to a healthy diet.

I’m also with my soulmate. We’re going strong coming up on 10 years now.

We’re a team and to me she’s absolutely the most fascinating and incredible person. And of course, very beautiful!

We’re wiser and stronger and more loving together.

I’ve managed to survive for the past 20 plus years with not much more than a guitar, my musical skills and my understanding of human nature.

But now I’m not certain where I stand in relation to my musical journey and goals. A major shift has occured.

Read Part 2 Here.

What Is Success?

Loaded question. What is success? My version of success has changed. I think the standard mainstream version of he or she with the most toys wins has really had it’s day.

Let’s move on from such a constrictive view, shall we?

My old version was never about the money per se, but it was definitely about winning the approval of others.

This was conditioned into me quite strongly through the usual methods. Society, teachers, family, etc.

Conditioning seems to be either a conforming to or a  reelling against some kind of belief or behaviour.

Through a hodgepodge of environmental and genetic factors, my own particular idea of success developed.

Of course I’m talking about my old and now outdated version of success.

The one that drove me for many years. Seeking approval from something or someone external to myself.

Even when I became acutely aware of the tendency of the mind to seek approval and was able to weaken it through awareness and practice, it still frequently dominated me.

Ah! Being human.

 

Breakthrough

In a book I love and own called “The Inner Journey Home” by A.H. Almaas, he suggests the soul has an embedded code that unfolds when it’s ready.

The best analogy I can come up for this is that of a seed. A seed has certain codes of information that  unveil the next stage of the seed’s journey until it become “fully realized” as a plant or tree.

I’m sure in your life you’ve felt a certain way about something or someone and suddenly found yourself with a change of heart.

This is your soul unveiling information as you unfold more fully into your potential. Spontaneous intelligence.

For a long time I thought I wanted or needed to be a famous musician in order to be loved and accepted.

And in order to love and accept myself.

Recently, I noticed the suffering from feeling this missing in my life seemed to be growing weaker.  (I’m not a famous musician! Lol)

And even if I were (a famous musician), I’m pretty sure my mind would find problems elsewhere in my life. A critic, a fan, somebody sold more records,
somebody burned me in business, etc.

Today I suddenly realized it’s pretty much gone. At least the edges have definitely been sanded down and smoothed away. I’m not saying the fantasy never plays out in the back of my mind — but that when it does, I don’t suffer. No pain. It’s not Reality.

And I also realized I’ve quietly been building my own values and version of what success is.

 

So, What Is Success?

My parents wanted me to be a doctor or business executive. Really badly! I didn’t want either of those things. When I was younger I wanted to be a pro athlete. Probably hockey.

Then as a teen, I shifted to wanting to be deeply involved in music. I loved it so much!

So just what is success? Is it money and fame? Lots of sex with desirable partners? Big house and cars?

As I said above, these models seem to be slowly fading from mass consciousness. It’s definitely still there, but there also seems to be a growing disillusionment with this version of success.

 

My Version Of Success

Excellent Health: The body is the temple for your awareness and existence. Many people treat their phones and cars better than they treat their own bodies.

Loving And Supportive Relationships: What’s the point of having a bunch of stuff if you don’t have anyone to share it with? Or if you do, you’re so busy with making money and fame that you don’t have any time to be with your loved ones?

Prosperity: Gotcha!! My version of success definitely does NOT mean being poor. I think a healthy pocketbook is an essential ingredient to be able to be and do things on this planet. However I do think everyone should find there own definition of prosperity.

For me it means a balance. Being able to pay my bills without having to worry or juggle finances in order to do so. Being able to save and invest a portion of my income. Being able to afford the tools I require to do my work and express myself creatively. Being able to take time off without feeling anxious.

I don’t require a mansion or a yacht in order to feel prosperous. But if they float down the river of Life into my experience, I’ll accept them gratefully!

I have a personality that can be happy with the simple things. Right now I live in an apartment with my wife and we share a Toyota Corolla.

And I’m happy anyways. No matter what. Almost all of the time. Even when I’m “unhappy” I’m able to turn it around in a relatively short time.

Which leads me to another ingredient in my recipe for success.

Emotional Mastery And Spiritual Connection: A human being cannot be happy where sorrow is.

If you’re feeling emotional pain— or you’re just simply uninspired by life — then you need some kind of tools to help you clear that stuff away. So that the core of who you are — unconditioned happiness — can shine out.

Don’t believe me? I’m soft in the head? I’m pretty certain even the most hard boiled of materialists and cynics have had moments of happiness with no apparent cause.

Just a moment where the burdens drop and you feel at ease and at peace with everything.

It could be in Nature. For many it is. A sunset, a mountain or ocean. They reflect the majesty of your true inner essence and for a moment you experience it.

Creative Expression: Yes!  Although I’m no longer all that interested in being a famous musician because of all the probable sacrifices involved — such as time spent with loved ones, time to reflect or do other activities I enjoy, etc. — I absolutly LOVE creating and playing music. Everyday. Except for a few “cherry picked” days off.

I’m still working on finding ways to create my music and share it with a community of people who appreciate it. If you’re reading this you’re a big part of that.

I love to perform, but I don’t like bars that much. So I’m still looking for ways to perform in the Toronto area — eventually even Southern Ontario and larger. But I’d like to do it in a way that’s not just another rat race. The musician rat race.

I can perform as often and as close to home (or far from home) as I want.

I’m not in that rat race of making an album, touring, and then doing it all again. Eventually just burning out.

 

My Version Of Success In A Nutshell

  • healthy, loving and supportive relationships
  • excellent health
  • prosperity
  • emotional balance and connection to Life and the Eternal.
  • excellence in my craft

 

Congratulations — you made it to the end. This was a pretty long and winding road of an article!

Please leave me a comment below or share with friends 🙂

A World Without Music Vs A World Without Toilet Paper

This article is essentially tongue in cheek. It’s definitely not meant to be taken too seriously. It’s just some light hearted musings. I hope you have fun reading it — and thinking about some of the questions it may raise 🙂

People are always talking about teachers. And they definitely have my sympathy. I don’t think I’d have the patience to work with groups of kids like that. But in my view, musician’s as a whole are arguably the most underpaid workers in the developed world.

“Work!?” you say indignantly. “That’s not work.”

Well, I invite you to attempt learning to play an instrument with even a modicum of ability — and then get back to me.

Then to develop and refine those skills to a professional level.

Not to mention all the costs of various tuitions and mentoring, equipment and recording, photos, websites, press, etc.

And there’s no union. No strikes. No benefits. No retirement fund. Many musicians need to take other jobs in order to help pay the bills.

Even the musician’s who are “big” and earning a lot of money have a massive overhead with their operation.

And they don’t make that kind of money every year. And many only have a short window of that kind of money.

sidenote: “They’re fools!” you mutter under your breath. “They should’ve thought about that before starting.”

A businessperson who creates a successful business that is more “utilitarian” is probably many many times wealthier than even the wealthiest musician.

For the sake of this discussion, let’s take a person who manufactures and distributes toilet paper on a large scale.

“Well,” you say “we can’t live without toilet paper! The person who does that deserves to make more money than a musician!”

That would seem to be true. But on closer examination, is it?

Human’s have survived — thrived even — for thousands of years without commercial toilet paper.

Who knows for certain what people have used. But they got by. Even a few old handkerchiefs done separtately in the wash would do the trick quite well.

Probably even better since there aren’t any perfumes or chemicals and bleach on them.

And have you checked the price of toilet paper recently? And because of convenience we are now conditioned to believe that we can’t live without it.

To be fair, I very much appreciate toilet paper. I have nothing against it. I’m just thinking about things, is all.

Music. A world without music. That would be a very flat world. Almost as bad as a world without flowers or colour.

Although nothing can beat nature and her Golden Silence, music is humankind’s most eloquent statement of rapture.

Music comes in many forms — and some forms would even be called noise pollution by some.

sidenote: As I sit here typing, a car drives by playing classic rock. Earlier, several other cars were playing hip hop, reggae and “turbo pop.” Cool 🙂

But to those with ears to hear, it is the sound of angels in the heavens.

Perhaps there is music in a particular form that does that for you. Uplifts you. Even makes your life worthwhile in those moments. Helps you grab onto some higher emotions than the ones that had hold of you before you engaged with the music.

Imagine living in a world without singing, dancing, celebration, storytelling or music?

Yes, it could be done. But in my opinion, we’d be much duller. I don’t think it could happen. We may not survive. Nature is so beautiful! Not only do we want to see Her beauty, we want to emulate it with our art! It’s a form of worship.

Even if we manage to survive our current planetary crises and continue to evolve — and some kind of new world develops — one that is beyond our ability to even imagine right now, music will play an important role.

And this new imaginary future world is so much less harsh than our current version. People are more loving, tolerant and less afraid. There’s less to be afraid of.

And perhaps we communicate telepathically all the time.

There would still be music. Because music exists in the human heart. The songs we listen to are merely reflections of what already exists in our hearts.

When you hear a song that uplifts or energizes you, it’s merely reflecting back to you that which already exists in your heart.

Our music is a few steps removed from the “actuality” — it’s an abstraction of that inherent joy.

But it’s really freakin’ cool! Try singing. Really let it ou! Doesn’t that feel good? Or bang a beat on something. Your car steering wheel, your kitchen table, whatever.

And in this imaginary future world of milk and honey, there will be a plant that grows in abundance with soft silky leaves that organically disintegrate leaving no odour — within minutes of use. And it replaces toilet paper.

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