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Canvas Rebel: At Q Music Studio, Making Music is a Pathway to Spiritual Growth

My most meaningful project…Picture a clutch of multi-colored balloons, all different sizes and shapes, reaching toward the sun. You’re holding them because they are yours. They are you. As for me, helping other people recognize and figure out how they already are naturally creative beings, inherently, brings them to a new place of self-realization. I have found that intending to create anything from nothing (the ultimate meaningful project) is a direct connect to your own inherent worth that is undeniable. It is possibly the most powerful pathway to inner knowing and self-worth. I’d say my most meaningful projects are ones I didn’t even know I took on that I needed most, or ones I welcomed knowing they’d take me on the road less travelled. Making music is something I chose to bring into my life as a kid. I had no idea it would evolve to become the pathway to a spiritual practice, a very different kind of discipline that cleared the obstacles to creativity. The process saved me and now I’m helping others break free from their own self-imposed limitations.

It could be through words unspoken now written. It could be from embodied movement (dance) witnessed by the trees and felt by Gaia’s ground. Even just that particular stroke of crimson red with that ragged edge conveys truth of feeling. Some people feel their primary relationship with life is their magnum opus – how they show up.

At age 5, I asked for a piano, and eventually, my parents said yes. I can’t say I saw opportunities of greatness or fame for myself via weekly rote lessons and recital experiences, because they were hellish and so much felt forced and unnatural to me. In those days, you didn’t take lessons for the pure joy of it. If parents paid good money for lessons after school, you had to be all in, or they threatened to take it away. Additionally, I sang in school choirs and after school, I played on the piano by ear anything I liked the sound of, mostly songs I’d heard on the radio. That was my rebellion against conformity that demanded panicky over-preparation to not screw up at lesson time, knuckling down to read notes and playing what I was told to play ten times in a row without stopping, and no mistakes (even though I did like some of it), but most of all, feigning respect for this high-pressure, militaristic discipline, then deliver the recital for a court, judge and jury of one’s peers and authority figures.

In my innate love of “re-creating” music I’d heard, which I was naturally good at, I just wanted everyone to feel joyful, but in the end, we were push-pinned to praise or put-down on recital evenings, annual Royal Conservatory examinations and spring music festivals because that’s all that mattered. For me, pure joy of making music hid far behind the curtains, terrified. I was not that kind of natural performer. How was any of this truly the meaning or the measure of worthiness? They say you can tell a lot about a person in how they crumble when they hit the wall.

I had to understand the why of this exact form of crumbling under precisely which circumstances in order to rise above it. These insights became the very seeds that would grow the gifts I’d end up bringing to this world ended up being the most meaningful project I’ve worked on – the transformation to inner freedom that no longer prevented me from doing my thing and sharing (as opposed to showing) the uniqueness of what I do and how I do it fearlessly, with others.

I am a creative growth practitioner and musical artist. I could not have become who I am without these challenges, and until I got out of my own way. I did not know at the time I was facing the challenge head on, I only wanted to stop the crumbling. I decided I would leave former standards behind and create from my gifts first, using what I have in front of me, because this brought me to a perfectly natural, fearless state of presence. While in process, the doors of judgment or comparison to myself and anyone else. Striving stops and I give my full attention to what I’m doing. Nothing feels forced in that space anymore, because I choose to evict desperate wanting for anything beyond what is in the now. I have extremely high standards for what I want to create and I keep those dream references close to my heart and always in sight (sound). I combine this with my neutral witnessing of what is coming through. Eckhart Tolle refers to this kind of presence as the neutral alertness of a cat watching a mousehole. The cat is never stressed out, but always on task. Maybe the movement of my fingers over the landscape of the keyboard wasn’t being directed by me, maybe it was, perhaps different now but purer than before… all I do is listen, and attend with peaceful attention. This is what keeps me in process and on the edge of potential greatness in every moment. In short, there is no “lesser than,” because in the carefully crafted world I’ve reserved for my creative process, there is no comparison or judgment, only the letting out of something that is purely of me or through me. I believe information, wisdom, art and good advice can be channeled from something, somewhere, that knows better. I taught myself an unusual acuity for my naturalness that feels like that. If it doesn’t feel natural or honest or pure, I keep exploring without judgment. Unlike traditional trauma therapy that focuses on making sense of outcomes judged as bad, poor or wrong, these last thirty years have been a fascinating, fun journey because I focus on only what comes from a higher place as genuine – the crumbling vanished. Shining out of the cracks came a sweeter (simpler), purer (honest) edgier (emotional connection) music that has grown to become my constant, unwavering spiritual companion the whole way. Direct engagement with the fascination, beauty and mystery of music always extricated me to those higher worlds right from the get-go. What had been missing in my childhood music lessons was the felt and known connection to something higher within or coming through myself. I guess I don’t care about the details of whatever it is, today I feel stronger aligned to it, supported by it…as it. My gifts and opportunities were always there, from the inception of my being, but this had to develop, like a meaningful relationship. I still crumble at times, but knowing this transformation is ongoing, I stick with it.

I know I’m not the only one who loves something for the pure joy of it enough to know it was time to abandon the militaristic, standard approach and begin doing my own thing with a new sense of freedom. I have and need my own structure, but feeling it as freedom required confidence and self-initiative, two things I’d be consistently developing in this spiritual relationship (they didn’t land fully formed in my lap) in exchange for letting go of adherence to ways that didn’t fit me. Setting yourself free does not imply tossing quality out the window, or never taking lessons, or to not getting started entirely on your own, we all have to start somewhere with the correct foundation. Start where you are and carry with you the best gifts of who you are already and always have been. Leave behind everything else that wasn’t a perfect fit for you. One does not embark in a spirit of exploration without your basics because these are your starting points. In my case, I stuck it out over 15 years of formal lessons, doing as I was told. As an adult, I just wanted to do my thing and competition/show was so not my thing. I boxed all my piano books of sonatas etc…, because I relied on my ears almost entirely. I keep a writing journal nearby and only the resources necessary for teaching students. What I needed next in my life was a new understanding of my gifts, to learn how to take charge of them so I could value and position my skills in this world to make a greater difference at heart level.

Twenty-five years ago, I began creating my healing modality Soul Tree Akashic Healing with NeuroSound and I realized my music exploration journey had been the fundamental reason and transformation basis for a type of spiritual healing that could fully unburden the soul knowing which of the soul’s toughest lessons had been learned, and which recurring tests had been passed. This modality of healing allows people to tap into their fullest selves and create whatever they wish to. The Akashic healing work began to gel in myself before become a formal modality when I set out and taught myself how to sing while playing the piano. Let it be said, I’m still learning. No longer chained to “how it’s supposed to go”, I began using my voice in whatever ways I could, and exploring what I wanted brought about enormous change and healing. Being heard and being seen by one’s own self is where it has to start. I took vocal training lessons in the city, and I was off to the races when it came to healing because my teacher helped me assess how I felt as I sang. She never judged what I thought I sounded like. She cared more about my breathing technique.

Fast forward from twenty-five years ago to today. Quintessence Studio, this Workplace of Higher Being that hosts Soul Tree Akashic Center and Q Music Studio (where NeuroSound was created among other projects), had grown from the seed that was my natural affinity for making music that brought me joy since age three; then, was lifelong cultivated by my approach for coping into my own way as an artist of life – all from the need to know my inherent worth. I had to do that for myself. It did not come from anyone else, under any specific criteria or condition. Now anyone who needs to unburden their soul has a place to do so, safely and in highest confidence.

I created Soul Tree Akashic Healing to highlight a person’s inherent soul nature, their personality traits, their gifts as well as affinities, aversions, quirks and perceived faults…as paramount to uniqueness and originality. All are strengths that contribute a necessary piece of your puzzle. The audio healing NeuroSound is best employed with Akashic healing as it has proven itself to speed up the clearing out of old patterns and egoic resistance to make way for inner freedom and outer expression. Q Music Studio is not only where I work on all my sonic explorations and music creations, it is available to anyone who wants to learn to engage with themselves and their musical instruments in this kind of exploratory, free way or create something of their own. Even teaching students vocal training or piano etc… is supported with everything excellent about traditional education and rising to meet quality standards, and my students don’t even know they’re exceeding expectations because they’re so busy creating and loving every minute of discovering how much they can do without pressure.

It comes down to this: I could not begin this new way of being, until I firmly acknowledged that I had learned (and therefore could unlearn) how to hate aspects of myself, then I welcomed the idea that these very same aspects were not to be rejected or feared – they pointed to my core gifts and truths, like breadcrumbs on the trail and were crucial to the way I would uniquely create. I responded with a serious inner makeover in self-perception to embrace the natural state of being as worthy.

Over 2 decades of doing this work with other people from all walks of life, you come to learn that each of us holds unique gifts unlike any other human being – and there are no redundancies or duplicates. The fact that you, or any living, sentient being, exist is the worth. Existence is worthy. Now you just need to ask yourself, how would I love to experience this time of this sort of existence?

I long wondered about my place and how I might fit in. Once I started reaching out to others I looked up to (meaning anyone who loves what they do, including celebrities and famous musical artists and producers), lo and behold, they told me their stories and they sound suspiciously like mine. I found out those I looked up to were like me in more ways than I could count – misfits to most of the world’s ways, still feeling slightly if not entirely misunderstood. Not in the sense that they (we) don’t belong, more that they (we) have moved on, courageously, and left the stuff that was of their time seen as “accepted” long behind. So, this is largely how they embarked on their singular path. I arrived at the conclusion that famous people were that way because they didn’t conform and someone in their industry noticed and liked what they saw, or heard. I still insisted (for me) that it needed to be about sharing, not “show”. Everything I sought out suggested cooperation, mentorship, and sharing, anything that could help others grow into their inner freedom whether by teacher or by example.

Creative journeys are never obvious or easy. I wished there had been greater awareness of and access to methods of creativity -based education. As a professional educator, once I got my degrees in physics and engineering, it was all about core curriculum and following ministry guidelines to meet bulk consumption. The arts were already on their way out with flagrant budget cuts. Looking back at traditional learning of any subject, the conscientious student is never the misfit, a concept far more humanizing, and true than “the customer is to be treated with utmost respect, the customer is always right.” I was not the misfit in the world’s ways, it had been the other way around all along. Now I realize all of life is like shoe shopping. You are not the problem if the damn shoe pinches your baby toe. Try a different shoe or size, or heck, go for sandals.

Even as a kid, when I was in creative mode at the piano, I’d lose track of time and ventured off somewhere I can’t describe, carried on the waves of sound and muscle memory. Then I’d get dizzy standing up from the bench to return to earth to eat dinner with my parents. This feeling (spirit?) carried me daily, in giddy joy, through every week’s slog of formalism called piano lessons, to long after I attended high school, having graduated basic academics and Royal Conservatory Piano. However, I knew from experience this feeling could vanish at any music recital, exam or performance at home for family and friends. The inconsistency and randomness of an acceptable performance let me get swallowed into the gaping jaws of classic anxiety. When it overtook me, I felt unable to cope, abandoned and worst of all, untrained. Each new event became a nerve-wracking occasion that took control over me, where I could find no misty bright zone, feel no strange pressure in my ears or around my head that told me I was “free” to do my thing they way I knew I could. My pedal foot would quiver uncontrollably just above the damper pedal. If I jammed it down, it could not launch me as far away as I needed to get. The consistency stuff of performance just didn’t come naturally to me: reading notes, strict rules, everything that rigid discipline programs out of you. I scrambled for breath as I stumbled over the wrong keys, the failure and the misfit, and I could never imagine the parents of my piano classmates rooting for me to survive my ordeal. There was no one on my side to pull me through these times. Even I wasn’t on my own side.

They say that if you truly know yourself, you behold limitless personal power. I always wondered how or why that could be. I do believe getting to know ourselves is one of, if not the reason we are here. Like the dream home with billowy white sheers that’s never complete from renovations, our job in becoming is never done. So why bother? Because of infinity – we have no choice but to move and change. We are each our own universe unto ourselves, therefore, we will never truly know our fullest, infinite self. Whatever we think we must be, witnessing what we create and bring to this world, know there is still more to come, there are deeper wells to draw from. Always. That’s the good news. But what if it’s always been about the bad news…you never were confident to go deeper because of one or more traumatic memories? All you know is the inability to measure up left you feeling like a failure and you knew you didn’t belong in the realm of creativity let alone being seen. Why would anyone want to get to know something they were disappointed in, disillusioned by? How does one delve deeper into their misunderstood self if something worth understanding was really there? Oh, just give me my piano and leave me be. And I was an extrovert by nature. Imagine.

The experiences we have in life, for better or worse, teach us about who we are inside. We must be open to engage, give and receive when it comes to experiences. Discovering who you are and what makes you tick can be the most meaningful project you decide to take up. To see and become what life can be even amidst the grayest of surroundings, to its best and fullest, is to rise to the highest potential of you. This is a process more colourful than concrete self-limitations. None of us came with an operation manual. We are left to explore any cracks to open up to freedom, both in the solitude of creative introspection, and with each other, socially and in relationship. We seek out and choose these opportunities. Life experiences are myriad but opportunities are not infinite in number because we do not live forever. They do not come of their own accord to relieve us of apathy and extricate us to higher worlds.

It is the very process of getting to know oneself that creative expression follows, naturally. Only in these last couple of decades has consciousness and creativity become the hot topic of study. The entire realm of art is the result of consciousness attempting to know itself, from macrocosm to microcosm. A teacher of mine once advised me, “you can’t sell creativity.” Truth was, I wasn’t trying to. I was just hoping folks would catch on how important this is, not to our minds, but to our souls. Creative Explorations are a key healing activity of Soul Tree Akashic Healing.

Everyone creates something of value naturally, whether you believe it or not, it’s true. It’s why each of us is here. Every uncoerced choice you make represents your creativity if that choice is fully aligned with who you are. Here at Quintessence Studio, I am a Master Akashic practitioner who helps folks unburden the soul and experience creative growth, and I am a musical artist, a composer, arranger and producer of the music I make. Playing the piano, and singing, are my activities where I can be on my own indefinitely, relish in my own delightful company with sound, and come away brighter and better for the experience. Musical sound – was my natural playmate and the lifeforce of it always came streaming in from a higher place, to find me and take me back to its world. I prefer it there, I admit. And just from one finger touching and activating one piano key. Any piano key. It has become the symbol and torch of my fidelity to self. There is no one else involved. It could be said that singing has healed me of myself and the wounds I kept pouring salt in. I croon jazz, ballads, chanting and anything else at the top of my lungs, and push my own boundaries and limits trying to stay in coordinated sync with my hands at the piano. While this part still has not come naturally to me, I don’t care. I keep practicing without shame or self-criticism, and because I’ve found so much that does work, my faults are no longer a problem for me. I’ve arrived – I feel like whatever I can dream, I can do, one way or another. Besides, I’ve been invested too long in all this to trash it, so much so that I teach other passionate-for-creating folks how not to throw away their efforts either.

You are creative, whether you meant to create or not. Our world can be a chosen redefined workplace of higher being, where everything of who you are is worth exploring. So now, I say, that which you are most afraid to share is what the world needs most. I say, any choice you make for yourself from a place of inner freedom is creativity. Redefined. Expressing yourself from a place of inspiration, without fear of judgment, is true talent. Redefined. In living according to the redefinition of creativity, there is no such thing as failure. You are creative naturally, think about it. Like you and everyone we know, I had my own natural affinities, consistent aversions, personality quirks and genuine faults, and it was up to me to own them as beneficially unique to me. In my case, include inherent over-sensitivities and methods of higher knowing that posed more hindrance than help because I relied on my misperceptions. I abandoned the negatives of failed expectations of narrow social conditioning, the tried and true, and chose instead to focus on the positives of my true nature in this particular skin. It turned out I liked this new perspective of myself much more than the old version of me others still remembered.

Even more uplifting news: Music is not the only pathway to know yourself. As long as you develop a non-rigid, joyful discipline to connect you to that which is higher, your most meaningful project becomes a direct, infinite resource for spiritual growth. There is the pathway to your higher being, then also the attitude that determines the quality of your process, which will be positive every time because you ascertain and uphold your approach as inspired every time. Some folks may sense their connection to higher being while reading, appreciating art or listening to music, but for me, it is the active process of making music, rather than the passive intake, that was the stronger, clearer connection that brought radical healing and inner transformation. The key here is in the doing of it – active engagement with it, whatever it is. How does one engage with their own creative inspiration? Attitude, a pathway and “an instrument of creation” are required for this approach: the attitude of self-initiative to take a risk to explore in perfect safety; and a pathway for exploration you have chosen intuitively ie music; an instrument is any tool of that pathway ie for music, your own voice in a pinch, but most folks start with something simple like a piano, a guitar or a xylophone, hopefully in a quiet room you have to yourself. If your intuitive pathway is writing, get a pen and paper; if art, get some paint and brushes. There is no “audience” but you, your higher self, and that which is higher yet with your attitude of self-initiative. Make solemn promise to your higher self (and higher power) that you will be open to receive any higher guidance that is always on your side with a joyful heart, even if it means you need to send your own inner critic on vacation to Tahiti. Without initiative, intuition and the instrument, nothing worth creating or inventing would have manifested; history and evolution has proven there is genius embedded in boldness, inherently.

Without a doubt, my childhood choice to make music, as a solo undertaking and erstwhile creative exploration, was a legitimate, pure opportunity to get to know myself – a tool in my toolbox that had always been there. I used everything of my lessons in classical piano, music theory etc… as I applied naturally, so some good did come of this skill-building. Simply growing up this way, I expanded the expertise. Looking back on stoic, achievement-bound pathways of youth, I see the accumulated misunderstanding of my role as the misfit that left me feeling ‘less than.’

For years now, I’ve been able to sing, play and perform in public from a place of higher connection, joy, peace and what I consider excellent training via these new definitions. I teach others how to get on their pathway of higher being that is theirs alone. The secret to getting to know yourself by any pathway you pick is in the tranquility, wonder and belonging of you of your journey, never in the worry of the destination. You connect to higher guidance for receiving, accepting and experimenting. You take up the challenge of the wiser directive with zero intention for an earthly outcome that strives for praise, faces judgment or endures scorn. This way is about your own witnessing of the transformation, change and development of you via your avocation. I can tell by how the tone of the piano shifts that something in me has lightened. When I hear myself sing a certain phrase via a first approach, it’s as though the higher realm suggests, “try it this way and see how that sounds,” and not only can I create it exactly as imagined without thinking or effort, I now have a new choice I wasn’t aware of before, and I’m beaming. Miracles happen this way, and because it happened once, others will happen. But only if you allow yourself to become the exploration of you, on uncharted territory of welcome love and acceptance, carrying a light backpack filled with joy, resilience, intuition, and free of the weight of judgment. And because there is no wrong on this journey, you go deeper on your own accord. Know that something higher is always there to care, about you and your creation, every step of the way.

Realizing that what I condemned in myself were the very seeds that would grow the gifts I’d end up bringing to this work ended up being the most meaningful project I’ve worked on – the inner transformation that came from this realization. I create using my gifts first, using what I have, because this is natural, not forced. I neither pigeonhole myself nor judge to compare my work or approach in condemnation. I’m nowhere near finished transforming, but unlike traditional trauma therapy, these last thirty years have been a fascinating, fun journey because music has been my constant, unwavering companion the whole way. I haven’t had to keep clambering out of quicksand only to get pulled back down again, because music and the process itself had extricated me to those higher worlds right from the get-go. Again, the gifts and opportunities were always there, from the inception of my being. You may find the same is true for you, in your own way. If I had known to replace rigidity and rote learning with creative exploration, I may have been able to rejoice who I always was, much sooner and dump the bad memory baggage decades ago. Unfortunately, we rarely recall our life as a continuous spectrum of indivisible, un-quantizable moments of flow, but instead by a select few standout memories. This is because of the neuroplasticity principle of the negativity bias that is hard-wired in our brains. Think of it this way: for every six experiences we have, where five of them may be joyful or positive, and one is traumatic, which one holds the power to be recalled to the forefront of our minds? We are all this way, by evolution for staying safe. Stay alert to that one thing that could go wrong…Music was my outlet for rage, pain, grief and more. But according to neuroplasticity statistics, I can confidently say that my memory has been skewed, because, every five minutes out of six that I was playing music, it was coming from a good place inside me. Given time, singing or playing the piano naturally processed that sixth minute’s worth that otherwise dominated my mental and emotional state of being, and brought me back to a place of calm, peace, joy and the feeling I could face the world once more…to a place of confidence inside me. I decided music belonged to me, no matter all the ways I didn’t think I belonged. Music belonged to me. And I belong because of it.

With this certainty, I perceive the world differently because I have changed. I am more open to learning and I do that best when we engage with each other in supportive, cooperative spirit. Thanks to the internet, resources for bringing creative vision into manifestation are there across the greatest socioeconomic breadth than ever before. Universal law states the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts, and this world is big enough for each of us to make our mark to expand the synergy of creativity. But what gets it out of us is our ability to connect with each other, with less fear to put our gifts out there, because the world finally understands that we will never exhaust our need for each other’s creative skills and gifts, nor have we hit the ceiling of originality in these times. If we are entire universes in ourselves, I don’t think we will hit that limit. I don’t think we ever can.

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Image Credits A.B. Arnold, Quintessence Studio Suggest a Story: CanvasRebel is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

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