Tempo – lovely sounding word I’ve always thought and such a crucial part of existence’s mechanism not just on our human level either – think of the 365 day per year tempo of the Earth in its annual journey around the sun, or the 220,000,000 year orbit of ‘our’ solar system round the Milky Way. Or think of the tempo of a dance tune, as I am at this moment, which is what inspired me to start talking about it.
In fact when, if a stickler for following to-do lists by the number, which I’m not, I should really be attending to a heroic mission’s worth of mixes for the main project I’m working on here, I’ve in fact just banged out the first draft of a beat for Thunder Jackson, an absurdly talented young man I feel to do a shout-out for here as you’ll be hearing a lot of in the coming months or so, I’ve no doubt, so he can do a story and maybe a bit of singing over it, and this because he’s working with the also absurdly talented shout-worthy, Till The Rhythm Breaks guys in the studio downstairs and we got all down and jiggy about the idea while procrastinating in the sun yesterday.
It’s a stately 117 BPM, befitting someone called Thunder and does indeed sound a bit like a very powerful, slightly scary but somehow beautiful storm rolling its inexorable way across the land, which when passed leaves you feeling as if you’ve just had a cuddle with Zeus or someone notable like that – I’d say Tao to keep it brand-exact but it sounds pretentious in my head. If it comes to something I’ll play it to you as a special preview (but hold not your breath on account of it, or anything else for that matter, unless in a toxic environment or underwater without apparatus).
And though apparently chit-chatty, as I warm to my theme here, this is pertinent as you’ll see.
I notice incidentally, how now instead of doing the work at hand I’m writing to you. Most would think this would be the work, but for me this is pure pleasure – communing with you and possibly being of some help into the bargain.
And the subtext of my doing so now?
That this great lolloping, lumbering, lurching yet somehow strangely lithe and streamline enterprise of humanity peopling the planet with the near-infinite complex of communications, transactions, systems, and so on involved, all of it generated and miraculously sustained at the subatomic level, necessarily has its own tempo.
Yet each of humanity’s constituent parts, each of us in other words, has its own tempo.
And somehow playing the tables of life, we each are obliged to somehow calibrate and recalibrate our individual tempos to the innate tempo of the collective, itself operating in relation to the tempo of the earth orbiting the sun, and the effect it creates of the changing seasons , which in turn dictate the changing weather, as well as the diurnal day-night axial spin.
There’s no scientific way I know of to optimize this recalibration process but those wily Taoist sages of yore who seemed to know a thing or two modern sages in say the world of quantum physics are only just starting to catch up with, had a trick or two for it.
Assuming very few of us are cognitively omniscient enough to discern the actual tempo of the collective, and assuming we are each only making assumptions in believing we have to rush to keep up, a widespread stress-factor, the way the Taoists (including me) recommend is to assume it’s way slower than you imagine.
And it makes sense when you consider the number of people along with all their different agendas operating on this planet at any single time – surely something so big can’t move as fast as we feel like it does.
In any case the Taoist way is to counter-intuitively slow down and if for a moment you feel yourself rushing because you think it’ll make you progress faster, you desist immediately and slow down instead.
And the device for adjusting mental tempo, for that’s what it is, is primarily deceleration of the breathing tempo, performed by concentrating solely on the exhalation – making it as long as feels practically possible by sucking the stomach in as if to push out the air in a measured way. The inhalation then takes care of itself and after a breath or two will slow down to match.
Once this happens, your mind slows down to match too.
Your thoughts stop whirring.
Once your thoughts stop whirring, deeper consciousness, that which usually remains subconscious on account of all the habitual mental noise of those keeping-up-with-people thoughts, presents itself as the main act.
And with that, or when that’s happening, you automatically desist from worrying about keeping up with something imaginary, and instead sink naturally into the underlying tempo driving this planet along.
Ironically that’s 66,000 mph, but it’s all relative to where you’re watching from. Obviously from where we watch it doesn’t feel like it’s moving at all but that’s because we’re on it, but looking through the eye of the Tao it’s whizzing by so fast you hardly notice more than a feint 66,000 MPH streak across space.
Rushing to keep up all derives from people-pleasing, which itself derives from manipulative parenting when you were small, impinging on your natural flow.
The only presence round here that actually needs pleasing is the Tao and not because it’s an angry old man in the sky who’ll smite you if you don’t say the right words in the right order, but because the Tao is what informs you. But not only does it perform that miracle every day of your life, it does so for everyone else too, and for all the countless myriad life-forms, and that’s just on this planet – roll that out through the universe and you start to see how busy the Tao is.
Knowing this it’s obvious the Tao can use all the help it can get. Especially in reducing friction and static in the air, as there’s a lot being produced all the time.
And the way this happens is by desisting from generating it. And though it seems one individual’s power to affect the entire universe is a daft notion we bought the story when the individual was called God. And seeing as that’s what informs us, call it Tao if you like, it doesn’t matter, when any one of us reactivates this deeper consciousness and so permits the omniscient state to flourish, the easing of internal tensions is so great, it radiates like a wave of blissful ease in all directions simultaneously till everyone is affected, however subtly.
And it works.
But most crucially and more immediately it works for you.
There’s far more to it obviously, though this simple intervention of slowing the breathing down is enough in itself to work with and develop over a lifetime.
Meanwhile, remember at all times, your primary relationship is not actually with the world of people nor any of its members, no matter how close they are to you, but with this same Tao, the heart and soul of this universe and goodness how many others.
Relate to that, set your tempo to that, big as the universe, so can’t rush it as there’s a lot of it to move in any given moment, keep it slower than a tortoise, and strangely rather than reduce you to an ineffective useless blob, it will actually cause you to get far more done and in half the time.
Plus doing it will feel like an act of communion and in communion you’re in continuum, and in continuum, you’re flowing with the Tao, and no one really knows how, but that’s when everything works like magic.
It’s as if when you try rushing, the Tao feels like you’re racing it, and instead of racing you back it stands still to get your attention. But as soon as you slow right down, it speeds up.
As I say I don’t know why and don’t care anyway, the important thing is to know that it’s so regardless.
The fear that opportunities will evade you if you don’t rush to grab them is helpful to keep you alert, and clear in your intention to succeed, but isn’t an indicator of how best to proceed.
Determine to get what needs doing done, let your pace be slow and immensely steady and be ready for the Tao to provide acceleration rather than force it from your end.
My wishes for magic to bless you and all your endeavors go without saying it, but wishes for you to experience this deceleration effect are more necessary to state – I wish you the sublime experience of life slowing down and everything working 80 times better as a result for you.
That’s why I wanted to talk about tempo
Sound, sound enough?
With love, Doc