Musician, Composer, Teacher, Aspiring Cook, Sense Field Junkie.
Alan Kent Anderson is a music educator, professional musician, and a writer. He has been a student of meditation and mindfulness for over 30 years. For the past few years, Alan has worked through three Milwaukee foundations teaching mindfulness and self-regulation skills to public school children. He is also the originator of A.MAP (Arts and Mindfulness for Academic Progress) and has done professional development seminars in business and education. In addition, he was the co-founder of Windhorse Retreat Center in Plymouth, WI.
Prior to teaching, he was a professional jazz musician for 20 years and also toured, performed and recorded with Paul Cebar, playing American roots music—R & B, funk, soul, jazz, latin music—your basic New Orleans musical gumbo.
If you search for the word “spirituality” on Google, it will yield 48,800,000 entries. Doing the same on Amazon.com brings up 243,000 titles.
Among these, spirituality-in-everyday-life book sales are booming. One book alone, Eat Pray Love, has become a $350 million franchise.
It is estimated that up to 20 million people are currently doing yoga and 10 million people are practicing some form of meditation. On the local level, attendance at introductory meditation and yoga classes has long been on an uptick.
There are many points of entry to the spiritual path, and though one may be impressed by the vast number of people at the gate, when one looks further along the way, the stream of dedicated practitioners on the spiritual journey begins to slow to a trickle.
What causes such dramatic attrition? Truth be told, the spiritual journey—or any journey out of darkness and suffering—is not for the faint of heart. Contrary to popular belief, the spiritual journey is not just one of attaining bliss; it is also one of of transformation, which necessitates facing yourself fully—taking ownership of the raw and sometimes searing details about who we are, without the slightest attempt to bullshit our way around it. Nobody wants to say that—it’s too coarse for polite company, but it is true; the essential prerequisite for working on one’s self is to uncover or unmask one's self.
While the outcome of our journey is purportedly peace, love and joy, the way there is fraught with peril, because one of the core demands of being spiritually whole and sane is to stop lying to yourself about yourself. But that takes a lot of bravery, so we are sometimes seduced by more inviting alternatives like my favorite and most familiar one, by Chögyam Trungpa, “It is much easier to appear holy than to be sane.”
Lying to ourselves, fear of feedback, self deception—these make for a thorny path. Wakefulness, mindfulness, enlightenment—these are the hopeful outcomes of a spiritual journey; but how can these take root if we habitually shy away from facing ourselves as we are?
Whether we are talking about the spiritual path, psychotherapy or self-help, self-deception is the wisdom splinter. Although it is extremely irritating and a nuisance, we should welcome it; because when we pay enough attention to that splinter, it leads us to being truly grounded…we feel the texture of our world and our place in it. If we opt to steer clear of discomfort and challenge, our path will be artificial at best, and we will likely fall asleep on the journey.
Well, maybe not all of us…well…okay, I did.
This is a place for us to explore all this.
Please join in!