Mastering Fear

Human beings’ quality of life is not based on how much they have but how much fear they must endure.

A simple peasant without a care in the world lives a far richer life than the king who fears the assassin’s dagger in the back at any moment.

It turns out that most of our fear is self created by a part of our brain called the default mode network. This is the part of our brain that fires up when we are not actively engaged.

This is the “daydreaming” state. It resembles the actual dream state in its deeper form but in its lighter form it is focused on things like status. It runs a sort of mental bio that says “this is who I am” but also “this is who I want to be”. The net result of this state is dissatisfaction and fear.

Siddhārtha Gautama, the Buddha was a brilliant man. He knew nothing of the workings of the brain but he did know the mind. He saw that to gain peace we first needed to master the mind. How? By developing a quality of the mind Buddhists call samatha, calm abiding. We start with clear focus on the breath. We do not let the default mode take over. We stay focused on the breath with the mind calm and one pointed concentration.

Learn this technique and you will learn peace.


Friday Music

Today we would have performed at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe, if the Rona hadn’t struck. Today is also the day that our friend, and extraordinary drummer, Carl Coletti died in 2015. He performed on several albums and you can see him in action in the live concert video Wide-eyed + Dreaming, captured in Calgary in 1996.

Regarding the Friday Music offering, here is a piece of music I worked on this past week. No bass yet, no percussion… nothing. It’s very bare, but it’s got a nice vibe, I think. Makes me smile and move. And I already have an idea for a different ending, so the piece will sound different within a few hours!

Here it is: link to mp3. This link will only be active until Sunday evening.

You can comment here, but comments on Dropbox are disabled.

The link is now dead and the song changed completely after Jon sent me his bass parts on Saturday, which were brilliant and inspired. After adding the bass parts I changed the structure of the piece and made a new mix. I have listened to it at twenty times since then.

People Who Make Things


As well as medical professionals, we have become acutely aware of the importance of delivery drivers, warehouse workers and farmers in recent weeks. And of manufacturers: people in factories who make things – often in trying conditions – that keep our demands satiated and our economies moving. We rely on them to get food on our tables, cars on our roads and clothes on our backs – and, at the moment, to provide medical equipment for our hospitals.

Could this be a bright spot to come out of this dark moment? A long-overdue acknowledgement of the role of textile weavers in India, hi-tech phone manufacturers in China, car-parts assemblers in Germany and the makers of clothes in Italy? The pandemic has made us aware of the fragility of supply chains – and the world’s reliance on Chinese production. In its wake, there could well be a reassessment of how we manufacture. Many companies will decide that it is important to produce closer to home, where possible, in order to avoid logistical complications should another outbreak occur. Let’s hope that there will also be a newfound emphasis on the value of factory workers; they should not be in the shadows any longer.

The Monocle Minute