Hello! This is Mary and Rob Taylor.
Welcome to our blog, Music and Mindfulness!
In this space throughout our season, we will post our musings on the world of classical and folk music, and how it interacts and intersects with the universal search for meaning. Truth. Love. Serenity. And so much more. We hope you enjoy! We are going to write this initial blog entry together. Forgive us as we struggle to find a way to speak personally, as a couple! We will avoid using “I” and “me”, which may seem awkward!
Why the title “Music and Mindfulness” for a blog? Because that title best reflects the journey we have been on for many years now, a journey that has deepened in recent years. Music is obviously important to us. It has been our life. A deep and powerful passion. Music moves us. Challenges us. Gives us joy. Makes us feel sorrow or melancholy. It intensifies the human condition. But there is something more. The great Scottish composer Sir James MacMillan (a famed classical musician who is also an elite penny whistle player in the Scottish tradition…talk about embodying the TMG’s values!) stated in an interview that he was most drawn to sacred music, and that to him, in a sense “all music is sacred.” We couldn’t agree more. The spiritual power of music, whether overtly classified as secular or sacred, is something that has seen us through some of our most trying times—elevating us, bringing us comfort, and opening our souls to that which is greater than ourselves. To the Divine.
The concept of mindfulness has become very close to our hearts. The definition of mindfulness is “paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” (Jon Kabat – Zinn). An ecumenical word, the concept of mindfulness can be found at the heart of every major religion, philosophy, and code of ethics. Schools all over the country are incorporating mindfulness into their educational philosophies and curriculums, a trend we whole-heartedly applaud.
A few years ago, Mary began a meditation practice. She had come to this after examining some facets of her life and also losing her mother and brother six months apart, and subsequently helping Rob care for his dying mother, who lived with us for the last three years of her life. There are innumerable ways to meditate—Mary found that meditating while listening to Gregorian Chant was especially meaningful to her, as that ancient music had a purity and resonance that seemed to take her to a peaceful place. Thus began a beautiful beauty of inner discovery, a journey which suffered a road bump (to put it mildly) in 2015 when she was diagnosed with a rare gynecological cancer. It was a devastating time for both of us, but through it all Mary continued to meditate and listen to music; and through meditation and music she was brought to a very spiritual understanding of the healing power of unconditional love. Love of self is the great healer, as you cannot love anyone until you love yourself. She is cured today and has no evidence of ever having had cancer.
Mary’s meditation practice inspired Rob. Rob lost his father in 1997, and as a result has always had a difficult time dealing with the death of loved ones. In 2010, his mother Cornelia, to whom he was extremely close (Rob’s an only child) suffered a heart attack, accelerating her decline as she battled COPD. Rob and Cornelia were as close as you could ever imagine two people being on this earth. They were mother and son, best friends and confidants. Cornelia embodied the word mindfulness, and she meant everything to Rob. As she declined and eventually passed, and other friends and loved ones also died, Rob spiraled down to a place where he’d never been: Depression. Rob struggled with depression for over a year, and sought help. One day, standing in Barnes and Noble, he heard the voice of his father tell him to “read this book.” The book was Wayne Dyer’s study of the Tao Te Ching. This began Rob’s study of meditation, and rekindled what had been an area of interest earlier in life: namely, gaining wisdom from eastern and western religious and philosophical traditions. Rob began to meditate daily, and it changed his life. Always high-strung, some of his students now jokingly call him “Zen Doc.”
Today, we can honestly say that music, prayer and meditation stand as pillars in our lives. We have come to understand that this life is a journey, and a stepping stone to something much greater, much more immense. Yet having understood this, we also know that this life we have been given is what we ourselves perceive it to be. So, we choose to “seek out the spiritual” (again quoting Sir James Macmillan), and see it in everything we do. In every moment, savoring life. In short, being “mindful.” And through the Taylor Music Group and our interactions with all of our students and colleagues, we seek to merge our passion for music with our passion for mindfulness. Hopefully, this will impact our music-making in rehearsal, performance, and in recordings – and in this way, beckon those we know and others we may never meet to climb on board and take the journey with us.
Namaste and Slainté
Mary and Rob Taylor