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Murray Hidary    

Murray Hidary

BY MEADOWLARK MONAGHAN

On Monday, we had the privilege of having Murray Hidary, creator of MindTravel, take us on a musical journey. 

Murray began by telling us how our external reality is directly related to our internal reality. As a composer and pianist he uses music to create spiritual journeys that allow us to experience the arc of life. 

Murray is a multi-disciplinary artist and tech pioneer. What began as his own coping mechanism of using music for his own healing, turned into an experience that he now shares with the world. MindTravel hosts experiences around the world with Live-to-Headphones ‘Silent’ Piano and Meditation experiences. Murray plays real-time compositions (that means improvised everytime!) for each audience to allow us to relax, reflect, and connect with our deeper emotions.

We began with Murray guiding us through a meditation to set the tone for our musical journey. Next, we followed along a beautiful 30 minute musical journey and ended again with meditation, to let the feelings sink in. Then, we got into a little Q&A.

DO YOU FIND YOURSELF MEDITATING WHILE PLAYING?

Each musical experience is a complete real time improvisation. 

Murray thinks of it kind of like surfing, he’s right on top of the wave in that sweet spot and that’s how he feels when he’s in the waves of the music. When he gets knocked off, he tries to get back on as quickly as he can. 

This is a metaphor for how he takes mindfulness into his daily life as well! Murray brings an intense focus and flow state into every interaction - whether that’s playing piano or having a conversation with friends or family. He is constantly trying to be fully present in this moment. 

And music is a practice to build that muscle! Even when you're listening, being in total connection, as if you're right there on the wave with him. We can use music as a ritual or practice to build that muscle of deep, deep listening. When we are in that state, all types of stress can be released.

PREWRITTEN OR FREESTYLE?

Real time composition! In other words, freestyle. 

HOW DO YOU THINK WE CAN USE MUSIC AS A COPING MECHANISM?

The most important thing is to be able to feel our emotions out of us as opposed to pressing them down or distracting them from us. 

Instead of binge watching seasons of shows and talking on the phone for hours, while these are good in moderation, we don't want to distract from getting feelings out of us. The mind is like an iceberg: 10% awareness and above the surface thoughts and emotions, while the remaining 90% is under the surface, inaccessible to us. If we can bring more of that up to the surface, we can allow the subconscious to come out, releasing those deep down feelings and emotions. 

HOW DID MINDTRAVEL GET STARTED?

As Murray’s personal practice to maintain stress and anxiety long before he ever turned it into an event. 

It became evident how powerful of a practice this was after the death of his little sister. In his dealing with trauma and grief, he turned to music as a way to express what truly for him was inexpressible. He had no words for pain or feelings he was going through - words were not sufficient. Like what many of us are going through right now.

"When we lack the words, we can turn to music. Music is a beautiful and complex language that allows us to express our hearts. "

He turned to music and it really helped him get through that period of his life and come out the other end more in touch with himself and connected with his heart and mind. That’s when he decided to share this with the world. 

HOW DOES BUDDHISM INFLUENCE YOUR RELATIONSHIP TO MUSIC?

Murray first read Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse - a wonderful hero's spiritual journey - when he was 16, and it got him on his own spiritual journey. He travelled for a year (on a bicycle!) throughout Southeast Asia and lived in monesarties. While there, he learned music from the monks! 

But, he even takes Buddhism’s core beliefs into his practice. The idea at the core of Buddhism is that suffering truly is optional.

We will all go through very painful events in life, with different pain and different details, but it's our choice on how we perceive our reality, and what our attitude and mental state is towards those events. 

Two people can go through the same thing and have completely different perceptions of it. Our suffering truly is optional. For most people, it's hard to recognize that or understand that because they see life as an outside in game, as in life and events in the world happen to them. But, there is so much more that happens as well, like our response to those events in the world. Never underestimate the power of choice. Each moment is a moment of choice. 

WHERE DO I START IF I WANT TO LEARN PIANO DURING QUARANTINE?

Youtube and some teachers are conducting lessons over Skype!

HOW DO YOU FALL ASLEEP AT NIGHT WITH STRESS?

Murray has had his share of this! He actually created music specifically for that. Binaural beats is an acoustic technology that allows our mind to check into a frequency brain wave state that’s ideal for sleeping. Murray combines binaural beats with his music for music for sleep, meditation, focusing while you're working, etc. (I’m actually listening to his “MindTravel: Focus 20” on Spotify as I type this and it’s amazing.)

IS THERE A CERTAIN KEY YOU LIKE TO PLAY IN, THAT PLAYS A TONE THAT REALLY MATCHES YOUR INNER FEELINGS?

He likes B flat very much! Similar to the meditation metaphor, he tries to follow the winding river where it seems to want to go. So, he can move through different tones but he does like B flat a lot.

You can listen to Murray’s work and learn more about him here. Also, he is hosting a silent walk this Friday & Saturday for free, sign up online