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5 Reasons To Support Underground Music

5 Reasons To Support Underground Music

Remember that one kid in high school who seemed to not have too many friends but always posted insane pictures of concerts on Facebook? He was one of us. Or that guy at work who shows up looking really tired a couple times a week and constantly mumbles about bands you’ve never heard of. He’s one of us too. It’s this huge thing that very few people know about – and that’s exactly what makes it so darn special. Underground music is a vast community, but one that is, by definition… underground. This a community that you want to be a part of – and not just because of the great music.

1. It Gets You Unique Access To The Artists

I just got through figuring out whether or not Rolling Stone Magazines favorite metal band of 2014 was going to sleep at my parents house this week while touring in the area. Someone who opened for Black Sabbath just liked my Facebook status and I also just got a text from a dude who’s been touring the world for thirty years. These things might seem weird and out of this world to folks not involved in the underground, but for us devotees it’s pretty par for the course. What I think a lot of people don’t realize is how accessible a lot of this stuff is. You can see four bands with a combined hundred years of touring experience for less than twenty dollars as long as you know where to look – and a lot of these artists just want to hang out with normal folks like you and be your friend.

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In the underground community it’s surprisingly easy to watch a show from the front row and actually be close enough to reach out and touch the artists you love (Not that that’s encouraged!) Beyond that – you often find yourself chitchatting, sometimes by accident, with folks who have been lucky enough to go all around the world pursuing their art. If that doesn’t pique your interest – simply from a human perspective, then I don’t know what will. As crazy as it sometimes sounds – the underground really is all that and more. It is truly a force to be reckoned with.

2. You Find A Whole New World At Your Fingertips

In my work in the underground, I’ve come to discover radical sides of society that I might have otherwise never crossed paths with. While on the one hand I’ve learned a lot about people who work in the trades and who identify closely with the empowerment that comes with a blue collar lifestyle, I’ve also gotten to meet millionaires who use their affiliation with the arts to boost their social status. Once you pull back the veil of the underground, you get a chance to look into what makes this entire thing so special. People in the underground community tend to be much more open and willing to share bits and pieces of their lives, opening you up to whole new sides of the human experience.

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Beyond that, there’s also the incredibly deep world of touring musicians and all the characters you tend to meet who help make that lifestyle possible. A lot of these people spend almost their entire lives on the road and they are aware of things that many of us might never be otherwise exposed to. Being a part of the underground gives you a window onto a world of punk rock magic where strangers sleep at each others homes just because they need a roof over their heads for the night before they hit the road again and where you find yourself frequenting 24 hour diners out of necessity more than anything else. It’s a strange world, and a rough one, but certainly something that I think you want to be a part of.

3. You Enter A Unique Community

A huge part of this hidden world is the community – something I briefly mentioned in the previous entry that but definitely should be expanded upon. The underground is a community built off of necessity and despair. We all know there isn’t a lot of money in this business so it often feels like everyone has banded together to make the best of our situation. In a world where everyone is trying to get better opportunities for their bands, and the bands they love the most, people have come to terms with the fact that we all need to work together if we want to help create the best possible scene.

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This whole notion of a scene in and of itself is an interesting one. For the uninitiated, it refers to the group of people who regularly attend underground shows and help to contribute to the art, be that financially, through art of their own, or something else. Your local scene is sure to have it’s champions and villains, a sort of quixotic take on a world that often tries to base itself around films like Almost Famous. And this is fine – but getting involved in the scene is always a rewarding journey that leaves you meeting new people constantly and making friends from all over the world.

4. Your Understanding of Art Totally Changes

When you get a chance to pull back the curtain and see how the artists live, your understanding of art totally changes. You end up in a place where you can see the why and how of the art you adore. What better way to get a better understanding of music you love than by actually getting a chance to talk with the singer over beer and cigarettes? These are the opportunities regularly foisted upon you in underground music. What the underground allows you to do is to get a chance to look at the incredibly deep infrastructure that allows more mainstream artists to succeed.

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It also gives you an opportunity to see how hard it is to make it out there. The fact that so many of these artists have touched so many lives and yet remain starving and are forced to take on side jobs is a very weird thing to see play out. The underground is a strange community and when you start to realize the brutal nihilism of it all, it will either totally alienate you from it or make you fall deeper in love than ever before. As you delve in and start to get a sense of what makes your favorite artists tick your eyes are opened and you’re forced to face brutal realities – realities that are endlessly interesting and give you a unique perspective on the works you love

5. You Meet Famous People Before They Become Famous

My mentor got a chance to hang out with Kurt Cobain before Nevermind dropped. My uncle got to know Zakk Wylde on the local scene before he started playing with Ozzy. Hopalong, a band who have now played various late night TV shows and toured with the Rolling Stones, used to play my favorite local coffee shop every weekend. The point being – a lot of these famous people who we all worship used to be a part of the underground, and many of them can still be caught now and then hanging out at underground shows. (Hell – Dave Grohl does it all the time!) Why? Because they love it.

The whole point of the underground, despite what some people might say, is to churn out the next big thing and to help create the sonic gods that the masses worship. Of course the odds of any one band being the one that gets launched to stardom is ridiculously small, but if you meet enough people the odds are you’re going to end up hanging out with some pretty special folks. It’s simply how it works – and it’s really exciting when stuff like that plays out in your favor. The music industry is a strange place – one full of heroes and demons, but meeting someone famous before they make it big… that’s what makes this whole thing special. Because everyone has a shot – and don’t you want to be able to say, “I knew them when…”?

Featured photo credit: Fraser Mummery via flickr.com

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • They rile up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

The Bottom Line

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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