MUSINGS OF A RATIONAL MYSTIC

Where and what is home?  

As we fast approach the Soup Kitchen Boogie on May 13th, the theme on everyone's mind seems to be "home". 

In fact, I went to a fabulous contemporary dance show at the Norwich Arts Centre last week called Home Solo. Hayley Matthews and Hej Jones combined lights, music, dance and the spoken word to explore the notion of what it feels like to be at home in one's own skin. It was mesmerising to watch her. That's Hayley below. She's in London and NYC in the coming months- don't miss it! Learn more here

Home is the subject of my next single. Or at least, the search for home. It's a word that describes a place; a feeling; an entitlement and a practice.

And one that I have never understood: 

My mum is Indian and my dad British-Canadian. I was born in Holland. I lived with my mum until I was 11 - we moved from Maastricht, to Calcutta and then to Toronto - until I left her to live with my dad who had moved from Norway to Oxfordshire. His wife is Italian. He sent me to boarding school in Edinburgh but I did my A-levels in Oxford. In total, I went to eight schools and when I'd finished, he moved to Italy. The next Christmas I had at "home" was ten years later. 

Where do I come from? 

Mixed race nomad. Rootless cosmopolitan. No clue, basically. 

I'm not alone. Third Culture kids are a function of modern life. We have a wikipedia entry now. Do read; it's a brand new category of life. 

It's quite interesting as a story for people to hear; it's quite interesting to live it; but not having a home can be terribly lonely. I would say, it's unnatural not to have a nest. I'm grateful for the colours of my journey, but I probably wouldn't raise kids this way. Strong roots over epileptic branches. 

Stories make for good songs though. My next release is called Sceptre, and it's is the story of my search for home. Ironically, it's the song that is guiding me to my musical home - harps, soft guitars and tribal beats see a more organic sound. Even my vocal register is more true to me.

Amazing how the arts have all the answers. 

Next month release. Enjoy. Please do pledge to support the homeless, they need it. Facebook fundraiser here

 

 

 

The music of Moscow  

What an absolute blast. To be back in Moscow after five years? A blast yes, but in the sense that I really felt like my memories blasted me back from the dead. 

Moscow was the city from which I launched my music career back in 2012. Recently free from the shackles of my enormous university debt, I found myself richer and freer than ever before (it's a tragic thing when you can't pursue your real mission in life because of something as lame as money). 

I remember I met a guy called Pavel in a bar. He said he was a producer and was looking for a singer. I offered. I had never been in a studio before. I told him I had. I had never used a studio mic before. I told him I had. 

I arrived to a find him at his desk, a mic'd room to the left and little more to the song than the bass line. 

"What do you want me to do?"

"Anything, here's the bass line" 

"I don't get what you mean, where is the song? I thought I would be singing." 

Blank face. 

Luckily I'd brought my lyric book with me. We wrote the song in the studio. And then recorded it. 

Next thing I knew, it had been signed to a label, put on an Ibiza compilation album and played on the radio in Europe. I think the figures are currently 40,000 hits on Youtube. 

 

Thank you Moscow. You made me. 

 

It's all in the light sometimes  

Spent the day in a pub.

I ate a Ploughman's lunch and had a cup of tea. I didn't know about this pub when I set off, I just wanted somewhere to write and couldn't trust what I read online. Attleburgh. I turned left off the roundabout and the first thing I saw was this pub. I spent the day writing the book that describes how I lost my voice, the book that will accompany my album, an album I wrote two years ago. It's a thing - a multidimensional mission, all my learnings so far. And then there will be round 2 and probably 3. But this is round 1. 

I rewrote the first chapter.  I've done two of the three parts of the book so far but I need to edit before I start the finale. I'm a better writer now, weave the world and the narrative; story and conception. Writing needs time. Long stretches so you can think in long stretches. And a lot of energy. It takes a lot of give to be creative. 

Anyway, it's a book about creativity and the power of Creative Light. It's a book about light.

And then I read an article about Wittgenstein who was the only philosopher I could ever relate to. He talks about how confused everyone is. And then I looked out and saw the light of the sky.

And then I thought, I better write my blog so you all know, that if artists go into hiding, it's probably cos they're getting ready for the show. 

 

Alright... so my EP wasn't what I was expecting.  

Yeah. I thought it would be a way to burst my new found identity onto the stratosphere of a fresh life; a harmonious world of wispy angels floating on harp-shaped clouds and singing in a perfect ten part harmony of alelujia. 

But instead, I was reminded of an industry that I'd left many years before - music, like everything else, is business. 

How can I put this so you can understand. I.... got ripped off. Not much more I can say really. It was the second of the two times that I'd been robbed in the industry, the first being when I wrote and recorded a song in the studio, which was then sold to a label without my approval and vanished into a whiff of nothing. I know it made something because I bought the record myself. Not a penny. I can assure you. 

My conclusion? This industry was not for me. What I'd spent had been a serious investment. I worked round the clock. I'd got sick and kept on. I'd tried. It wasn't for me. Fine. Hence my silence. 

But lo and behold, it's not that easy to quit when you've got guardian angels. I really don't know what else to call them. Somehow, I ended up with some good news. 

An old friend got in touch and asked me to do a charity gig for the homeless. Yes. I would love to. sometimes, you gotta give back, especially when things aren't working out. 

 

 

And soon after that, this: 

 

Now I'm meeting some new band members and I think the tide is turning. 

What I can say is that for all my experiences with the EP I learned one thing: choose wisely. There are good people out there, there have to be. 

 

And onto Phase 2. 

 

 

One EP done!  

So! I'm done with the first round of my music career and what a cracking year it was!

Semi-finalist in the UK Songwriting Contest, Regional Finalist in Open Mic UK, 5 times picked up by BBC Norfolk, three times by Future Radio, live set with Shoreditch radio and countless gigs. 

I learned an awful lot this year. I learned about what it takes to get good news and bad news. I learned about the importance of professionalism in music as in any other job. I learned about practice. I learned to keep my voice healthy. 

Most all, I learned to listen. Not to the many voices of the industry that will make decisions for you that you don't necessarily agree with, but my inner voice to guide me on my rightful path in music. 


And best of all: I attracted the attention of some important voices for my future career. Watch this space. 2017 is my year. 

Love Naomi. 

Demons and the Shadow Aspect  

This is the most bizarre of all my stories. 

I had a friend whose company bothered me intensely and I could never work out why. I felt tired when she was around. I felt that I couldn't trust her. I felt confused. I felt drained. I felt... something was wrong. 

She always claimed to be a close friend, loyal and supportive, loving, caring. She would call me when she needed support though I would rarely see her in person. She would be heavily involved in my personal affairs and invite herself into the intricacies of my mind and emotions. She wanted to know how I felt, how I would solve issues, my history, and I shared everything with her believing in her generosity.

But I always had this eerie, haunting feeling that there was something else going on behind the scenes, this strange sense that she wasn't really a friend despite everything she said. It didn't make sense: the words coming out of her mouth and the feeling I got being near her did not cohere. I felt ashamed of my suspicions and ignored them. 

In time, though, her emotional demands were too much for me and I started to feel exhausted. Once she demanded that I nurse her through another of her "episodes" and I ended up having to leave my dinner date just so I could calm her down for two hours over the phone. It became apparent that she was highly unstable. At this point, I starting thinking there really was something wrong. 

My reaction was to close the door on her; it was all too bizarre and disturbing. It was at a time when I was struggling in my own life and sometimes I wonder if she preyed on that vulnerability.

Horrifyingly, the baddie ended up being - me. I was the one with the issues, it was my fault. My punishment was that I should continue being friends with her which I felt obliged to do. 

Finally, I came across the Shadow Aspect in Jung. This is where we suppress our dark desires for the sake of abiding by moral norms of society. Importantly, people are not aware of it in themselves: the shadow operates in darkness, in the shadows of your mind, it's sub-, even un-concious. This was the only way that I could make sense of the oddity of this situation - I'd never been in any situation like it and it was quite rattling. I thought I was losing my mind. 

I heard once "in life, there are fountains and drains, stick with the fountains". Yes. Simple really. And I said goodbye forever. 

Needless to say, it's always those weird things in life that make songwriters write. So, here is Demons. 


DEMONS (live vocals) 
 

 

The Science of Intuition: what the US Army is really fighting for  

US ARMY FOR INTUITION 


After discovering that soldiers who relied on intuition were better soldiers, the US army is formally researching the powers of intuition.  

 
In 2012, the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research decided to launch a research project called “Enhancing Intuitive Decision Making Through Implicit Learning”. It looks at the role of intuition in decision making. 

“The whole goal of this research endeavor is to determine if we can develop techniques to measurably improve intuition,” says Ivy Estabrooke, a program manager at the Office of Naval Research. 

In fact, what they are finding is that soldiers that rely on their intuition are more likely to uncover covert operations or secret explosives than people that follow prescribed learning. 

Read the New York Times article: Here 

Can you believe that? Of all the possible agencies, the daddy of constitutional reason is entrenching mysticism into the Army. Possibly the best news I've had all year. 

But again I'm left with one fundamental question: why is mysticism so frowned upon in today's society if people trust in nothing else as much? 

Psychology Today says that System 1 reasoning - that of the right hand side of our brains, which operates the reptilian intelligence we inherited from our prehistoric ancestors - governs Intuition and actually works faster than our powers of reason. 


 

POWERS OF PREDICTION 

And the good news doesn't stop there: Intuition is also smarter than Reason. 

 

 


For example, in one study, published in Psychology Today, shows that researchers asked their subjects to play a card game where the goal was to win the most money.  What the subjects did not realize, however, is that the game was rigged from the start.  There were two stacks of cards to choose from; one was rigged to provide big wins followed by big losses, while the other deck was set up to provide small gains but almost no losses.  

It took about 50 cards before the subjects said they had a hunch about which deck was safer, and about 80 cards before they could actually explain the difference between the two decks.  However, what is most fascinating is that after only 10 cards the sweat glands on the subjects’ palms opened slightly every time they reached for a card in the dangerous deck.  It was also around the tenth card that the subjects started to favor the safer deck, without being consciously aware that they were doing so.  In other words, long before the analytical brain could explain what was going on, the subjects’ bodily intuition knew where there was danger, and guided them toward safety.

The faster Intuition will know the answer before Reason, because Intuition developed at a time when knowledge was scarce and unpredictability was the norm. 

So the belief in mystical powers is the source of all our failings? 

 

Intuition   Podcast

What is it about Intuition? 


Seems like anyone who has ever done anything interesting in life seems to rely exclusively on this one little faculty. 

 


Sensually, it seems to fall in its own category, not quite like love; something more like an impression or atmosphere; people cohere about it and it's totally private at the same time.  

Psychology Today calls it:  that inner voice, that allows you to bring your true instinctual awareness back into your rational everyday life. 

Good enough. 
 

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  1. Intuition

Why Being Mystical Doesn't Mean You're Nuts  

I always worry about the M word.

Say the word "mysticism" and immediately people think about fanged witches cawing at the devil; a cult-of-the-occult; astral travel or air-headed nymphs floating somewhere in another dimension. 

Worrying then, that Paganism is back. 

But, what is it? 

Traditionally, Paganism was the belief system of the ancients: people believed in the powers of nature - the elements, Gods of trees and sky, the mythologies of the ancient worlds, First Nations, whatever - and developed a range of practices to show their worship, some of which were a little questionable (cannibalism, human - baby - sacrifice, yes, agree, not exactly in line with modern ethics). 

So when Christianity took hold, it was on the grounds that pagan customs were dangerous and weird. We put Christmas and Easter in the place of Winter and Spring solstices and demonised all plant worship. It was an effective control and, frankly, made a lot of sense when it came to homogenising the world they knew. 






But in doing so, they built a legacy that has still persisted today - that Paganism is evil. 

But why? In early Britain, Pagans, in particular, "witches", were medicinal forest dwellers, the healers of old societies, that were in touch with the power of plants and nature directly (they made potions out of plants, basically). Technically, this would make my sister a witch, because she's using plants to make bath products and teas with medicinal qualities. She refuses to use chemical cleaning products because she feels that it damages the earth. 

Terrible really. 

Today's world sees a rise of Yoga, Karma, New Age "energy" theories, environmental protection, holistic attitudes to cause and effect, all just really the nuts and bolts of glorified, glamorised Paganism. Are the vegans evil? The eco-warriors? 

The thing that fascinates me most about belief systems, is that despite our best efforts, questions about the world didn't just evaporate because we are told not to believe them - they linger on, somewhere in our experience of life. 

Personally, my beliefs have hurricaned so dramatically that I've given up looking for answers: philosophy taught me nothing; reading taught me a lot; travel even more. But it's my instincts that have been my greatest guides when it comes to finding answers. 

Something happens when I'm in nature: I feel a... force. I would describe it as experiencing a form of God, I just don't call it God. I have Christian friends who agree with me. I am not alone in this.

Does that really mean I'm crazy? Really? Look at the sky and the sea and the mountains and flowers and bees and earth and wind and stars and trees and all the beautiful animals. I feel that I'm in the presence of something wondrous when I am around the natural world. From the depths of my instincts and bones. A power. 

So my conclusion is: Nature = Spirit. Protect Nature. That's my basic religion. 

And that makes me nuts?