a state of complete ease and letting go of obsession, desire, or stress, he says,
"If music is approached with commitment to effortlessness over excellence,
it is possible through the years to develop an ease that is truly marvelous."
Had Kenny been an unskilled beginner, taking a break to just relax his fingers to the piano would likely have led him to worse playing rather than effortless excellence.
As English author Samuel Johnson said, "What we hope ever to do with ease, we must first learn to do with diligence."
Listen here to a short tune played by Kenny and the amazing Chris Potter. Even if jazz isn't your thing, it's impressive to know they're making up the music as they play and to hear the ease that meaning-filled notes fly from their fingers. For more inspiration from Kenny Werner, I recommend his book Effortless Mastery. Geared towards musicians, it may be of interest to artists of any media or anyone looking to gain more effortlessness and ease in what they do.
In Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, yoga– meaning union– is defined
as a state of steadiness and ease.
In hatha yoga, we learn to hold a variety of poses while focusing on the breath and flowing from one posture to another. Through it, we aim for alignment and a comfortable balance between strength and ease,
neither clenching muscles nor collapsing, completely present to whatever arises without a run-on commentary from the mind, and making each movement more like a meditation than an effort.
Two yogis may look similar in a pose, but internally may be having entirely different experiences.
With practice, we can learn to delve deeper into our internal existence and free ourselves of striving, resistance, and tensions.
By doing so, we sometimes reach the state of samadhi, where we melt into what's around us as our consciousness becomes one with our surroundings or object of meditation.
Where do you find yourself the most at ease and at one with all?
"Flow is being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz."
In his book Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, psychology professor and specialist on happiness and creativity, discusses the importance of optimizing inner experiences to make life feel meaningful and worthwhile. The optimal state is that place where one is immersed and present, enjoying whatever is, moving along completely at ease and without regard for results.
This state of flow that can lead to peak performance has been described similarly by many around the world through the ages, and is what we are inspired by when we see it in people like spiritual sages, great athletes, and artists.
It is a similar internal space as a child absorbed in play.
There is no set recipe to get to this state, we each must find our way.
Imagine someone turns to you, glares into your eyes, and then exclaims, “Pig!”
How would you react?
Now imagine that person is a 3 year old boy,
with a vivid imagination and loads of joy and spontaneity.
He turns to you, glares into your eyes awhile, then out of the blue exclaims, "Pig!"
I reacted by laughing,
and he joined me.
We stopped, continued eating our lunch, and ignored the questioning look of his mom. We had been enacting the story of "The 3 Little Pigs," taking turns from time to time as he'd announce, "I'm the big bad wolf, you be the pigs." Or, "I'm the pigs, you be the big bad wolf." I thought the game was done hours ago...
I then looked him in the eyes, silently, smiling. After a bit, I softly and slowly said, "P....IG!"
We giggled and laughed for about 5 minutes.
This picture of him from about 6 months ago inspired me to share this little story today.