Nicolae Tanase: Byron, what is the meaning of life?
Byron Metcalf: This feels like the proverbial ‘trick question’! I’m not sure I have any answers but I do have a few ideas and strategies that support my being fully engaged in life, and to that extent, the meaning as well as the mystery of life reveals itself in each moment. I also think that my experience and understanding of ‘meaning’ and ‘purpose’ are virtually inseparable for the most part.
Most importantly I think cultivating the capacity to be fully present with all of it is the bottom line. To be attuned to and in alignment with the rhythms and patterns. The nuances . . . the ‘ghost notes’ . . . the space and silence between the notes. For a drummer it’s important to be “in the pocket” – the “sweet spot” – where everything comes together with ease and effortlessness even amidst apparent chaos and complexity – the ability to create a deep groove for others to lock into. I resonate with these music metaphors and they help to provide a deeper and a more expanded sense of meaning in virtually every aspect of my life experience.
The work I do in the world provides a great sense of meaning and purpose for me. I’ve been a professional musician (drummer/percussionist) for almost 6 decades and during that amazing period, I feel like I’ve lived a few lifetimes – well at least a couple of lifetimes to be sure. So the question of meaning covers a seemingly infinite amount of time, space and life experience.
I’m also a transpersonal psychologist, psychotherapist and shamanic practitioner. My professional focus over the last two decades has been to integrate all of these components that make up my professional life and to a very real degree, my personal life as well. I don’t really separate my professional life from my personal life and what I mean by that is that I strive to “talk the talk and walk the walk” in every aspect of my life. Clearly I am not as successful as I would like to be. But when I am able to do so in a skillful manner, the true meaning of authenticity and integrity come into the foreground of my experience. Its hard to describe what that is like but when it happens, I become even more committed and motivated to live a life that is authentic and real – a life that is soul-based and heart-centered.
I believe everything is connected and I believe in the concepts of “oneness” and wholeness. So my every thought and every action have meaning in the sense that my thoughts and actions are ‘energy patterns’ with specific frequencies that can result in positive or negative outcome. I have been on a serious and disciplined spiritual path for several decades. My spiritual ‘seeking’ began as a result of yearning for more meaning and purpose in my life. Eventually my external success left me feeling empty and unsatisfied, and I experienced what I called ‘soul boredom’. I am deeply grateful for having the awareness and courage to follow the call to something more meaningful.
For me, there is no greater sense of meaning and purpose than continuing to explore my inner life and to experience the connectedness of all things, and ultimately to surrender to the mystery of it all. And the icing on the cake is that I get to create music that is designed to help others who are on a transformational journey.
Stanislav Grof, MD, one of the most important teachers in my life called this “The Adventure of Self-Discovery”. And so it is!
~Byron Metcalf is an award-winning musician and recording artist, shamanic practitioner and ceremonial leader. Byron’s highly successful music business career spans five decades and covers a wide variety of musical styles and genres. Byron is known for his unique tribal-ambient drumming and studio mastery and since 1997 has focused his energies on creating music and sound for shamanic journeying and other transformational practices that involve expanded states of consciousness. In addition to his solo CD projects, Byron has collaborated with Steve Roach, Mark Seelig, Dashmesh Khalsa, Rob Thomas (of “Inlakesh”), and several other guest artists. Byron’s extensive background as a transpersonal therapist provides him with an extraordinary understanding of the healing power of rhythm, sound and sonic resonance that is clearly evident in his music.
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