Zen Guitar, by Philip Toshio Sudo, is one of my favorite music books. Here is a short excerpt: Guitar playing is a physical activity that demands training...The body must acquire an intelligence of its own. The muscles must learn to move in new and disciplined ways. Physical challenges force the mind to confront obstacles: pain, fatigue, self-doubt...The mind must forge discipline and endurance...and teach the hands to fight through discomfort. When the body wants to quit, the mind has to step in and say no (p.43).

When the ego is drowning in frustration, your pure being knows that all is as it must be. Try to be connected to pure being as much as you can.

Sudo says that the aim in guitar playing is naturalness, being in the natural flow of the music. We overcome self-consciousness and develop naturalness by practicing. Practicing allows our muscles to develop their own intelligence so they can act alongside thought naturally. The progression toward this naturalness is no different than when we first learn other skills like driving or typing. As beginning drivers or typists, we feel terribly self-conscious, tentative, and awkward. With practice, though, our muscles no longer rely on the mind and eventually these activities become as ordinary as walking. We can do them naturally. So it is with various aspects of guitar playing.

Zen Guitar is not a book about guitar technique. It is a book about an attitude you can bring to guitar playing. This perspective applies to song-writing and singing, too, in my experience.

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