One of my favorite new TV shows, Mozart in the Jungle, is partly responsible* for my inspiration to start playing my violin after a 12+ year absence.
This show brings up the notion of spirit, or Shen, and how it is expressed through music and our every day lives.
Maestro Rodrigo De Souza constantly talks about how Hailey “plays with the blood”. In fact, in the final episode of the most recent season (spoiler alert!) she asks if she doesn’t get a chair in the orchestra because the other oboist plays with more blood. She constantly asks what playing with the blood means in a sarcastic way. Rodrigo explains that he used to practice so much his fingers would bleed, and his teacher said that he now played with the blood – I think there’s more to it than that.
As a lover of all kinds of music, and a practitioner of Chinese Medicine, “playing with the blood” resonates with me deeply. (See the music pun I made there, I know: badum-ching.)
Even though Hailey’s whole life is playing music, and her being opens up when she plays it, she doesn’t quite understand what it means to “play with the blood”. In Chinese Medicine, our spirit or Shen, is the spark that lights us up; and our spirit/Shen resides in our Heart. Our Hearts are what help provide insight into our world and life, and also fuel the movement of the Blood that runs through our veins.
Blood in Chinese Medicine isn’t simply iron, minerals, fluid, plasma and oxygen, it also contains the deep nourishment beyond the physical realm. Blood contains the experiences we take in that feed our being and souls, the experiences that move our spirit. It’s that gut-deep feeling that opens your heart up, creating space for new experiences and happiness. Blood carries not only physical and experiential nourishment, it also carries our soul/spirit/Shen.
The Blood level, gut-deep experiences that open me up include not only music, but Chinese Medicine, art and plants. The friendships, partnerships and relationships we have with others can open our hearts up to new dimensions, bringing forth a welling – an overflow – of love and gratitude that fuels us when times get rough.
This is what Chinese Medicine Blood-level nourishment is to me.
When we call upon the nourishment that is fueled by our experiences and life, and draw them out into creative activities (ranging from music, to art, to dance, to knitting, to cooking, to family activities, to hiking, making plant medicine, running, anything and everything in between and beyond that allows you to express who you are), a force beyond our dreams is unleashed and we live life “with the blood”. In essence, living or playing with the blood is simply having our spirits moved deeply, and awakened to bring everything we can into the world with all our hearts and souls.
It’s a letting go of the worry or fear that we are going to mess up, or not be perfect, even when that fear or worry is still present and letting ourselves be in the moment. When we do that, wondrous things can happen – we can play and live life fully, whole-heartedly, sometimes even fearlessly.
I don’t know that I play my violin with the blood yet, especially not in my violin lessons, but I feel something happening – an opening is being created for something new and unexpected. I cannot wait to get home to practice, even when the practice is brutally humbling, and a part of me that was longing to be filled is filled. It’s different playing now than when I was younger, there is no pressure to be, or perform, in any way other than how I am right now – there’s freedom in that. I felt this way when I started learning about herbs, and especially Chinese Medicine, that that part of me that was missing or yearning for “more” has the ability and mode of communication to do what I am here to do.
What is it that you do that moves your spirit?
What calls out to you?
Do you make a habit of incorporating this into your life in some way? It does not have to be in your daily life, but often enough that when you don’t have the nourishment from it you know you are missing something important.
If you have not been in the habit of spending time doing that which makes your spirit and soul happy, what can you do today to bring that into your life a little more?
* The other outside influence on my inspiration is attending the NY Philharmonic in October to see my favorite violin concerto performed, it brought me to tears.