It's been a while since I've posted one of these blogs. Mainly because I've had a number of things pulling me in just about every direction. In 2019 I was on tour with TesseracT for 110 days, played 60 shows across 23 countries and 22 US states. I've also made a huge life move, from an 18th-century blacksmiths cottage in Wales to a modest home, close to downtown Austin TX.
2019 has felt like a very long year. I have to take a moment to mention how tough it has been for my wife Bailey - because of my touring schedule and our huge life-move, we have had to spend long periods of time apart from one another, which is hard. She's been a rock though.
Moving to the US, even when already married to a US citizen, is a long and expensive process. My best wishes go out to anyone currently going through this!
Something that has kept my sanity in check this year has been routine. Something that I can do, or try to do, each day regardless of where I am in the world. Whether I'm on a tour bus, driving through the Swiss mountains, just waking up on the sofa of a family member while I await the approval of my spousal visa, or indeed at home. My routine has become an essential meditation-of-sorts for me. So much so that I'd like to share a few of my daily routines with you in case they also help you to find a morsel of inner peace and direction.
Groundhog day: My mornings have become super important. If I get my morning right, it really sets the stage for the rest of the day. Typically, it looks like this:
1. Wake up and GET UP. I try to resist the urge to immediately open my phone and check on whatever is happening in the world or on social media. These things can wait. It is very unlikely that anything happening in the world news will directly affect my day, so I've essentially unsubscribed from all news sources. I do not need the distraction. I wake up and get out of bed anywhere between 06:30 and 07:30.
2. Make coffee/tea/juice. I jump between a few different options here but typically, I boil the kettle and pour the hot water over a sachet of Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee. Note, I am not affiliated with this brand, I just like the coffee and believe in the science supporting the health benefits. If you're open to new things, give it a try.
When possible, I will make a straight-up 16oz serving of celery juice. It has very good anti-inflammatory and digestive benefits, helps to clear your skin and a whole load more that I read about once and have since forgotten. All I know is that I feel great if I start the day with a glass of this stuff.
3. Light exercise. I'm not great at doing this regularly but when I do, I feel excellent. I have a 25lb kettlebell and typically do 10-15 mins of random exercises with it on a yoga mat.
4. Morning pages. This has been a game-changer. If you're stuck in a creative rut, if you want to change lanes or completely change direction in your life, then I highly recommend this. Grab yourself a copy of this book: The Artists Way - by Julia Cameron. I'm working through it at the moment along with a growing pile of other books which I'm happy to recommend to anyone interested. The two most beneficial sections I've taken away from this book so far are Morning Pages and a weekly Artist Date, which translate as follows:
Morning pages: first thing in the morning (for me, after coffee), I sit down and start to write down three full pages of long-hand brain junk. That is anything that comes to mind. Even the non-ideas. Even if I have nothing to say, I write down that you have nothing to say. After three pages of allowing my monkey-mind to run wild, allowing all of the crazy ideas and thoughts to materialise on paper, I'm left with a wonderfully clear direction the remainder of the day. Most of the drum lessons I post up on my Patreon page have been born in my Morning pages.
The idea behind this is really to give that voice in your head a canvas onto which it can spew all of the brain-spaghetti, which will likely otherwise cloud the day, cause procrastination, distraction and misdirection.
You're not supposed to go back and read morning pages (I'm not sure why...) so when I have a good idea, I'll note it down quickly in Notes or as an item in Wunderlist, so that it becomes an action for the day or week.
Artist Date: this is a weekly two-hour date with myself where I spend time exclusively working on the creative thing that I enjoy. For you, it could be watercolor painting, wood carving, knitting or playing the pipe organ. For me, it's drumming or creating drum-head art. I put this time in my calendar and let nothing get in the way. My phone goes into airplane mode, I close all web browsers - I disconnect myself from all distractions and allow creativity to flow for two hours, which usually spills over into many more.
This is such a great tool for getting past mental blockages. Especially the kind which manifests as 'what do I do next?'.
When I was much younger, I found it super easy to sit down for hours each evening and work on music, really with no agenda. In adulthood, for some reason, the ease of my youthful creativity evades me but these artist dates help me to reconnect with an easy, joyful, creative experience.
5. Meditation. I wish I'd started doing this years ago. I've been meditating on and off for about two years now and find that I can now, fairly comfortably, slip into a state of inner focus and peace whenever I need to. Which really helps in all aspects of life.
If you're not sure where to start with meditation or you've tried but it 'didn't work', try the app 'Waking Up' by Sam Harris. This has been a game-changer for me. I have recommended this app to all of my family and friends, whether or not they are open to the idea of meditating. I can attest to the benefits I have witnessed in my own life since committing to a daily practice.
The app starts out by running you through a 50-day meditation course, which teaches you a little about the multiple types of meditation. Ten minutes per day performed ideally first thing in the morning. After the 50-day course is complete, there are on-going daily meditations and longer lessons to listen to. For me, this app has been better than 'Calm' or 'Headspace', but I do think any form of meditation practice is good for you. It's certainly been a remarkable benefit for me, to help dispel anxiety and to really help me focus the mental laser beam in a positive direction.
So, there's my five main daily routines. I don't always do them all but if I spend the first 30 minutes to an hour of each day performing a combination of any of these, the rest of the day seems to go the way I'd like.
Meditation has become a crucial part of my pre-show warm-up routine. I find that hitting the stage with a calm mind increases my on-stage enjoyment 10x and helps me to push past any mistakes or slip-ups with a smile, rather than anger or depression.
I'd like to share one more thing with you here because it has helped me so much this year. A few months ago I started hosting live streams on Twitch. The streams started out as a way for me to connect with TesseracT fans in a way that was very new to me. I own a PS4 and bought a PS4 camera so that I could appear on screen, and while I was in temporary visa-limbo in the UK, I would steam in the evenings and at weekends to a small, loyal group of followers.
In five months, this group of people has grown into an immensely supportive community, who have supported me, enabling me to purchase upgrades to make the streams better such as camera capture cards, microphones, a mixer, audio software, a sound card, a TV and a Roland TD50kv electric drum kit. Through the support of these people, I am now able to host live drum performances - which I do regularly on my Twitch channel www.twitch.tv/jaypostones - and we invite you to come over to join us.
People all over the world join in conversation and are welcomed open arms. I typically play through TesseracT songs (and take requests), including some that we have never before performed live such as Beneath my Skin, Cages and Tourniquet, and I really enjoy interacting with the live chat, answering drum-related, Tesseract-related and life-related questions. So if you'd like, please come over and watch or join in.
Thanks for reading and wishing you all a successful and peaceful 2020.