Beginners Mind by iAwake

Beginner’s Mind Review
by Michael Ericson

I listened to this tape on a cold and cloudy Saturday in January. I was very interested in these tracks because they’re supposed to be designed to affect your brainwaves in specific ways. For those unfamiliar, brainwaves are the frequencies formed by the firing of neurons, and certain ranges of brain wave activity correspond to certain states of consciousness, such as wakeful activity or sleeping. This means that you can alter your consciousness by altering the brainwaves that you experience. Tapes like Beginner’s Mind take advantage of this to offer new experiences and free the mind should it be stuck in a repetitive state.

Before I get into the review, I should first introduce the concept of Beginner’s Mind, which this track is named after. Beginner’s Mind comes from Zen Buddhism, and the idea is that we should freshly experience the world in each new moment, and not get bogged down in the mentality of the expert. The expert is stuck in the past and has trouble adjusting to new situations and techniques. A metaphor that Buddhists commonly use is that you can’t fill a cup that is already full. Thus, it is best to have the mind of a beginner, someone totally new to the world and all its experiences, someone ready to listen and learn from the teachings of the world and the people in it. Have an empty cup, ready to receive life’s blessings, and experience each moment as fresh and new.

I make sure to have a quiet space before starting, and I meditate throughout listening, closing my eyes and breathing evenly, although I can tell you now that you need not meditate because this is an interesting music piece in its own right; just close your eyes and have no distractions when you listen for best effects. This tape is broken into 6 parts: Ichi, San, Shi, Go, Roku, and Nana, and each is a little different but has a similar musical style and all have the sounds of rain and thunder in the background. An interesting thing about these tapes is that music tends to have parts that repeat, like a chorus, but nothing repeats as far as I can tell throughout this whole tape. It forces you to always have a Beginner’s Mind because you never know what’s coming next.

Overall, the tapes caused me to experience a lot of emotions and have a lot of thoughts. At times I was even uncomfortable, but this resulted in higher awareness. There were a lot of discordant notes that interacted in interesting ways and this had an effect on my mental processes that I didn’t quite understand. It pointed to something deeper within me. Many times, during these tracks I’d be sad that the one had ended, but the next one would always offer something interesting and new.

The first tape starts off with light rain and cracks of thunder. A stringed instrument and a horn are playing, but notes are spaced out and held for a long time. It’s very light and mellow and soothes. I get a sense that these sounds are linked to something from long ago, or something that’s been around for a long time. They’re strange and mysterious. The overall feeling is somewhat intense, but it’s still calming. I imagine being on a boat in the ocean during a very heavy thunderstorm, and yet still being safe and dry. Being near great forces with the power to destroy, feeling as though I must be ever awake, alert, because things are always changing.

The instruments in the tapes have a very interesting style, the sounds are varied, the way note progressions take place varies, and in a certain way it is reminiscent of Ancient Japanese music. The music seems to come from a people who live in the forest and thunderstorms are an important part of their lives.

As I listen deeper into the tapes, the music seems to be reminding me that the world is much older than we commonly realize, not only have people have existed for thousands of years, but our galaxy has been around much longer than that, and it is large. The life in it is surely rich and varied. The strangeness of the sounds might be off putting, but it makes me think that there are even stranger things in this universe, things we may never know about. And the rain is ever present, water, which gives life to all is pouring down in generous quantities. I found myself looking outside to see if it was really raining, silly as that may be. But that just goes to show how deeply our sensory experiences are tied to our perception of reality. We can be tricked more thoroughly than we’d like to admit.

I’ll end here because I don’t want to have the entire journey for you, but I will say that I discovered and remembered some important things about what it means to exist in this universe. We start over every moment, and this can be saddening, because there are things we don’t want to leave behind. But we must keep moving forward, ever forward. I definitely give this track 5 stars out of 5. The music was interesting and unique, and made me think quite a bit. The instruments made beautiful noises and there was nothing repetitive about it at any point, each note progression was different. I hope you’ll check it out for yourself.

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