Focused on the sounds around me, I count the silence. One, two, three, four. Two, two, three, four… Focused on the symbols on the page, I quickly fill my lungs like a bellows, raise the comforting brass weight of the instrument to my lips and with a steady controlled breath, I release a power which vibrates the air, perfectly finding its niche within the music of my fellows around me.
After a satisfying practice, I joke around with my friends. My laugh is just a little too loud as my oxygen soaked brain revels in the afterglow.
I sort of miss those days. I don’t really miss the part where I dragged myself around a football field dressed in a ridiculous wool suit in weather that was always too hot or too cold. My band director once told me that a trombone is potentially the loudest instrument in the band. One trombone could overbalance the entire thing. I wasn’t sure if I should take that as a compliment or a warning, but it made me grin just a little bit. One practice, he told me that I was playing like I was possessed. I wasn’t sure if that was a compliment either, but I decided to take it as one. It was a far cry from the timid little mouse who started playing back in fifth grade.
As I mentioned last time, the subject of today’s post is BWAAAAAAAA!!!!! Also known as blasting.
It’s probably no surprise that I’ve hung around the kinds of places on the internet where occasionally someone would ask questions about defending themselves from hostile or mischievous entities. The standard advice tends to run along things like salt or smudging or casting circles. I usually end by saying that I tend to skip over those things and just blast the critter if it doesn’t back off when told.
Usually, the people who have to ask questions like that also have no idea what blasting is. It also made me realize that I couldn’t really think of a good way to explain it to them. I just sort of do it. I asked among my friends who know what blasting is, and they also seemed unsure about how to put it into words. How do you yell at someone? You just sort of open your mouth and do it. It’s instinctive. Even babies know how to yell. How would I explain this to someone who doesn’t appear to have the instinct?
Playing the trombone seemed like one of the closest real world analogies I could come up with. Of course, you don’t always blast on a trombone. It wouldn’t be music if you did. The same might be said about energy work. There are times when a subtle steady tone, or a delicate work of precision is more appropriate. But just as a baby’s cries help develop lung strength to prepare it for speech and singing later, an understanding of how to blast can help you tone it down and learn control later.
The first step in blasting on a brass instrument is the breath. First, you must know how to breathe. Breath is what powers the sound. Everybody knows how to breathe. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be alive. All the same, the majority of people do it wrong. They think they breathe with their chest and shoulders. A solid deep breath originates lower. The belly and lower ribs should expand while the chest remains relaxed. What does this mean for power?
Power doesn’t come from the intellect. Your skull can’t breathe. It doesn’t come from the heart region either. You can take a breath into your chest, but it won’t be as strong and you will run out of air quickly. Emotions may seem very strong at first, but they are fleeting. Real power comes from the gut, from your center of being. If you can’t find your center, then you’re pretty much screwed. This is why “know thyself” is of such great importance in magic, in anything, really. If the power comes from your center, then it’s much easier to get your heart and head to line up and focus. Everything you have will be in agreement on the subject. When your center gets interested in something, basic survival instinct comes to mind, the energy can seem to come out of nowhere.
The second step is pressurization. When playing a brass instrument, the lips and tongue contain and direct the breath, allowing a controlled amount of air to be released over time. If you want to try it, press your lips together and make a raspberry or farting sound. Brass players do that all the time. It sounds much better when it comes out the other end of the horn. The air inside the body becomes pressurized. With greater pressure, the note can have a greater potential volume and/or a higher pitch. Volume does shorten duration, however. It’s easy to have a short loud note, or a long soft note. If you want a long, loud note, you need to develop greater lung capacity.
This is the part where you have to start being conscious of side-effects. Developing greater lung capacity can sometimes mean actually stretching lung tissue. It’s not a good idea do too much of that. Raising air pressure also raises other kinds of pressure in the body as well. I’ve been told that in ancient Greece, Olympic trumpet playing contests sometimes ended in fatalities when blood vessels burst.(citation needed) The most common side effect for practicing a brass instrument is swollen lips. Practice can help condition the muscles there, but you can’t just play all day. Side note: Brass players make great kissers!
How does this apply to energy work? If you’re channeling energy, you might be able to “breathe” indefinitely. If you want to do that with a brass instrument, learn cyclic breathing. That’s how didgeridoo players keep going seemingly forever. Even if the energy is not coming from your personal store, you can still run into side effects. You’re still the one who has to direct and form the outgoing energy. Pressure can build up. Too much pressure can cause damage to your own energy systems. I’ve done that. Believe me, it’s not fun. The sustained focus can also wear you out and make you get sloppy. That’s why you shouldn’t play at 100%. Back off to about 70%, unless it’s a dire emergency. Another note is that repeated damage builds up over time. It may seem minor now, but it won’t feel that way later.
Finally, there is tone. It’s much harder to get a good tone when you’re blasting. If you play too loud, there’s a little destabilization that sets in because you’re pushing your limits. If you back off slightly, you can get a more focused result.
That’s a lot of theory behind something that takes maybe a second to do. You basically gather energy and release it in force. Most people visualize the energy as a light or as fire, but you don’t have to. You can blast with wind or sand if that suits you better. Directing it out of the hand superhero style seems the most popular, but it’s not the only way to do it. If you’re not sure about the intentions of an unseen entity, you should give it a warning first. Just because something seems strange doesn’t automatically mean it’s a threat. A slow, steady release of energy can also be used to cleanse or bless an area.