OpEd: How Being Mindful Made Me a Better DJ
“With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh
I am a DJ who lives a spiritual life. These are two statements that many wouldn’t expect to coexist. I got sober from drugs and alcohol at the tender age of 16, having gone through the wringer with addictions early on.
Recovery necessitates spiritual growth, and while exploring different ideas to find what resonated with me, I came across the writings of Thich Nhat Hanh. His words spoke to me deeply. They showed me how to implement a mindfulness practice, where I’ve learned to be fully present in the moment and experience life fully. As I’ve dedicated myself to becoming a career DJ, this practice has been a much-needed source of relief as I have navigated a tumultuous industry.
One can argue that music is one of the most challenging businesses to build a career in, especially as an artist. There are certainly some who rise to prominence quite quickly, but for most, it is a path that requires a consistent, concerted effort towards a long-term goal. Throughout the journey, there are setbacks, triumphs, disappointments, windfalls, and many more peaks and valleys.
I was very caught up in this pendulum early in my career, swaying from thinking things were just about to break to thinking I had no hope of “making it.” This took me to a place where I became so focused on achieving my goals that I was completely missing the journey. I would think if only I had this next thing (label signing, manager, gig, etc.), all the other dominos would fall.
After a particularly crushing disappointment when it felt like everything was lining up for me, only to disintegrate, I very nearly gave up on the pursuit of music. Mindfulness practice ultimately saved me. By becoming present in the moment rather than focusing on the things I wanted but were out of my reach, I discovered a deep sense of gratitude.
I get the opportunity to reach people through one of the most beautiful mediums that humanity has stumbled across, both through releasing original music and performing. I get to brighten others’ lives and help them feel better understood. Music has had a profoundly positive impact on my life, and it is an honor to share this passion with others.
Today, I try not to get too high or too low. I aim to allow myself to experience the emotions that flow from merging my career with my passion without being overwhelmed by them. In doing so, I can better focus on the work at hand. When I am rooted in the present moment, there is joy in each activity, from playing to a packed dance floor to writing in a studio to taking small actions in which I advocate for myself. I am awake to the beautiful, driven, and talented people who surround me on this path.