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Ep. 3 - Living In A State Of Awareness, Observation, And Discipline - An Interview With Larry Sims

by Hearts Rise Up
March 24th 2019
In this episode, as he was growing up in the south, Larry had lots of questions around many things in life. Many of the answers he received from others were inadequate in his mind which led to a lot o... More
Welcome to the Hearts Rise Up podcast. I'm answering your host for this episode. Rising up to life's challenges is hard work, especially in today's world with so much stress, chaos and fear, all of which can pull us down If we let it, we don't have to let outer circumstances or others dictate how we feel and act or define who we are. Now. More than ever is the time to awaken our own inner power dig deep and rise up to our best self. Are loving, heart centered higher self. That's what Hearts rise up podcast is all about. When we tap into our own inner power, we elevate ourselves our life and the world around us. It's that simple. So let's get right into today's episode on today's episode of Hearts Rise Up. We're going to interview Larry Sims. Larry was born in Jackson Mississippi as a Postwar baby boomer and into a christian household via southern baptist orthodoxy Bullied through his early years. He finally found refuge when discovering music after receiving an undergrad and graduate degrees in music education.

Larry taught for 30 years as a high school band and orchestra director. He retired from teaching and then worked in the retail trade for a decade before fully retiring and now he's here to join us on Hearts Rise up. Welcome Larry, thank you. Are you ready to rise up to your best self today to inspire our listeners. That is my intention? Well, we're glad about that. Can you share a personal mantra or a favorite quote and what it means to you and maybe how it's applied how you've applied it to your life. Yeah. The, there's an old Cherokee legend that says that grandfather turns to his grandson and says my son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us. All one is evil, it is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy and truth. The boy thought about it for a bit and then says grandfather, which wolf wins your land, quietly replied the one you feed. That is so true.

It's what you focus on has had come in handy throughout your life in different areas that yeah, it has um, as a, you know, as a jumping off point in my bio, you know, I grew up being taught Christianity, there were so many questions I had, there was a lot of confusion I asked what I thought was good, we're good questions, got pretty inadequate answers and first thought it was, well, it's just me, I'm just a kid, what do I know? So I would try harder, study more, ask more questions, but as time went on, I never got satisfying answers at the same time, all this happening, I'm being bullied at school, started school a year earlier, it was a little small for my age and um, so I'm and I'm a sensitive sort and so I'm dealing with that because I didn't do anything to these people and yet they're doing these things to me and at some point those things. Plus I guess I should also say I'm growing up in the Jim Crow South and I'm seeing a lot of stuff about race and and those types of things and saying, you know how that conflicted with what I was being taught And all of that led me to a great deal of confusion and then later it turned to anger and I stayed angry for several decades.

It went until my early 50s that I began to kind of dispelled with that. Well, how did you do that? Ah I guess it I can remember thinking and I think Wayne dyer was the one that I picked this up from is that the people who did these things that I, you know had heretofore interpreted as they did it to me they were doing the best they could with their level of consciousness and that helped a lot with dispelling the anger. So I guess that would be a big part of it. And when did you come across Wayne dyer? That particular thing would have been around my early 50's. I don't remember exactly the source of it. But that's about the time I began to read a lot of metaphysical books and things about spirituality and consciousness and those types of things. So somewhere in there I came across that yeah, I think the lesson there is that we may have lived with decades of anger and stress, but it's never too late to rise up to elevate ourselves to raise our consciousness and and learn how to deal with that and diffuse those things and then be a lesson to others.

Eckhart Tolle talks about the pain body and almost everybody has a pain body. It's just whether or not you continue to allow it to affect your, your present day situation. Well, I'm I'm impressed with that story. And I wonder what role did music play in your turn around? I guess at the source of the frustration is your wanting to please your parents. You know, you wanted to please these maybe if I act differently with the bullies and that kind of stuff, they'll leave me alone. And I have always struggled with, you know, wanting to how do I meet my needs and wants and goals and please other people at the same time. And so that was all a part of that struggle. But when I got, when I found my musical abilities, I was able to do something that internalized for me, my own sense of worth. I did not have to seek an outside source. So I guess that's, that allowed me the freedom to kind of move on.

But as I said, there was still a lot of resentment there. Uh, but my studies of music allowed me to kind of move forward a little bit. Well, it's a, it's a wonderful thing, I guess that's why they call it the muse too. But you turned it into something that a lot of people who are young and loved music figure, they can't get it a job with music or a career. But you pursued that. You persevered. And I decided it pretty early. I remember in the, when I was in the 8th grade, the junior high band director had auditions for student conductor and I tried out for it and we got just a little bit of time on the podium and conducting, you know, just real rudimentary stuff. And I really enjoyed that. And I pretty much decided at that point that I wanted to be a band director. So there was the seed was planted pretty early and it stayed cost. There was a, a little time in high school where I kicked around being a marine biologist until I found out they didn't scuba dive all that.

They mainly stayed in the lab. And I said, yeah, the ocean calls, but you wanted to be in it. Yes. So one of the things about being a direct a conductor and a band director is you're not just playing with your own music and your love of music, but you're bringing a cohesiveness to a bunch of people's talents and what's that feel like, Well, I've kept a lot of the letters and cards I've gotten from former students in the past. And one thing that's a constant is in their description of their time, uh, under my tutelage was they really connected with my passion. So I, that's just who I am and the way I've expressed myself and hopefully others were the, you know, beneficiaries of that. Um, and there are unique skills and do it running any kind of ensemble. And it doesn't matter if it's band, orchestra chorus or anything that's trying to achieve a group a goal.

But the other side of that is banned, directing is, is very much centered on critical analysis, judgment, both objective and subjective. And so you begin to hear that's wrong, that's in tune, that's out of tune, that sounds good, that sounds bad. So I'm doing something I really, really enjoyed. But at the same time, unbeknownst to me, I'm acquiring the skill of labeling everything and judging everything. And then it becomes how do my judgments compared to this guy over here, that's doing the same thing I'm doing and I realized after I retired as, as long as you're in it, it's really hard to recognize that. But when I retired and I begin to get more reflective, reflective and as I stated earlier, you begin to read things and uh, ah, it occurred to me that that, that was a person that needed those skills to do those things, but it didn't have to be who I was and that I began to kind of reassess that The difficulty was is that when you've been doing it for 30 years, it's real hard not to do it anymore.

Hard to turn it off. It is it was easier when I was by myself, but if I met up with a couple of other guys that were still banned directing, we were meeting for coffee or something, and they would start talking, I was right back in that place, because that's where my brain was wired. And so I've had to work at rewiring my brain in a sense. Yeah, thank goodness for neural plasticity. Absolutely. But we can do that, and that will be important in one of the books I recommend. Okay, okay, I'm looking forward to hearing that. So, one of the other questions I had about the being in the music zone, like you just mentioned one of the detriments of being the conductors that you're analyzing and also evaluating. But how about when you're playing your music for yourself, how does that elevate you? Uh, everything around you disappears. It's very zen, like, um, quote in the zone. Um, and there are if you're lucky, you have moments where it transcends the technical demands of the moment, what you're playing, You know, why don't you play fast, slow, loud soft?

You know, uh you begin connected to this thing that's happening and it's exponential, other people are having the same moment and it builds on itself. And so you can have some truly inspired moments of music making in those situations. It's rare, but it does happen and it's rare because it's hard, it takes talent and takes talent and work hard work. It does. And a friend of mine was said something one time, another band director, he said, when you're really struggling to play your part in the technical bands or such, he said, he said you become very egocentric and um you know, it's, it manifests itself where players get closer to music because they're concentrating so hard and they're thinking about it at those moments. It's impossible to listen across the organ, the ensemble mitch match pitch, you know, blend with other instruments because you're just so egocentric when you can transcend those technical demands?

That's when you begin to have these more inspired moments, I never thought of that. So the next time I hear a symphony, I'll be thinking that way, how how hard it is for them all to focus and be in the same place. Well, at that point that the level of expertise is so high, they have no concerns about that, you know, so they are able to really truly listen to everything that's going around them? Yeah. And then the whole audience is transcended. Absolutely. It's an amazing moment. Well, is there any other, you mentioned to several challenges, was there any other challenges or times in your life where you encountered something that you just doubted yourself or conflicted and how you overcame that I have two or three that I will recount real quickly. my last year of teaching in the fall, we had a class first thing in the morning and, and in Gwinnett County high school, first period starts like at 7, 10 and it was all ninth graders and we were on the block schedule. So we had them for 90 minutes.

Um, and uh, these kids were so far behind where their development should be and I thought, okay, well I'll try something else and I would lower my standards and make things easier for them. And it just seemed like nothing was working. And I was very frustrated and I called my dad and I said, I don't know if I can make it to the end of the year and this is so difficult and he encouraged me to stay with it, you know, and this kind of stuff. And I remember hanging up the phone saying to myself, Sam's why don't you just quit complaining about it and teach them what they don't know. So I had to go through about a month of struggle with accepting the way it was, not the way I wanted it to be. And consequently I did some of my best teaching ever. So that's, that's one where I learned to quit resisting and just deal with what was um, I used to have pretty bad road rage.

I don't mean to the point where I was ramming people or running people off the road, but I just get angry. And I was talking to a friend of mine on the phone one time when I was having it and, and I, I think I said something about, you know, I really don't like being this way and she said, well the way you can stop that is just raise your awareness level and so I didn't really understand how that would work into it. But sure enough, I got angry one day and about a minute later I thought you did it again And then the next time it happened it was only maybe 30 seconds later their awareness Was there and then the next time it was 10 seconds and finally I was able to preempt it. So that was proof to me of how raising your awareness can affect things and um the other one is, you know, as I begin to read books and meditate, start meditation, I felt like I was in a really good place, but it's illusory, illusory when you're by yourself, you, you begin to discover the *** in the armor.

When you get in a relationship, Marianne Williamson said, I think in a return to love says that relationships purpose is to help us discover our wounded nous, which I think is really good and as I've started in a relationship for five years ago, I have been by myself single for a good while and thought, hey, I'm in a really good place, but when I got in a relationship, it was a real struggle and, but it's also afforded me some great opportunities, opportunities to grow and become more whole correct beautiful. So those are some wonderful lessons learned. And now, how about a few, All of those had an aha moment. But have you had any other ah ha moments that you've had recently? The one that springs to mind is one that was last spring. I believe it was where I live. There's a small lake, it's a small lake or a big pond. But I was, I like to go there and meditate. And I was one, it was one spring day, it's kind of warm.

And The bench I was sitting in was about 10 yards off the shore line. I looked down and there was a fish, but a pretty big fish uh in the shallows and just sitting there, tail moving slowly. And I was just observing and that's what I like about being in nature is, is just observing. And at some point the fish begin to stir up silt. Uh and I thought, I wonder why the fish is doing that. Maybe it's stirring up food. And it hit me that that's what we do as humans is. We go from observation to getting in our head and intellectualizing something and analyzing something instead of just observing it. And that's what gets us in trouble. Yes, absolutely. And we do it so seamlessly. That was the other thing. And I realized that's what we, as humans do pretty much our entire waking hours unless we just really raise their awareness. And I wonder if there's a way to do both and stay in the moment and stay in the moment, but still be able to intellectualize, it must take a lot of discipline.

Um, so where are you today? What are some things that are exciting you right now in your journey? I'm improving my ability to see things as they really are, that's gotten much better over time. So I would say that would be the biggest thing and you apply it to anything in particular. Maybe I know you work out and you still play music. Um, you know, there's days and carol knows about this too as you go to the gym and you have certain goals and sometimes your body says, nope, not, not gonna do it today, and you have to accept that that's the way it is, it will change. And you know, you do what you can that day and then you come back the next time and progress from there. That is wisdom definitely, instead of hurting yourself or beating yourself up and, you know, you know, I have to remind myself occasionally in those situations that nothing moves in a straight line, you know, tell me more about that. Well, I when I first met dr Fairfield, we and talked to him that I mentioned earlier before we started, um, I felt like I was making some really improvements and then there was several months where nothing I felt like was going on and I called and talked to him and he said the universe will only provide you what you can absorb and you have to allow that process to take place before something else can move on.

And so the same thing in the gym, you know, you have to accept it as it is and that there will be at some point some other growth. Yeah, I I can relate to that. That's a good insight because I know there's been times when I'm trying to learn something and I keep asking the teacher for more and they say not yet you're not quite ready. Just keep working on what you've been doing and perfect that or after that. Great. Okay, thank you. And so what about your future state? What do you see on the horizon that will elevate you even more beyond meditation and working out in music. one of the things that I ah Mhm want to see and and somewhat successful but just not consistently is working on staying in a state of raised awareness for longer stretches of time. It's pretty easy for me to meditate and get where I want to be and then you get your keys in the car and you get and you go on down the road and you start doing errands and you get out of that state and I want to be able to stay in that state for longer stretches and not just within the confines of of meditation.

So that's something that I hope to continue to grow in that state of observation. Yes. And and I it's weird on occasion I will have awareness I'm driving and there's traffic and I'm thinking about how much traffic there is or the weather or where I've got to go and that kind of stuff. And if I start breathing and follow my breath, just like I do in meditation, I go right back there. Excellent. So that's a training. We're training our body. It's a physiological thing that's beautiful. So what did, how did you come around to meditation and what books or what techniques inspired you and made it easy because everybody does. There's so many different ways to meditate what works for you. It started when I started getting interested in spirituality and related topics. I read lots of books and boy, I had it down in my head, you know, But at some point I realized the books were all pretty much saying the same thing and that another book was not going to get me any closer to it.

Then at some point I had to have a practice. Right, that's a good aha moment. Right. So I I started meditation, a friend of mine gave me, I think it was one of Deepak chopra's earliest love meditation cd s And I went through it and one of the things that impressed me is I tried meditation in my 40s and I got really frustrated because I couldn't stop from thinking, stop myself from thinking my mind going. But cooper said in the narration and one of the, it was the the first day or second day that you cannot not think, but what you can do is not react to what you're thinking and that if you just observe your thoughts, they just kind of dissipate and lo and behold that worked. You know, if you don't engage in it, you know, they just kind of dissipate. So that was I realized why I had not been successful in meditating a decade earlier that I thought I was going to achieve this state of no thought.

So uh meditation came after I read books and when I began to realize that um the effect it had on me then, it was obviously something I wanted to continue. So it's been practical for you. Yes, very practical. And now we're seeing it more and more places, they're advising it in daycares and businesses and mindfulness. So I think it's a good sign absolutely, you know, and everybody has a different way of doing it. But what you said for your technique related back to the story with the fish and engaging just letting it pass and I've tried a lot of different meditations. I've done guided meditations. I've done bringing meditations, I've gotten mala beads, you know, I've done a whole bunch of stuff, but the one I keep coming back to is either breathing or observation, go in nature, sit at that lake and just observe and that works for me. Yeah, that's beautiful.

I can relate. I'm a photographer and nature does that for me, it helps me. That's one excuse to do the other. So what, what else is on your horizon? What would you like to achieve in all of the reading and the practice that you've done? What's your day to day goals? He said no more anger so that I think I've pretty much laid it out is that I want to stay in a state of raised awareness more often. I want to be observational and I want to apply that to as many areas of my life as possible. Beautiful. So when would you share some more of the books that inspired you? Or or if there's another like the Deepak chopra techniques? I have three books that if someone asked me, what are some of the, what are the top three books you've read in the last decade? One would be breaking the habit of being yourself by joe dispenser, which I just love that title. It was dispenses. Second book. His first book was pretty high on the neuroscience, but this one is specific in that it talks about how to change your behavior specifically and he says, you know, you hear the phrase, you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

And he said that's not true. He said, you can build new firing synapses to the day you die. But there is a process by which you you do it. And he says basically it's about rewiring your brain because the brain is lazy, the brain wants to fire down the same synapses. It does, you know, for the longest time. But he also makes the point that your behavior is driven by your emotions and your emotions are driven by your thoughts. And so to change your behavior, you've got to reverse engineer that in a sense, that's a good way to put it. Um but I also came away with that, although I don't remember him specifically saying this is that the individual must desire to change their behavior if that doesn't take place, none of the rest of it matters. Um There's a book by Neale Donald Walsch, who was famous for the conversations with God books called when everything changes change everything. Um I did not realize it, but the book lays out he was homeless for a while and you know, he talks about how that big change, you know, affected him and everything.

So that that was a really good book. And then another one called Power versus Force by David Hawkings. It's it's about kinesiology, but it's also about ah the determinants of behavior and how that manifests itself in kinesiology. What are your thought processes and how that might affect, you know, your physical structure and reacting to, you know, uh resistance. And I found it a fascinating book. Yeah, that's a whole another topic of resistance. And we might have some podcasts on that. You might have to come back about that. I would be happy to. I've heard several people talking about that book actually, even in in college courses that are recommending that. Well, what else can you tell us that helps you feel grounded and centered? Ah Being in nature is a big part of it. Um Deep breathing like I had alluded to before.

Those are the things that really do it for me. Do you do have any other practice like yoga or tai chi or anything like that? No, but I do strength training and that can be very zen like because you're using the breathing Well, not only that, but when you're about to squat £250, there's a lot of focus going on. I can't even imagine so. Um but mainly the deep breathing and being in nature. And I've missed, you know, with all the wet weather we've had since fall. I've missed. One of my favorite things to do at fall is to go sit at that lake and watch the leaves fall. I love to watch the leaves fall and watch the variety of how they spend to the ground and that that surprised me for an hour. It slows time down. It does. Absolutely. So are there people in your life they've alluded to your dad and the advice he gave you. But are there people in your life that haven't liked the changes they've seen in you? Yes, I had a student when I was teaching that as an adult, we became he became a band director and he asked me for help and we became friends as adults.

And uh not too long ago, less than six months ago, he he started contact, stopped contacting me and I finally cornered him about and he said that he was real disappointed in me. He felt I had lost my mojo as he put it. But and it was very helpful, hurtful and confusing because I thought we had the kind of adult relationship that I thought would kind of last forever. But I realized as he, you know, talked more about why he had broken off contact. I realized that one of the things that he really liked about me was when I was the band director, analytical clinically dissecting things, you know, and he admired me for that and that's the kind of band director he was now he later got out of teaching and became a lawyer which uses a lot of the same skills and I think when I began to change in my 50s, he felt like the commonality we had shared was was disintegrating rather than saying he's my friend, this is the journey.

He's on this kind of stuff. So that that's the clearest example to me because it's most recent. But it was also um the most telling I guess. And one of the things you just said, it's kind of like there are people who are seasons in our life. So and it goes back to the philosophy of we have to accept where we are right now. And you know, people come into your life for a reason and they don't always stay. But whatever they whatever time they are in your life, they're serving a purpose. And as much as you may not want it to change, that's the way it is. Right? So no sense wasting time on regret. Right? Okay. So what are some of the best advice you've received from someone you talked about your dad there too. But there were some recent advice you received a lot of times when I am talking to dr airfield and I'm talking to you about something that is going on with me and and I'll make the mistake of saying, I don't understand why this is happening or something that affect me.

He says, no, don't ask why that gets you right back into your head. He says, ask what is the opportunity for growth? So that is something I have become more and more aware of within myself and I'm making some strides in that that's excellent. Yeah. Somebody recently said, take the words can't and should out of your vocabulary. Right? You know, Well, you know, Western civilization has ever since. The enlightenment enlightenment has put a huge emphasis on the analytical mind and I'm not so sure it's always served as well. You know, it has its purpose, you know, in times of struggle maybe, but not the day to day. So what another thing I'd like to find out is in terms of letting our audience know if there's some tips or advice. Just something a nugget here or there that you could give to our audience as they're listening now. What would you say to them about raising, rising up, resist the urge to control others.

Wow. I kind of noticed 10 or 15 years ago that all the conflicts I could observe whether they were interpersonal or group to group state to state, country, country all at their core had the desire of one group wanting to control the behavior and another group. And then I recalled Gulliver's travels by Jonathan swift ah and uh, you know, Gulliver is washed ashore and tied down by the little fusions And he finally convinces them that they'll let him up. He'll help them, you know, with things. And so they let him up and he clears vast swaths of land for agriculture. He dredges their harbor and he summoned to see the king and the king is saying, you know, you're our new secret weapon we're gonna use you to help us defeat our arch enemies. The bluff, bluff rescuing and, and uh, Gulliver asked the king, why are you at war with him?

He says, because they are barbarians. And he says, well, what makes them Barbarians? And he says, because they open their eggs from the large in and everybody knows you open your eggs from the small end. Now keep in mind this is the 17th century being written. So I really pretty much you if you're observant, that's the source of all conflicts. So if you can resist the urge to try to control people uh and and be aware when you are doing it, that's the other thing. You'll be a lot happier. That's a very good philosophy. We could all do okay. If you were to leave this earth today, what would you most want to be remembered for? Larry Sims? That I ended up farther down my path than where I started. And in the process discovered the real Me. That's excellent. That's excellent. Well, we're so happy. The real You showed up today for our podcast and we will leave you audience with these words of wisdom from Larry and please join us again next time.

Thank you Larry. Hey there before you go, we hope today's show inspired you to awaken and unleash your own inner power to elevate yourself, your life and the world. Please leave us a review on ITunes because those reviews are important to our show. And we'd love for you to subscribe to our show and share this episode with others on your favorite social media channels. Finally, are you rising up to your best self every day? Let us know more by reaching out to us at www. Hearts rise up dot com.

Ep. 3 - Living In A State Of Awareness, Observation, And Discipline - An Interview With Larry Sims
Ep. 3 - Living In A State Of Awareness, Observation, And Discipline - An Interview With Larry Sims
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