A transcript from Anxiety Depression | Meditation Mindfulness video by Nathan Cavaleri
Meditation and mindfulness played a huge role in getting me back up on stage. Not long ago it was an ordeal for me just to go down the road and have drinks with a mate. I didn’t understand the relationship between thoughts and biochemistry, and how they can skew the perception of any given moment. And that’s why a phase of burn-out expanded into years of depression and anxiety that corrupted so many areas of my life.
If I had understood the principles of mindfulness to begin with, I doubt I would have experienced those problems in the first place. I beat leukaemia when I was a kid, and I came out swinging with my guitar. I got to play with some of the world’s most amazing guitarists, and I never had to doubt my body or my mind – never. Challenges were potholes, not blackholes, and I had full faith in myself and the world around me. So it was a complete shock when I found myself later in life on a daily rollercoaster of dread and fatigue – challenged by the simplest things, and rendered too tired & wired to participate, and too scared to sleep. I was confused and irrational, and I didn’t understand where these feelings and states where coming from, so I branded every situation which triggered them as the problem. And I couldn’t have been more wrong.
In one tiny moment of clarity I saw no logical relationship between these aspects of life that were being claimed by anxiety, and I wondered then if there was more to it than I thought.
My first meditation session helped to clear up a lot of misconceptions around mindfulness. I believed meditation was primarily a tool to relax and calm the mind, which is pretty unattractive for a ‘type A’ creative wanting to take on the world – when all along it’s fundamentally a practice to help identify, understand and relate to the types of thoughts and feelings you wouldn’t normally be aware of … the ones that affect emotions and biochemistry, and which actually have more control over you than you think.
Initially it was difficult to get beyond the intense feelings that would arise during a session -– sensations of feeling out-of-body and panicked -– and I almost believed that it was the meditation itself that was creating these sensations, until in one session I discovered the dialogue that lay beyond. This was a real ‘Ah-ha!’ moment for me because I remember thinking, ‘Oh my God! No wonder I feel so much fear, because just look at the shit that’s on constant rotate in the background. Look at what I’m believing.’ I can’t understand why I was believing such stories at the time, but they aren’t happening now. None of these stories was true, yet my body was walking around as if they were: I was on-guard and in fight-flight freeze while I was trying to go about my daily tasks.
It was a profound realisation, and one that has inspired so much change. Through relating to my inner world I was able to reclaim joys of life that I’d thought were gone forever: socialising, exercise, sleep, travel.
And now I’m trying to reclaim my relationship with music by going back out on the road and putting new music out there. It’s early days, but each run dissolves that little bit more fear by proving my worries wrong and leaving more room for joys to shine through – the type of joys that helped to heal me when I was a kid battling leukaemia.
I’m now starting to see that mindfulness is not just for those who are in an emotional pickle. It’s been great for my productivity and creativity. I’m more resilient for it, and my happiness and confidence are now becoming less hinged to circumstance. When I can see what’s going on inside, I can see more clearly what’s going on outside, and I just make better decisions for it. Now knowing what I know kind of feels like I’ve been living in half a world, because your inner world has so much influence over your outer world.
It’s a mentally-driven world, and unlike a muscle that fatigues and stops when it’s overworked, an overworked mind gets anxious and scrambled. It runs into overdrive, gets depressed and fires-off all sorts of unhealthy biochemical reactions.
Our minds affect everything, and the principles of mindfulness and meditation can help us keep our minds healthy.
Nathan Cavaleri will be touring to New South Wales soon. See details here.
Why I chose to go dry in the music industry – Nathan Cavaleri
Jeff Beck – “Playing in front of an audience is total lunacy. Walking out in front of everyone is just terrifying, yet I have to do it. There’s a frozen moment when you set foot on the stage, when you don’t know if you’re going to fall over, or if someone’s going to give you a hard time in the front row. It feels like I’m facing death every single day I go on.”
Whether you’re in Red Hot Chili Peppers or a local cover band, you are the crowd’s reason to let go and get off.
Work environments for the nine-to-fiver range from mud and bricks to LCD screens; but as a musician, yours will be security guards, bar tenders and punters intoxicated on liquid amber, mary-jane and – if you’re doing your job correctly – great music.
As a musician, you will always be around alcohol and drugs, and for me celebratory vibes are contagious. I always want in. When I first cut out alcohol (after smashing apart yet another stage) I could only enviously watch my friends and fans laugh and drink the rest of the night away. Unfulfilled and feeling left out, I’d have to remind myself of why I chose to go dry.
My relationship with alcohol wasn’t an emotional one. I didn’t drink to numb anxiety or boost confidence. I didn’t even drink to relax. Alcohol was my ticket to the loosest circus in town.
Throughout my 20s, I’d poke bears and prod lions until the birds would sing the sun up, and laugh my fatigued body through the following day in the studio. But when hangovers became a mental and emotional rollercoaster, I thought twice before pouring my third rum. Soon, anxiety claimed alcohol altogether. I couldn’t touch a drop without feeling the fingers of fear slither up the back of my neck. It was no fun anymore, so I went dry for three years. Unlike many, this was a decision I was happy to make, but challenges surfaced – or, should I say, indicators began flashing. The void that alcohol abstinence left showed me things about myself I never knew existed.
The night I decided to quit drinking. I can laugh at it now, but my reaction to alcohol was an indicator of physical and emotional debts that needed to be paid.
Fortunately, booze made me play like shit, so it was never a problem around show time. But many musicians drink and use to dampen nerves or general emotional heat, others to keep the dying flames of passion alight. Networking, industry and crowd perception can also anchor many to the bottle. Being a substance of surrender, it can be a solution to dissolving stresses that block the creative highways when trying to write. Naturally, going dry will effect what alcohol depends on. For me, socialising became boring, and relationships shifted. It was as if the contrast on my social life had been turned down. I knew that as long as there were parts of my personality left unexpressed, I’d continue mourning the “fun times” and thus alcohol (now I understand yoyo sobriety). Thanks to the knowledge I had acquired dealing with anxiety, I was able to fully shift my relationship with alcohol.
I’m lying on my back in a sweaty state of blissful exhaustion and completely comfortable with mortality after one of the most amazing sex sessions I’ve ever had. As I’m enjoying the mental replays, I start laughing. I can’t believe I said that. I can’t believe she did that. It seemed natural at the time but from the ground up, it was almost embarrassing. With no substances in our systems, we rose above the day’s fatiguing stressors beyond boundaries and judgement. It was a ride of unfiltered connections much like the ones I chased socially with a bottle. Then it hits me. Alcohol is not the state itself, but a catalyst for bringing out something in me that already exists. I begin questioning every belief between alcohol and social fun.
Mood state change, night life stamina, psychological guard dropping, confidence, boldness, unfiltered connections, creativity, light-hearted shit talking, deep and meaningful conversations, laughing, dancing, climbing street poles, straddling street poles, networking, industry perception, crowd perception, relaxation, fear, presence and letting go of stressors were all qualities I learnt how to trigger substance-free through challenging the beliefs that inhibited them, and applying different internal strategies. Not only was the void filled, but a mental discipline was created in me that I apply to other areas in life. It took time, but some of the biggest, cosmic fearless nights I’ve had have been dry. And I remember them! Now I enjoy a glass of red for different reasons. There’s no void. I’m not chasing or dampening anything. There’s no clinging. It’s a take it or leave it situation.
An afterthought for the artist that is worried about perception – I reflect on my hangs with Slash, the guys from Deep Purple, B.B. King, Jimmy Barnes, whoever. Artists whose images are stained with drugs and alcohol, are loved because of what they do and who they are when they’re on it, not because they’re on it in the first place. When Courtney Love urinated on stage at The Big Day Out, nobody asked, “What was she drinking?”
Read more about Nathan and his incredible story here
I danced sober in the dark on a Monday night with 100 other people
We have turned July into our dancing month, where we will explore different forms of creative expression to music and encourage you to do the same, as dancing can provide an outlet for a lot of built up baggage. Hello Sunday Morning is inviting you to come along on our journey to experiment with the boogie and increase your groove.
It was sweaty, it was loud, it was electric, and the best part of all? It was Monday night.
We walked into a completely pitch-black room; the walls and floor were vibrating with beats from the speakers and DJ in the corner. When our eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness, dimly lit by a few community hall EXIT signs, we were just able to make out the silhouettes of the dancers all around us.
For the next hour, we found ourselves slowly losing all inhibitions and moving parts of our bodies that have not moved for a long time. Hips were swinging, butts were bouncing and clapping, laughter and yahoos were made out over the blasting of music from old school swing music to classic ’90s hits from Destiny’s Child.
What is this magical dance universe, you may ask?
No Lights No Lycra started in Australia and has grown to provide this community experience in countries all over the world. Check out your area to find your nearest NLNL:
“The dance night grew through word of mouth and within a few months the hall was full of people who shared the same yearning for a dimly lit space to dance as freely as they do in their living rooms.”
Who says you need alcohol to dance?
The darkness at No Lights No Lycra helps you forget about that self-consciousness that stops most of us from expressing ourselves fully. Naturally, you may feel a little tense at the start as we are so used to worrying what other people might think of us. But give it 10 minutes and you’ll notice the endorphins crawling over your skin and words belting out of your mouth as you sing along and crawl out of your protective social shell to move in ways you never knew you could.
There’s no other feeling like it, a smile was glued on my face, a stitch prevalent in my rib cage and my legs ached until the next day.
Would I do it again? Absolutely.
Would I recommend to a friend? Absolutely.
Do I think dancing will cure the world? One Monday night at a time.
Have you got a list of things you’d like to try? If you want to share an experience with us that inspires others to start doing the things they have always wanted to do, we would love to hear about it! Email your story with photos (if you have them) to firstname.lastname@example.org
How to keep up the good vibes
It’s the start of a new year and generally people will be feeling pretty optimistic about the time ahead. Resolutions have been made, goals have been set and a plan of some sort has been established. Perhaps you’re feeling like you can take on the world!
Here are some tips on how to keep your good vibrations up while getting back into the swing of things.
How to stay optimistic throughout the year
Listen to music
“Music, the combiner, nothing more spiritual, nothing more sensuous, a god, yet completely human, advances, prevails, holds highest place; supplying in certain wants and quarters what nothing else could supply.” Walt Whitman.
Plug that speaker in and let the magic happen. The power of music can do wonders on lifting moods and keeping us feeling good. Check out these 52 songs to cheer you up every time.
Listening to tunes that make you want to shake your hips or tap your feet has been found to lift your energy levels. When music sparks something in us or makes us want to bop our head, our brains release dopamine, a chemical that produces positive feelings. In fact, it has been proven by physiologists that playing music benefits your brain more than any other activity.
Music can also be very therapeutic and has been used as a substitute for sleeping tablets, as a motivational device to ‘move’ out of low moods or depression, as a coping mechanism for various problems, and as a way we connect with others.
Top up your optimism by being spontaneous
Marie Lethbridge, Cognitive Behavioural Therapist at Mind Health Ltd, says that being spontaneous allows us to be mindful and totally immersed in the activity we’re engaging in, which has been linked to an increase in mental wellbeing and happiness:
“Often we behave in a rigid, planned and fixed way because of anxieties and worries we have … Instead of worrying about the future or ruminating about the past, acting instinctively allows us to engage fully in what we’re doing at the time, and focus our whole attention on this.”
But how do you become spontaneous? We have some ideas to add a little spice to your life by mixing it up:
- Jump off the bus a few stops earlier and wander back home. Remember to stop and smell the flowers.
- Leave a weekend day free to wake up and do whatever you feel like doing.
- Be impulsive once in a while; it keeps things exciting.
- Just say ‘yes’ and don’t over analyse.
Sustain optimism by getting outside
It’s hard to feel stressed while lying in a fluffy patch of grass with a gentle breeze tingling your skin and the sun shining through gaps in the trees. Spending some quality time with nature can be beneficial for anyone who wants to increase their Outdoorphins or Vitamin G (green).
Richard Ryan, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, has researched how being outdoors can even make us nicer. “In nature,” he says, “we feel more in touch with who we really are and what we want to do.”
And it makes you happier: a study from the University of Essex in the UK found that 30 minutes of walking in a green scene reduced depression in 71 per cent of participants.
To go about the new year walking on sunshine, you first have to get some!
Did you know that by looking directly into the early morning sunlight you increase your serotonin levels, a hormone associated with boosting mood and helping you feel calm and focused? The key here being “early morning” – please don’t look at the sun when it’s too bright.
Without enough sunlight exposure, a person’s serotonin levels can dip low and cause a higher risk of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression that is triggered by changing seasons.
A little bit of sunlight and exposure to UV-B radiation in the sun’s rays is the best natural source of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for strong bones, muscles and overall health, including decreasing chances of osteoporosis, and assisting in healing skin conditions.
The daily top-up: get enough sleep
We have all heard these before: “sleep tight”; “beauty sleep”; “well rested”. And for good reason. There are many benefits to getting the perfect night’s sleep for your physical, mental and spiritual self. Not getting enough pillow time can lead to irritable moods and a gloomier outlook on life.
Research studies in healthy people have shown that even one night without sleep causes sleepiness, fatigue, irritability and lack of motivation. Sleep loss will make us feel more upset, angry and sad in response to unpleasant events and make us less able to enjoy and be happy about good things in our life. This increases feelings of negativity and negative reactions when something doesn’t go well or as planned.
Give your passions some love
There were probably many people who made a new year resolution to take up something they have always wanted to do. Passion drives you to push limits (limits which you often create for yourself) and it gives you the opportunity to inspire. Like signing up for karate classes or getting into yoga. We all have things that we love doing.
It’s easy to get caught up in work and responsibilities and not make time to do these things we love doing and after a while we can even forget that good feeling that comes over us when we’re pursuing our passion.
It’s important to find the time to fit the passion in to keep the pessimistic attitude out.
How to have a night out in the city, without the hangover
Social salsa dancingIf you’re wanting to move, shake and groove, but not in a boozy club setting, head along to a salsa meet-up at venues all around the city. Many are free and unstructured, however if you’re looking to improve your dancing, others offer classes for as little as $10.
Join a life drawing classFor something a little outside of the box, what’s more exhilarating than drawing a real-life nude person? Here’s a list of Timeout’s top 5 life drawing classes in Sydney, ranging from $10- $50 a class.
Visit a galleryFor the art fans among us, you’re spoilt for choice. Head along to some of Sydney’s best galleries to enjoy talks, documentary screenings, exhibitions, live music and more. The Art Gallery of NSW Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) Aboriginal Art Galleries
Book a food tourSydney is home to a few of the world’s best restaurants, and with so many great places to choose from, why stop at just one? Join one of these food tours or create your own! Taste Tours Gourmet Safaris
Watch a movie at an old picture theatreGrab a popcorn and choc-top and sit back to relax in a historic picture theatre. Concrete Playground have come up with a list of the 10 best boutique cinemas around Sydney.
Night marketsThere are various night markets all around the city, selling anything from international cuisine to homemade crafts. Explore ChinaTown night markets, Chatswood Mall Market, Liverpool Night Markets or head to Aussie Night Market’s Facebook Page to find out when and where the next one is held.
Twilight sailing and dinner cruisesGetting out on the harbour is an unforgettable way to experience Sydney, from city lights to moonlight ripple reflections, a boat cruise is anyone’s holiday highlight. Book a sail through Sydney By Sail or browse through the deals at Viator for night dinner cruises.
Go to the theatre, darlingWhere do we even start? Timeout Sydney has all the info on up-and-coming shows and tickets.
Head along to a live gigOf course there’s more to live music than the iconic Opera House. Sydney is scattered with venues that include hidden bars and underground sound dens. There’s really something for everyone’s ears. Where To Tonight has put together a list of a few of the best live music venues around the city or get up to date with a local gig and concert guide.
Clap to some slam poetryFor the best slam events around the city, visit Sydney’s very own poetry events page.
And if you do really just want to go out for a drink, try a non-alcoholic bar crawl to find the best mocktails in SydneyHere’s our top 3 non-alcoholic drinks you must order!
- Momofuku Seiobo and their Cloudy T Totaler Earl Grey tea spiked with tea caramel
- PS40’s spiced blackstrap ginger craft soda
- Bentley Restaurant and Bar’s wattleseed and West Indian spice buttermilk
How to survive a music festival
Michael Beveridge's sober punk fest
Tonight, Michael Beveridge is going to poison city records WEEKENDER FEST 2016 without a drink to see what saying #hellosundaymorning is all about. Watch it unfold on our Instagram, https://instagram.com/hello_sunday_morning/ – and we'll check back in here tomorrow to see how it went.Posted by Hello Sunday Morning on Saturday, September 10, 2016
Summer these days is the time for some serious music festival hopping. Sunshine, friends and good music. What’s not to love?
They’re sweaty, expensive and exhausting. In fact, it’s not a stretch to consider the similarities between attending a festival and the experience of a hangover. Which is to say, they can both be the actual worst.
But what to do when, despite those inconvenient truths, you still long to turn up starry eyed for your golden performers? Whether you’re rocking this event sober or not, we have some tips for you to have the best summer festival season yet.
How to have the best music festival experience
Shred for stereo
Just kidding. But prepping for a festival physically will probably improve your experience of it. Don’t worry, that doesn’t necessarily mean actually getting fitter! But more along the lines of making sure you’re hydrated, sleeping well the night before, and having a good meal before the event.
If you’re camping out at a festival, sleeping well could prove a little trickier. But there are things you can do to improve the chances of having a good sleep, which is why you should check out these tips for camping at a festival.
When it comes to food, festival meal options are often meagre, and usually gut-wrenchingly expensive. The solution to this problem: snacks. Trail mix, muesli bars and lollies are simple and delicious ways to beat the tummy grumbles without breaking the bank.
Be pragmatic, people! Sunscreen. Water. Snacks. These things seem like no big deal now, but on the day they will *literally* feel like life-savers.
Planning and prioritising
Sigh. Does it sound like we’re turning a fun event into an organisational chore? It really doesn’t have to be! I mean, you probably do this stuff already, but make sure you check out the festival program beforehand.
Does this sound familiar?
We hate to break it to you, but sometimes, you need to compromise. Prioritise.
Who are you attending the festival with? What’s their taste in music? You’ve got to consider these things before selecting your fam! Maybe even discuss your game plan together before heading in. Goooo team!
Take what you need
You know that feeling, when you’ve been battling it out in the scorching heat for eight hours, and as the sun goes down you begin to feel yourself slow down. Woah. Now you’re feeling it in your bones. This isn’t tiring. It’s bloody exhausting.
A couple of points here. If you feel miserable standing in a mosh pit to get the best spot for an act that is starting in three hours, you don’t have to do it. Isn’t the sole point of this experience to have fun? I mean, don’t get me wrong – I totally get you. I have been there, and will be again. There is some part of our overstimulated, overtired brains at that point in the day that says, “stay, it will be totally worth it!” And it might, but it also might not. I guess it’s a form of FOMO.
Chilling a little further from the stage, near some pals and owning some dancing space – this battle plan is often far more enjoyable.
Taking it further, if you’ve had enough of the event, that’s also cool. There is sometimes a bizarre but powerful force of social energy that keeps us sticking around. But just know that you can bail if you want to. Take what you need from the experience, and then, if you want to, leave.
So think about what you need. Pack your bag (light). And get ready for festival season: we’ve got some exciting Sunday mornings to say “hello” to.