Anoushka Shankar
Anoushka Shankar performs at the Wychwood Music Festival in 2007. (photo: Damian Rafferty/Fly)

While listening to a classic SOF program, "Approaching Prayer" last week, I was struck by musician Anoushka Shankar wise words about improvisation:

"…when you're improvising, it completely forces you to be in the moment, and every bit of your mind and your heart has to be involved with nothing but the melody that you're playing, the time cycle you're playing, and what's happening with your musicians. And that being in the moment is, I think, one of the most important things you can possibly do, whether it's through meditation or music or studying religion. And that's always the goal of any meditator is to be in the moment always and not to have your head stuck in the future or stuck in the past. And when you're able to do that, that's the whole idea of Zen, I think, as well. And so that's really beautiful."

I'm taking an an introductory Everyday Improv class right now, and it's been a delightful challenge to step out of my thinking brain and trust that I don't need to script or plan into the future — that what I blurt out in the creative rush of the moment will be better and truer than whatever I might concoct in anticipation. I relish the central tenets of performance improv, like accepting every idea as a gift, saying "yes and" to whatever manifests in a scene, trusting my gut, and staying authentic in the moment. It's not always easy to live up to these principles, but I'm having fun trying.

We've heard recently from some listeners about improv is enriching their daily lives. Jim Martinez, a former Wall Street IT professional and teacher in the South Bronx, responded to our recent program with Adele Diamond about how he’s helping schools to meld performance improv and technology in ways that are playful and collaborative.

I hope that we can devote a full program to the theme of improvisation in the future. I see this building on past shows like "Play, Spirit, and Character" and our Repossessing Virtue series on the economic downturn where some of you shared how you're learning to live improvisationally in the face of greater financial uncertainty.

Share Your Reflection



Tt is very strange that you place a lady Ms Anoushka Shankar who admits in your interveiw that she isnt as Hindu as her parents to represent Hindu teachings one prayer.
Best if you want to representive a spiritual tradtion you present a person who is an expert in their field as Ms Shankar is as a musician but not as a person of knowledge on the teaching of Hinduism.
We were offended that she presented that the engeries of Krishna were more important than Krishna Himself which is a common myth within certian schools of Hinduism but is not the concludison of the Hindu Vedic scriptures aka Bhagavat Gita

I think Anoushka Shankar comments on improv are right on. Isn't mindfulness / prayer what we are always trying to bring or hoping to bring to a situation? I love the idea the being in the moment is prayer because it is our devotion, openness, and spirit in that moment that is truth, as well as, the deepest thanks of the truth. Although Anoushka may not be a typical Hindu, I think she was an appropriate person for this program because her music is a prayer, and this program was about individuals and how they pray, rather than about a specific religious view and how that religion dictates or determines one's prayers. I loved how though each person was from a different religious background/upbringing, mindfulness & in the momentness was the ultimate prayer. While I was still in school I took a course on Death and Dying. The number one thing I learned in that course, is that the best way to be with the dying, is by being fully in the moment with them. Also, enjoyed the Mary Oliver poem!

what a wonderful sound you play and when the bell rings we all go to prayer and listen to your sonic rhythms and spiritual harmonics.\
thank you from my heart