Some time ago, in my work with the esoteric instruments such as the gong, I learned about the concept of `Turiya`. In simple terms, in the context of playing, this means approaching improvisation in a neutral and ego-less state. Not actually `playing` as in thinking about or planning what your hands and voice are doing but in being the observer of what your hands and voice are doing.
In Hindu philosophy, Turya is known as the Fourth State or pure consciousness. In one work (Mandukya Upanishad), it is described as:
“Not inwardly cognitive, nor outwardly cognitive, not both-wise cognitive,
not a cognition-mass, not cognitive, not non-cognitive,
unseen, with which there can be no dealing, ungraspable, having no distinctive mark,
non-thinkable, that cannot be designated, the essence of assurance,
of which is the state of being one with the Self
the cessation of development, tranquil, benign”
When playing an instrument in this state there is no fear as there can be no `wrong`. Take away the thinking and there is no complication, no boundaries to creativity. Some musicians are very uncomfortable with idea of there being no rules, they ask how do you know when you are getting it `right`. Well, playing in a state of Turiya is the most beautiful experience and some of my best work has come out of these sessions.
Just make sure the tape is running before you start!!