I became very interested in consciousness, and consciousness studies that were going on. In the first conference on consciousness, that had any form of scientific interest, was at UC San Diego in 1970.1 And I attended that conference. And Dr. Lester Ingber gave a presentation, and he had a non-profit organization, called the Institute for the Study of Attention. And he presented his work, and he was a theoretical physicist, a mathematician, and an 8th Dan in Karate. And so, he had formed a school where he was teaching not what to teach, but how. And his interest was in developing attention that was based on martial art, which was his karate.2
And I got so interested in what he was saying, and how he was going about it, that I decided to study Karate. I had felt that I needed a physical discipline by that time, that it would be — and so there it was, and so I started that study. I think I was 40 years old at that time. And this discipline was very difficult, very hard, but he was teaching it in terms of physics, which was really amazing, because I learned a lot about physics and math and energy, momentum, but I was learning about attention.3 And I had been studying it on my own anyways. I had written an article, which was called Awareness and Attention, that was in my first book of essays, called Software for People, because I had been writing pieces called Sonic Meditations around that time as well.
So, the study with Lester, we became very good friends and shared a lot of research together. So, gradually the attention studies were — I was learning through the — martial arts became part of what I was doing with my music, but it was a kind of a parallel development. So, the martial art studies was really kind of an affirmation of what I had been doing in Sonic Meditations. Sonic Meditations are pieces that can be done by anyone, and it’s not about notated music, but it’s about direction of attention to listening and responding.