As a record producer, rapper, composer, actor, and director, it is beyond safe to say that RZA wears many hats. One major factor that has helped him stay grounded and creative while juggling so much is his longstanding commitment to spiritual and meditative practices. In a new partnership with TAZO Tea, RZA has found one way to share these passions through his newly released Guided Explorations, a five-track EP where RZA instructs the listener through various simple meditations designed to ground, inspire, and unlock creativity. Guided Explorations is now available for streaming on Spotify and Apple Music.
The tracks build off each other, together designed to help the burgeoning creative get through various roadblocks that stand in the way of inner harmony and creativity using meditative practices.
“Kill The Noise” takes aim at distractions and the chaos of life. “Fan Your Flames” encourages the listener to seize their innate creativity and unique voice. “Bite Or Stop Barking” focuses on pinpointing and honing goals and finding the right support to support those goals. “If Not You” encourages boldness and embracing one’s own warrior energy. “Making Moves” closes with instruction on active mindfulness through walking meditation. While the tracks as a whole form an organized journey, each track can be listened to and explored on its own as highlighting distinct meditative practices.
In my interview with RZA, he explained his reasoning for partnering on the meditative tracks:
RZA: “I’m at the phase in my life where I think the best thing I could do is inspire, whether that’s inspiring some kid from my neighborhood who thinks they’ll never make it out; [or] inspiring someone who picked up a guitar and is frustrated, feeling like the dexterity of his fingers won’t ever get there to hold the chord; or some writer who thinks that they’ll never write anything good because they don’t have the time and they’ve gotta chase the dime. I’m looking to inspire and break that stagnation from other artists and other creative minds.”
In conjunction with the Guided Exploration tracks, RZA will be leading a two-day guided retreat at Camp TAZO, similarly aimed at encouraging creative exploration. Camp TAZO, via its website:
“Camp TAZO “Zen” is an overnight camp for adults who want to unlock their creative potential. The RZA will help you reach creative enlightenment with his series of Guided Explorations. Expect to collaborate with peers, flex your creative muscles and be challenged by none other than yourself. And of course, reflect with some tea.”
With the Guided Explorations’ emphasis on both meditative activity and creativity, I asked RZA about the connection for him between creativity and spirituality/meditation:
RZA: “That’s why I’m so big on art. A movie led me to study Eastern philosophy, Eastern spirituality. Even Cecil B. DeMille’s Ten Commandments, back in those days with the Sunday night, movie-of-the-week type thing, even that made me read the Bible stories. But when I saw The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, the Gordon Liu film, something just sparked it. Even the works of Bruce Lee, especially Enter the Dragon. There is dialogue in Enter the Dragon that just sparks your mind. Little nuggets always spark my interest, so that was my entry point.”
I asked RZA what his thoughts were on the role of spirituality in everyday life, and whether the world needs more of it:
RZA: “We need more of it, more understanding of it. You know, I’m a gentleman that was able to see that what the brothers over in India were talking about has relevancy to my life; what the brothers in China were talking about has relevancy to my life; what the brothers in Israel were talking about has relevancy; Native Americans, even the Aboriginal shamans of Austrailia, there’s something in all of them that resonates with my life. One thing we should take a look at, and I wold advise us to as a people, is that when someone has already done something right this experience should become our starting point. The first person who figured out that 5+5=10, that’s absolute. We should learn to accept the absolute. We live in a society now where you say ‘5+5=10’ [and someone responds] ‘well…’… you can [doubt] that, but that’s not real.”
The guided meditation tracks, now available on Spotify and Apple Music, are excellent. I found them inspiring, well organized, and they each start with a centering activity—it’s a great approach and a sound introduction to creative and meditative practice. Definitely check them out, just as I have a strong urge to brew some tea and queue up The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (fun fact: it’s streaming on Amazon Prime Video).