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Lions Roar : July 2015
There was a time when punks were seen as just anarchists and hoodlums. How do you find people respond to you these days? Punks are becoming open to spiritual practice, and more traditional spiritual types are becoming open to punks. At the yoga studio where I go there are all types of people, and it’s beautiful. I’m making friends and practicing with sweet elderly women who maybe once wouldn’t have interacted with a guy covered in tattoos. It seems the more I’m myself, the more acceptance I encounter. What brought you to Buddhist practice? When I was 16, my mother, who was pretty spiritual, passed after a long battle with cancer. The next year, my sister Ana was killed in a car accident. I went into a dark place, trying for a long while to avoid feeling the pain. When I was 21, we were on tour with the Epoxies. Their singer Roxy saw I was hurting and gave me a copy of Noah Levine’s Dharma Punx. I saw you could be punk rock and spiritual. Soon I found myself reading all I could, and started a daily meditation practice—perhaps the most important thing I’ve ever done for myself. My heart began to soften, my mind calmed down, and I faced my sadness. I found that the more I integrated Bud- dhist practices into my life, the happier I was. Life became less about me and more about others. Eventually I was led to yoga, too, and I’m about to complete my yoga teacher training. Do you identify with a particular Buddhist school or teacher? That’s evolving all the time. One thing I love about Buddhism is that you can be atheist, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, agnostic, or whatever, and still practice it. There aren’t a lot of centers here in Wyoming, but there’s a small sangha in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh that I sit with sometimes. I love the seeming sim- plicity of Zen and identify strongly with the Mahayana ideal of the bodhisattva. And while I realize there are differences, the eight limbs of Ashtanga yoga inter- twine beautifully with many of the aspects of Buddhism I connect with. Teenage Bottlerocket is currently touring for its new LP, Tales From Wyoming. Is it tough to keep up your practices when you’re on the road? Traveling with friends, doing something I love, is incredible. But free time is lim- ited, sleep is a precious commodity, and every day is different. So it’s difficult to maintain a routine. No matter what, I meditate every morning—maybe not as much as I’d like, but at least ten to fifteen minutes. Yoga is more challenging. If I’m lucky, there will be a studio I can get to. If not, I’ll do some asana backstage. How do your band- and tour-mates feel about your practice? I’m not sure if everyone really gets it, but we love each other like brothers and respect each other’s rituals and space. If anyone sees me sitting cross-legged, facing a wall, they generally let me do my thing. What do you say to friends and fans who are curious about practice? Touring in a punk rock band gives me a great chance to share my spiritual prac- tice with people who might not normally investigate this stuff. I tell them to just sit, every day. Just sitting and breathing will start to open doors. ♦ Q&A Out of a Dark Place Teenage Bottlerocket bassist MIGUEL CHEN brings his spiritual practice to the punk rock scene. CHRISDOUGLASS One week after Tales from Wyoming’s release, Teenage Bottlerocket debuted on the Billboard charts— at #4 on “Heatseekers,” #10 on “Hard Rock Albums,” and #22 on the Independent chart. SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2015 15 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE