Transcendental Meditation

Guitar genius Abasi on ‘jump-starting’ creativity

tosin guitarist tosin abasi meditation practice

Nigerian-American guitarist Oluwatosin Ayoyinka Olumide Abasi with his guitar and hallmark fashion outfit. Photo: Guitar World.

Despite his young age, the new generation guitarist Tosin Abasi is already something of a cult figure in the circles of progressive rock music. In fact, there are quite a number of people who consider his playing technique simply the best on the planet!

In a recent interview with Guitar World, Tosin shared some key points from his unbelievable journey.

Stick with your dream

In many ways, Tosin Abasi’s story is about an American dream – and how to stay true to it through all the highs and lows.

Tosin was born in 1983 into an immigrant family as both of his parents emigrated from Nigeria before their son was born. “They came in the late ’70s for the same reason everyone else does: the opportunity and chance to actually make a life for yourself based on how hard you want to work,” says Abasi.

Tosin felt from a very early age that his opportunity and chance was connected to music. Nevertheless, it was by no means an easy ride.

“When I was going to the Atlanta Institute of Music, I worked at a dog kennel. It was a boarding facility, and I was cleaning up dog poo in a concrete room with 40 dogs barking at me at the top of their lungs. I also worked at a fish cannery in Alaska, where I processed salmon for, like, 16 hours a day. That’s actually how I saved up to buy my Steve Vai guitar. I’ve worked in coffee shops. I’ve done a lot of odd jobs,” recalls the guitar player.

“But now I just play guitar for a living. Between the clinics, tours and lessons, I make enough money to get by.”

Tosin-Abasi-and-Steve-Vai meditation

Tosin Abasi has already been twice the cover story of Guitar World, the biggest magazine devoted to guitarists. In September 2012, he covered the magazine together with the legendary Steve Vai (who happens to be a TM practitioner, too).
Abasi says, “Man, I’d say meeting Steve Vai and having him express liking my music. That was pretty…[pauses]…I mean I used to play his signature guitar! This is a guy that basically spearheaded the genre that I’m participating in!”

Open up your creativity!

To stamp one’s authority on today’s super-competitive music scene, one has to constantly perform at the highest level. How to keep the stress away and the creativity flowing?

Tosin Abasi, founder and headman of the band Animals As Leaders, has a specific routine for gaining his daily balance – doing yoga and practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique.

“I think both those things help to center you,” explains Tosin Abasi. “So when you’re thinking about creativity, it comes from a source – an inner source. When you’re meditating, you’re bringing your consciousness to that centered source of creativity and intelligence. In my opinion, it’s the best way to tap into creativity.

And even physically, it’s helped my response time and reflexes. Being centered and aligned allows you to execute anything physical more proficiently. Meditation doesn’t take away from your body; it actually reinforces you.

I do both yoga and meditation, and I think they’re super beneficial whether you play guitar or not.”

Feature image: Atlanta Institute of Music