Do you meditate or practice mindfulness? This can take many forms. Maybe you have a centering exercise that you start each practice session with. Or maybe you practice Yoga, Tai Chi, or Qigong—these are forms of meditation in motion. Or maybe you pray—this can also be a form of meditation.
For me meditation was always fraught with frustration. My attempts at quieting my mind only made me more aware of the endless stream of negative self-talk and worries polluting my consciousness. Maybe you’ve had a similar experience?
When I was completely engaged in practicing, rehearsing, performing, writing, or teaching, it was another story. At my best, I was clear and focused—in the zone and in the flow state. But I could still have intrusive bouts of distracting thoughts and negative self-talk.
The point is I wasn’t able to get myself back to the place of calm focus. I didn’t have any tools for effectively bringing myself back to center.
Here’s what I’ve found helps. And I’d love to know what’s working for you, too!
Practicing qigong over the past 3 years — and more recently finding a few recorded visualizations and relaxation exercises — has made a world of difference. I am now better able to change my state of mind and re-focus.
But it took me FOREVER to get to this place. I’m hoping my story will inspire you to find your own solutions sooner.
It’s not like I didn’t have examples right around me and people encouraging me to try. The violinist Bayla Keyes had often raved about tai chi and even told me about a local school with terrific teachers. And the pianist Hung-Kuan Chen had for years talked about the benefits of qigong, but it still took me decades to give any of this a try.
I was really resistant.
I’d thought for the longest time that meditation was something I just wouldn’t be able to do because my experience with it had been so bad. I could never stand the kind of “sing song-y” breathy voices and bad New Age background music that plagued so many of the guided meditations I’d sampled. I’d also tried yoga and pilates — these were no-go’s.
But three years ago I dared myself to try a qigong class to see if I could learn to be more “present” in my body. And I was completely surprised after a couple of classes to realize that I left feeling not only better in my body but that my mind felt calmer, too.
So don’t rule out meditation. You may just need to, like me, find the right form that works for you.
And I’ve now also found a few guided meditations that I like. Check out the work of Frank Heckman. He ran a program for performing artists at CODARTS academy in Rotterdam and also coached the Dutch Olympic athletes. Heckman combines Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi’s research work on Flow with Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey. Heckman’s Sustainable Performance program combined the idea of myths working on our subconscious level to help with the mental training of artists to more consistently perform at their best.
Resources to get your mindfulness on
And just today I found another terrific resource: cellist David Eby offers a series of short videos for use in the practice room on his Meditation for Musicians site.
I love this 2 minute animated video de-mystifying meditation and why it works.
Here’s to you finding new ways to reach the flow state and greater creativity!
Have a great week,
Dream Big, Plan Smart. Live Well!