CCComing home to the body — for musicians

Here’s an unexpected resource I came across that has surprising relevance for musicians. It’s a short FREE video course on how to reconnect with your body—and this is something that many musicians need help with. What does “Coming home to the body” actually mean? It’s about being fully present—physically and mentally. For musicians, this translates as that sense of truly taking up your space and claiming your voice as an artist. It’s the basis of stage presence and YES, it can be taught.

The Coming home to the body course is taught by Matthew Sanford, a pioneer in adapting yoga for people with disabilities. Paralyzed from the chest down, Matt teaches both adaptive and traditional yoga and has trained hundreds of yoga teachers. It’s Matthew’s approach to teaching presence that’s so spectacular—it’s what he’s worked on and taught for 40 years.

This course is aimed at people who’ve experience trauma of any kind. And since we are all in the midst of a pandemic, I would say that alone makes all of us qualified.

Why is this relevant to musicians?

I’ll give you two reasons: first, most musicians have had the experience of performance anxiety disconnecting them from their bodies. And that leaves their minds free to spin out in negative self-talk and micro-management, with less-than-desirable results.

Second, most musicians are lacking in the area of stage presence. Worse, they don’t realize this is something they can actually develop. And by doing so, they can reconnect to their center—their grounded body—to find confidence and release.

That’s why I recommend these videos. By learning how to do a series of small exercises regularly you can cultivate a healthier mind / body relationship. You can build a new habit of staying present under stress and fully claim your space, both on stage and off.

Coming Home to the Body: A Short Course on Mind-Body Re-Connection

Coming Home to the Body is organized in eight short videos, each with a specific skill focus. Here’s the layout with descriptions I’ve added on how each lesson is relevant for musicians.

Week 1: Mind-Body Disconnection and Body-Presence as Sensation

The first video is an intro to the territory with some quick and easy exercises to get you more aware of your own sensations and how to clue in to your body’s presence.

Week 2: Softening the Organs of Perception

Here we’re talking about the eyes, the inner ears, the jaw, the tongue, and the inside of the mouth. In this lesson the focus is on reducing stress and increasing sensitivity. So you’ll experience the calming effects of gentle, inward awareness.

Week 3: The Sensation of Grounding

In this lesson you’ll learn the practical tools to ground yourself so no matter how intimidated you may feel, you can redirect your racing thoughts and feelings of panic. That way, you can come home to your body and center your focus to move forward.

Week 4: The Sensation of Balance

Matthew considers balance in terms of an inward and outward sensation that is integral to a sense of safety, strength, and resilience. By learning how to balance your awareness of both your inner and your outer experience, you can make true connections with others.

Week 5: The Sensation of Expansion

The sensation of expansion is relevant for musicians because this is about feeling present in your entire body and integrated in the space you occupy, whether on stage or off. This is about deepening your sense of agency and confidence to feel more fully alive.

Week 6: Developing a Sense of Direction

Learn how to create a sense of direction and positive energy through simple actions and stretches. And by applying these mind-body tools in other areas of your life you can find more opportunities and experience more forward motion.

Week 7: The Importance of Receiving

How are you with receiving compliments? How are you with asking for and receiving help? The ability to receive is essential to becoming a generous performer. Find out how you can develop the skill of receiving, both in mind-body practices and within everyday life.

Week 8: Living in More Spaces

This final session pulls all the earlier learning together to help you feel wholly in your body and present in the spaces you occupy—no matter who’s in the room with you. Yes, you can learn how to live more gracefully and confidently in more spaces in your life.

Coming Home to the Body: ready, set, go

Who knew that a yoga course for trauma survivors could offer so much for performing artists? I can’t think of a better present to give yourself than to set aside 30 minutes each week to watch a training video and then use what you learn that week in every practice session. You can make it part of your warm-up.

And don’t worry, you don’t need to have a yoga mat or any kind of previous yoga practice or interest to do this. If you hate anything “new agey” or “woo-woo,” don’t worry because Matt is completely down to earth and is really focused on straight forward sensations and presence. He’s fantastic!

Get started HERE.

And if you’d like help designing a practical plan to move forward in your career—a plan that builds up your confidence and your creativity, along with your opportunities, let’s talk!

Here’s to your success,

Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well

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