I was recently reading a book on success by the great yogi Paramhansa Yogananda, and was shocked to find the words:

Be cautious, but never afraid.

WHAT?!?  Really?

To me, caution smacks of

Slow down! Tread carefully! Watch your step!

Caution in Inspired Performance?

Where is the freedom in that?

Everything I’ve been reading this past year has urged me to fearlessly follow my dream, believe in myself, and take leaps of faith.

How can I possibly do all that and still be cautious?

Turns out I had the whole caution thing wrong.

I found that the Latin root for caution is cavere: take heed.

So then what is heed and why should I take it anywhere?

Here’s what caught my eye:

Heed is defined as careful attention.

That I’m interested in. Attention has everything to with deepening the musical experience.

Without attention, you miss the boat.

Without attention, you have no hope for focusing concentration. Without attention, the spark of inspiration can easily be missed.

This weekend marks my first performance with the Oregon Symphony.

So how should I use caution? If I am overly cautious, I won’t relax into the richness of the experience. But if I throw caution to the wind, chances are I’ll play in a big fat rest. Have you experienced both of these extremes?

Caution is not “Don’t screw up! Don’t screw up!”

Neither is it a blasé, cold, or lackluster performance.

Instead, true caution is a middle ground between the two extremes of fear and bravado that leads to heightened awareness.

True caution is an integral part of Inspired Performance.

Caution flourishes in the Hush, your dynamical state of stillness.

The careful attention of caution allows your Heart to deepen your perception of JOY, of inspiration in its myriad forms.

Caution then evolves into expanded awareness as you Lift and engage your energy, following the upward surge of joy.

Finally, true caution becomes the key to entering the Flow, that magical place that makes a great performance:

Where concentration becomes a celebration rather than a task.

But just remember this: if you start from a place of calmness, caution is easy and will be in accord with the rise of inspiration. Caution isn’t just a police officer warning you to slow down—it’s a gift of increased perception.

Use it well.

 

Caution: Good or Bad?