Clarity

photography by Kent Williams

People often remark that my playing gives them peace. Is it my sound? My articulation? My phrasing?

Peace is what I practice every time I take out my cello and warm up. I focus on producing the fullest sound with the least amount of excess tension. I concentrate my mind on tracking the note for the entire bow. I keep my heart relaxed, open and engaged with positive energy.

Is it easy? No. Am I perfect? No. But does it help my security and recovery in performance? Absolutely.

Peace—so desperately needed throughout the world, in our communities, schools, and families—is not so much of a choice to me as it is a practice.

Practicing peace has a completely different feel and expectation than being peacefulPractice doesn’t have expectations of outward perfection. It’s an inward direction, not an external standard to be met.

Peace of mind?

Let’s face it. There is no security in this world. All is change. Nothing is certain except death, taxes, and high drama in the presidential primaries.

But no matter how bad circumstances in our lives can get, we still have the choice of how to respond to life. We can choose to become a reactive mess (like my 10-year old daughter who just arrived home in tears over a simple misunderstanding—ah, the joys of parenting!). Or we can stay in our spine, courageously practicing the peace of self-control.

So is peace boring, then? Self-control sounds pretty dull.

Hardly. True peace lies deeper than the pause between pleasure and pain. True peace gives us the opportunity to experience for ourselves who we truly are. Peace is the laboratory in which we can see things with crystal clarity, without the distorting bias of emotional reactions.

Peace is a calm lake in which the ripples from the tiniest drop of inspiration can be perceived.

Try this: Bring yourself into center. Close your eyes, and watch your breath for a few moments. Bring to mind a memory of a deeply peaceful musical experience. Drop into this memory as completely as you can, relaxing away any confining limitations of your heart. Allow your centered awareness to expand into the resonance of the memory. Breathe more deeply, yet still relaxed.

Feel for an expanded field of energy emanating from your heart. Expand your awareness to fill this space. In this space, create the simplest of notes. Infuse these notes with the fullness of peace.

Finally, feel for the effect of your intentional music. What feels different? Yourself? The room? Don’t be surprised when people ask, “What is that beautiful piece!” when you’re only playing a scale.

-taken from my upcoming book, Access Inspiration: Practice Room Meditations for Inspired Performance.

 

If You Want Peace of Mind in Performance, Practice With a Mind of Peace

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