We’ve all felt it—the moment we wake up into a new realm of sound production, technique, or level of mastery. A thrill from the core of our being that revitalizes and empowers our hope, and reminds us in a flash of realization that our true potential is indeed much higher than we realize.
This past week I was reflecting on how Independence Day can celebrate the chance for us all to rise to our own highest potential. My wife and daughter were visiting family out East, and I had the house to myself. For the first time in months, I had no pressing engagements, lessons to plan, or people to connect with. I finally had the freedom to unplug, and for once, I made the right decision: I put down my phone, got myself off the couch, did some energizing stretching and sat to meditate with the intention of staying put.
I sat with a sense of exploration, working with my heart, mind, and breath for a long time. As I became more and more interiorized, deep relaxation began to give way to a new feeling of consciousness that I hadn’t felt before. I was able to step away from my limiting ego and got a glimpse of my true soul nature. The thrill of it reminded me of lessons in the past where my limited preconceived notions of how well I could (or was allowed to) play were shattered in an instant by my teacher. What liberation!
I sat with this moment as long as my restless nature could allow, soaking in the implications: this is what I could be experiencing on a daily basis if I gave meditation enough attention and energy. It’s a difficult challenge that few take up. Our lives challenge us on so many levels that it is easy to give up on inner growth. Most of us, most of the time, think we can’t afford to spend the effort.
As a cellist, I’m grateful that my instrument allows for ever greater discovery and challenge, and am reminded of the wisdom and simplicity of the master Pablo Casals:
As a beginner, this thrill of progress is not uncommon. But as you start to master a skill, the thrilling moments come less often as you reach a plateau. Most of us burn out, and the trail goes cold. One of the reasons why so many of us professional musicians experience depression is because we lose touch with these moments of true progress. Not because the music isn’t hard enough, but because we forget that it’s not simply about technique—it’s about glimpsing our true soul potential through the music we practice and perform.
So I encourage you: use your will power to create opportunities for liberating moments of freedom. Blast open some space in your schedule and in your consciousness. The thrill of progress is an inner response to an outward achievement, so spend time every day clearing the inner environment of your heart and mind so that these moments can flourish and further inspire you.
Life is a battle for inner freedom, every step along the way. May your every day be victorious.