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Practice Tip Tuesday! 5 Meditation Tips for Musicians

These Tuesday postings will be to help build up musicians and leaders in encouragement.

One of the best ways to build health in your life and creative practice is to meditate.

For me, I combine meditation with prayer. I will often use the app Abide, going through a series of meditations. Meditation is deep work and it affects every aspect of life. Tim Ferriss in his book, "Tools of Titans", discovered that 90 percent of the world's top performers in their particular field he interviewed for the book do some sort of prayer, mediation and/or visualization on a regular basis.

The morning is when I do my meditation. It's part of my morning routine and sets the day in a right direction. Folks, it's not a fix-all but it helps lay a foundation from which I am able to act in a more positive, present and mindful direction.

When I do not meditate or have a morning routine I notice that I am more prone to be anxious, restless and unfocused.

My particular kind of meditation is rooted in my Christian faith as a follower of Jesus. The meditation I do has been informed by mindfulness training, books, podcasts and Headspace.

Here are five tips that will help bring this practice into your life in meaningful and helpful ways:

1. Deep Breathing.

The breath is so important. When I begin, I use the mental picture of oxygen flooding places that are tense. I also will sit tall, criss cross apple sauce, and attempt to fill my lungs with fresh air. My muscles begin to relax. I picture the oxygen fueling my mind and brain.

During the day, I will sit at the bench before I practice and do this as well. Yes - I am 6'4'' but I sit criss cross apple sauce at the bench and breathe deeply. This has a deep affect on my physiological, mental and spiritual state.

Try it. Go criss cross apple sauce, if you can, and take 5 deep breaths. You will instantly

feel better.

2. Be Patient.

Nothing is going to happen right away and you are going to be skeptical when you don't see immediate results. Because we live in a world of searching for constant and instant dopamine hits with participation in social media and screens, we need to bring calm to the body and the mind. This takes time. Your heart rate might need to lower if you've been practicing a difficult passage or received a difficult email. Continue to breathe deeply and begin to slowly notice how you are feeling in the body and what's happening in the mind.

3. Acknowledge Your Thoughts.

I learned this especially through running with guided runs on the Nike Run App, and Mindspace.

Thoughts begin to come and go. Now that you are physically ready, you will notice that thoughts will begin to come and go in the mind at the start. Let them, gently acknowledge them, and then gently come back to focus to the breath. This helps slow the focus down for me.

When I go to the bench, lies and negative thoughts inevitably come which brings me to the next tip.

3. Thoughts are Thoughts and Feelings are Feelings.

You can accept them as true or let them pass. Yes this asks the questions, 'how to do you process what is true or not?' and/or 'what is the standard for your truth?' Maybe another blogpost we could explore those points. For me, I access whether or not these thoughts are true. If they are not, I let them pass. If they are true, I acknowledge them and see them for what they are. I may choose to dwell on truths in my meditation. That depends on what my intentions are in that specific time of meditation.

4. What's Your Purpose of Meditation

I have specific purposes for my meditation. For me, it's to commune with the Trinity. It's to listen to His voice and bring my thoughts to Him. That's my overall purpose. For each session, specific purposes are pre-determined and I line those specific purposes with the overall purpose. This requires a ton of patience and ease into each session. Distractions come in like a flood and in those moments, if you are not patient, you will become discouraged. I have plans for my sessions but there are always unexpected turns because I am communing with God. This is dynamic, deep, and involves the comprehensive aspects of my being.

5. Gradually Move to Application of Meditation

This is where the meditative practice is just plain exciting. Gradually move into the space of visualization. Now that you are in the space of mindfulness and you have brought attention and focus to the moment, you can begin to visualize processes that are in front of you. It might be that performance coming up and you notice the sensations that come with expectation and excitement of that event. It might be that difficult passage that you see in front of you and you visualize your body moving in effortless fashion and discovering a solution in the quiet.

Visualization is can be the superpower for musicians, athletes and leaders. The learning process is expanded and solutions are found.

Not only do I do visualization in my practice sessions and meditation times, I find that space in my easy runs. Many of my best ideas and solutions have come in those times.

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