I’m having a bit of an emotional morning. I’ve just realized something important and surprising, and I want to share it with you. It’s a personal story with huge implications.
I’ve been going through a lot of ups and downs lately. Half a year ago, I moved out of the house I’d been living in for more than ten years, ending a 25-year marriage that began when I was 20. I can hardly express how dramatically my life has changed since making that decision. The most wonderful and beautiful things have been happening to me, but the road of separation and change is a rocky one, and sometimes the bumps hurt. A lot.
My relationship with my violin often reflects what’s happening in my life in general, so it’s interesting that my ah-ha moment of the morning was related to that.
Recently, I wrote about how excited I’ve been to be practicing the violin again for myself. I’ve only committed to doing a few minutes every day (and there are plenty of days I’ve skipped), but those minutes have been far richer and more rewarding than most of the work I’ve done with the violin since age 19, when I lost the desire to improve my playing. Since then, I simply maintained my skills enough to enjoy high-quality music-making with other musicians; I never had an interest in improving my skills. So this change has been very remarkable to me.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve had a series of challenging situations to deal with, and the Alexander Technique has been invaluable to help me negotiate them with my “chin up”.
But over the last few days, I’ve noticed that it’s been getting harder for me to stay positive in the face of certain events that have brought up a huge range of strong emotions. Interestingly, I’ve begun to neglect my violin again, and I haven’t been paying so much attention to my mind-body use. In fact, my knees have been hurting, so I’ve been more focused on pain than anything else. Of course – what you focus on, you get more of!
This morning, I got up early and sat in my rocking chair for a few moments before deciding what to do next. I took a moment to appreciate the peaceful beauty of my home, and I noticed feelings of anger and unhappiness coming up again.
But, instead of going to write in my neglected journal to work through my feelings like I have in the past, I decided to stop and recite “How easy is my neck?” 100 hundred times. This is a unique practice that Alexander teacher Mio Morales introduced me to at a conference last year. It’s something I do now every time I practice my violin these days, because the results when I start playing are quite incredible.
After reciting the “cycle”, I decided to pick up my violin and experiment for just a couple minutes. I focused on wondering about the ease in my neck, noticing what happened to the ease when I wondered about it, and I watched the ease as it spread.
I wasn’t expecting what happened next.
I learned something new.
In the moment I became aware of what I was doing and learned how to stop, I was astounded. And then I cried a few tears, because learning something new is an incredibly wonderful thing. It is empowering. It is reassuring and reaffirming. It is proof of Self-value. It is proof that creation and change are possible, and that we have the power to effect – or at least participate in – that magical moment when something new occurs. A pure moment of learning is like a divine revelation.
What did I learn? Specifically, I learned that I was freezing up and isolating my right wrist, tightening my neck, compromising the quality of my movement and therefore my sound every single time I brought the bow near the string. But becoming aware of that – and then discovering how to stop doing it – was only secondary in importance to watching myself learn, and discovering how important learning is to human growth and well-being.
To remember that we don’t have to do anything, that we have time
To stop and notice our current Reality
To exercise our freedom to choose our response to this Reality
To choose to stop and wonder about the current conditions of Reality, within and around us
To wonder about the relative ease of the neck
To wonder what happens to the ease
To watch the ease
To practice this while we partake of an activity and learn from what we observe…
This is, most surely, the key to overcoming any event in our lives that seeks to diminish us.
In most of the world’s religions, there is a concept called “evil”. Very simply, this can be considered a force that seeks to crush the soul, separate us from ourselves, and limit life. There are many events, and also people at times, who wish to make us feel bad, hurt, small, and miserable…who seek to make us doubt ourselves. They may or may not be aware of it. But there is nothing worse in this world than a force that prods us to lose faith in the Self.
Sometimes, this force succeeds in its attempts to crush the soul. But if we understand and keep coming back to the power of living in the moment, observing Reality and realizing our freedom to choose, that force becomes utterly powerless to crush our indomitable spirit.
Once we choose to stop engaging with that force of downward pull, choosing instead to simply shine the light of awareness on the Reality that is now, discovering the unfolding of ourselves into the next moment, the nothingness of darkness/evil/ignorance simply disappears. Every time.
It constantly amazes me how much power we have
over ourselves and our lives.
May I – and may you – continue to learn more and more about the power of Self-knowledge, and use ourselves well. And may we be happy – right now!
I welcome your comments on this post. Thank you for reading!
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