What is it?
It’s a sense of life spinning out of control. Feeling like life is too much to manage…like there’s too much to do and not enough time…that we are inadequate, or too slow or too stupid, or just not good enough.
It’s one of the most common complaints we have when dealing with the stress of our modern lives.
My students often report that they feel overwhelmed by their lives as musicians, but the source of the problem really has nothing to do with being a musician. We experience overwhelm because of our human nature (research has shown that our brains are wired for survival to pay much more attention to the negative than the positive), and because of how we react to the fast pace, uncertainty, and incredibly diverse stimulation of modern life.
There are so many different things that we need to attend to these days, and they often seem unrelated. How can we juggle so many balls at the same time and also feel successful in so many areas of our lives?
The answer is to find the ONE common denominator, and relate EVERYTHING in our lives back to That.
That common denominator is the Center which is within us. After all, YOU – your mind-body-Self – is what is common to every experience you could possibly have.
When experiencing the reality of the present moment becomes your primary goal, you can always be successful.
Overwhelm happens when your attention is sucked away from your Center and you start to make something outside of you more important than the present reality of your Being.
There is NOTHING in the world more important than your well-Being.
If you are experiencing too much tension, fear, anxiety, or un-ease, that’s your CUE to come back to your Center.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to stop and ask yourself:
1. “Right NOW, what’s happening? What do I notice about myself?”
Take your time to answer this. No rush.
Example: As for me right now, I am experiencing some tension in my neck, constriction in my chest, and an overall sense of anxiety because I’m worried about my financial future and my ignorance about personal money management. I am over-focused on the future, and I’ve been over-focused on searching for money management courses online for the last 20 minutes, which was proactive, but didn’t help me feel more at ease because I wasn’t staying connected to my center while I was doing my research.
After taking stock objectively of the present conditions, free of self-criticism or self-judgment, ask yourself:
2. “Right NOW, where in my body do I feel a little LESS tense? Where do I experience just a little bit more ease? Where do I feel a bit more comfortable in myself?
Example: Right now, as I gently open up to finding a place in my body that’s a little easier, I notice that my toes feel relaxed, empty, and easy. I take a moment to appreciate the ease in my toes. Now, I notice my arms. Thank God for the ease in my arms! Now, my neck… And so on… I continue to give myself some time to acknowledge and appreciate the ease in various parts of my body. As I do this, I start to feel more relaxed, and my mind is no longer obsessing over the future. I have brought myself back to my real experience of Now.
It is so important to have tools to bring ourselves back to the present moment. The present moment contains the Truth of Now, and there exists no other moment.
Why worry about the future when you can find ease right now?
This process is EASY. It’s SIMPLE. And it’s surprisingly QUICK, if you commit to simply observing and opening up to finding ease within yourself. If you seek ease, you are sure to find it. Now.
So, next time you feel overwhelmed, try this.
Better yet, try it NOW.
Practice this for just a few minutes every day, and you’ll be less likely to get overwhelmed in the first place. And when you do feel overwhelmed, you’ll know what to do because you’ve practiced it before and you’ve discovered that the process works.
Why not try these two steps for 1 minute right now, and let me know what happens? I’ll be very curious to hear about your experience! Leave a comment before you go!
p.s. These steps work great for performance anxiety, too; performance anxiety is just another term for overwhelm.
Many thanks to AT teacher Mio Morales, whose clear presentation of steps 1 and 2 continue to help me clarify my own ideas about the Alexander Technique and how to apply them on a daily basis.
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