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Become the powerful artist you are meant to be!

July 31, 2015
Mahatma Gandhi, Great Humanitarian



I’m currently reading a very interesting book by Dr. Joe Dispenza, called “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself”.

Feeling inspired, I just had to put the book down to jot down some of my thoughts. The last thing I read before putting it down was:


“When one holds a dream [an ideal] independent of the environment,
that’s greatness.”

I love that sentence. But what gave me goosebumps and brought a few tears to my eyes was the bit about Gandhi and his dream to take India back from the British in the early 1900s.

Nathan Milstein, Great Violinist
Nathan Milstein, Great Violinist

As a child, Gandhi was one of my heroes – right up there with Nathan Milstein, the great violinist with whom I had the honor to study for a number of summers. I never met Gandhi, but I was changed by the movie about him, and I’ve watched it many times.

What suddenly brought the tears to my eyes when I was reading Dr. Dispenza’s book was the realization that one of the things that caused me to be so inspired by Gandhi was his unwavering commitment to a dream – to an ideal that seemed impossible, unrealistic, and nonsensical to most people at the time. It was his greatness as a human being – shown by “holding a dream independent of the environment” – that inspired me at a young age, even more than his message of non-violence.

Milstein, the quintessential musician, also held fast to an ideal; his own conception of music was more important than anything. His violin was always nearby as he experimented, lived, and breathed his music at all hours of the day.  Milstein may not have been a saint (I witnessed plenty of egoic outbursts first-hand), but he certainly was an idealist, and as an artist he achieved true greatness, beyond a doubt.

I’ve always been an idealist, a dreamer, and a believer in my own potential greatness.  That might sound unabashedly egotistical, arrogant, or worse. But it has always seemed to me that musicians – in fact, all artists – must be idealists open to the All-Possible, and that necessarily includes our fullest potential.  After all, if we don’t believe in our full, immense, great potential, than how could we possibly aspire to be the best artist – or person – we can be?

There’s something called the “As if” principle (watch a great short video on this here), which suggests that we must act AS IF a future reality that we desire is already in existence. The book I’m reading makes the same point: that we must align our thoughts and our feelings so that they are in harmony with a clear future intention, if we are to manifest what we want to achieve into reality.

That all might sound pretty abstract, but how are you going to play that difficult passage in that difficult piece if you don’t believe you can do it before you can do it, and if you can’t hear it before playing it, or if you don’t have a clear idea of the phrasing and all the other nuances in the phrase you want before making any sound?  How can you go on stage to perform in front of 1000 people if you can’t first imagine that it’s possible?Alexander Technique violin

If you aspire to a flawless technical mastery and inspired musicianship, you must begin (yes, even before you have acquired the necessary skills)
by believing that you are capable of greatness.

I feel fortunate that my parents and most of my teachers never caused me to doubt whether I could achieve greatness in my life; even more, they helped me to believe that it was possible. I don’t think I’ve “let that go to my head”, but I’ve let the idea of my potential stay present in my body-mind-self as an enormous – great – infinite field of potential.

These days, I’m consciously working on clarifying future dreams so that I can bring them into reality. I don’t aspire to liberate a country or a people like Gandhi did (!), but…. why limit myself?

…and why limit YOURself??

What are YOUR dreams? What do you habitually think is impossible for you to achieve that you would like to achieve? Might it be possible for you to stop believing in the impossible, and open yourself up to the All-Possible instead? Why not open yourself up to your own potential greatness?

It’s not about ego. In fact, it’s very much about overcoming ego. There’s no other way that I know of to achieve true greatness than to have constructive, conscious control over oneself – and that implies over the ego.

It’s about the infinite nature of reality, and how we are not separate from the All-Possible in any way.

I highly recommend thinking seriously about how your thoughts and beliefs influence your experience of reality. I also highly recommend Dr. Dispenza’s book, if you are committed to your art – and, above all, to your own personal freedom.

I’d love to hear your comments on these ideas!  What are you dreams? Are you committed to following them through, independent of your environment??  Let’s dream together…

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all-possibility, dreams, infinitude, potential

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  1. Great stuff, my dear. I totally am walking down that road with you. I witnessed a really good example of letting go of the ego while I was watching a play in which two actresses totally immersed their nature in the material, while the men who were also good, couldn’t let go of their mannerisms, rhythms of speech or relatedness to the other people. It made an impression that to create great art, you must let the song sing you, and allow it to lead you down the road. A scary thought, but one worth trying.

    1. That’s a beautiful thought, Judith – “to let the song sing you”. So true. And I think it’s scary because it sometimes seems so difficult to do, to continue singing your song in the face of apparent opposition of the world. But what if we’re wrong, and the world is actually supporting us all the way; that we are wrong in thinking that it opposes us? Surely something was supporting Gandhi, or he would not have succeeded in bringing his ideal to it… Just my musings… Thanks so much for your comment! xo

  2. What a timely article! I have recently decided to pursue my “unrealistic” dreams. Hearing that word–unrealistic–from music teachers no matter how well-intentioned truly lowered my self-confidence. From the moment I heard Anne-Sophie Mutter play the Sibelius Violin Concerto at 13 years old, I knew I wanted to become a great violinist like her. I began my studies, and I learned and excelled quickly. Within a year, I was already in Suzuki Book 4 and developing a good vibrato. I guess the sparkle in my eye was visible because as I watched girls my age play the Bach Double Concerto for Two Violins in D minor, a woman approached me and said, “Wow, you really love that, don’t you? You are mesmerized. I could feel your passion for the music from my seat. You play violin? Don’t worry. One day, you’ll play like them.” I was quite taken aback someone was watching me; you know how 15 year Olds are, but I digress. I guess other people started to realize my love for the violin, and they knew I was changing my plans from being a doctor to going to music school because all of the sudden I started getting lectures about choosing secure paths. “Jasmine, you are very talented, but even musicians who are prodigies and started very young have a hard time making it. Why spend all the money on college for an unrealistic goal?” Then, as I did research online, I started seeing how starting “late” was a problem. Unfortunately, there weren’t articles like this back then to keep me motivated and level-headed, to not listen to the critics both in and out of my head. I tried hard but eventually I gave up and became depressed. But even through the failure and the depression, my love for the violin never became weaker or died out. It kept beating within me even when I thought it was no longer possible. Now, I am 26, and the idea of becoming a great violinist is even more laughable in the eyes of some due to my age and the time I will “not” have to devote to the strenuous practice. But with age also comes the ability to stop caring what other people think. I obviously love the violin too much to give up. I need to believe in myself and try my hardest, regardless of the end result. So, thank you for this timely article that even further cements my resolve to go after my dream.

    1. Dear Jasmine, thank you so much for sharing your experience here. As you say, sometimes the most well-intentioned people who love us the most are still the ones who put niggling doubt-voices in our heads, born from their own fear and doubt.
      It might be harder to “start late”, but I prefer not to believe in the impossible. It all depends, I think, on what your truest goals are. When I was a young child (I started early), I single-mindedly pursued my goal of being a famous violinist, just like you. Later, however, I realized that what I really wanted was something deeper than fame, so I actually gave up that goal at one point.
      It’s clear that you are also aiming for something deeper, and I have no doubt whatsoever that you can find what it is that you are seeking. Your passion for the essence of the music and your resolve is already taking you there; in fact, you may already be there without knowing it… it’s quite beautiful to read what you write.
      As you continue to strive with your music-making, just remember to keep that love alive. Don’t let anything – above all yourself – obscure it. You might like an older post I wrote about the “Doubt-Monsters”, too… Thanks again for writing, and I wish you great energy in pursuing your dreams from the heart! 🙂

  3. When people speak of “reality,” they usually speak, instead, of “perception.” Your articles consistently transcend perception, into actual reality.

    I started my musical studies at 14— “late” for someone who wanted to pursue music at a conservatory level. I could not read music, and couldn’t tell one string from another. Yet, in 4 1/2 years I hoped to begin a degree in Violin Performance.

    My social environment— an underrepresented, and extremely dangerous, ‘nook’ of outside of Chicago, IL, was not supportive. Atop being beaten up on multiple occasions, there was an incident in 2006, where I practiced at home, and a rock was thrown at my window with the words “shut that **** up.”

    That was the last time I practiced at home. I caught the train downtown after school every day to practice there instead. There was very much frustration. But as your article so accurately says, “we must act as if the future reality that we desire is already in existence.” I 100% felt, “I am already IN this school, earning a degree in Violin Performance. I just need to prove it.”

    After those 4 years, I got into every school I applied, including a couple of conservatories. I decided on the University of Michigan, consistently ranked in the top 5 Universities for music, and where I stayed for my Master’s Degree as well.

    While there I published a 3-movement String Quartet, graduated Summa Cum Laude, and won the School of Music’s Patterson Award & Engraved Medal. I soloed for their 2015 Commencement Ceremony as well.

    Today I am pursuing my Doctorate in Violin Performance. It has been a very challenging and humbling self-imposed task. In every new venture, I’ve surrounded myself with peers of immensely greater skill, and learned.

    The single best thing that has helped, has been in having no shame in asking a musician of any level, “how do you do this?” I believe my humble beginnings (a 14 year old in a class with 6 year olds) diffused any ego from day 1.

    The fastest path to learning, is to be receptive from every end. Ego is a wall, and a blockage. The ‘As If Principle’ is rooted in the humility of seeing that thing become real, and not dictating to the universe, how said reality is to come about.

    Thank you, Jennifer, for an incredible read, as always. 🙂

    1. Dear Immanuel,
      Thank you so much for sharing your incredible story with us, which is truly inspiring as you have held onto your own dreams throughout adversity – with true greatness. Most people in your situation would surely have given up. I wish you all the very best as you continue to forge ahead into the Unknown with great strength of purpose. All power to you!
      All best,

  4. Hi Jennifer, I decided to read this blog of yours and it’s very nice one indeed. I too draw inspiration in the history of Gandhi, and remember vividly going to see the movie, so you are most definitely not alone 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, Stella! Actually, the first time I saw it I went straight home to try out “non-violence” with my brother, when he started pummeling me. I shielded myself with a pillow, but didn’t fight back. I couldn’t hold out for long and it hurt (!), so I gave up!

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