Enjoy a healthy, balanced life and abundant musical success.

Become the powerful artist you are meant to be!

September 6, 2015

Alexander Technique cincinnati musicDo you often feel depressed or anxious?

If you do, you are not alone. So many musicians are highly sensitive souls, and we are easily affected by all kinds of events, both external (from outside of us) and internal (from within us) – events which would not move other people in nearly the same way.

This heightened sensitivity is actually an asset – it’s what allows us to feel and express the intricate nuances of music in ways that others cannot. Sensitivity and depth of feeling is such a large part of what makes a great musician, so be glad you have it!

Unfortunately, many of us have been taught (explicitly or implicitly, by example) that feeling our emotions deeply is not safe; sometimes, we’ve even learned that there’s something wrong with us for being so sensitive; we’ve been told we must change. We may have been taught to suppress those emotions, by acting like nothing’s wrong when we feel that it is, or by “getting over it” before we’re ready. Or we may have been told we shouldn’t feel the way we do at all.

I’m here to tell you that YOU ARE FREE TO FEEL HOWEVER YOU FEEL. Go ahead and feel it. You MUST. Because if you don’t let yourself feel it, you will continue to suffer from the feeling – it won’t go away entirely until you’ve taken care of it.  You may think you’ve ignored it sufficiently for it to disappear, but it will most likely stay lurking inside of you until the next time something triggers it, becoming an even stronger feeling next time. Or, you may become so hardened to your own feelings that you also become hardened to the emotions of your music.

If you aren’t moved by life, you won’t be moved by music; and if you aren’t moved by your music, nobody else will be moved much, either.

So what can you do about these unpleasant feelings that keep creeping up on you, accompanied by an army of negative thoughts?

alexander technique cincinnati musicFirst, realize you are free to have them. There’s nothing wrong with you. Everybody has negative thoughts. Everybody feels fear and darkness, anger, and shame. EVERYBODY.

What matters is how you respond to those thoughts and feelings.  And that is YOUR choice alone. Nobody else’s.

Recognizing that you have negativity in you doesn’t make you less human – it makes you human. It’s normal. Where there is light, there are also shadows. Where there are shadows, there is light.

A normal human being is infinite and contains all possible emotions.

Let yourself REALLY FEEL the emotion. Dare to let go and FEEL IT. I’m not talking about acting on it. I’m talking about finding a safe place where you won’t be disturbed, and you can actually FEEL your emotion deeply. You might wish to write about it in a journal as you are witnessing yourself feeling the emotion, or you may just want to feel it.

If you don’t block the emotion by tensing your body in reaction to it, the feeling may pass through you surprisingly quickly, even within seconds or minutes sometimes, unless you start holding onto it. The goal is to allow the emotion to LIVE inside of you – shining the LIGHT of awareness on it (the darkness cannot survive in the light) – letting it MOVE within you and OUT of you.

alexander technique cincinnati music

Have this intention. Don’t try to get rid of it. Don’t try to change it. Don’t try to fix it. Don’t suppress it. Don’t fight it. Just leave it alone and watch it move through you.

Stay open like a thousand doors and windows so the sunlight can come into you and dispel the darkness, and so that the negativity can move out of you once it realizes it no longer has the power to disturb you, and it can no longer engage you in battle.

If you do this, it will leave. Everything changes. It WILL leave if your intention is clear, and you have the patience to wait.

If you fight it, if you hate it, if you want desperately for it to go, if you tighten in fear of it, it will stay until you give it its freedom to move through you and OUT of you.

Why is this so important for you to learn as a musician? Because if you don’t take care of these negative emotions, they will take over you, and they will pull you down. They will continue to make you depressed as they stay stuck inside of you, and/or you will feel anxious because you can’t make them go away, and you’ll be stuck in fear instead of love.

Working with your emotions in the way I’ve described is an act of LOVE towards yourself. It is all-inclusive. It is loving of yourself as a complete human being. And it is empowering, because you realize that you are free and huge and infinite and capable. You are bigger than the worst emotion you could possibly have. The proof? You can see it, feel it, and know that you “have” it. You “are not” it. Don’t identify yourself with it. The emotion is NOT YOU. It is a part of you, but you are so much more than that. BE the “so much more”!

Be the infinite loving Being that you are, which can grant freedom even to that within you that you dislike. Give yourself the freedom to be the way you are, with the intention – the strong wish – to be the infinite light, love, and goodness that is your true nature.

And if you have too much difficulty with the process I’ve described above, please see a medical or psychological professional who you can trust. This blogpost is NOT intended to diagnose or replace the very important role a medical or psychological professional could play in your life. You may need personalized, ongoing attention from such a professional. And some people find that prescription drugs to manage depression or anxiety are an essential tool in managing their condition.

Don’t be ashamed if that describes you! You are NOT alone. You are free to need those antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs. You are free to use them or not. You are free to get extra help and support!!!  Let the people who love to help others help you!

The point is that YOU ARE FREE and nobody can force you think or not think anything, do or not do anything, feel or not feel anything. NOBODY. You are completely responsible for your own mind, body, and emotional health. So accept the responsibility and take loving care of yourself so you can be the best person, and the best musician you can be.

alexander technique cincinnati musicLearn to love yourself and be yourself. Learn to listen to yourself. Learn not to fear yourself!!

Learning how to manage the intensity of our emotional experience is one of the most important things we humans need to learn. It’s not always easy. I think of it as a lifelong process – a constant exercise in self-awareness and clear intention. And life gives us constant opportunities to practice! Take up the challenge!

As a musician, learning how to let yourself FEEL DEEPLY without reacting to those feelings by stiffening, letting them move and flow through you, OUT AND INTO YOUR MUSIC in a healthy way, is absolutely essential to becoming the best, most powerful musician you can possibly be.  There is no doubt about this.

You may even come to enjoy and look forward to the next opportunity you are presented with to put these ideas into practice! What would happen if instead of minimizing, supressing, ignoring, fighting, or running away from your experience of yourself having a negative emotion, you were to stop and fully experience yourself in the way I’ve described? What if you chose to be loving to your whole self instead of trying to be different from who you are in the moment? Without acting on the emotion, what if you chose to be FREE, and let IT move you and your music? I wonder what might happen…..don’t you?

I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comment section below! All blessings on your journey! 🙂

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Depressed man image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Human body image courtesy of dream designs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net



anxiety, depression, doubt-monsters, negative thinking, self-control

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  1. Jennifer, I like your blog very much and appreciate that it’s geared towards musicians, but I also understand that not just musicians are sensitive by nature and many others can be moved in much the same way that musicians are.

    1. I agree with you completely, Stella. Thank you for your observation. Actually, I believe that each of us truly is a musician at heart. It’s just that some of us choose to express that inner music through an instrument or voice, and some of us don’t. I appreciate your comment!

  2. Thank you for sharing this Jennifer, it is really powerful to hear you describe the particular symptoms, particularly in the context of being a musician. I am at the tail-end of perhaps a 15 year period of identifying and overcoming this problem. At some point in my mid-teens I began tensing up, to the extent that when I suffered a mental breakdown around 25, I could barely open my jaw more than an inch, it was so tight, amongst other severe symptoms. These symptoms affected me so deeply that life didn’t seem very real, and I had no real connection to purpose and passion. I had struggled for so long to understand why others seemed to find things so much easier than me, especially given the talents and insights I have, and I longed to feel as I did when I was a child, when life had depth, presence and energy. After this breakdown, I then struggled on for 5 years, recognizing I had a problem but unable to resolve it, despite constantly studying and taking steps to overcome it. Perhaps the final breakthrough has come in the last couple of weeks, working with a life-coach/physiotherapist, where I have learned to completely let go on my out-breaths. The key thing I learned was that change happens not with the act of changing, but with the willingness to change and to let go of the process. I think up until this point I had been afraid that I wouldn’t change, and therefore I couldn’t let go, I had to micromanage the process. At first letting go on the out-breaths felt like falling, but as time has gone on it has felt instead like breath passing through me rather than me doing breathing, life breathing us, as they say. Much of the tension is falling away, my senses are returning, and the feelings of connection I knew I had been missing are coming back. It makes me sad that I have lost so many years of my life to this, but I hope in time a deeper meaning to it all will become clear. Thank you again for your post, it is such an important thing to highlight, and my heart goes out so deeply to others who may have suffered as I did. There must be others who suffer in such a severe way, but I know that we feel we are the only ones whilst we experience it.

    1. Dear Derek,
      Thank you so much for your honest and hearfelt comment. You are most definitely not alone in having struggled with this issue for many years. Since I’m often around musicians, I hear their stories, and I know how difficult it can be to feel stuck in the anxiety/depression loop, willing but unable to get out of it.
      I love what you wrote about the key being “that change happens not with the act of changing, but with the willingness to change and to let go of the process.” I do believe you’re right. Micromanaging doesn’t work. Being open and willing to let the change happen on its own take a lot of perseverance and dedication, as well as trust.
      I’m happy you’ve found someone to help you discover this. Interestingly, F.M. Alexander was known as “the breathing man” for many years while he was alive.
      The breath – mirror of life – is also a key. So many of us are holding our breaths without knowing it.
      Thank you again for sharing your experience – I’m sure many will be glad to hear how you have overcome this, and be inspired onwards in their own lives!
      Wishing you peace and joy! 🙂

  3. Dear Jennifer,

    It is very encouraging to read your article! I am very happy that people can benefit from your ideas.
    As you may remember, I also struggled as Derek Krikup did. It is until now I can fully feel my emotion and be connected with music again. Being with family at my home country this summer is a huge help for me. It makes me wonder why I did not realize how blessed and happy I am to have a family full of love and compassion. I hope everyone who read this article will find the healing power.

  4. Dear Jennifer,

    It is very encouraging to read your article! I am very happy that people can benefit from your ideas.
    As you may remember, I also struggled as Derek Krikup did. It is until now I can fully feel my emotion and be connected with music again. Being with family at my home country this summer is a huge help for me. It makes me wonder why I did not realize how blessed and happy I am to have a family full of love and compassion. I hope everyone who read this article will find the healing power.

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