Finding motivation to practice is not difficult for me when I have a clear goal, such as a performance to prepare for.
What I find challenging is to find compelling and consistent internal motivation to practice in the absence of an external circumstance that gives me a deadline or something specific to do.
As many of my readers know, I’ve had a few very interesting years in which my life and my perspective on things has been changing radically. Briefly: I’m nearing the end of a long divorce process (after 26 years of marriage – I married young), my older son has just graduated from high school, and I am no longer teaching my usual classes at UC-CCM.
Suddenly, I find myself heading into summer with more freedom than I’ve ever experienced before, in every area of my life. Yes, it seems I truly am LIVING The Art of Freedom! The world is my oyster and I am its pearl! 🙂
A funny thing about freedom is that it increases one’s awareness of infinite possibilities – which can be either awesomely wonderful or terrifying – or both!
As I continue to find my way through the fear of the Unknown, slowly letting go of it to find more and more ease, I’m realizing acutely that I alone am responsible for choosing what to do with my time here on earth. I am coming face to face with myself, and I realize how much there is about myself that I don’t yet know or understand!
Without someone telling me what to do… without a system telling me what I should do… without a strong need to do this or that specific thing… with fewer responsibilities… with less fear of making wrong choices and letting myself make mistakes… I see even more clearly how important it is to discover WHAT I WANT. And WHY.
What is my purpose for doing this or that?
As a musician, WHY do I practice – or, much more often, WHY do I NOT practice? What do I want to practice, if I do?
What IS practicing, anyway? What is the purpose of practicing? What is it for?
What captures my interest? What motivates me?
I want to practice, but I don’t know why. I haven’t found MY INTERNAL motivation yet. So I have begun to seek it.
One thing I have learned (and continue to learn ever more deeply), is that ASKING QUESTIONS without being attached to a need for immediate answers is an excellent first step!
TO ASK, with an open heart and open mind, willing to receive the answers as they come in their own good time, without expectation.
So I ask…
What do I want to do with my time here on earth?
Why practice – or not? What does practicing mean to me?
What do I enjoy? What makes me happy? What gives me joy and makes me feel good?
How can I practice in a way that brings joy and meaning to my life?
I spent several hours this morning asking myself questions such as these, and some answers did come to me.
I realized that the kind of practicing that
motivates me is deeply personal,
and it is free to change as I do.
It’s not about playing the violin or improving my technique… it’s not even about music… it’s not about practicing the Alexander Technique.
It’s not about what I’m doing externally… it’s not about following instructions or rules or prescriptions or systems or directions coming from outside of me.
It’s about ME. Who I am. In the moment. It’s about showing up and meeting the reality of who I am – right NOW.
It’s about being myself and loving myself unconditionally. It’s about wondering if that’s even possible!
Can I accept myself as I am in this moment? What about when I play a wrong note or feel tense or anxious or uncomfortable? What if I can’t play a passage the way I want to? Can I still love myself when I feel wrong and stupid and not good enough?
Whatever shows up, it will be me – for sure. Can I trust that I can be with what shows up without rejecting the aspects of me that I don’t like?
The reality of the moment shows me the Truth. Can I bear to see it and accept it? To express it? To BE it?
Can I dare to be me? Can I trust myself? Can I trust myself to be kind and loving and forgiving to myself – no matter what I discover about myself?
To me, practicing means giving myself time (even if it’s just one minute – seriously, baby steps are everything!) and sacred space (no matter where I am) to meet myself as I am, and see what shows up – with the clear intention of learning how to be the person I want to be (who is that?) – and discovering that I already AM my Ideal Me.
I practice being who I want to be, so that I can more easily and more often ENJOY being that Me. And maybe even share some of this with the world. But that’s for another day… or maybe for now?
Today, journaling and asking myself questions is what showed up. Publishing this at the end of the day is what shows up for me right now. Tomorrow, expression through my violin may show up – or not.
My practice today is a practice of unconditional Self-Love and all that this entails. With or without music… but always with Me.
By asking and seeking in this way, I know that I am finding my internal motivation, and this makes me happy. I look forward to practicing again tomorrow.
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