We’re in a really weird time right now, aren’t we? Almost every location has some sort of social distancing or shelter-in-place order, due to COVID-19. There are a lot of musicians, like myself, who have had performances rescheduled for a later date or completely cancelled. Music educators are now suddenly required to transition their classes to an online venue because we can’t be in the same room with others.
There’s so much insecurity and uncertainty in the new state of our world today. Musicians are asking… “How long is this pandemic going to last? How is this going to affect my musical career? How can I sustain my music studio and maintain a connection to my students? How can I stay connected to my employers?”
There are so many questions in our minds and there are a lot of reasons why, especially right now, musicians can be feeling on edge. And not just musicians – it’s safe to say that all of us are experiencing a bit of insecurity right now. Things all over the world are rather shaky – we don’t know how long we’re going to be separated under these orders. We don’t know how long events are going to be cancelled.
[Watch today’s live video, where I discuss things that can help you find an upside to these unstable and insecure times, below.]
Today I want to acknowledge what it’s like to be in this state of insecurity. We know feeling anxious doesn’t feel good from a mental state, but it doesn’t feel good in the body either as the tension simmers under the surface. But I also want to focus on what we can do to find a foundation – a solid surface that can help to quell some of those anxieties and help us to feel stronger and more confident, even now, while we’re in this unfamiliar, strange situation.
If you were anxious about anything before the coronavirus hit, it’s likely that experience is magnified now. Nervous tension or worry about your career, or even the feeling of burnout, or perhaps finding it hard to find the motivation to practice – those are all probably amplified to some degree.
On the other hand, you may find some of your issues lessened. Maybe you were sore from playing your instrument for hours every day because you had rehearsals daily and now you don’t – you may be feeling better physically, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the underlying issue isn’t still there. At this moment, you can use this time as an opportunity. We’ll come back to that in a moment.
When you’re feeling anxious and on shaky ground, it’s very important to ask yourself… “What is secure in my life right now? What do I know? What is firm within me without a doubt? What do I know within me? What do I have? What are my strengths, parts and aspects of my personality? What can I rely on about myself that don’t change, that aren’t reliant upon my circumstances?”
Having the things that you know about yourself – things that are a certainty about you – that you can rely on, can be very grounding. Now, you may have faith – in yourself, in a higher power. But regardless of religion or faith you may believe in, one thing we all have is the ability to think.
As humans, we are all thinking beings, and we have free will. Because we have free will, we have the ability to choose our thoughts. Feeling anxious and insecure? Those feelings are associated with thoughts. But those thoughts can also create reactions in the body. For instance, a thought like, “How am I going to make any money, now that all of my performances have been cancelled?” causes the body to go into a startle pattern. It causes the body to get tighter and it’s also harder to think straight.
When things are insecure, you need your ability to think well! You can’t let yourself go into a panic. You need to be able to think quickly and on the spot so that you’re making wise decisions and not making choices from a place of fear.
To put it simply, knowing that you have free will and being able to think well because you have free will is your biggest weapon against insecurity. That, along with a faith in something – even if it’s only yourself – is where we want to start. Because an excellent starting foundation, something that can’t be shaken regardless of what’s going on in the world around you.
Along with that, you need to practice gratitude. Why? Because gratitude acknowledges how much is secure and how much you already have in your life. Taking all of that in and really feeling it can cause a shift in your mindset and in your body. As you start to feel that gratitude, your body will start to rest as it takes in that energy of goodness that’s coming your way or that’s already developed inside of you.
You have to know who you are. This can be a life-long journey. It’s a question we all ask ourselves – who am I? – and we’re always open to learning more about who we are. It’s a crucial question and a great place to start. Ask yourself – who am I? Who do I want to be? Do I want to be cowering and focused on anxiety? I highly doubt that. So you have to counter the anxious and negative feelings with constructive thinking and projecting towards a goal we do want, then habit and a startle pattern is just going to take over and you’re not going to be in control of yourself, which is not going to be what you want either.
Not only do you need to be clear on who you are and who you want to be, you need to get clear on what you want.
Are you clear on your purpose? If you’re not, then just start wondering. You need to use your mind and then connect that with your body and how you’re feeling. You need to connect that with Spirit, with Inspiration – whatever that may mean to you. Get inspired! And as a musician, you need to know what you want as a musician. You have things that you can learn and you can work on and you can grow as a musician.
Have a bit of extra time on your hands right now? Ironically, this time where you’re stuck at home could be the ideal time for you to come back to yourself and ask yourself these questions. You may have the luxury of more time to go into learner mode. When you go into learner mode, you need to be more open to learning, which means opening up the mind and the body to new possibilities and new abilities and new musical techniques. All of these things are achievable if you know what you want and have the tools to get there.
Some of the qualities that we need to be able to move forward towards what we want in this tenuous situation on the outside are: learning how to have more flexibility, resilience, resourcefulness, and learning to become more adaptable. What’s happening in the world right now is causing huge changes in our lives, and that makes it the perfect time for us to learn to become more adaptable. We also want to increase our tolerance for things that feel shaky and don’t feel quite right. We need to learn to be okay with more of these situations that bring about discomfort.
We also need to increase our patience. The situation we find ourselves in could take weeks or months – we don’t know how long this could take, so we need to become more patient and tolerant, which in turn increases our endurance.
The point I’d like to drive home is that this is a prime time to be more present with ourselves, to open ourselves up to new things and to grow.
This is an ideal time to focus on the good things, not just the anxiety and the fearful times. Who knows? You could experience life-transforming moments during this time that could completely change you as a musician, improve your technique, and make you enjoy music like never before, regardless of your skill level!
We all need connection and we all need help. If you feel like you’re floundering and you’re not really motivated and you don’t really know how to take charge of your mindset and your anxiety and you’re not really settled and it’s freaking you out…..stop for a moment, and open up to receiving help.
You really DO have to stop and take action when you realize that you’re in a position when you need that extra support. You have to act on that knowledge and don’t waste time. Time is precious!! Seize the opportunity when you decide you want to learn something new or there’s a problem you’ve always had that you haven’t been able to solve. Carpe diem – learn!!
And if you’re a musician that has issues with performance anxiety, with pain in your body or excess tension – maybe something in your technique is limiting you from expressing what you want to express – or fear of your audience is stopping you from playing as well in public as you do in your own home…then I strongly encourage you to reach out to me.
Now could be the perfect time for you to learn The Art of Freedom®. Ask me about my group classes or private coaching. I’m offering HUGE discounts right now, to help musicians suffering as a result of COVID-19. I want to help make things a whole lot easier for you!
Please “like” my facebook page and subscribe to my YouTube channel, share, and comment on my posts – thank you for supporting my work!