Meditation for Improved Practice, Performance, & Health
“Discipline and freedom are not mutually exclusive, but mutually dependent because without discipline, we would sink into chaos.”
I began a daily meditation practice last year, in an effort to find stress reduction, better sleep, and overall psychological well-being. What I didn’t expect – and also gained – was improved attention, concentration, and measurable productivity changes in my daily life as a musician. In addition to the scientific variety of neurological benefits, there are a wealth of ways meditation can affect your musical world.
Feel like there are never enough hours in the day? Meditation sharpens the mind to more effectively tackle everyday life and focus on tasks at hand. It reduces anxiety and thus, the common stage fright that so often accompanies live performance by lowering blood pressure. I meditate before practicing, and find the speed in learning a new piece increases, as well as success in memorizing faster.
And that’s just cracking the surface.
It’s easy to talk about starting a meditation practice, but actually creating time in your day requires a little planning. First, consider what type of meditation best suits you. There is no right or wrong way to use meditation, but in order to get any benefit, you’ll need to know both proper technique as well as the type of meditation you wish to pursue.
Here are a few techniques to consider:
- Vipassana (Concentration or Focused Attention Meditation)
This practice focuses attention on one specific thing for the duration of the meditation with the goal of cultivating focus. When the mind wanders, the focus is gently brought back to the object or breath. http://www.dhamma.org/en-US/index
- Mindfulness Meditation
With this practice, you let your attention flow freely without judgment or attachment. The simple observation of your thoughts, memories, and senses allows you to observe them from a non-reactive perspective. I love this particular resource about how you can use mindfulness to improve your sleep: https://www.nestmaven.com/sleep/aids/mindfulness/
- Transcendental Meditation
TM is an effortless form, involving neither concentration nor contemplation. It encourages a restful state of mind, while not trying to “empty the mind”. A certified TM teacher teaches this technique through one-on-one instruction. http://www.tm.org
Do you have a meditation practice? How has it benefitted you? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.