Balancing Scales

I find recently that I am experimenting with tipping scale balances in my life.

I have realized that when I am doing physical activities, like backpacking or running, my body is doing a lot of work and as a result, my mind can do less.  Those who hate running are most likely caught up in thoughts like “Oh god, why am I doing this?” and “When will this be over??”  I know this because I used to hate running too.  But if I let my body do the work and my mind relax, I find that it is a rejuvenating activity.  If I tip the body-mind scale so the body is holding up more weight, my mind is less burdened.

Musicians, I think, experience the same thing but perhaps in a worse way.  During my most nerve-racking performances, my thoughts are abuzz like “Oh god that was sharp, I should have aimed down more, why didn’t I practice that? why didn’t I practice with a tuner more? wait where am I? how many notes have I missed? what’s the piano doing? is my fly unzipped?”  Perhaps the purpose of practicing should be to train the body so the mind can be at ease just like exercising.  Tip the scale so that the body is doing more work.

On a more specific note, I have noticed that my face likes to get involved in my playing a lot.  However, when a flute player starts to clench their face muscles, the air stream will be interrupted in catastrophic ways.  So I just tip the scale so that my abdominal muscles are doing more support and my face can relax.  This has an additional effect that the air stream is doing a lot more work as well which lets the fingers relax.

When I encounter something that makes me feel bad, whether it is exasperation, anxiety, or something more specific, I try to see what has been carrying too much weight.  Then the key to feeling better is simply to let an opposing force do more counterbalancing.

In this way, I can avoid judging a situation in personal ways.  Instead of “I am having difficulty running > I must be fat/out of shape > I am a terrible person”, I can say “I am having difficulty running > something here must be unbalanced”.  That way, all problems have realistic solutions.

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