Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Present Moment

    I hope everyone has stayed safe during Jonas 2016.  It's been a good experience for me to relax and work on recital memorization and what not.  I'm going to do another round of recital prep a bit later.  I initially thought that there would be no way I could memorize the recital.  However, good progress is being made.  That being said as I prep for the recital, I am trying to stay as locked into the present moment as I can.  Present being this moment, not the past or the future.  The recital is not until February 26, so there is no point in getting nervous about it now.  When my mind wonders while I'm going over words I need to remember that all I am doing in that moment is going over the words.  When I am driving, all I am doing is driving.
      Thich Nhat Hanh's saying "present moment wonderful moment" is the absolute truth, because the present moment is all that is actually reality right now.  If I worry about what the audience might say or do, worry about my voice cracking, memory slips and what not then I will not learn the recital.  The present moment is absolutely not just about my recital prep of course.  In this moment I am sober, I am health and I have a roof over my head.  The present moment is literally me typing this right now.  Nothing else is happening in this moment.  Things that people said to me don't matter.  Potentially stressful situations coming up don't matter either.  I can do something about my future and learn from the past in this very moment.  I was driving earlier and finally took notice of how beautiful the snow looked.  I was present.  Any situation is easier when I am present.  If I worry about upcoming things that stems from old behavior and I will drive myself nuts.
    I'm not saying that the present moment is always fine.  It's not because life happens.  My point in writing this post is that the present has nothing to do with worrying about bullshit.  It's the little things that get us worried, like worrying what someone thinks of me when they're are neither thinking of me or here right now.  Also self pity in the present is absolutely pointless and a total waste.  Self pity will only make you piss on the present.  I'm trying to be more conscious of my breathing in this moment right now so I can stay present while writing this entry.  There are things in my life that I would like to change and improve.  If I'm in self pity, worrying and not present the change will never happen.
    Being present as much as possible before something like a recital or sporting event is critically important.  If I am not at my recital now then the present has nothing to do with my recital.  When it actually happens I want to he in the zone.  The zone is usually a term in sports when an athlete can't miss.  If anyone watched Roger Federer play this morning at the Australian Open, he was completely in the zone.  His face and demeanor said confidence and it was unmistakable.  Was he thinking about future matches or past matches?  Absolutely not.  I do not know him personally, but his demeanor showed a man on a mission who was locked into the moment.  Michael Jordan used to have these kind of zone moments, so did Tiger Woods.  Jordan's shot which won the 1998 world championship for the Chicago Bulls is an awesome example of being in the zone.  It was as if time stood still.  Lebron James, Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have the kind of moments too.  To represent the difference between the mind being present and not present is easy.  I will give you an example.  I saw Serena Williams play in the second round of the US Open this past summer.  She was not present like when she is in the zone.  Her body language and demeanor made that obvious. I am not criticizing her right now, so do not take it that way.  I've been watching her play for 17 years, and when she's in the zone she is absolutely unstoppable.  Most of all she has the I am in the zone look like Roger Federer had today.
     Artists need to be in the zone just like athletes do.  It's hard to have concentration for long periods of time, so it's critically important to keep working on it.  I know that for myself I can lose my concentration really easily.  I usually find myself completely exhausted after a performance because I am trying so hard to concentrate.  It's wise to get into a zone before the performance.  It's a matter of taking time to get quiet and block out the chatter monkeys in my head.  Those monkeys can swing on those bars a lot can't they?  They can't be there during a performance though.  If they start to come during a performance think about your breathing and go back to that.  The breath is everything especially for us singers.  The concentration has to be centered in the breath because if we stop our breath on a note we are going to have problems.  Nervous energy is all good, but it needs to be nervous energy in the zone which will help our performance instead of hurting it.  Everyone gets an attack of nerves sometimes because perfection is impossible.  The greatest artists and athletes sometimes chock under pressure and that's okay.  The more we are focused on the present moment the better off we will be though.  If we lose our concentration during a performance we can get right back into that zone if we tap into it.

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