Playing tight - getting a feel for good timing
You've probably heard the term “mindfulness” before. But what is it actually? How does mindfulness work? Why is it important? How can mindfulness be important to your musical success? How can you use it to train musically? And why does mindfulness also help with depression and self-doubt? Questions upon questions that I would like to answer for you in this article.
Basically, mindfulness is trying to perceive what is happening in the here and now with all your senses—without mentally wandering off and evaluating things. It's about noticing what's going on around you as well as sensing what's going on inside you.
One could also describe mindfulness as a form of self-actualization. It helps you to get to know yourself better and to perceive your own needs. It is therefore also considered fundamental to one's own satisfaction and a fulfilling life. It is also important to know that mindfulness can be trained and that it improves one’s ability to concentrate.
Mindfulness works in such a way that you consciously perceive your environment and/or yourself through your senses for a certain period of time. You can focus on one of your senses—for example on sensations of seeing, hearing, touching, smelling or tasting—or remain open to all sensory impressions.
It is important to keep breaking away from the beginning of mental digressions and to focus on direct experience. In this way you gain distance from your feelings and thoughts and identify less with them, which enables you to be open to life.
Artistic people in particular tend to constantly think in terms of possibilities and sometimes stray mentally far from the present moment. So sometimes what’s essential is out of sight, and conflicts arise that make progress more difficult (or even prevent it). Mindfulness can also help you to stop constantly comparing yourself to others (here you can find another article on the subject), and to stay with yourself and to look at your actual needs.
Methods such as meditation, yoga or cold training according to Wim Hof are physical exercises that address and train your mindfulness on the level of physical sensations. Meditation not your thing? No problem. There are numerous other ways to train your mindfulness skills.
There is, for example, the act of very consciously listening to music, sounds or other noises, or the careful observation of your surroundings (at best in nature). Mixed forms, such as listening to music and simultaneously perceiving inner images, are also possible. You can also work well with the senses of smell and taste and train your own ability to be mindful—for example when eating consciously without distractions or with your eyes closed.
Set a time frame for your practice and—if you want to commit to an approach—choose the sensory channel through which you want to train your mindfulness. Feel free to use the interests you already have for this. In the following we decide to use the auditory sensory channel as an example, because it suits us musicians best.
For example, did any of your favorite musicians recently release a new album? Then take the opportunity and listen carefully to the album with your eyes closed and without distractions. Pay attention to the inner images that may arise in your mind, similar to those in a movie or cartoon. At the same time, try to mentally return to what you are actually experiencing.
You can also train your mindfulness by becoming active yourself and making music experimentally. To do this, select an instrument of your choice and slow down the tempo at which you normally produce sounds. Set a timer, for example for five or ten minutes, and first try to create a variety of individual sounds. After a while, combine the sounds and/or rhythms and surprise yourself by rediscovering your instrument and your creative abilities.
Mindfulness can also be of great help in breaking out of negative thought circles. Through the exercises you will learn to bring your inner focus back to what is actually happening. In this way you create a direct connection between yourself and your sensory perceptions.
Brooding people tend to constantly evaluate themselves negatively and thus slip further and further into mental negative spirals. However, if you learn to open your senses again, to feel what is good for you and to engage in beauty again, you will be able to enjoy your life again and see yourself from a new, empowering perspective.
Please note that you take extra time and space for your mindfulness training and do not do it in traffic, for example. This could lead to overstimulation and limit your ability to act. It is therefore best to do the exercises at home or in a place where you do not have to “achieve” anything. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable and that the whole thing is relaxed. The whole thing works best if you do your mindfulness sessions regularly. For example, you could put your exercise(s) at the beginning of each music session and make them a routine. I wish you a lot of fun with it!
Would you like to develop your own musician routine in order to constantly expand your skills and really develop yourself musically? Then you will find an article about it here. You will also find an overview of all other coaching articles for musicians here.
And if you want to get to know other musicians from your city or want to submit your own application, for example to found a band, you will find what you are looking for here on our portal for musicians.
Originally published on October 12, 2022, updated on October 12, 2022