Confession: I used to watch TV while I practiced
(Originally published at the Center for Arts Innovation)
Meditation, the way I’ve practiced it, is all about the breath. It’s a simple yet confounding challenge of staying rooted in your own breath. In, out. Then a thought comes knocking, and you smile and let it in but say, “Listen, I’m hanging out with my breath right now.” And then another thought comes in, insisting that it is even more important, and you nod but turn back to the breath. And that happens over and over, with you trying to stay graceful about it.
I realized that when I was practicing music, I had been doing the opposite of meditation. I used to have my laptop open on the end of the marimba, streaming television. To this day, I can’t play Porgy and Bess without thinking of Season 1 of Grey’s Anatomy. Sometimes Gchat was open simultaneously, pinging me with messages from friends. I won’t deny it — it was fun. The hours passed much easier.
But when it came to taking the stage, my nerves were thundering. I had never been alone with the gravity of the music until that point and it would shake me. So as I started embracing the idea of meditation, I also embraced that it could be the perfect update to my practice.