Today I’m thinking about how to get unstuck. I’m very disciplined and good at making clear, progressive steps toward goals. But what if those steps don’t seem to be leading anywhere clear, anywhere measurable, anywhere that feels new? I go to my spiritual practice, rooted in a belief through experience and early teaching that the more I visualize and think about something while also making progressive steps toward my goals, the closer I come to getting where I want to be. These days, my old tricks seem to be stuck in their old bag. Does anyone else feel that way? The one place I know I can go where I can both feel and think and process is singing and yet I avoid it sometimes. Do you avoid feeling? Why do we do that? I’ve found when working with clients that the only way past is through and I know this to be true for me as well. So, let’s make a commitment together to start. Get unstuck from the screen, breathe, sing along with a song that moves you, sing without a clear direction, maybe dance, move, walk. Go easy but go forward.
New year and an updated website! Thank you to Tom Beckham, fabulous designer and vibraphonist (www.graphics.tombeckham.net).
I’ve been busy the past few years…growing the music therapy program at The Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, teaching at NYU, doing vocal work with people recovering from open heart surgery at Columbia/NYP and continuing my clinical work with children with autism spectrum disorders at Reach for the Stars Learning Center. Most of the time everything I’m doing balances out…in time, energy and forward movement. And there are things that go by the wayside…playing music at home, singing jazz, sleep. As I get older, I’m realizing that finding and maintaining balance between accomplishment, stability, care for others and self-care are elements in constant motion rather than a goal state. When I’m at my best, I’m playing. Taking improv comedy classes in my 20’s taught me the concept of “Yes…and”. If you say “yes…and”, there is flow and forward movement. If you say “No” or “Yes…but”, you are cutting off flow or creating a quick detour that can crash and burn. Improv comedy and jazz have many overlapping characteristics that are helpful to working as a therapist, administrator, teacher, supervisor, mom and friend. As playing music connects us to ourselves and others, so does play. In this new year, I will keep a sense of playfulness even within the most serious parts of my life and I’ll keep an active, observing eye.
Practice: Play with your Breath Exercise.
Stop. Sit down or stand. Don’t go too crazy trying to be in the perfect place or in a perfect seated position. Just shift your attention for a minute to your breath. What does it feel like going into your body? What does it feel like going out of your body? Notice it. Find a word or two or don’t. Just check it out. What is the tempo of your breath cycle? Is the in breath faster or slower than the out breath? Does your chest feel tight or relaxed? Can you expand into your stomach when you inhale, letting your stomach fall back into place on the exhale? Check it out. Play with how slowly you can breathe in, how slowly you can breathe out. What feels good? There will be more of this in future blogposts. For now….keep your sense of movement, of play, of elasticity…let life move you and you will move with life.
April 2015 Brooklyn Conservatory of Music Gala honoring the Music Therapy Program, jazz legend Randy Weston, Music Therapy Director Toby Williams and My Time, Inc. Executive Director, Lucina Clarke.