Channeling Strength Through My Music as a Gift for Those Who Need It
"What do you want to work on for the rest of the year?" One by one, the yoga students shared:
ACCEPTANCE OF WHAT IS
PATIENCE WHILE I WORK TOWARDS MY GOALS
BEING LESS SHY - ESPECIALLY ABOUT MY ENGLISH (AS A SECOND LANGUAGE)
IT'S BEEN TWO YEARS SINCE MY WIFE DIED, AND NOW IT'S TIME FOR ME TO GET BACK TO A NORMAL LIFE
FLEXIBILITY & BALANCE
GET DISTRACTIONS OUT OF MY MIND
MOVE TO THE FRONT OF THE CLASS
JUST PRACTICE, THE REST IS COMING
JUST SHOW UP (my answer)
Emily (my sweet friend and today's yoga teacher calls out instructions), the students start moving their bodies, and my shaky hand reaches for my guitar. How the fuck do I start? I have no plan, just a rough list of songs to choose from. How do I take this room from silence to music - my voice has to break through that sound barrier. Croak....I'll just wait. I wait for them to do their initial warm up stretches, sip my lemon water, breath deep, feel the quiet guitar in my lap and take another deep breath. The fear voices start whispering in my ear again -- what if you hit an ugly chord? what if someone here doesn't like your voice and they find it annoying during their practice? what if Emily is disappointed that it's not as good as she was hoping for in her class etc..
MY INNER MONOLOGUE WHILE PERFORMING
I remind myself, the only way out is through. The only way to start the singing is to, well, START. So I pick a random string and pluck - nervous I'll be too quiet or too loud. Oh god here we go. I remind myself over and over, close your eyes, playing music is just another form of meditation, focus on what I'm doing, really listen to every sound I'm making and forget about the other people in the room. This thinking propels me forward and I'm excited to hear how pretty my voice sounds. It's going well. I look up and see someone smiling - I wonder if they're smiling because of the music or something else...woops my attention slipped and now I'm off beat. Focus back in Cha! Listen to the music that is coming out through you. Okay, we're back on...oh that was a nice note...I wonder if anyone is looking at me, if I open my eyes I'll see, NO, keep focused, listen to yourself, sway with the rhythm, you got this, let go, all you have to do is show up. It's not your job to be good. Your only job is to show up.
As the energy in the room lifts, I start to realize the power I hold in my lap. The students are holding a challenging yoga pose, I make the music louder, faster, more empowering. I hope the noise I'm making in the corner might give them some extra strength to endure the physical strain. I looked at the girl who said she was "working on being less shy" and I image the music flying out of my guitar is invisible medicine for her, musical courage that will give her all the confidence she needs. My entire life I've always drawn strength from certain songs - music in my spiritual toolbox that I pull out when I need that boost. [I've been starting my day with 'Watch Me Shine' by Joanna Pacitti from the Legally Blonde soundtrack since I was in high school. It charges me up with self-belief and go-get-em attitude.] Maybe if I can let go enough, whatever power is in my music will make its way out and give someone else strength. Could my music really do that?
My eyes flick across the room, stopping on each person, remembering what they shared with the group - that piece of them that is most dear and vulnerable. Seeing their vulnerability gives me more strength of my own because I want to be strong for them. I do my inexperienced best to infuse my strength into my music so it can fly to each of them, like a carrier pigeon, delivering that strength to their hearts through their ears. Whenever my strength wavers, I put myself in their shoes. I'm the student on the mat and there is a musician in the corner feeling nervous. I want her to be confident and sing louder. Id hope my yoga practice will push positive energy into the room that will give her strength to sing wholeheartedly.
You see, we all want to see each other succeed and I believe the best way we can help each other is by showing up and being completely who we are, as we are in the moment. It's not about being good enough. It's about showing up. People are so grateful when you just show up. // Cha
PS: My biggest insecurity for the performance was my guitar skills (I'm pretty hard on myself with guitar) and guess what... I showed up and did my best and after my performance a lady came up and asked me if I teach guitar lessons and if I'd be game to teach her teenage daughter!! Whaaaaatt??? Ironic how my biggest compliment was like medicine for my biggest insecurity today. Just show up people, just show up.
[Yoga Class at Shakti Vinyasa East in Bellevue, WA]