When I write down the short list of things that are most important in my life, making music and being mindful always make the cut (along with spending time with family, reading (learning), writing (inspiring), and practicing self-care). Yet, I currently don’t have a regular practice for either of these activities. (Weird!)
Music in March
I sang a bunch during the holiday season—both with an amazing community choir of friends who come together to sing an eclectic mix of music and with my daughter and her friends at a couple of different church services. Since then, I’ve barely touched the piano or sung a note (except for hymns during church and chapel and sometimes in the car).
I’m not sure what happened, but somehow, I haven’t made time for music. Maybe I was mourning the passing of Christmas. Or perhaps it was because I no longer belonged to any organized singing group. And I was sick for a while (singing with a stuffy head and nose is not my idea of fun…).
Regardless, this needs to change. It’s time to make music again—to sing alone and with others. I’m getting a great start on this by visiting a dear friend who was part of a women’s ensemble that I led over a decade ago. We’re music friends. This weekend, we’ll sing together and reminisce about those years when we sang our hearts out with Common Souls.
When I get back home, I’ll make time to sit down and sing at the piano. It will be good. Maybe I’ll even start singing in a choir again (or maybe I’ll wait until I finish my book). I was reminded this week that singing in a group is good for your health in a number of ways, including decreasing stress and reducing symptoms of depression. So singing can even be considered self-care!
Mindfulness in March
This week, I’ve been working on a chapter in my book, called “Calming the Mind and Being Part of Something Bigger,” that describes psychosocial ways to combat mental distress in children and teens. The first section discusses the benefits of mindfulness practices such as meditating on the breath, mindful yoga, walking meditation, and the body scan. Observing your thoughts without judgement and being fully present improves mood, emotional self-regulation, and ability to focus (among other things).
Even though I have a few regular breath and mindfulness practices, e.g. yoga, everyday mindfulness, and daily 4-7-8 breathing, I would like to go deeper into mindfulness practice during the month of March using Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program as detailed in Full Catastrophe Living. I’ve downloaded the first set of practices from iTunes, and I’m ready to go!
(I guess I’ll know if it’s working next time I go for acupuncture—last time, my tongue had evidence of stress.)
Music can really be a form of mindfulness practice. In fact, when I play piano and sing, my mind is less likely to wander than when I read or even write. You can also develop a mindfulness practice when you listen to music and are fully present with the music.
Do you have a regular mindfulness practice? I’d love it if you’d share in the comments.