Meditation is nothing new. It's an ancient technique that allows practitioners to focus and redirect their thoughts to the current moment, grounding them in the truth and challenges currently surrounding them. There are many ways you can practice meditation, the most popular of which is probably sitting still and focusing on your breath. It can reduce stress, relieve anxiety, and pave the way for a healthy outlook on life, full of patience and gratitude.
It can also help make you one heck of a musician!
Here are some benefits you might see in your music practice if you make space for a regular meditation practice in your life:
1. Improved focus
One of the main benefits of meditation is its tendency to develop the practitioner's focus. Training your mind to focus on just one singular point for a pre-determined amount of time will do wonders for your music practice. It will allow you to have effective practice sessions where your attention isn't stolen by outside distractions or boredom. This will lead to faster growth as a musician.
2. More balanced practice routine
Once you have fallen into a regular meditation practice, you may notice that you are becoming more understanding, patient, and forgiving of yourself and those around you. This will not only make you a happier person, but it will allow you to recognize the things that you make yourself do out of anxiety or out of impatience. Without patience, you may start to believe that you are not progressing in your practice as fast as you had hoped, and so you start to set more unrealistic expectations of yourself. You begin to tell yourself that you will practice for hours each day. This may work for a few days, maybe even a few weeks, but real change is gradual and if you want to be able to practice for hours each day, you need to work up to it incrementally. Making such a rapid change to your practice routine will just cause more frustration and burnout, which will lead to slower progression over the long run. Meditation will help you fall into a more balanced and sustainable practice routine.
3. Better relationships with bandmates
The patience and understanding you learn through meditation will not only affect your own personal musical practice--it can improve the interpersonal relationships you have with your bandmates and other musicians. After regularly practicing meditation, you may notice that you start to be more forgiving of the mistakes that you and your bandmates make, and you may also start to be more aware of the things you and your bandmates currently do that holds back the quality of the music you play. When this happens, you notice a problem, and if you are patient with yourself and your co-musicians, you can resolve the problem with an air of collaboration and respect that will strengthen your musical bond, rather than harm your band's relationships through uncontrolled expressions of frustration and anger.
Maybe you may even recognize that even though you like all of your bandmates, you don't share the same goals or artistic visions--something that has happened to me in several bands I've been in. A practice in meditation may help you to address the differences, and if they are irreconcilable, to leave the band and go your separate way in a healthy manner without harming the relationships you have with your now ex-bandmates.
4. Reduced negativity toward yourself
Meditation is all about seeing yourself, the world, and existence as it really is, without the filters of culture, ambition, anxiety, and whatever else works to disturb the clarity of reality. We are often more critical of ourselves than of anything else in the world. We compare ourselves to unrealistic visions and ideas that we have of ourselves, and this causes us to see ourselves in a negative light. Meditation helps to equalize how you see yourself in relation to everything around you. You will no longer focus on all the tiny imperfections of a performance you may have recorded, or a song that you wrote, and you allow yourself some room for those imperfections. You will start to recognize that even your idols have many performances, recordings, and musical works that are less than stellar. You will learn to appreciate the effort and the practice of music rather than just focusing blindly on creating a perfect end product. And because of all this, your musicianship will improve.
SO GIVE IT A TRY!
Don't know where to start? Find a guided meditation on YouTube. It's good to start with shorter meditation sessions between five to ten minutes per day and work your way up to longer ones. Just like your music practice, you will start out slow and with determination and consistency, you will begin to reap the rewards.