I was in a discussion yesterday with a very wise woman, who mentioned that perhaps the most important thing (and she really did mean The Most Important Thing) was to feel relaxed.
Immediately, I thought of how musicians tend to feel right before we begin a performance, or actors when they are about to walk on stage, or writers just as they are about to hit “publish”. As we take those steps towards our most important work, we feel a lot of things. However, I’m not sure Relaxed is the right word.
But maybe it should be. Here are 4 reasons why:
To me, when I am feeling relaxed, it means there is an absence of those 4 horsemen above. I am doing my thing, in the flow, in the zone. I feel at ease. When I’m about to perform, the last thing I want to feel is fear of not playing well, the stress of too many long practice days, the shame of not feeling prepared, and just forget about tension–that’s a recipe for disaster.
When I am sitting in my sunroom with a fresh cup of coffee and a book, feeling relaxed, it’s because I know my work is done, things are taken care of, and there’s nothing else I need to be doing. All is as it should be. Wouldn’t that be a great place to walk out on stage from? That all is as it should be?
On a beautiful warm, sunny day, I could spend hours in the garden. And if I have a clear day on the calendar, I can practice, write, or read without noticing the time passing. When we are in a relaxed state, we are free of distracting thoughts and concerns, and we can work uninterrupted. There is nothing blocking us from getting into the zone. Which is ideally where we want to be when we’re performing.
We can think more clearly, react faster, and make better decisions. And so, while I always considered that bolt of adrenaline to be a key factor in any good performance, maybe that’s just a bonus. Maybe the real key, the Most Important Thing is to get oneself into that Relaxed State. Free of fear, shame, tension, and stress. Knowing that the work is done, all is as it should be, and we are free to get focused and enter the zone.
And if it’s true that we all universally function better in a relaxed state, how can we create an environment that lends itself to others getting into that relaxed state as well?
How can we welcome our students into their lessons in a way that better allows them to leave those 4 horsemen at the door? How can I ensure that my coaching clients are able to find that sense of safety and clarity in their sessions with me?
And in what ways could we do more to create or sustain such an environment of relaxed community for our colleagues, our family, and anyone we interact with?
Food for thought on this gloomy Monday. I would really love to hear your ideas about this. Leave a comment or shoot me an email.
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