This week’s blog is a repost from Donna Wilson, flutist, mom, and blogger extraordinaire! Donna has been active as a freelance performer since 1992 and as a teacher since 1996. She currently serves as Second Flute with the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic orchestra and is Adjunct Professor of Flute at Indiana Wesleyan University. Donna is also currently the President of the Greater Indianapolis Flute Club, a group committed to connecting with the flute community and sharing the joy of flute music and performing. She earned a Master of Music in Performance with Distinction at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England studying with Peter Lloyd and Laura Jellicoe, and earned a Bachelor of Science in Performance with Distinction at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music where she studied principally with Kathryn Lukas. In addition to her busy schedule, Donna runs the blog “Mommy’s Gotta Practice,” a site devoted to musicians, working moms, and everything in between!
This blog post by Donna, entitled “Mindfulness–It’s Not Just the Latest Buzzword!,” really resonated with me both as a musician and a new mother. I have some thoughts that I will share in next week’s blog, but for this week, please enjoy Donna’s thoughts on being a mindfulness mama!
A few months ago, I was introduced to the idea of mindfulness: focusing on the present moment. I did some quick searches online to get a feel for what it entails. I even stumbled upon an article in a Women’s Health magazine written by a woman who spent an entire week at a facility doing nothing but practicing mindfulness for 10-11 hours each day: no talking, no phones, no outside communication, and a few light vegetarian meals per day. Enlightening! So, I thought I would try it out for myself, and in the process I have discovered a wonderful new awareness of my body, thoughts, and my outlook. I love it!
My approach is simple. I lay down on the floor in a semi-supine position (flat on your back with your knees bent up and feet on the floor). I begin by closing my eyes and taking slow breaths in through my nose and out through my nose, feeling the air rush in and out the whole time. I feel how it makes the inside of my nose feel. I feel how it rushes into my lungs and fills my chest, and I feel how it exits my body and back through my nose. These sensations are the only sensations I focus on for several breaths. When I feel my head start to clear and almost soften (i.e. muscles have relaxed!), I then start to feel for my pulse internally and how it rushes the blood throughout my body, continuing to take in my slow, deep breaths. Next, I focus on how my skin feels flush against the floor and take in all of these sensations. If at any time my head starts to fill with chatter, I bring it back to any one of these sensations and continue my focus. My only goal during this time to be completely aware of all of my senses at that moment.
After about a week or two of devoting 10-15 minutes of my afternoon to practicing mindfulness, I noticed a positive change in my concentration level and outlook on the day. My favorite part is that I have found it easier to clear my head of needless chatter, especially while I’m practicing or performing. I can much more easily chase away negative thoughts or feelings and regain focus. Relaxing and bringing a more positive spirit to the day has become easier, as well. I also like how much more aware and tuned-in to my body I’ve become as a result of mindfulness. My ability to fall asleep has greatly improved, too! Overall, it has made such a powerful impact on my life.
As parents and musicians, it can be so difficult to find the time to squeeze this in. Honestly, I started out just trying to get even 5 minutes worth every day, and that was tough. However, once I started to feel the positive impact it was having on several areas of my life, I felt more encouraged to try to go longer each day. I definitely encourage you to work up to 10-15 minutes every day, even if you have to just start with 5 minutes like me. After one or two weeks, you’ll begin to take notice of some positive changes. Enjoy it, and let it continue to influence more aspects of your life in an encouraging and positive way!
Read more about Donna and her blog, Mommy’s Gotta Practice, here.