When Ego Gets a little Crazy, Reach Beyond The Self – Or,
…How to Play Music in the Dark, Tune a Broken Guitar in front of a large crowd, and Be OK with Other Major and Minor Technical Mishaps…
Ahhhhhh. Can we all breathe a collective sigh of _____________?! Yes. Let it go people.
Summer is winding down. September is here.
Its That Feeling of – “Uh, oh, Its time for me to really (Insert your Goal Chart/Vision Board, or List of Things to Get Done, or Pile of Bills, Here).” Here. How on earth did we get Here?! Summer flew by. And man have I been flying every which way.
I’m trying to be oh so Cool and Grounded about it all. But lately, it’s been “One of those weeks” – Dare I say, one of those Summers. A whole lotta work, rallying, family obligations, running around, practicing, writing, cleaning, teaching, animal tending, fundraising, marketing, commuting. Bickering with AH (Almost Husband) on the State of Things House. Lots of things I love, Yes. But Lots of Busy-ness to make it Manifest. It’s the nature of work. Even partying has become a little tiring. I LOVE connecting and meeting new folks, but when my own inner well is down to a few droplets, I need a vacation from it all. But that’s not been reality. So I’m pushing through.
This push through anyway thing has unfortunately (and naturally) gotten me a little out of whack.
Ego -The thing that has nothing to do with pure Katie (Insert Your Name Here)-ness – has gotten the better of me this week. She just won’t leave me alone, just won’t let me be.
She’s become a strange, mean little cartoonish creature following me around from room to room, gig to gig, yoga pose to yoga pose. She says:
“Haha!, what’s up with those extreme dust bunnies in the bedroom messing with The Romance and Love Feng Shui, mingling with Large Dog hairs and Cat hairs into a Super Nova Power Allergen Ball of Hell? Get with the Cleaning Program Now or Forever be Blocked by Furry Anti-Chi Balls”. Sigh. Vacuuming has seen better days.
“Yogi Chick, get on the mat and breathe. Stop all this Life Stuff. You need your Yoga, and your Yoga needs you. Down Dog is waiting.” But then when I get there, my body hurts, my pains and aches start screaming. “Haha!” says EvilEgoElevitch – “You are being punished for lack of Practice! How dare you Abandon Yourself like this!” So much for Yoga being a path to happiness.
“Girl, what is UP with your hands flopping all over the guitar neck like you’ve never played a Chord in your Life?! Get it Together! What are you – A Beginner?! I mean, ALL THOSE YEARS OF VOICE LESSONS, and you’ve got weird posture and a frog in your throat, those high notes have seen better days.” The Triple E has a way with me sometimes. I really hope my audiences this week didn’t hear that one as I humbly worked my way through songs in the dark.
The Darkness. Well, that’s a loaded term. We’ve all been there in some way or another. There will always be more to say on this.
But actually, this week I really did play, sing and try to connect to my audience in the dark.
The venue was outdoors (the lovely Art Café in Nyack, NY), and although there were petite lanterns peppered about, I found myself not really seeing my sheet music, my lyrics, and, well, my hands on my guitar. Nor could I see my lovely fans. And I wondered: Could they see me? We were swimming in sound in the dark. And it appears I was the one creating the sound. Although at times, I wasn’t even sure about that.
The week leading up to this gig I had had a vision of an outdoor silken summer night of easy breezy communing under the full moon with friends and fans. Instead, time slogged by as if I was sorta not there. Cuz I wanted it to feel like something I’d envisioned. Not something that it was. I wanted out of reality. Tsk, tsk, Katie. Reality. This. Is all there Is.
My intention as always, was to connect. Yet, although I was singing out into the open air under the stars, within my own heart, I was unraveling with Mind. Tension. Disconnect.
Those of you who are performers or teachers might know this moment – when the inner and the outer just won’t match no matter how hard we try. It’s a hard thing to explain to non-performers. Because maybe to them, things seemed a little off, but still “good”, “fun”, “fine”.
To us, we are lost in some limbo of – “Why couldn’t I just get in the flow?”.
And those moments are magic. I will be sharing some of those moments in this blog too in future posts…2012 brought me many of those moments thankfully. And I am truly grateful when it does happen.
I try to help my students find this flow. I use imagery, music, pacing, movement. Breath. But ultimately, there’s some crazy letting go that must happen in order for it to all come together. And I can’t make you get there. Nor, can I make myself.
Getting there requires – even demands – no effort at all. Huh? So how do I “DO” that!?
Time to face off with that Ego. That “to do” should be first on that list as we enter into even busier times this fall.
Creepy Ego Creatures exist simply to keep us from that flowing joy that we feel when we know we are in the zone.
Hear her out, be amused, even angered by her insistence, but then freakin’ let that stuff go. It does not have to win.
Easier said than done, I know people. This is an on-going process, not a step 1-2-3 simple check it off your list kind of task. It takes practice.
What has helped me this Summer and now, this September, to ultimately stay out of my tension, my EEE, and into my flow, is to actually get out of my Self Focus altogether. As AH gently reminds: Katie, you are a little TOO self aware, sometimes.
So what do we do?
Pay it forward. Do Unto Others. Help Others Find their Flow. Leave your own mind and take action. Bring that intention of connection and push outwards into the space around you, feeling that in whatever you do. Maybe it’s noticing a neighbor in need, and taking action. AH spent his Labor Day holiday helping Chad and family re-grade their driveway. AH is more of a Yogi than he realizes.
Or, notice and help an older person at the store, open a door, smile, engage from a heartfelt place. It doesn’t take much to get outside of our selves and back into that flow by connecting to others.
I jump started this way of being yesterday by performing at a fundraiser at the wonderful new Union Arts Center in Sparkill, NY to help raise $ for Yoga Across America – an organization that brings yoga to veterans for healing and stress reduction. Wow. You will hear more on this topic as the blog progresses this year.
Once I started my set, my voice lifted with emotion as I sang a few songs about my Dad who was a WWII Vet. I felt connected again to my music and sound. I could see folks nodding their heads and tapping their feet. I think I’m onto something a little voice murmured as I continued just flowing.
Somehow I got there, even though, a few minutes before, I stood talking to the crowd trying to tune a guitar that has finally reached a point of non-tuning. She needs a total re-string, neck adjustment. Ugh, not now, I thought as I muttered, sputtered, apologized, as I turned knobs and adjusted capos. I was flustered, but all I needed was just enough alignment to get me to where I knew I could go. Finally, although the crowd had lost hope and began distractedly chatting, my guitar cooperated. Was this the perfect, seamless, professional introduction I had in mind? No.
Did I overcome that moment and trust the next moment was a new reality? Yes.
I still am kicking myself a little for not taking better care of my guitar, but in the end, despite all those visible and invisible technical gaffs firing off in my brain, trying to keep me from joy and flow, I salvaged enough wisdom and courage to allow my voice to soar out into the open room and potentially touch someone else in need of soothing.
For that lesson, I am grateful. Namaste.
Please read more about my Pay It Forward Campaign to help another Rock and Roll Yogi like me realize her dreams of becoming a Yoga Teacher – “Get Shelley To Yoga School” on GoFundMe.com, a fundraising collaboration between RockandRollYogi.com and Shelley Nicole Jefferson, reiki healer, band leader, musician and aspiring yogi.