Practice anxiety: tool #2

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Image from Headspace.com.

Image from Headspace.com.

Mindfulness meditation

Why? Mindfulness meditation is a really important tool for when your brain is going at a hundred miles an hour and you can’t seem to clear enough space to even think about beginning practice (which, strangely enough, can sometimes manifest as a kind of ‘brain fog’, where it feels like you’re not thinking about anything at all). It connects you with your breath, which is really important for readying you to play your instrument – even if you don’t play a wind instrument. And it can just clear enough space in your mind for you to remind yourself that practice is really important to you, and you’re going to take steps to make it happen.

What? I’m going to recommend a couple of guided meditation apps for your phone or tablet – of course you can try to go it alone, instructions to do so are readily available on the web, but especially when you’re starting out sticking headphones in and having someone take you through the steps is super helpful.

App 1: Pacifica

This is a free, easy to use app that helps you track your mood and healthy habits, while also offering some very simple relaxation exercises. Really good for charting where you’re at, reminding you to take good care of yourself, and for little mindfulness/relaxation moments anytime during the day.

App 2: Stop, Breathe & Think

Also free, this app asks you to rate your mood and physical comfort and then suggests a few short guided mindfulness exercises. It has a strong focus on developing compassion, which is extremely useful for turning an inward-focussed anxious mind outwards. The guided exercises are pleasant and not too long, and you’re given a few options each time, so you can choose what sounds most appealing.

App 3: Headspace

This one is my favourite and I use it everyday. The first ten days are free, but afterwards you need to subscribe – it’s not the cheapest thing in all the world, but if you can afford it, and really want to take up mindfulness meditation, it is definitely worth it. If you can’t afford it, you can always just do the first ten days over as many times as you like, which will still be beneficial for sure! Your meditation guide here is Andy, and he has a really nice down-to-earth voice and approach. He introduces you to the general technique over the first month, then there are many different ‘packs’ where you can address particular problems you might be having in your life. Check it out.

Hopefully you find this helpful! Mindfulness has been a big help for my struggle with anxiety generally, but especially with practice anxiety.

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