In Part 1 of this post I explored the benefits for pianists and other musicians of cultivating mindfulness of emotions. In this part, there are two exercises to explore and practice mindfulness of emotions – a guided audio exercise for everyone, and a written exercise that piano teachers can use with their students.
It can take time and extensive practice to mindfully allow your emotions, so please be gentle with yourself, and let the process unfold gently. As opening a mindful space for your emotions may be new to you, I need to include the following disclaimer:
By listening to or following either of the exercises below, you understand that the content therein may not be suitable for your situation, and the use of the information and guidance therein is solely at your own risk.
Guided Audio Exercise: Mindfulness of Emotions
Begin by setting into a tranquil and alert posture. For more about appropriate posture see “A Mindfulness of Breathing Exercise” in this post.
When you’re ready to begin, press play:
Written Exercise for Teacher/Student Use
If you’re a teacher who would like to introduce the practice of mindfulness of emotions to a student, here is a brief guided exercise. Note that it’s probably better to introduce students to mindfulness the first time via mindfulness of breathing or mindfulness of body.
“Getting in touch with your emotions can help you make better music. Would you be willing to try a brief exercise to explore your emotions? Close your eyes. Feel the sensation of your body sitting here right now, on the bench.
Now, let’s tune into breathing. Breathing is so important when playing music. Breathing naturally and deeply helps us to stay relaxed, to flow with the music, and to play in a healthy way. Where do you feel the sensations of breathing in your body?
Now let the breath be. Let the breath do its own thing.
Let’s check in with the overall emotional ‘tenor’ of your experience. Is it what you would call positive or light? Or uncomfortable or dark? Or just neutral, neither light nor dark?
Whether your present moment emotional experience is light or dark, or neutral, is there a specific emotion that is present?
If there is, you can give the emotion a simple name, such as ‘joy’ or ‘sadness.’ Just name what you’re feeling inwardly to yourself – you don’t need to say it out loud.
If no simple name comes to mind, don’t worry about it.
Whatever emotion is present – light, dark or neutral – where do you feel it in your body?
If you’re not sure, take a few moments to scan through your body. Are there any areas that feel tight, closed, or tense?
If you find any contracted or tense areas, let them be.
Now check in with the mind. Is the mind telling any stories about what you’re feeling? For example, if a feeling of anxiety is present, the mind may tell an anxious story about the future.
If you discover thoughts or stories related to the emotions you’re feeling, try to avoid following them or indulging them. The best way to do this is to drop your involvement with them and come back to the felt experience of your body.
Whether you’re naming your emotional experience or not, see if you can welcome and allow whatever emotion is present. Feel the emotion in your body.
If at any time you’re not sure what you’re feeling, or are feeling confused, reestablish your focus by centering on the breath. When you’re ready, expand your mindfulness again into the feeling body.”