Mystics and spiritual leaders throughout the ages have found an inner center of peace through their “practice”, whether it was prayer, yoga, meditation, or contemplation. As musicians, we may not think of our practice as spiritual, but it is the staple that sustains us so we can reach our goal of a peak performance. I’ve discovered that when my practice session hasn’t gone well, it’s almost always the result of some kind of unrest within me. I’m not centered; I’m not at peace; or I feel distracted. These are the very problems that the following three spiritual practices seek to resolve.
1. Create sacred space: This can mean simply getting rid of distractions (turning off the phone; tidying up the room), or symbolically giving ourselves permission to treat this time as sacred, by lighting a candle or picking a fresh flower.
2. Ritual (for inspiration and focus): This may have already been done if we pay attention to what our normal routine is. We may always get a glass of water, position ourselves just so, and do a specific set of warm-ups; this is our ritual. Noticing it may be all we need to focus ourselves.
3. Clear Mind: This may be the essential ingredient we often skip. Yet, as St. Francis of Assisi has said, “Where there is peace and meditation, there is neither anxiety nor doubt.” If we want our practice to be free of outside worries or self-condemning patterns, our time is well spent here.
When our inner space is free and open, Divine Inspiration enters in. What better partner could we have in our practice? I remember one performance, where I carried that peace and connection from the practice room all the way through the performance, and not only was the audience moved, but so was I. It was a holy moment for me. When we can do that, the stage is set for a truly divine performance.