Meditation exercises to improve tune playing
This was a pleasant surprise for me, so I thought I would pass it along. A few weeks ago, I started doing a common deep-breathing/relaxation type exercise three times daily—"breakfast, lunch, and dinner"—and I think it has helped my playing a lot.
It’s simple enough: Inhale quickly through the nose, and exhale slowly through the mouth, while consciously trying to relax every muscle, and think only about breathing. At the bottom of the exhalation, pause for a second or two… then take another deep breath in, and repeat. Keep trying to do one where your hearbeat is the only motion, during that "slack tide" between breaths. No twitching, no random thoughts. It might take a few minutes to get there, but you can take your time, there’s no rush.
I think we spend a lot of our time charging ahead, striving to achieve something, and it gets to be a habit. Mostly a good one. But there are times when inner stillness is really what you need—so it makes sense to form a habit for that too. It comes in handy when you’re playing a tricky phrase, and need a micro-instant to collect yourself just before you tackle it. And, like a lot of things, that kind of instant-relaxation-on-demand seems to improve with practice.
I know it makes me sound like an old hippie moonbeam, but it does seem to be working, so there you go.
Any other natural relaxation techniques out there, for playing, and life in general? Might be good to know, especially during the stressful holiday season.