Mindfulness, Music and the Great Outdoors
Have you ever arrived at work and realised that you don't remember anything about the journey there? Have you ever been talking with someone and realised that you haven’t heard a word they’ve said? Or eaten a meal and not really tasted it? If you have (and I’m pretty sure we all have) then you’ll know what it is to be ‘unmindful’. In our modern world it’s very easy to become ‘unmindful’ (distracted, unaware, inattentive, disengaged) where the mind becomes disconnected from what is happening, going into automatic pilot.
An increasing number of individuals, as well as schools, universities, prisons, sport teams and professional organsiations, are recognising the benefits of a practice called ‘mindfulness’. At its most basic, "mindfulness" is an awareness of yourself and your surroundings. It’s noticing your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and anything around you. Science is increasingly endorsing mindfulness. It's been shown as an effective treatment of stress, anxiety, psoriasis and depression, and is approved by the Mental Health Foundation.
The many positive outcomes associated with mindfulness include;
Improve immune function
Improve sleep patterns
Improve academic performance and creativity
Reduce symptoms of hyperactivity in young people
Increase satisfaction with parenting skills.
Mindfulness is very easy, but just like everything else that is important in your life, it takes time and practice.Stepping out of our classrooms or offices to practice mindfulness allows us to get some fresh air, connect, appreciate and develop a relationship with the natural world. Allowing time and space outside to connect with nature is known to make people feel more alive, and to feel an increased sense of vitality. Research studies have shown that being outside, with nature, for 20 minutes a day, increases our caring responses, energy and mood.
Being In The Present Moment Can Help Us All Cope Better With Our Lives And Feel Happier.
Children often pay more attention to the present moment than adults do. However as they get older, living in a world of being told what to do, what time to go to school, to hurry up with an activity, soon results in children learning the ‘automatic pilot’ way of living that we as adults are so familiar with - they become less aware of what they are doing right now. Mindfulness education in schools has proven benefits: it increases optimism and happiness in classrooms, decreases bullying and aggression, increases compassion and empathy for others and helps students resolve conflicts.
They are only just now scratching the surface of meditation's effect on creative and performance-based pursuits like music. First, it helps to unlock creativity, and then helps the body and mind put that creativity into action in the most productive way possible.
Practice Mindfulness, Get Outside More And Enjoy Music!
Fancy giving your mind and body something a little, well, different to do? Head outdoors, exercise and play music alongside nature, and feel all the better for it.
Our instruments are the perfect accompaniment to practicing mindfulness in the outdoors. Designed to encourage music improvisation, increase creativity, spontaneity, awareness and fun, free expression.
Take a moment to focus on your physical position and posture. Breathe deeply, relax your shoulders, arms and fingers, and give your mind a moment to settle.
When you begin to play, focus and listen to the length of the notes sustain, then remain silent and notice when you can no longer hear its sound. What other sounds can you hear once the ringing has stopped? Feel the ever so slight sting as you slap the conga drum with your hands, the weight and feel of the beaters and the different sounds they produce by varying the strength of the strike, the vibrations the emperor chimes send through your body, the feeling of your fingers gently striking the babel drum. Note the ease with which you play, how do you feel? How many sounds do you hear? Let the notes wash over you, calm your mind and sooth any nerves.
You’re experiencing music in the moment—not worrying about the future, not stressing about the past—you’re just there.
Percussion Play features in this months 'Percussion' edition of Music Teacher Magazine.
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Percussion Play and Percussion Play DK are currently in Hamburg, Germany making music and friends at the 2019 Rotary International Convention (1-5 June).