May 9

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The Skill of Staying Present

If there were one skill I wish I started working on earlier, it would be the skill of staying present.

It's something we all struggle with. The mind is kind of like a zoo full of wild animals.

But I suspect I struggled with it more than most. Especially once I entered music school.

I easily spent hours mindlessly playing through my pieces while thinking about other things. Or would become distracted by some random thought that entered my mind, and decide that was worth pursuing for the next hour.

And once the smartphone was invented, that added a whole new layer of challenge to the whole "staying present and undistracted" thing.

This is where I've found meditation to be a game-changer. Now, before you go scrolling elsewhere, don't worry...we're not about to get our crystals and incense out.

In fact, that's not what meditation is about at all.

It's more about clearing your mind, and giving yourself a chance to practice taking a break from the anarchy that's in your head.

All you have to do is set a timer for 5 minutes, focus on your breathing, and try not to think about anything.

Thoughts will pop in. And every time, it's a chance to "practice" setting those thoughts aside.

When I meditate, my thoughts might look something like this.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

I wonder what the weather will be like this week. I sure hate it when it gets cloudy out. Speaking of clouds, what was heck was the name of that actor in that apocalypse movie I saw last week?!? Shoot...that's going to bother me all day.

Crap! I'm supposed to be meditating. Okay, Jonathan. Let's get back to it.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

I wonder if this meditation stuff actually works. All my friends will probably think I'm a huge dork for blogging about it.

Wait! Meditating. Back to the breathing, you silly goose!

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Breathe in. 

Breathe out.

You get the point.

Think it's a load of BS? Try it for 5 minutes a day for a week. See how you feel. If research is accurate, it should become easier to stay present throughout your day.

Even if only a little bit.

And even if it doesn't, meditation still gives you a much-needed break from that insane asylum inside your skull.

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For parents, students, and anyone else who believes that music can and should be a meaningful part of everyone's life.

About Jonathan Roberts

I am the founder and director of the South Shore Piano School, and I have been teaching the piano for nearly 20 years. My work centers around bringing music to the lives of kids, parents, and adults in an enriching, meaningful way. At the South Shore Piano School, my incredible colleagues and I accomplish this through skill-based teaching, community, and an innovative, people-first business model. You can read more about me here.


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