Magic Choral Trick #260 Being Present
There – did you notice?
If you’ve been reading my posts, you probably had a moment of wondering “Hey, what’s with the stars?” And in that moment something inside of you ‘gathered’ and focused a little more on what you were seeing.
Being present is just gathering, focusing or noticing. The easiest of these to implement is noticing. While noticing is just paying attention, the phrase “pay attention” lives in my mind as sharply spoken by my grade 3 teacher, and for me, comes with all the baggage of being called a silly daydreamer. So I find ‘noticing’ a cleaner, more baggage free concept.
Why would we want to make Being Present a habit?
We experience Being Present in the times when we’re singing together and we:
– get goosebumps
– have the feeling of utter happiness
– experience the open, ringing feeling in our bodies when a chord locks, rings and
– wish that this moment could go on forever
However, for most of us, these are hit and miss moments. Music making’s greatest power is its ability to draw us out of ourselves into these moments. But the truth is that if we practice Being Present as a separate discipline we set ourselves up for many, many more of these ecstatic musical experiences – just by being prepared for them.
In my Electric Silence post (https://betterchoirs.wordpress.com/2011/11/30/magic-choral-trick-13-the-electric-silence/ ) I spoke about how crackling, electric silence before you begin a piece makes everything more synchronized and unified – both of which make singing together more fun.
When Being Present is a more habitual state we’re able to stay focused, and aware of technical, musical and presentation aspects of our singing. We feel really awake and can not only concentrate on what we’ve rehearsed, but can enjoy every phrase as it goes by.
Here are some tricks for bringing yourself into the present moment.
1. One of Eckhart Tolle’s best tricks. Without shifting or moving anything, ask yourself “How do I know that I still have a right hand?” You may need to ask the question several times before your right hand answers you with a kind of zzzzuzzy ‘Here I am!’ You may feel warmth, tingles or buzzing. Your attention is now in your body – and the body really likes that. You can ask other areas of your body to make themselves known – but even staying with just the hand brings your attention into the present moment.
2. See if you can feel your own pulse – simply by paying attention to it. When I’m sitting still I tend to be able to feel it best at first in my hands and my face – but pretty soon I’m noticing my pulse all through my body.
3. Listen intently to a sound which has a long period of decay – like a gong, bell or a note on the piano when you’re holding down the sustain pedal. See if you can notice the exact moment when the sound is no longer there. The feeling you get in the moments surrounding the sound’s disappearance is Presence.
4. Listen for subtle sounds wherever you are. Inside you can listen for the sounds of fans, fluorescent lights or voices in another part of the building. Outside you can listen beyond traffic noise for birds, wind, or children’s voices.
These are some of the symptoms you may experience by Being Present
– Relaxation – but in a tingly, alive way
– More health
– Peace of mind – quiet, but aware and slightly excited
– A sort of zzzzzuhzzzzz, or fun, electric hum feeling – what feels like a sort of microscopic level sparkly party all through your body
– Contentment or joy – and absolutely no stray thoughts bugging you