Sunday, February 12, 2012


Leaf in the snow
As I went to bed last night a light snow began to dance in the night sky, the wind howling, all of nature celebrating this February night. Awakening at 1am, I looked outside to see whirling snow, whipping about and covering the ground.   Finally the beauty of winter brightening the dark skies.  As I slipped off back to sleep I wondered if we would have our Qi Gong session in the park.

Arising at 7am, I noticed that not much more snow had accumulated since I had last looked out.  An internal debate ensued about should I stay home, anticipating that the instructor may not be there.  The temperature was cold outside, 24 F to be exact, yet we decided to go to the park.  Anticipating the cold we were well layered.  The sun was shining as we arrived at the park and as I walked over the bridge I recognized one of the shapes jogging around with someone else.  Moving closer I saw that the other person was Nianzu Li, our Qi Gong instructor.  We joined in the jogging to warm up a bit and then when another brave woman arrived we began our class.

Nianzu faced the wind so that we had the wind to our backs as he led us through some gentle Qi Gong breathing exercises.  The snow had grass, and dried leaves poking through, and was delightful to behold as the sun danced across the ground. Then onto the Man Dong animal walking forms, occasionally punctuated with some "monkey jogging," to help keep us warm.  My attention wavered between the cold and the movements, until the Qi began to flow and I felt energized.

Arriving back home I felt strong and happy.  Practicing like this outside for an hour is invigorating.  My usual 10-20 minutes of Qi Gong in the morning certainly improves my life, but I yearn for the day when I can devote an hour to this more often.  After breakfast, I moved to doing an AT lie down.  Smiling as I noticed how relaxed my back was as I hit the floor.  All of the gentle Qi Gong movements had already aligned my body and mind.  After practicing gently for 25 minutes I paused and did another lie down. 

As I was ready to get up from this lie down I noticed an anticipation about getting back to playing.  I was excited, my right arm feeling good after recent issues.  Excited about playing from this good place, I paused and inhibited myself from getting up. Is anticipation a form of expectation I wondered?  As I let go of the anticipation, I saw that anticipation takes me out of the present moment.  This morning the anticipation of the cold almost kept me from a delightful and nourishing experience.  If I aim to be in the moment when I play, then each moment of awareness  is precious and informs all others.  Can I embrace each moment as an act of music?  Can I just be the musician?


  1. I've been thinking about this post a lot. It applies so much to performance as well. We anticipate the performing so much and I think that anticipation manifests itself in physical manifestations of anxiety during the time that we play for others. Thank you for sharing your observation. Instead of anticipating, perhaps we should just trust ourselves?

  2. How might one practice "trusting oneself?" More opportunities to perform music might be one very practical answer. This has allowed me to experiment and practice various strategies to work with performance anxiety.

    But I have also found that this anticipation anxiety goes deeper and can be illuminated in other areas of my life. Even just the act of practicing my guitar. Or disruptions to the regular flow of activity on my day job. A bit more subtle perhaps; yet through the nature of interpenetration works to "heal" the underlying fear that can be debilitating to fine motor skills and to life itself.