The title of this blog is a little quote I’ve jotted down countless times in the last ten or fifteen years. The memory of where I first heard it is foggy, but the message stuck with me.
We are meant to enjoy, in joy - our purpose is to enjoy all the things life throws at us, fully immersed and steeped in the experience of it all.
Is it always comfortable to be submerged in all the good, bad and in between things that happen to us? Definitely not - consider how much time we spend on our phones, watching Netflix, or playing video games trying to avoid all the uncomfortable parts of our lives.
I’ve mentioned before how I have come to love mindfulness meditation so much because it teaches us to be fully present no matter what the situation is. It is often an uncomfortable (and sometimes annoying) practice as it points out exactly how much we try to not be present to our experiences every day.
There is another type of meditation with Buddhist origins that I have had a hard time connecting with that, ironically, is probably most closely related to my favorite mantra ("Enjoy, in joy"). It’s called Metta. Metta is a practice of extending love and kindness (or lovingkindness) toward all beings - ourselves, our loved ones, people we don’t know, and even people we really don't like.
Metta can sometimes feel forced - traditionally you recite or think phrases like “may you be happy” or “may I be happy” while focusing on yourself and others in turn. It’s unusual for us to sit and purposefully direct positive thoughts like this toward ourselves and people we don’t like very much. As we think about ourselves, we might even fall into that category of people we don't like very much sometimes!
Side bar: One of the things that helped me have a more relatable experience with Metta was a Metta for Musicians workshop offered by Shauna Fallihee. (Shauna’s Instagram account @embodiedsinger and her website are amazing resources for musicians and she shares so much useful information about myofascial release, mindfulness and movement for musicians.) In the workshop, we practiced seeing our experiences as a musician and ourself as a musician with equanimity - with kindness, even when it is difficult.
What has always fully reverberated for me from Metta is the idea of giving without expectation. Offering someone love and not expecting anything back, offering someone kindness and not worrying about their response…offering your music and not expecting praise, success or validation.
When was the last time you played your instrument that you enjoyed, in joy?
I hope it was today, but I know for many of us as we become better musicians our relationship with sharing our music becomes complicated. Our music making can become entangled in our sense of self worth, our sense of success and our sense of who we are at our core.
If we are constantly nitpicking our playing and never enjoying it can start to feel like we are constantly at war with ourselves.
I’m as guilty of this as anyone, and lately I’ve made it a bit of a mission to share and enjoy, in joy - no strings attached.
I'm doing my best to stay focused on the message I want to share, the character of the music, and the experience of playing with those around me.
Of course this isn’t a magic erase button for all self-critique that comes up, but it is helping me to unwind some of it - to see it for what it is. It is allowing me to be more in the moment, enjoying it for whatever it is.
Hi, I'm Morgann! Flutist, teacher, aspiring yogini, and life long learner figuring out how to create my way through life one crazy idea at a time.