I'm not doing audition practice today. I had to speed learn some new compositions for a concert tomorrow.

In the rehearsal today, I noticed that I had this thought 'I cannot play fast, angular technical stuff', or variations thereof numerous times.

I did not worry about high notes, or fast repetitive passages or quiet entries, but when there is something that requires cognitive focus, my brain looks like a deer in headlights - the freeze part of fight, flight or freeze that commonly describes the body's reaction to threat.

I am threatened by fast notes. I don't think I can play them, so my playing confirms this when it stares blankly and panicked at notes I haven't practiced and I can't work out at sight.

I have to sit down and practice them. My mind is not quick and flexible enough to cope. I have had to learn ways of coping with this reaction, and often I go the other way and over practice. I do feel lucky that I have the determination and grit to have taught myself how to cope with this issue.

Another way ACT suggests working with these unhelpful thoughts is a strategy I have used with a number of clients. You write the thought on the card. On the reverse side you write 'I am having the thought that I cannot play fast angular technical stuff', and above that you later can write 'I am noticing (that I am having the thought that)' and so on.

The thought is now outside you. You are no longer fused with the thought. You can start to separate yourself from the thought, put it on your lap, by your side, in your pocket and continue to do what is important in the presence of that persistent thought.

I did this tonight as I was struggling with a number of difficult passages. I stuck it on my stand and it really is interesting that the mere process of doing this, as I have done many times with numerous difficult thoughts, that it still works to untangle the spaghetti of thoughts, feelings and sensations and makes it easier to focus on the task rather than the unhelpful and negative that my mind has been giving me for years.

I do not chose to have these thoughts. I do not expect them to leave any time soon.

And that is ok.


Deborah HartComment