what ACT is

ACT is not simple and it is not easy, but given time, it is a solution to the very sticky challenge of performing consistently at your true capacity under pressure.

ACT – Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, pronounced as the word ‘act’ – is about learning to notice thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations, and being willing to allow them to come with you while you move in the direction you care about – notice, be willing and take action.

Sitting on stage before a performance, noticing my racing heart, my dry mouth, my urge to run off stage and my memories of last night’s performance when I missed some notes in a big solo;  willing to sit with those feelings, not trying to push them away and maybe even welcoming them on board.  And in that very same moment, on that brightly lit stage, taking action by choosing to focus my attention on what I care about – making a beautiful, clean and accurate sound, mentally sending energy and connection to the audience.

It sounds easy, but it has taken me a few years of practice to learn how to use these ACT skills when it really matters, when the rubber hits the road, when the conductor points to you in a hushed, expectant 2000 seat concert hall.

Not only have I noticed that in the last few years that I find myself playing more often the way I always dreamed about, but I also now have had the privilege of sharing these processes and skills with a number of musicians and supported them to move closer to being the musician that they would like to be.

Other resources:

Act Mindfully is the Russ Harris website (author of many ACT books including The Happiness Trap)

The Association of Contextual Behavioural Science - official website of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science, a worldwide online learning and research community, and a living resource for anyone interested in ACT

Timothy Gordon YouTube channel is one of my favourite video resources