“ Just be you!” How many times has this simple piece of advice been given with the best of intentions? As I started thinking about, “just being me,” I realized that it isn’t quite as easy as the suggestion. Why? Because being me is tied up in a lot of emotional baggage and life experience. Like many, I was not comfortable with who I was! In other words, who I was did not align with who I truly wanted to be. Among other things, I wasn’t confident with my appearance and I was trying to please others.
If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. Many people experience a similar form of discomfort that leads to disconnecting from the body. The discomfort can come from a variety of different sources including: stress, tension, pain, shallow breathing, emotional trauma and poor movement. This makes embodying the “just be you” advice difficult at best. In fact, trying to “just be you” when you aren’t comfortable with yourself diminishes self-confidence which can make you feel just plain awkward and in the case of a musical performance, the internal chaos that results interferes with playing.
Body Mapping led me through a journey of personal discovery which ultimately led me reconcile who I was with what I was doing. One important step in this process was to uncover my personal “why.” My why is, helping people from many different walks of life (including musicians) become comfortable in their body using Body Mapping and movement so that they can be authentic and realize their artistry and life aspirations.
Body Mapping was an important part of my journey, it allowed me to actually reconnect within myself which included sensing movement, finding greater coordination and tuning into my feelings. Building accurate maps for breathing, standing and sitting, arm movement, and becoming fully aware was the means for this. I learned to sense movement, recognize tension and find ease in the process. These maps helped me to do just about everything with greater coordination, ease and JOY! I found that tension was getting in the way of me “just being me.”
An important part of the Body Mapping process is becoming aware and making choices. Choices in how you sit, stand, breath and move, and choices of how to coordinate just the right movements for the music. Here is a little taste of the process of building awareness…
As you sit notice…
How your feet contact the ground? do both feet contact? how much of each foot touches? and where?
How you are breathing. Are your breaths deep and easy or shallow and effortful?
What is in your visual field? one focal point or do you notice the walls, floor and ceiling around a focal point?
If you are a musician, pretend to bring your arms to the keyboard or deliver the instrument to your body or face. Notice the quality of movements of your arms.
Next, let’s adjust…
Allow both feet to touch the ground. Equalize the weight left and right and front and back.
Imagine the bones of the skeleton inside you supporting you, helping you to be upright more easily.
Notice the movements of your ribs, guiding your inhalation and exhalation.
Allow your eyes to have a focal point, but also see the walls, floor and ceiling around your focal point. They peripheral space will not be in focus, your focal point will be.
If you are a musician, pretend to bring your arms to the keyboard or deliver the instrument to your body or face. Is the quality of the movement different? easier?
Compare your answers from the first set of questions to how you feel after you made the adjustments. You probably notice more ease and comfort in your body. For the musicians, the arms are probably moving more easily with a lighter quality.
The changes you made are simple, yet accessible, even under pressure. Being aware and utilizing the support that the skeleton provides changes the trajectory of a performance and enhances the learning process. The process of Body Mapping is a great tool for uncovering a better relationship with oneself to “just be you!”