Hey Singers! Today I want to talk about the dreaded O word. We live in a world full of opportunity. Thanks to the internet, there are always new things to learn- new podcasts to consume, new think-pieces to feast on. There are online courses, YouTube tips, blog posts and Pinterest boards to get relentlessly inspired by. There are interviews with your favourite artists, webinars from experts. In short, there’s a whole world of education (and noise) out there.
If you have a curious mind and big ambitions, it’s easy to feel like you’re never doing enough. Your body might be screaming out for a lie in, and yet to give in can feel like giving in. After all, there’s that professional development you could be doing. Everyone else in your industry went to that life changing workshop at the weekend, and you have FOMO.
Many of my friends, family and students have confessed to these thoughts, and I’m in the same club. Information is fun. Information can become addictive. It’s been revealed in recent years that apps such as Instagram (which I also use) are designed to hijack your brain so you crave that big fat dopamine hit when someone hits the heart button. Yes there’s a logical reason why you keep refreshing that feed and don’t even know why. Those app designers have done a good damn job. We all know someone who has done a digital detox. Perhaps we have (I recently spent 3 weeks in Asia and didn’t check social media until I got back). Certainly this can restore a sense of peace and harmony, but we live in a digital age- it’s impractical for most of us to abandon our online life indefinitely.
Personally, I think any information, including books, podcasts and courses can become ‘too much of a good thing’ if we don’t ever allow our brain to switch off. For the rest of your life, there will always be something to do. A new must-watch show. A development in your field of work to get to grips with. The list goes on…
This is wonderful of course. Life is motion- we continue to grow, evolve and learn. At the same time, it’s vital to view those delightfully unproductive moments, as an investment in ourselves. When we give ourselves space, things percolate. They sink in, we absorb them, and we can appreciate them.
Most visual artists understand the value of ‘negative space’- this is space around the subject, which ‘supports’ it. Negative space allows the subject to breathe. If we are the subjects, let’s allow ourselves to breathe, focus on one thing at a time, and expand into this space. Far from negative, we might find the experience positively transformative.
This doesn’t mean throwing your smartphone in the bin ( unless you want to!) but it could mean…
- Reading one book at a time, not 3.
- Listening to a couple of podcasts a week, as opposed to 2 a day.
- Allowing yourself to daydream on the tube/ bus, or turning off the radio when you drive.
- Committing to one extra project or course at a time, rather than trying to excel in 5 simultaneously.
- Looking where you’re going when you walk down the road instead of texting as you go (less treading in mess and tripping too- bonus!)
If you already do these things ( props to you, zen master!) keep it up. If you think you could benefit from this approach, give it a go! Next time you do your vocal practice, don’t even think about cleaning at the same time!
Let me know how you get on!