August 24, 2012
Students often say to me, “But I just can’t play better even if I tried”, or “I just don’t know how to not be nervous”, or simply, “I am just no good”.
Wait, didn’t I keep repeating myself that you HAVE to believe in what you can do and achieve every single time I see you, Students? Surely, we have doubts from time to time whether we can make it in our playing, that if we would see the progress we wish to have, in the time frame that we set for ourselves. Now, I will tell you something of what I have achieved recently. I hope that can help you understand how this is going to work for you.
I always had trouble with my sleeping. I could NEVER fall asleep easily. I think that started since I was in secondary school (so yes, it’s been a LONG time).
People had suggested me many ways to solve this life-long problem. I had tried some methods, and they didn’t seem to work at all. And I just took that this problem could never be solved. It was my fate that I could not shut my mind up with my own will and I could never fall asleep easily…
My sleeping problem got worse in the last few months. I could NOT fall asleep at all. I could lay in bed for the whole night and I was still wide awake. Or sometimes I fell asleep but woke up after two hours’ rest, then I would suddenly wake up before dawn, hearing the birds chirping outside my window.
I went to the doctor and asked for solution. He gave me a prescription. Even with the pills, I was not sleeping that well, but at least I could get some hours’ rest every night. I would not skip any nightly dose.
Two months passed and I was feeling somewhat better with the prescription. During that period, I felt panic whenever I finished the pills given. I would immediately go to my doctor to get more so that I could continue to take rest easily during the night. I did not think I would be able to live without my prescription, if not forever, then at least for a long time.
Then, I started reading about meditation and especially “metta”, the concept of mindfulness and awareness. I tried it and found it work perfectly for my well-being. I quickly applied the same concept to many aspects of my daily lives and I found my mind clear up much more and could focus on one thing at a time, therefore seeing, feeling and understanding more of every single thing or incident around or happening to me. My mind had never been clearer.
One day, there were again no more pills left in my drawer. My initial thought was to make an appointment to meet my doctor. But on second thought, I thought, maybe, just maybe, I could just stop talking the pills today and try to fall asleep on my own. On one hand I thought my decision was a bit crazy, as I could never been able to sleep well for the many years and suddenly I just believed maybe there was a chance that I could fall asleep easily on my own without any help. But on the other hand, I thought, there was nothing to lose anyway. If I tried not to sleep with a pill then I might just lose another night of sleep only. But if I took this opportunity and focused on the act of sleeping with mindfulness then there might be a slight chance that I could go to sleep without any pills anymore. So I decided to go to bed that night pills free.
Then a miracle happened: I fell asleep, in a relatively short time. I was not even struggling to try to sleep at all. I just quietly lie there and was aware of my resting mode. And just be there, recognizing the calm relaxing clear-minded state my mind and body was in.
One night of success certainly did not guarantee another night of it. But I was not going to give up on that hope. So I tried it again, sleeping without medication. And it worked, encore!
Ever since then I fell sound asleep easily, effortlessly. And every single night after that.
I am telling you this “story” of me because I want you to know that there are things that I thought I couldn’t do for the longest time. And eventually I brought myself to face this problem. Although with much difficulty, I did it. I changed my belief and thus behavior about my sleeping problem, which was something I thought I could never solve but I solved it anyway. So, my Students, if I can face this, you can face yours, whatever it is in the way you think about your playing. Just believe, and do it. That’s all I am saying.