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Take a Break and Relax - Your guide to taking a mental vacation

When was the last time you took a break from even thinking about singing or your career? Have you ever given yourself permission to take a mental vacation from singing? Even if you have to continue earning a living, you need a break or vacation from living this double life as bread earner and singer. In other words have you ever authorized two weeks of just doing the job that allows you to pursue your singing career without letting even one thought of singing or your career enter your head? Taking this kind of mental vacation should give you lots of extra real time and create space in your head to just be. It’s not as easy as it sounds! Getting out of that grove, that mind set, takes some patience and work on your part.

Giving yourself that kind of mental break will give you the time and space to stop and smell the roses. You might use the time usually spent in research, or practicing to instead go to the movies, bowl, take walks in the park or out in nature, go camping for a weekend, etc. You will be surprised at how much extra time you have on your hands when you take a break like this. You will also notice that when you do get back to pursuing your career, you have a renewed commitment and clearer view of what to do and how to do it. You will feel renewed, recharged and fired up. But only if you can really let go of any thoughts that take you back to wondering if allowing yourself to take this kind of mental break is such a good idea or just letting your mind, your inner “Brat”, take over and start running all the old programs of why this may not be such a good idea. Trying on this type of vacation, will be a great exercise in learning to let go. It will be a challenge and you will find who is really running the mental show.

“If you mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things,
This is the best season of your life. ”
~ Wu-Men

Here are some suggestions to help you step out of your role as singer and take a legitimate, mind free vacation.

  • The very first thing you have to do is make a clear decision that you want to take this step. That means sitting with yourself and discussing all the pros and cons of taking this break. Then you must give yourself permission to do so.
  • Sign an agreement if you have to and put it someplace where you can see it to help remind you of your commitment to this vacation time.
  • After this decision is made, figure out when would be the very best time for you to do so. Make sure you can find someone to cover any and all commitments you have in place for any ongoing gigs, like your church job. (When I say a two week vacation, I mean just that. No singing or thinking about your career.)

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
~ Oscar Wilde

Remember that this vacation may mean still working at the job that keeps you afloat financially. This still gives you the mental break you need to think of nothing but your job and what else you want to do with your extra time and energy.
Don’t waste this precious time. Do something different or out of character for you. If you are in a big city, get a map and start exploring the different areas. Go to an aquarium, the zoo, to galleries or museums, to a baseball game, to the lake or beach, etc. Give yourself a budget for the day and make yourself stick to it. That can be an adventure in and of itself. It’s like some of those food shows where folks eat and drink for a certain dollar amount which can be an interesting challenge. If it is nice weather try to be outdoors enjoying nature doing nothing.
Anything you choose to do with your time shouldn’t cost lots of money. It means you have to let your mind get creative with new subjects or venues. Think outside of the singing box. In fact, you can put the monies you would have spent on singing in a special savings account or somewhere where you won’t spend it and when your vacation is over, you will have some extra cash to take an extra lesson, coaching, class, buy materials, etc.
“Life does not consist mainly—or even largely—of facts and happenings. It consists mainly of the storm of thoughts that is forever blowing through one’s head.”
~ Mark Twain

· Keeping your mind off singing may not be an easy task. However, it can be accomplished if every time you notice you are thinking “in the singing box”, you imagine yourself taking a step out of that box and closing it up, then walk away and look around you to notice what else is there.

“A life without a quiet center easily becomes destructive.”
~ Henri JM Nouwen

· Here is another way to start and end your day that might prove helpful in learning to let go of the tenacious mind set you might experience and believe is necessary to achieve your goals as a singer.

Sit more forward on a chair. Let your feet be flat on the floor and your hands to rest in your lap. Sit up straight, like someone is pulling a string from the crown of your head. Feel your alignment as you close your eyes. Take your time to work through each of the feelings. Feel the feet on the floor – feel the body in the chair – feel the clothing against the skin – feel the air on the hands and face - taste – smell. Now let the listening go out to include all the sounds in the room and beyond. Don’t name anything, just listen. Each time you notice thoughts coming in, just let them float out as little white puffy clouds and return to listening. When you feel completely calm, centered and peaceful open your eyes. Take this calm, centered and peaceful space with you into the world. Think about it during the day and if you find you are falling into your thinking mind again, just for a few moments, close your eyes and listen to the sounds without naming any of them again.

“This is how the entire course of a life can be changed—by doing nothing.”
~ Ian McEwan
As your vacation time comes to a close, whatever you do, do not go back to where you were before. Don’t get caught up in the old boring, mundane way of thinking. Start fresh from where you are now.
Take the time to revisit your goals and how you plan to achieve them. Does that still work for you? You might want to make some changes in the process you were working with before. There might be new and fresh ideas you want to incorporate or explore now. Don’t be afraid to do it.
Often times starting someplace new in our lives, whether mentally or physically makes us anxious, start second guessing, and afraid. If you find that happening to you at the beginning or end of this mental vacation process here is a thought you might want to consider. Here’s the way I see it. We all walk around with a huge donut that fits around us at waist level. Most of the time it stays about an arms length away from us and we don’t even notice it. However, when we start feeling anxious or nervous about whatever, that donut starts moving in and squeezes us way too tight around our middle so it becomes uncomfortable. There is no room left to think and definitely no room the Universe to do its part. When you start to worry or feel anxious, remember to take a deep breath and as you blow it out, watch the donut start to move away from you. Keep up the breathing and blowing out until you feel it is the right distance away from you. You will instinctually know that part. Then know that you have created a place for your partner, the Universe, to do its thing and you can let go of some of the burden keeping an eye out for the opportunities to show up.

“ When you are washing the dishes, washing the dishes must be the most important thing in your life. Just as when you are drinking tea, drinking tea must be the most important thing in your life. Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the whole world revolves—slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment. Only this actual moment is life. ”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Giving yourself permission to take a mental break, a vacation from singing and thinking about your career for two whole weeks will invigorate and stimulate your creative juices so when your vacation is over you are ready to get back to work with a new and fresh perspective of how you want to move forward with your career. These new ideas might surprise and delight you. You might start feeling more balanced within all the different aspects of your life. So, start planning it now.

Drop me a line and let me know if you tried this and how your mental vacation turned out. If you have any subjects you would like to have me take a look at, just email me at: [email protected].

Ciao until next time. Carol

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