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Mindful : February 2017
Music adds a magical ingredient that helps us transcend our everyday self-centered experience. have to learn the piece. And, how we practice may be critical to learning. Starting with an extreme example, if I practiced scales on my violin, but did so lackadaisically, even playing some notes out of tune, this would be worse than not practicing at all at that time. Why? Because I was learning to play out of tune. Just like bring- ing together the right ingredients for meditation or a cake recipe, the quality of musical practice makes a big difference in whether we will get into flow when performing. If the quality of the practice is good, the odds that the results will also be good increase dramatically. If we practice without paying attention, bad habits slip in more easily. As the famous football coach Vince Lombardi said, “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.” The nice thing about music is that it in itself adds a magical ingredient that helps us transcend our normal everyday experience that centers around ourselves. When we’re playing music for music’s sake, an element can come together where it simply starts singing an uplifting joyful “hallelujah” unto itself. Perfect practice sets us up to flow. As I’ve learned to bring the proper ingredi- ents together, my meditation practice has deep- ened over the years. With this, so has my ability to get into and stay in flow while mountain bik- ing, playing music, and doing other activities. Is it possible that finding the right conditions and practicing them carefully supports our brains in reinforcing the proper neural pathways that support flow? It may be analogous to baking a cake, in which we simply have to add the right ingredients, in the right proportions, and bake them at the right temperature: the cake comes out perfectly every time. ● This article is excerpted and adapted from The Craving Mind: From Cigarettes to Smartphones to Love, Why We Get Addicted and How We Can Heal, by Judson Brewer, from Yale University Press. Copyright © 2017 by Judson Brewer. Excerpted by permission of Yale University Press. All rights reserved. February 2017 mindful 77 AD