The secret of letting go

Most of us have had the experience of hearing a friend or teacher say “It’s easy, you just have to let go!”. As if it were so easy. If you’ve had that experience, than you are probably familiar with the consequent anger and frustration, and maybe with a defiant answer like “It’s not that easy!” or “But I do want to let go!”. The truth of the story is, we really do not know how to let go. We also don’t know what part of us is holding on.

The sea of life: Are we getting stressed because we try to hold on to a specific wave?

Why should we let go?

There are many life situations in which holding on and resisting are the source of suffering. As a performer, we may get stuck when practicing and practicing in order to get something “just right”, or it may happen during an audition, when our body tenses up and blocks us from getting even close to what we can normally do, or we may carry an old grudge or fear or the inability to forgive our family into our relationship with the audience – and all just because we cannot let go! The past is the past, there’s nothing to be done about it now…. if it just were that easy.

We sense that we are holding on to something because an experience keeps repeating, or because of tension in the body or physical reactions, or because of emotions that keep coming back to us. But we actually hold on to nothing but – an idea. The idea that the audition has to go in a certain way, that we have been hurt and suffer because of our past, that we are not adequate, that we have to control things, that we need a job in order to survive, that we need a partner in order to be happy, that we have to make sure that a certain fear does not become real…. I could go on forever. The ideas that we hold on to are expectations, wishes and desires, and on the other hand, the avoidance of suffering. And now stop for a minute: What are ideas that you cannot let go of?

So, holding on has to do with wanting a certain experience, and rejecting another. That is our mental pattern: We only want the “positive” experiences as success, joy, relaxation, and reject the “negative ones”, such as anxiety, the inability to breath, or not reaching our goals. IT’s too bad that many times, by rejecting something, we actually create just that experience, we give it our energy, and it gets power over us.

Why is it so difficult?

It is hard to let go of those ideas because they have a lot to do with who we are – our sense of self. They reflect what we want out of life and who we want to be, and thus lead us right into the distress of being one thing and wanting to be another. Holding on to “negative” ideas also has a certain kind of comfort: Having had a hard childhood may not be nice, but it is familiar and that is who we believe to be. Believing that we are never good enough may not be helpful, but it is how we have always functioned. We may experience it as hard to let go, because “Who are we, when we are not, what we are used to?” Who would you be if you were not fighting your experience in the audition, trying to be better than what you perceive? Who would you be or become, if it were ok to just be as you are? Who would you be if you let go of wanting to control, if you surrendered to the fact that maybe you will fail? Probably, all these questions bring up your resistance and you mind is now saying, “no, I cannot let go of controling and fighting, because else (…).”

Basic fears, Control and Security

Behind all of the things we “cannot let go of” are a few basic fears, the fear of being separated, dying, being poor and suffering, being alone, not being worthy. So we need to hold on to our illusion of control, to the idea, that we can influence everything that is happening, and that with enough effort, we can be what we want to be and reach our goal. So as long as we can think that we are in control, we experience a sense of security. Many times that gets us into situations where we have to keep doing – even if it’s doing the same thing that didn’t work before, over and over again. And then we get frustrated and stressed and exhausted, and finally may feel the need to let go, to step out of the pattern.

And what’s the best way to get over a fear? To stop resisting it, to feel it, to allow it to be… and to recognize that fear is never real, it is only a projection about the past or the future.

The Sea of Life: Staying on the Crest of the Wave

If life is the sea, then letting go of control and letting go of an idea means staying on the crest of a wave. It means not giving your attention to the past, and what you have lost, and how unfair something was, or to how things have to go badly NOW because they did in the past. It also means, not obsessing with the future and what you want it to be, nor with what you don’t want it to be. There is no use getting stuck on the idea that a certain audition is really important, because it may open the door for you that leads into the world you want to live in. There is no use worrying about future failure or filling your mind with the obsessive thought of HAVING TO MAKE IT. The other day, I found a great quote about this from Paulo Cuelho:

Don’t expect your genius to be discovered; do what you must do because it gives you joy. Don’t expect your love to be accepted. Love because it justifies your life.

Doesn’t that mean: Go to the audition, because it is what you have to do. It is your life, the way you have chosen for yourself. Sing or play because it is what you love to do, no matter, what anyone will think about it.

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So staying at the crest of the wave it is really about being in the moment, and accepting, or even loving ANY experience you may encounter. The secret for letting go is accepting the chance of suffering, or of experiencing something that you may not want. That is what makes you free. Being willing to feel something that you have previously discarded as “negative” is what makes you free. When you “own your weakness”, than you are not vulnerable. When you accept yourself even in the moment of not being perfect, then there is nothing to fight, nothing to control, and nothing remains for you to let go of. And that’s when good things can come to you easily, when life is positive, when you can be perfectly at peace.

 

 

Relationship with the audience: Who am I, lover or beloved?

Being in the flow and experiencing the love of your audience is an intense and beautiful experience that allows you to be all you can be.

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It is the best experience: You can feel the tension and intensity. People are looking at you with all their attention. You can feel how they go along. They laugh and get serious just in the right moments, as if they felt what you are feeling. They seem to like you. You are sharing an intensive experience with this group, and the energy lifts you up – it’s as if they were saying “We love you, this is great what you are doing, we are so grateful, give us more!” That’s how easy it should be, that’s how you can be best you can be.
Feeling so loved and accepted when you perform on stage can be an incredibly intense experience. This experience can be so overwhelming that for many performers, it is the reason to keep going in this career despite all odds.

Feeling so loved and accepted when you perform on stage can be an incredibly intense experience. This experience can be so overwhelming that for many performers, it is the reason to keep going in this career despite all odds.

The audition situation

Have you experienced this kind of “flow” in an audition yet? Many people have not. In fact, for many performers, a situation in which they are judged or their skills are evaluated, is a completely different if not contrary experience. The jury is not looking at you, in the best case they are neutral. They make notes or critical facial expressions or seem to not pay attention. So the performer feels rejected, disrespected or not appreciated, and so there is only one thing to do: Protect yourself. Do the best you can without caring about the audience.  Stay in your own space; try to not let them affect you.

Conditions for a great effect on the audience

Today we will not talk about the perceptive filters and how we have the tendency to perceive what we expect – so when we expect rejection, we will most likely perceive that people are not interested, negative or disrespectful.
Instead, we will look at the energy aspect of the relationship, and how you can influence it through your own intention. But first let’s make one step back and look at the context of this particular aspect.
For actually moving your audience, you need to fulfill 3 conditions:
  • You have to have a high energy on stage. Practically that means that you have to connect with what you love, and enjoy it, rather than get stuck in fears or worries or feelings of impotence or not being good enough.
  • You have to concentrate on the content of what you are projecting, actually feel the emotions, connect them with yourself, and project them into the room.
  • You have to have a positive relationship to the audience and the intention to perform for them, experience with them, enjoy with them.
In a way, your relationship with the audience is like a gateway. You produce all this light, energy, and intensity on stage, and if this gate is open (=positive), you send it out and your audience can feel it.

The relationship with the audience

The relationship with the audience (or jury) actually reflects in the emotions you have towards them, consciously or subconsciously. And different emotions have different levels of energy. Shame, worthlessness and guilt are the states with less energy, followed by apathy, sadness, fear and desire, and then by anger and pride. All of these emotions reflect negative energies and have one effect: They cut down the positive effect and intensity of what you are sending out and projecting! They make people perceive you in a more negative way, and they block you from reaching them emotionally, no matter how much you love what you are doing and how deeply you feel what you sing about.
As your relationship to the audience becomes more positive, the energy gets higher: Courage, neutrality, willingness or acceptance are the next steps up the ladder, followed by a rational and reasonable attitude and – who would have thought it – topped by love and unconditional love.
So, how can you know that your relationship with the audience is positive?
  • If you feel free to look at and be in contact with the audience without negative thoughts coming up. You don’t get feelings of needing more space or distance.
  • You want them to be there, and you enjoy performing for them.
  • You don’t worry about them.
  • You don’t have negative thoughts or judgments about them.

It’ a circle: You reap what you sow.

Your relationship with the audience is a circle. Where does it start? Where does the love or acceptance come from?

Where does the love or positivity come from?

Like in any relationship, we all just want to feel loved. Both parties start the relationship expecting a lot of positive response from the other side. And it only get’s difficult, when this positivity does not come, when the other part is neutral or even critical. Because then, we start blaming each other.
Our natural response to any kind of emotion or energy is reciprocity. When someone yells at us, we yell back. When someone attacks us, we defend ourselves or attack back. When someone complements us, we return the compliment. When someone loves us, we love them back.
With the audience it’s the same. We send out a certain energy, and they receive it and send it back.  Or looked at it the other way around: When they sit there all smiling and positive, we feel great on stage and are able to give our best. When they sit there without looking at us, writing, with a critical look, or yawning, we usually take it personal and feel rejected – and that brings up all our mechanisms for protecting ourselves. And those usually lead to withdrawal from the relationship, avoiding the audience, concentrating only on us and our experience.
So it’s a circle. We return what we get, and we get what we send out. But where’s the beginning of this circle?

“I get love (and need it!)” vs. “I am loving”

The audience loves me. (Or not?!) That’s the usual way we look at this. The performer wants to feel love and acceptance.  That’s when he or she can show their best.  And if it is not “provided”, our perception quickly tells us that “we couldn’t do any better because of the outside conditions, the negative atmosphere, etc”.
But a circle is a circle. And it does not have an end or a beginning. So we could actually choose in our mind to perceive the beginning where we can control it, in ourselves. What do you think about that? Then we would have a completely different mission on stage: “I am loving, I am the one who loves”.
Of course this is not easy. How can we be positive and loving when we feel we’re rejected or not acknowledged?

A first step and the tool of intention

The first step is becoming conscious. Reflecting on your relationship with your audience. Recognizing when you avoid them or protect yourself, and how you do that. When you become conscious of these patterns, then you have a chance to work on them and search for a way change.
Many times, the relationship with the audience reflects lots of old experiences of rejection and being judged, and the way to improve it is to release these old emotions from your system. But there is something you can do alone, and right away: Use the powerful tool of intention.
When you formulate an intention about yourself and the audience, you help your subconscious to work for you in that direction.  It’s important that you formulate it positively, and that it makes you feel good even thinking it.
  • “I am enjoying this music with you”
  • “I am taking you on an emotional journey”
  • “We are connected in music”
  • “I share what I love with you”

…are some positive intentions. They create a “we”, express a purpose, and open you up to the audience. It is best to avoid any formulation that creates pressure within you or includes a hidden judgment, such as “I am giving/ showing you my best”.

So before you even connect with your role or your music, you use the time to connect with your audience. This may be as you walk onto the stage, or just before. You send them your positive intention, and you can visualize being one with them… Just try it, and observe the effects!
As you see, this has become a long blog, and there is always so much more to say! Please share some of your old or new positive intentions or your experiences with this tool below this blog, and as always, I’ll love to answer any upcoming questions.
I wish you many joyful and uplifting performances!

Voice gone – what now?

You can set your alarm clock to it. Whenever you have a recording, audition, or an important performance coming up, your body refuses to “work”. Your voice gets hoarse, your back gets tense, you get a cold or headaches, or pain – probably in the most important part of your body. Many violinists or pianists keep getting tendonitis just when they really don’t need it, or singers and actors fall silent with no chance of recovery before the big day. Some of you may know the repeated same symptoms, others may experience physical trouble when they are passing through a emotionally difficult time in their lives.

Sick on the day of an important performance? Maybe there is more to it than just physical reasons?

 

The quick fix

If you go to see a doctor, it’s most likely that you end up with a nice latin name for what’s going on, and with some packages of drugs that are meant to “cure” the symptoms. In many cases, what they really do is prevent the symptoms from happening, until your body has gone through the healing process. And it’s not rare that we hear from our doctor that what we have to do is wait. A cold for example needs its time to take its run, as my grandmother used to say, 3 days to come, 3 to stay, 3 to go… But most of the time you don’t have those 9 days, and it is very annoying, at least. Many of you will agree that a professional performer is characterized by stability and reliability, being able to perform well under all circumstances. So if your body fails you, it is not just a disease, but really gets to your value and self-worth as a singer, actor or musician.

What if there’s more to it?

If you keep getting the same physical problems repeatedly, or if they just don’t go away, even though all the medical reasoning is saying they should, you are faced with the question whether there is something more. Is it psycho-somatic? In other words, does the body express a problem that has its origin in the psyche? This question alone usually leaves us feeling powerless, exhausted and scared, because we really don’t know how to “repair” a psychic problem. Some may even try the same old way, find a pill to fix it. And most of us just don’t know how to handle it. In the traditional world-view, psychology is something odd, something for people with problems (and who likes to admit they have one!). It is a very scary and negative idea to even consider to get help from a psychologist. We don’t want the label “crazy”, “weak” or “lost”. On the other hand, you may have had experiences with a traditional psychological approach, and they may have made you believe that just talking about the emotions and all really doesn’t change the problem.

Body-mind-emotion

Some ancient and some more modern approaches do look at the whole – the connection between your body, mind and emotions. It is my experience that you can never work on one level without affecting the others. When you do sports, it makes you feel positive. When you have a positive day, you have more energy to do you running routine. And when you have a positive mindset and positive expectations, you are able to exceed both physically and mentally. That is why professional sportsmen work with mental trainers, why loosing weight is easier with a support group, and why most successful people have a positive view of themselves.

An approach to psychological-physical problems

So, if we take this for true, that body, mind and emotions are connected, what does this mean when the body is sick. Ex-psychiatrist and spiritual teacher David R. Hawkins writes in his book “Healing and Recovery”: “What we hold in mind, tends to manifest.” He explains, that any disease has two basic sources: A set of beliefs that we hold to be true that facilitate this physical manifestation, and the negative energy of guilt or other negative emotions that energize or nourish them and give them power. There are studies that people who don’t believe that a certain virus affects them, don’t get ill, even though they have the same likelihood of contracting it as people who are really scared of getting sick. Also, many people with serious diseases have a tendency to feel lots of negative emotions such as guilt, shame, hatred or powerlessness. We don’t have to answer the question, what was first, the negative emotion or the disease. At the very least, negative emotions and disease come together.

 

Find balance in your life - you health depends on your body, mind and emotions.

Discover negative beliefs and release negative emotions

So the answer to your physical problem may not be as immediate as a pill, but surely more thorough: You have to find and change all you negative beliefs that have to do with the symptom, and once you embark on a process and trust your instinct, you will be surprised what may come up! Here are just some examples or beliefs that may foster your physical problems.

  • I am not good enough.
  • I don’t deserve success.
  • People don’t like me.
  • I am prone to having a cold.
  • My voice always gets sick when I have important concerts.
  • When I’m sick, I get attention.
  • I’m scared that I may fail.
  • I cannot handle …
  • It is difficult to…

Needless to say, your personal beliefs can be very specific and seemingly completely unrelated with the physical problem. Sometimes it is about a conflict with a certain person. Or a conflict within yourself. Sometimes it is about being scared of being healthy, because then you don`t have an excuse. Sometimes it is about needing love from other people, and when you cannot get it and cannot give it to yourself, that disconnects you from your voice and your music.

Another approach is looking at the negative emotions that come up when you concentrate on the symptom. You just give it all your attention and see what you feel. Maybe anger, maybe frustration, maybe fear… So what you need to do is release and solve these emotions. And the easiest and most effective way to do that is with the body-energetic methods, Body Code or Emotional Freedom Technique. It is easier with some support, but EFT is fairly easy to learn, and a combination of both methods will bring you wellbeing much faster than you think. So, the least that you reach when doing this kind of work, is that you will feel good about yourself as a person and performer, and that you will handle your physical issue with more calmness and trust. But in many cases you will experience physical changes of your symptoms, faster healing processes, or a recovery where no medicine could make any change.

If you want to read about how this works, I recommend “The Emotion Code” by Bradley Nelson. It is easy to read, with many examples and illustrating this energetic work in a very interesting and mind-blowing way.

A first step today

Why am I writing about this? I just want to make you conscious that you are not a victim of your body’s function. If you get sick, there is always an issue to solve, sometimes several. So you basically have 2 choices: Feel bad, angry, guilty, shameful, powerless or despair, and wait, trying to fix your body, but with the risk of these problems coming up again or in a even more serious way. Or you can accept the responsibility of doing something to make yourself healthy. You can accept that your thinking and feeling effect your physical being.

If you are familiar with the Emotional Freedom Technique or would like to get an idea about it, here is a link to an audio about how to work with pain. Once you get the general idea, you can easily adapt it to different physical problems.

So what’s the first step if your voice is gone and you have to cancel an important performance? As it is all about moving into a more positive space, feeling more positive and thinking more positive, the first step is to let go of you anger, frustration or other emotional reactions about this happening – by accepting this situation as a great chance to grow and improve. Your body is telling you something, you get the chance to listen!

I would love to hear your thoughts and reflections about this. Please feel free to get in touch and discuss whatever is on your mind!

 

Singing Is a Game to Enjoy! – A Growth Story

I always try to explain how the Shine on Stage process can work for you. But I couldn’t do that any better than someone who actually went through the process. Today, singer and voice teacher Veronika Madler (Cologne) shares her personal Shine on Stage experience and gives you a personal and profound impression of her process of growth. It’s all about showing her full potential on stage, about handling negative beliefs and emotions. Thank you Veronika, and my readers, enjoy!

„Through working with Shine on Stage I feel so much lighter. Much happier, too. I think I treat myself better.“


Singer and voice teacher Veronka Madler (Cologne) talks about her personal learning process with stage fright, self-esteem and control on stage.

It’s been eleven years that I have known Katharina from university times in Wuerzburg. Since then, we are companions. But it wasn’t until last November when I started working with her.

At that time I found myself on a very good path with my voice. Yet in decisive situations like auditions or different kinds of situations of appraisal in life, I felt bare and felt how my neck, my muscles, and my jaw became tense, and it was not possible to reliably access my skills and the results of my work. It had become somewhat like a torture to sing in front of people. I was in a crisis. During the last few years I had developed my technique and come a long way, but I simply wasn’t able to change such crucial parts as my negative beliefs and thoughts, the suddenly appearing and overwhelming emotions, and the background reasons why things wouldn’t work properly. I could not even recognize that the origin of my obstacles was on that level. I had always hoped that the knot would work itself out by technical know-how with the voice. Well, that was obviously wrong.

I was fed up with everything in life being difficult and hard. Auditioning had become a horrifying scenario for me and I avoided it like the plague. In consequence, I make my living teaching. But my dream to be on stage was still alive. Finally, I came to the decision to set a deadline and to give myself two more years in order to succeed in my profession as a singer.

We had worked on releasing emotions with the Bodycode already in the summer of 2009, and I definitely was aware of how different and good I felt afterwards. But it wasn’t before November 2010 after an audition that I was tired of sorrow and suffering that I decided to look for help.

Katharina very much encouraged me to do this work and I realized quickly that it means to work on different levels. In my great desperation, my faith in my innermost potentials was almost completely gone. At first, Katharina taught me to use the EFT, the tapping technique. I’ve learnt very quickly how to use it by myself. Within only a few weeks, I really started appreciating this technique and I sat there tapping for hours, as if I was meditating.

I have also learned and quickly used the technique to dissolve belief patterns and other methods. Little by little, I learned to empathize more with myself. Thus I became aware not only of emotions and beliefs, but also of the body symptoms connected with them. The techniques turned out to be the perfect methods to get rid of these pains and tensions, and I could use them like signals, helping me to access deeper layers of myself. This may sound mysterious but works perfectly as long as I keep engaged in sensing. And sensing is something not really devious for a singer. Thus, I have simply developed my long existing potentials.

I have just participated in one of Katharina’s two-day courses on these techniques. As I didn’t come from the same surroundings as the other participants and as I was older than most of them, I had the chance to take a very interesting position: I became an observer. I’ve been working with Katharina’s techniques intensely for five months and therefore I knew well what was important. It was extremely interesting to see which stage people were at and what their processes were, and how they dealt with the information they got.

The method of anchoring was a great discovery I made in this workshop. I think a year ago I would not have had the right inner focus to really use this method, but today I am convinced that it is a great help for getting into the performance and being more present on stage.

When you first start dealing with the topics causing the jitters in auditions or stage fright it is extremely difficult to admit that you have shortcomings. You try very hard to convince yourself: “I have all these things under control.” You have to remain sovereign on stage and you think that control is the best way to do that. That is also what we learn in the conservatories because hardly anyone dares to access the true authenticity of being, which is actually the only true key to bringing real emotions onto the stage. We can reach such beautiful emotional experiences, at first in ourselves and then moving the audience, when we truly admit to ourselves who and what we are, and that we all sit in one boat, and that we all want the same thing: to experience beauty. That’s when we can learn to live the music with humility. That is what it is all about for me. When I am humble I can reach the people. That doesn’t mean to be frightened but it means to know the truth about the core of the music. Today, it is my opinion that this should be the actual job of the conservatories. But we are so much entangled in our everyday problems that it is so difficult to let go of them. The problem can be totally obvious but we still hold on to control. We haven’t learned it differently and are also often caught up in collective patterns. It has brought a great relief to my life to recognize this.

Experiencing several of Katharina’s techniques makes it much easier for me to say: „Oh, I see, this is the thing to look at now and to work with.“ For example sensing shame and admitting it to myself. And I had huge issues with my voice. In my crisis I experienced my voice totally dissociated from myself. That basically means that I didn’t have it under control at all. And it really did whatever it wanted. I always wanted something different than my voice and then tried to force it to go my way. Probably this process had to happen so that I could find myself in the desperate situation that forced me to look at the causes and at that which lies behind them. It was and still is a great alleviation to recognize that and to suppress it no longer as it is simply so very normal. It isn’t a shame to feel ashamed, to make mistakes, to carry blame, etc. I have learned that we accumulate so much in our lives, which does not only evolve from ourselves but also in resonance with our surroundings, our upbringing, etc. When I have the chance now to recognize that it isn’t my luggage that I carry but my grandma’s and that I realize that I have the possibility to give it back to her, that makes me so happy and I simply do so. We don’t have to carry all that stuff around with us. That is so good and releaving!

Today, I feel that success evolves from all this transformation. And I know that all the work on becoming conscious will manifest itself in external success. I have become aware that I have dissolved many very straining issues. But I also know very clearly that there are always new things emerging. It simply is a fact that life is permanent change. It seems that one has to keep clearing emotional blockades, again and again. This process can take a long time. But at some point it is the time to take a clear decision, and in order to do so one has to let go of control. I have experienced that letting go of control is the most difficult learning process. And it is therefore that I think it is so great that these methods allow me to let things run at my speed. I have the chance to become aware of them at first, then I feel them and then I know that I can let them go or rather want to let them go, because mostly I feel things very heavily. Thus one light bulb moment hunts another one and I noticeably free myself until I can breathe again.

Now, I find myself in a good spot heading the right way with my voice, my technique and my personality. I have become conscious of the fact that a large part in me works in patterns. All the way through my life my world view is formed through beliefs. I have learned Katharina’s techniques and they enable me to dissolve these patterns step by step as they enter my consciousness. This emotional realization happens, thank God, on a mental as well as on a physical level. I have recognized that this is what learning means to me and I am inexplicably thankful for that.

With the knowledge that I can also completely let go of the control in the auditioning situation, use the anchoring technique, tap on all the nervous symptoms beforehand in order to become calm, and a lot more, I face the future with serenity. I am looking forward to soon have the occasion of standing in front of my audience and the jury and to let the music flow freely to them. I am looking forward to enjoying the expressiveness in the pieces that I sing and to shining on stage.

But there is still something fighting within me: I know exactly what I want to express but I don’t necessarily manage to get there as I still slide into technical control. There are surely still some beliefs that emerge. And it is these beliefs that demand my attention now. They seem to say: “Look at me! It is I you have to deal with now.“

I think that I’ve learned to feel and sense things so well, that I will also feel when it’s the right moment for me to make the step to auditioning for the next agency.

It has been absolutely exciting for me to observe what happens if I don’t put myself under such great pressure. The number of my singing students increases and it seems good like that. They keep becoming younger, that is also fine. Because the younger they are, the more playful is singing with them.

That is supposedly what I have the chance to learn again: that singing is a game that makes me and others happy! I am simply thankful for that.

Who am I, a failure or a performer?

The motivation to build a career and be a good performer has its ups and downs and is linked to your identity, the way you perceive yourself. Are you a great performer living his or her dream, or do you feel like a failure? In many cases, motivation depends to a large extend on the feedback you get. So the question is: When you don’t have a contract, work in something else to make a living, or the feedback you get is negative, how can you still know that you are the performer, that you live your dream, and that you are not a failure?

Performing is identity

All the stage professions have one thing in common – what you do is extremely personal. It is not just a product you are developing, but you are the product. The music or the role you enact form such a personal, deep part of you, that there is not other way than this being personal. And if it’s not personal, it’s boring. As performing is so personal, it really has to do with your identity. And identity is nothing but a set of deeply rooted beliefs about yourself and the way you are. When you perform and are successful on stage, it is easy to feel “I am a great singer who has something to say” or “I am the actor creating intense experiences” or “I am the musician who lives and transmits the music and its meaning”.

Positive identity brings motivation

When you are connected with your positive identity, motivation comes by itself and gets you going towards living your dream. Unfortunately, we don’t only have a positive identity, but parts of ourselves are full of doubts and limitations, such as “I am not good enough”, “I am a failure”, “I am the one who always has to fight for everything”. As we’ve discussed before, these kinds of deeply rooted beliefs have a strong impact on the reality we experience. They can drag down or raise your energy, make you feel hopeless or powerful, influence your relationships and the chances you get and use.

Our natural state is being motivated, happy, relaxed, at peace and fulfilled, and to feel one with your identity, to live your dream. All the doubts and negative emotions block us from accessing this natural state of resources and energy, and the work with Shine on Stage often focuses on removing these obstacles so that you can reconnect with your natural state of power, motivation and happiness. When you connect with these resources, you can move your audience and have an incredible impact, because you can focus your actions and the energy you project on your message, instead of trying to protect yourself, make yourself appear in a certain way or to impress your audience.

Motivation ups and downs: Doing vs. Being

The really hard thing in your job is to stay motivated when you don’t get any praise or recognition from the outside and when you are not doingwhat you want to do. We are so focused on what we do that it is hard tobe something that we don’t do at the moment. So the question is: How can I be the singer, when I am not on stage? How can I be the actor, when nobody knows me or applauds me? How can I be the musician when all I do is teach? How can I be what I am when I am not doing it?

Keep your dream alive

So this is all about keeping your dream alive when you feel bad, worn out, exhausted, worried or disappointed. It is about remembering who you are in a consistent manner. Here are some ideas how you can help yourself to do it:

  • Formulate your identity as a performer and who you are in your dream in just two sentences, and stick a note on your mirror.
  • Take some time to feel the negative emotions that make you feel that you are a failure. If you stop resisting them, they will eventually disappear and leave you feeling positive about yourself and your situation. Feeling the negative (instead of thinking about it and avoiding it) is a way of getting back into your natural positive state.
  • Be creative: Find new ways to give room to your performer in your daily live, even when you are not performing. The identity of a performer does not necessarily depend on the success on stage, but also on just doing the “creative thing” and “finding room for expression”. Performing is about expressing, and there are many ways to express yourself. Maybe a performance for your friends and neighbors? Maybe an hour of creative time a day? Maybe studying new pieces, or doing a new course? Maybe painting or writing? Or some exchange with other people in your profession, working together?
  • Make a collage of photos of yourself on stage to remind you of positive moments and successes.
  • Do some tapping on positive phrases that remind you of who you really are. Here are some examples:
  1. I am a singer/actor/performer from the bottom of my heart.
  2. I love playing on stage.
  3. I am fully myself on and off stage.
  4. My purpose is to … (e.g. connect people with music).
  5. My dream unfolds at every moment.

Please let me know how you keep your dream alive, and how you manage to be the performer, even when you’re not performing or you’re without positive feedback!

 

What you resist, persists – The Simplest Way to Disappear your Fears and Pressure

“When I have to function in front of other people in rehearsals, auditions or performances there is really nothing I can do about my bad feelings and inner reactions.” Is that your experience?

The other day I talked to a client about all the pressure fears and judgments he felt during his auditions, and sometimes even during rehearsals and performances. He said, that when other people are around, he didn’t feel free to do any tapping, or apply other techniques, and that he cannot be doing interior work when he has to “function” to the outside. That reminded me of one of the most important and simple basics: Your attitude about your own negative emotions. It’s a powerful tool, once you are conscious of different attitudes you have and are willing to alter them. We work with so many methods and trying different things that sometimes we forget the most basic and simple things, so I am dedicating this blog to reminding you about the simple way of dealing with negative emotions and blockages.

Typical attitudes about negative emotions on stage

Most performers know these attitudes, thoughts and approaches to their own fears and blockages:

“I must not be nervous.”

“Nobody must notice how insecure I am.”

“I have to ignore my fear and pretend it’s not there, so others won’t notice it.”

“I have to keep going DESPITE of this blockage”

“I must not feel as I do because it keeps me from showing what I can.”

“I must bear this unwanted feeling.”

“I have no control over this fear/pressure.”

As you may notice, what all of these approaches have one thing in common – the attitude or belief that “negative emotions are undesirable”, the attitude of fighting them, trying to make them go away. Too bad that all of these thoughts don’t represent a fight against something outside of you, but they embody a fight against a part of yourself. And it’s too bad that, whenever we fight ourselves, we become weaker and less self-assured and more insecure. Another negative side effect of fighting your own “negative” and “weak” side is that the intent of shutting off the negative emotions shuts of your whole emotionality and thereby reduces your expressive power to a minimum. There is no way we can selectively shut down certain emotions. Instead, we shut down our ability to feel and connect with ourselves, and with others.

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Tap your way to a successful audition


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Most of my clients have trouble showing their real potential and all they are able to do on stage when they have to audition or when the audition is especially important. It seems that’s when we fall back into the old patterns, self-doubts, self-sabotage, and insecurities.

You may know that I work with several techniques to change these mental patterns and their emotional and physical „companions“, mainly releasing the emotional pressure and energy or changing limiting beliefs. In my workshops and in the one-on-one session i teach my clients a tool that they can use to work on these negative symptoms as they occur. One of these techniques is called Emotional Freedom Technique, and it basically dissolves emotions, physical symptoms and negative mental patterns by restoring the energy balance in the body. We do that by tapping some points on the body, as you would use in acupuncture, but without needles. I am not going into the routine and why we do the things we do… for those of you who don’t know the technique yet, you can check out the following resources.

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Schubertiade 2010 – A wonderful Masterclass

We had such a great time and did such good work at the Schubertiade in Schwarzenberg! With the singer Thomas Quasthoff and the pianist Justus Zeyen, we worked with 7 singers and their pianists. It was a great joy to watch them learn and put into practice what they discovered for themselves, every day more. Here are Justus and I with the group of young musicians who participated:

Shine on Stage - Masterclass with Thomas Quasthoff: The participants in the festival Schubertiade 2010 in Schwarzenberg. From left to right: Andrea Marie Baiocchi, Manuel Walser, Hisako Yoshikawa, Akemi Murakami, Jakob Ahles, Laura Faig, Justus Zeyen, Anano Gokieli, Klara Hornig, Nora Lentner, Katharina Seidler, Thomas Stimmel, Konno Kenichi

The idea for this masterclass came up a couple years ago, when Thomas Quasthoff and I discovered that we have a common understanding and concepts when we speak about performing and the art of music. Since then, it has been clear to me that my work and the psychologic approach are the perfect enhancement and support function for his teachings. It is a deep truth for me that music – or any performance for that matter – reaches and deeply touches the audience, when energy and emotions are projected to the audience. And artists are able to project emotions, when they are completely in peace with themselves, when there is no side of themselves that they want to hide, and when they are free to be anything they want to be on stage. Thomas is one of the masters of this kind of projection, and as in many great artists, his skills largely function on a subconscious level. So my challenge was to identify them, to analyze them, and to transform the results into methods and learning steps.

I had a 1-day workshop with the singers on Sunday, and then the public Masterclass with Thomas took place every morning, with an incredibly faithful and supportive and interested audience. From the first moment, the singers built a positive and supportive group of peers, and their openness in the group was one of the factors for success. I could show them all the possibilities and approaches the psychology offers, give them an overview and the possibility to reflect themselves and their issues. On that basis, throughout the week, they got individual support in individual sessions with me, as well as through feedback after their public performances. I am still so happy to have been able to pick up on what I saw them do on stage, and to be able to add some support in actually doing the steps Thomas challenged them to take.

It is amazing what you can see as an audience, when you experience a performance:

* Who is the guy singing or playing for?

* Is it easy for me to listen? To give my attention? Do I follow with my full attention at all times?

* Is this person free? Is this person open? is this performer nervous? Blocked?

* Does the music reach me? Does it awaken my curiosity? Does it touch me emotionally?

* Who is this person performing for? Do I feel spoken to?

The performer’s posture and physical presence, his or her inner attitude towards the audience and performing, his intention to make music, the audience can perceive all of this. The audience perceives much more than we always think: Partly through a non-conscious physical imitation (“rapport”), partly though mental images, partly through eye contact and the direction of the message the performer gives, partly through non-verbal communication, the audience gets a complete impression of the performer and his message. Part of this impression may stay unconscious. But when you’re asked if you liked it, it surely influences how you feel. If the performer does not open up, is busy thinking about what comes next, or about technical aspects, we as the audience perceive this as a lack of intensity, a lack of tension, or simply as neutral. But in order to stand out in a very competitive world, performers have to give more than neutrality.

The young musicians were trained over days in a step-by-step process, to address and influence these perceptions of the audience intentionally. This is a very challenging task, because it demands them to open up, to look at their own fears and negative emotions, to dare to go further than they have ever gone as a person, and much less in front of an audience.

So, I can only give thanks to this wonderful group of young singers and pianists:

After the final concert: Masterclass with Thomas Quasthoff, Justus Zeyen and Katharina Seidler; Schubertiade 2010

Thank you for opening up, thank you for your trust, your ambition, your quest for learning. Thank you for your creativity and for many moving and unforgettable moments on and off stage!

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A great fun performance: Erin and her Cello

Hello friends of Shine on Stage, today I want to share a great performance with you of a singer and cellist who I “stumbled over” only recently. It shows how the “shining on stage” comes from being very authentic, loving what you do, connecting with your audience, your humor, and all the good things that you have to share… The video really moved me and I am still smiling writing this post, so: ENJOY!

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Dare change! You can do it!

I’ve found this short motivation video and I just love it. It’s especially great for my singer and actor clients, but also just for anyone who faces a challenge. Enjoy it, and have a great day!

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