Amp Up The Childlike Wonder

Finish what you started or drop it like a rock.  Life is about choice and subject to change.   After attending a meditation class last week, I spent the last two days debating my return.  Do I have better things to do with 90 minutes on Sunday? Is it worth the time?  I decided to go back to class and there was a substitute teacher who  made a world of difference. The purpose of meditation is to still mind and be present in the moment i.e. do not let your brain hijack everything with to do lists and anxiety about your appointments on Monday. Given all that happened in class #2, my mind was quite active. When the teacher suggested we deal with thoughts like watching a movie – let them sail on by vs grabbing onto them – I figured putting them on mental post it notes would help me later on.

Today’s class was about awareness of sound, the responses sound evokes, and how to quiet your brain when sound triggers a response.  When the class began, there were a variety of musical instruments on the floor and a feeling of anxiety crept up on me. Alert!  Alert!  Outside the comfort zone!  My first feeling with tambourine in hand was the angst I used to feel before music recitals many years ago.  My first thought as I held the tambourine was, “Will I make a mistake?”  The answer?  NO!  There were no rules except to make it up as we went along.  I imagined what it would be like to play tambourine if I were part of the E Street Band.  Running out of the room was the irrational Plan B.

When the teacher asked the class to approach music and sound with child-like wonder, I realized it can be quite difficult to turn on that skill when you are out of practice. How many adults can just turn on child-like wonder on cue?  I found myself trying to remember what it was like to feel a sense of childlike wonder.  Step 1: Remove the literal, practical adult approach to observation and listening. Step 2: Focus on sounds and vibrations with a sense adventure and curiosity.  It became clear to me that it is far easier  for children to sit in a group and shake  tambourines and bang on drums with reckless abandon. Adults likely have a more fearful response.  Will I look stupid?  Do I have rhythm? Am I sweating? Where are the mimosas?

Do you remember the horrid sound produced when you played the recorder in elementary school? Neither do I.  Creating music was such a wonderful break from grammar lessons and arithmetic.  Squawk on the recorder and forget everything else is how it went.  Children innately know how to enjoy each moment, in my opinion.  Their lives revolve around activities and lessons requiring an open mind, wonder, and creativity. Many adult lives revolve around pragmatic activities, rules, processes and doing things the way others want it done.  (Flip charts and white boards are about as creative as many of us get; though I often leave a doodle on conference room whiteboards if I have the opportunity).   It might benefit executive teams to have advisory boards comprised of young people.  Imagine the logic and creativity youth would bring to problem solving and personnel issues to counterbalance the worry,ego, and stress adults often bring to the table.

It occurred to me the other day that all adults need to keep coloring books handy as a diversion of our adult lives; or any medium of creativity from years ago. Pick up a paint brush or your tinker toys or your clarinet or your crayons. The Google Doodle Contest is the very thing that gave me the idea. Every year Google has a themed contest and K-12 students from all over the U.S. can submit their interpretation of the contest theme inclusive of the Google logo.  This year the theme was “If I could invent one thing to make the world a better place.”  Check it out for some really creative ideas and illustrations.  It is really fascinating what young minds can create.

I often have experiences that leave me asking why I let go of my childlike wonder.  When did it happen and why didn’t anyone tell me to hold onto it?  Generally, it seems children are in a fortunate state of worry-free openness and without the tendency to relate an activity or event to a past life experience. Adults fill up their pockets with life experiences and let the the bad ones encroach up on new experiences.  Spring Cleaning is here!  Clear your clutter! Mental and emotional clutter that is – why am I still living with pre-music recital anxiety at my age with a tambourine in hand, in a meditation class?  Oh, yes – if I make a mistake it will mess up the whole performance even though no one would care!  It would be so much more interesting to pick up a musical instrument and think, “WHOA!  What kind of sound can I create with this!”

What triggers your creativity and sense of wonder?  Figure it out!  You may have to do something you normally would avoid or dismiss (like meditation class?). It will likely help you discover new things about yourself.  If I fail to talk myself out of next week’s meditation class, I can only imagine what might happen to again push me out of my comfort zone.

Thank you for reading this blog!

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