The 5 step focus is a powerful meditation helpful to use to cross the bridge to get out of static and into a centered, creative, flow zone; it is PERFECT to use as a precursor for teaching, learning, practicing and creating alone or with students.
I've been using this technique for decades with great success. Some students who've contacted me years later have said that this is one of the most valuable techniques they have in their life tool box, and thank me for teaching it to them.
I like to practice this alone and with students while soaking oboe reeds.
As you might suspect, the 5 step focus has 5 steps:
1) Focus your mind on breathing and posture. (Assume a meditative posture or posture used for wind playing.) Gently close eyes mostly or completely and simply observe breathing - no need to change it yet
2) Continue step 1 and add to your focus everything you can hear.
3) Continue step 2, but improve posture by bellow suggestions, take slower deeper breaths, and notice what you can smell as you inhale.
- elevating the rib cage
- settling down into sitting bones better
- relaxing the muscles around the naval
- relaxing the tongue, and facial muscles
- stretching the top of the spine up and slightly lowering the chin
4) Continue step 3 and add focused heightened awareness to what you choose. For example, I encourage to pay special attention to what happens while transitioning from inhaling to exhaling and vice versa. Another excellent suggestion is to pay attention to the quality of air - such as humidity, temperature. One can zero in on the mental or emotional state of ones being...there are many possibilities.
5) Continue step 4 with fingertips together consciously - pointer to pointer, thumb to thumb and so on, while slowly opening eyes and incorporating sense of eyesight, equal to but not eclipsing other senses.
For practical reasons, it's helpful to practice each step for approximately 45 - 60 seconds each, while soaking a reed at the start of a lesson or practice session. For deep meditative purposes, each step can be practiced as long as you can concentrate fully.
I first practiced this meditation at the ocean (Smith's Point N.Y.) when I was recuperating from having my wisdom teeth removed and couldn't play the oboe. I practiced each step for about 30 minutes. Step 1 was the basic meditation. Step 2 - I was listening to the tide come in up and down the beach and also listening to the birds Step 3 - I was smelling the aroma of the salt air and breathing deeper going into a more relaxed state Step 4 I was feeling the sun on my skin and the grains of sand digging into my skin Step 5 I opened my eyes and beheld a sparkling blue ocean and crashing waves! .... I continued this state of awareness for as long as I could while taking a refreshing swim in the water. Pure BLISS
Over 20 years ago, when I first began using the 5 step focus at the start of lessons, I tested it's effectiveness with a test group of 1/2 my students. The other 1/2 I never did the 5 step focus at the start of a lesson.
The students that did practice the 5 step focus, enjoyed lessons more, retained more and learned more. They also kept studying with me longer. I've found it extremely helpful to use it as it gives students a chance to leave the stress or concerns "noise" of outside the studio and to settle in to a centered, relaxed, focus, absorbent state of consciousness. Creativity flourishes when this is practiced and concentration is significantly improved. Students are also less likely to interrupt and be much better listeners after this practice. I love it and find it refreshing.
My goal is to be in a constant step 5 while being actively engaged in life. I find it helps the quality of my life.
I hope you will enjoy and find this helpful and useful too!
Please note, that I can be a guest teacher, artist in residence, lecturer or coach at private schools, organizations and elsewhere. I'm happy to lead and teach this and other practices.
Wishing all a lovely week with fulfilling creativity,