The Brain and Momma Bear / by Melanie Ida Chopko

I wrote this for my beginner singing students, and wanted to share it more widely. It's so powerful for me to be reminded of this stuff for my own creative process, as my brain can be "cunning, baffling, and powerful."

When I'm learning something new, my brain has a whole lot of vinegar-lipped opinions to share about the gap between where I am and where I want to be. You're probably familiar with the tone of these thoughts. It's the voice Buddhists call "monkey mind," because It's like a monkey swinging on the trees from worry, doubt and fear. (you'll never get better at this, even putting in tons of time! that person over there is so much better, what's the point? Each of us has our own unique chorus of chatterAnd it shows up when we are stepping outside our comfort zone into stretch zone, learning something new.

It can be exhausting to negotiate or tread water inside of that, so I like to remember what is probably the sole contribution of George Bush - "We don't negotiate with terrorists!". I can chose instead to be Momma Bear in the face of these thoughts of criticism - firmly and clearly waving them away like a fly or maybe even like a traffic cop, refusing to negotiate or spend time there. I can come back instead to my breathing, where my feet are and what brings me joy about the song. Because if I'm here taking a step, it is inevitable that the incredible brain will grow and integrate that new information. It's what we were made to do!

In that sense I really, REALLY like having other sources of information - like this attached musical meditation from Kenny Werner, and also this interview with Elizabeth Gilbert on "Choosing Curiosity Over Fear. " May it be of service!