We are wrapping up this year—and what a year. It is typical now to look back and to look forward, considering the past and planning for the future. In our current world, the past is revealing on so many levels and the future is still (always) a question mark.
When I began this blog in late June, I started with this mission:
In the same way my book The Conductor as Leader applied foundational leadership principles to our conductor-teacher-leader roles, The Conductor as Yogi blog will explore mindfulness, wellness, inspirational writings, and classic yoga philosophy and practice to encourage readers towards greater wholeness in their professional and personal lives.
The Conductor as Yogi is an authentic, conversational approach to finding one’s personal voice amid a sea of chatter and to letting that voice speak in the practice of life.
As I look back, I believe I have stayed on mission and I thank those of you who have written to tell me how a particular post impacted you in some way. I tried to write with a real person in mind and to situate the topic in the context of our current musical lives and larger world. As we go forward into the new year, I will continue to seek a balance between feet on the ground and in the rehearsal room, and heart towards the sky, looking to hope, possibility, new ideas, and joy.
As we experience this End and this Beginning, I share a Metta (“loving kindness”) meditation, something you can say anytime for you and for your singers and for the wider world. In yoga classes, sounding “om” (the primordial sound) three times has a unique significance in that the first “om” is focused on you; the second, on the class around you; and the final, on the world at large. In the same way, a Metta meditation starts with “I” but then expands to “you” and finally, to “all.” This focused awareness of others—in particular, others who we may have neutral or even negative feelings towards—helps us extend good will in ways we might not normally choose to do. This is an important step in seeing others as equally human and the only way we can all move forward to something better.
This Metta meditation can be a calming device for us as we go through the day, a kind of prayerful meditation, a mantra during a run, or a grace said before a meal (even one shared via Zoom). You can substitute the words in ways that speak to you, but the simple form remains. I suggest (as my very first yoga teacher, Bridgit, always taught us) that you experience these words as though they have already happened. Then release them, non-grasping, and with assurance.
May I be well. May I be at peace. May I experience clarity. May I know joy.
May you be well. May you be at peace. May you experience clarity. May you know joy.
May all be well. May all be at peace. May all experience clarity. May all know joy.
My very best to you this season. See you in the new, most promising year ahead!
Dr. Ramona Wis is the Mimi Rolland Endowed Professor in the Fine Arts, Professor of Music, and Director of Choral Activities at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois and the author of The Conductor as Leader: Principles of Leadership Applied to Life on the Podium. Dr. Wis is a 500-hour CYT (Certified Yoga Teacher) with training in yoga history, philosophy, meditation, energetics, pranayama (breath work), anatomy, Sanskrit, and the teaching, sequencing, and adaptations of asana (posture-based) practice. Reach her at:
Check out these resources from Greater Good in Action: Science-based Practices for a Meaningful Life:
Teaching children to share good will in 5 minutes a day:
Or an expanded Metta script: