As I write this, it is 5:47 AM on a Saturday morning. It is light outside and has been for a while. While I prefer sleeping in a little later, there is something about these longer spring days of earlier sunrises and later sunsets that creates an expanded sense of space and time.
We can learn a thing or two from the skies, from the “lighten-ing” we experience when we look out our window in the morning or talk with a friend on a crimson-lit patio in the evening. We could pack more into our longer days (why), or we can breathe out and enjoy the extra time (why not). We can lighten our eating with the fresh, local foods available now and by drinking more water to hydrate and support our energy. We can detox from social media or from ruminating over the same thoughts we had yesterday and the day before and the day before that. We can dress simply, buy less, and laugh more.
We can say no, letting go of habits, beliefs, or practices that no longer serve us. We can say yes, opening up to FFNR (fun for no reason) and to things we used to enjoy but for too long have relegated to the back burner. We can remember that our role as a choral professional does not equal our identity nor does it mean we need to be “on” 24/7, in business task mode even with our family and friends. We can take a yoga class (or two or three) and experience the lightness of body, mind, and spirit that comes from the practice and its application to the rest of our life.
Lighten-ing is not always easy or intuitive. Challenges, hardships, and tragedies are real parts of our lives. All of us, to varying degrees, carry burdens that make it difficult to feel a lightness of spirit. But if we can make even a small change in our body or find a hint of gratitude, we can take some weight off our shoulders; we can be lighter, even if just for a moment. This is not “making light” of serious challenges, but rather, allows us space and time to increase our understanding, to feel and see the light that instructs us, guides us, and supports us.
“Do not think of yourself as a small, compressed, suffering thing. Think of yourself as graceful and expanding, no matter how unlikely it may seem at the time. When we lose this lightness, our bodies shrink. The moment the body shrinks, the brain becomes heavy and dull, and you see nothing. The doors of perception are closed.” (B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Life, p.40)
We know the power of light to illuminate our path and we have experienced becoming en-lightened when we understand something for the first time. We strive to recognize our own inner light and that which exists in all living creatures. And when we learn to live light-ly, we release our tight grasp and remove the obstacles that prevent us from fully receiving the everyday riches that lie before us. Lighten-ing restores us. We grow stronger and closer to our core and to the universe at large. It is only from this place of light that we can live and love and serve well.
As I prepare to take a blog break for the summer months, I thank you, colleagues, for all you do for this community of choral professionals and the many singers and audiences that have experienced the song only you can bring forth. The power of love through music is indescribable but its light is real and so much needed.
May you experience the gift of space and time
May you see the light around you, within you, and in others
May you find healing and joy in the unlikeliest of places
May you be, and live, well
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: