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Siubhan’s guided meditation have been a huge help for my daughter while preparing for dance competitions! They have helped my daughter remain calm and focused before a competition and while side stage. Before her major competitions she’s listened to her meditations and was able to truly get a good nights sleep!
Competing in Irish Dance requires strong commitment and long hours of work and dedication, so it is understandable to feel deep disappointment when things don’t go well due to injury or a disappointing loss. This level of commitment in performing makes you vulnerable to disappointment that can be a struggle to overcome mentally. In this meditation you will learn to put this one experience into perspective, allowing its impact to diminish so that you can move on and become stronger, more determined, and more resilient.
Very often we find ourselves in a situation where our reaction seems disproportionate to what is currently happening to us. In these situations we aren’t reacting to this one situation alone, we are reacting to the many times in our lives that similar situations have made us feel inadequate or badly about ourselves. Imagine that we are covered in Velcro, and every time someone says something, or does something to us that is hurtful or upsetting their words and actions stick to us and we are left carrying them around day after day year after year.
In a competitive environment, a dancer receives all sorts of messages from teachers, judges and fellow students, some of which can seem harsh, critical or unhelpful. And every time that dancer is in class, or competition and receives comments; they are responding not to those comments alone, but to all the comments that they have velcroed to themselves.
This meditation helps to clean the slate, to pull off all of the velcroed bits, so a dancer can approach dance and competition from fresh starting point. It is also an important first step in developing a meditative practice. It is hard to hear the positive messages in the meditations if you are listening to them while still carrying around all your old Velcro.
Believe In Yourself
“Whether you think you can, or you can’t, either way you are right” Henry Ford
When it comes to your inner mind, your thoughts, feelings, beliefs and expectations are very powerful. They shape how you see yourself, and what you think you are capable of.
Beliefs are based solely on our generalization from the past, experiences, and other people’s messages about us, and the meaning we make from those experiences.
When I was little, my older sister struggled in math. My dad made a statement that our family wasn’t good in math. So every time I struggled to learn a new math concept, or did poorly on a test it reinforced this belief that our family wasn’t good in math, that I had no hope of being good in math. Despite the fact that my mom was very good in math, I marveled at her ability to correct my math homework upside down from across the kitchen table, I only acknowledged the experiences that proved my belief that our family wasn’t good in math. This belief served me well, rather than stay inside and study my times tables, I said, ‘our family isn’t good at math’ and went outside and played instead. The resulting poor grade on my 4 times tables reinforced my belief. It wasn’t until high school when I was taking high level scientific math that was required to apply for the college program I wanted, that I realized, “I’m actually pretty good at math!”
You developed these beliefs to make sense of the world. In Irish dance, a dancer develops these beliefs to make sense of their results in competition, which often seem random and arbitrary, especially to a young mind. But often these beliefs a dancer creates are holding them back. These are called self-limiting beliefs.
In this meditation, we will release these self-limiting beliefs and replace them with more positive ones. Allowing the dancer to see things in a new light, and believe more strongly in their abilities
Dancing In The Flow
I have teachers send their students to me saying they dance perfectly in class, but it doesn’t translate to competition. Dancers often seem to lose attention and become unfocused while on stage, sometimes forgetting their dance completely. The stress of competition and the attention on results takes a dancer out of the zone and into their heads.
This meditation helps dancers to relax their mind so that their muscle memory can take over and execute the dance as they have trained. We begin this meditation with a breathing exercise which activates the parasympathetic nervous system, pulling them out of their stress response to competition. Triggering the parasympathetic nervous system, calms your body and mind, so that a dancer can compete from a clam, and clear focused frame of mind. It allows them to dance in the flow; body and mind in perfect harmony.
Winning Mindset Meditation and Affirmations
To succeed in competition, you need to focus not only on your physical training, but on creating the proper mindset as well; a winning mindset.
Being a winner isn’t about dancing perfectly and winning every competition every time. Every dancer has to deal with times when they don’t succeed. But the time to review where things went wrong and correct issues in a dance is after competition. During a competition, a dancer has to focus on the certainty of their ability to win.
I’m not going to tell you that if your dancer simply believes and visualizes themselves winning that is always going to lead to success. But the more one sets the intention and visualizes their success, the better they prepare their mind for success; Just as the more one practices and drills, the better they prepared their body for success.
By learning to focus their attention in this, confident and affirming manner, they develop the mindset of winner.
Winning mindset affirmations:
Affirmations are positive statements that can help you to challenge and overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts. When you repeat them often, and believe in them, you can start to make positive changes. Affirmations are different from meditations in that they are spoken aloud. In conjunction with the Winning mindset meditation, they continues to positively reinforce a winning mindset. I usually tell dancers to put it on while in the shower or getting ready for the day.
I once was working with a dancer trying to determine which aspects of competition created stress for her. Her response was ‘My Mom.’ I get it, I’m a dance mom. This is stressful stuff. At my daughter’s first competition, over 15 years ago, I was so stressed out, and snapping at everyone my husband looked at me and said “if you don’t calm down we are never doing another one of these ever again.”
I didn’t develop my mindful practices until my kids were preteens, and I wish I had found them earlier; I feel like I would have been a different mom.
These mindful practices allow your mind to rest and recharge so that you can handle the stressors of your day from a different place. Learning to let of your stress for just 10-15 minutes during a meditation trains your mind on how to release stress. So rather than walking around with stress piled on stress, your mind learns to let it all go, allowing you to deal with stressors individually, and then release them.
Quiet Mind Meditation
We live in a very fast paced, hectic world. The pressure to stay connected, be everything to our children, spouse, and friends creates a very busy mind, often preventing us from getting to sleep at night. And all of this mental chatter actually prevents us from being all that we can be to everyone that needs us.
Taking 10 minutes to stop, and quiet your mind will make you more mentally available and effective in the things you need to do. Learning how to quiet your mind amidst chaos is a valuable skill for not only peace of mind but allows more clarity in thought patterns and problem solving.
Mindfulness of Breath
This is a very basic guided meditation where you focus on your breath. I use the word basic, rather than simple because it isn’t necessarily easy. The brain’s job is to think, it likes to think, it’s really good at thinking. In this meditation the goal is to notice when your attention drifts away from your breath and to your thoughts and returning each time without judgement to your breath. The goal of meditation isn’t to sit there for 15 minutes completely clear of any thoughts. The goal of this meditation is to notice when you are no longer paying attention to your breath and gently return your attention to your breath. So if you can accomplish this just once during the meditation, you are being more mindful, and that is the goal.