But I notice, sometimes, that open mics can bring out my "shadow" side. (Something to do with the lighting in those venues?)
Carl Jung first conceived of the idea of the shadow: the part of yourself you hide from the rest of the world--and even yourself. The shameful stuff we don't like to see.
When we start noticing our shadow, we can start working with it more consciously. That self-awareness is bound to help our songs.
Many features of open mics can challenge the ego and bring the shadow "into the light", so to speak. Here are a few:
- Do we feel superior to this singer or inferior to that one? Compassionately noticing our competitiveness can help us develop humility and self-confidence.
- Are we impatient, waiting for our turn to play? When we notice this, we can practice being grateful for the present moment.
- No time to warm up or adjust the sound system? People talking over your set? A golden opportunity for intolerant perfectionists.
- Your performance isn't as good as hoped? Are you beating yourself up? Notice that...and practice being kind to yourself.
The funny thing is, those shadowy aspects of ourselves may be exactly the thing we hope not to show from the stage.
But even if (maybe especially if) our songs are all about peace and love, we've got to wrestle in the dark with the shadow (anxiety, intolerance).
Only by opening up to every part of our experience--both the light and the dark--will we truly grow.