Monday, March 28, 2022

How anxiety dreams can help you better prepare for concerts and workshops

I am due to lead a singing weekend in a few weeks. My first in over two years.

The other night I had an anxiety dream about it. Here’s what I learnt.

anxiety dreams

I am busy preparing a series of forthcoming singing days and singing weekends. This will be the first workshops I’ve run in over two years. Although I’m a bit rusty, I’m not consciously worrying about the planning or running of the workshops (see The biscuits for my singing workshops have gone stale. Have I gone stale too?).

But then the other night I had an anxiety dream. I’m sure you’re familiar with the kind of thing.

I had arrived to lead a workshop. I had chosen all new material and when I arrived I realised that I wasn’t really on top of any of it. To make things worse, all the participants were from my peer group: fellow singing workshop leaders.

I felt out of my depth and completely lost. Somebody suggested I teach something else, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember a single song I knew! We decided that each of the participants would teach a song each while I tried to remember something.

Although I wasn’t consciously worrying, this dream felt very real and was disturbing. Obviously my subconscious is trying to tell me something. But what?

learning from your subconscious

Being nervous before a concert or workshop is, I believe, good sign. It means that you’ve not become complacent and are taking it seriously (see If you don’t feel nervous before a concert or a singing workshop then something’s wrong).

An anxiety dream is similar: it is reminding you not to rest on your laurels, but to make sure that you’re fully prepared.

You can draw on specifics from each dream. In this case, I might want to reconsider teaching a workshop of completely new material. Maybe I should have a few well-known songs in the mix, or at least as back up.

There are obvious dangers in anxiety dreams that you can avoid. For example, if you dream of being naked in front of everyone, it’s easy to make sure that you are fully dressed when you come to lead the real session!

More seriously though, if your dream involves you forgetting all your music, for example, what steps can you take to ensure that never happens in real life?

I heard a story the other day of a workshop leader running their first session in two years. They were so excited and keyed up that they did actually forget all their music! Easily done.

If you’ve got a concert coming up and your anxiety dream is about forgetting the lyrics for your big solo, then maybe you need to do a bit more rehearsing, or have a back-up plan (e.g. hold a discrete crib sheet in your hand).

Not every situation in a dream is a reflection of your preparation in waking life. Sometimes the subconscious likes to worry, even if your conscious brain is fully prepared. It can though give you clues to areas of vulnerability.

Chris Rowbury


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