I still have much to learn about the Tibetan Buddhist lineages in which I study, but a term I discovered last week opened my eyes: “Householder.”

A householder is a layperson, or non-monastic. Their goal is to apply what they gain in meditation practice to “post-meditation.” In other words, they aim to be more present and aware amidst the responsibilities of daily life.

Yes! I thought. That’s my lane.

I’ve struggled with impostor syndrome as a meditator. I still smash spiders, eat meat, and whip out a heavy dose of NJ sarcasm every once in a while. Could I possibly ever become a real Buddhist?

(Update: This morning I coaxed a giant spider from the kitchen to the front stoop. It was terrifying. I’m making progress.)

I’m still figuring out if I can be a Buddhist. But I’m already a householder.

I see the impact of my meditation practice on my life in seemingly small but significant ways. 

I’m continuing to communicate better, especially about needs and boundaries (major new territory!). Pema Chodron’s wise council, “Feel the feeling. Drop the story” is a daily refrain for moving through frustrations big and small. I even stopped fighting a decades-long battle and literally let my hair down so my natural curls can flow.

(If I’m gonna lean into the present moment with acceptance and non-judgement, that includes the hair!)

I feel like I’m living mindfully, and I’ve been filled with lots of positive energy and clarity.

It’s been fascinating to observe the impact on my teaching.

I’ve been much more interested in helping students make their music come alive than in making corrections. My little ones have loved grabbing the highlighters to color the dynamics or making up storylines to accompany their pieces. A few brave adults are singing and dancing in the lesson. My students and I are having a lot more FUN.

And across the board, I’m communicating better with my students and their parents. I’m speaking from the heart.

Even when it’s hard.

If mindfulness is a way of life, it’s also a way of making music.

A meditation practice clears our minds, opens our hearts, and infuses our spirits. It helps us become our best selves, so that we can offer our best onstage, in the practice room, or in the teaching studio.

I believe we all have more gifts than we know. They might be waiting to be shared, buried under obstacles of our own creation.

Mindfulness makes us aware of these blocks. It gives us the courage to burst through them and offer our gifts to the world.

In her memoir Horror Stories, which bravely explores her mistakes and most vulnerable moments, singer-songwriter Liz Phair writes:

“Come walk down some dark and mysterious paths with me. Once your eyes adjust, you’ll see that monsters are only mirrors. There is music in the creaking trees. Deep beneath our workaday world, we are all dreaming.”

What gifts do you dream of sharing?

Let’s be musical “householders.”