“Who do you think you are?”
The moments before Siddhartha Gautama became the enlightened Buddha he was besieged by “the armies of Mara.”
Pamela Weiss, one of my mentors in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, tells one of my favorite renditions of the story - “Mara is the archetypal figure who represents inner judgment and doubt. As Mara’s arrows arc through the air toward him, Gautama calls out, ‘I see you Mara. I know you Mara.’ And with the power of his mindful awareness, each arrow magically transforms, mid-air, into a lotus blossoms, showering him with fragrant petals But Mara is not yet ready to give up. In a final attempt to unseat the soon-to-be-Buddha, he whispers in his ear: who do you think you are? This potent question cuts right to the heart of spiritual practice—who do we think we are? Gautama’s response is telling. He doesn’t argue or defend. He reaches down and touches mother earth. The earth trembles in response, and Mara slinks away, defeated.” In this story, Mara represents the inner critic - the doubt, fear, and worry that prevents us from reaching our full potential. It’s your ego trying to protect you from making a fool out of yourself, harming yourself, being ostracized from your community because you did something so egregious, unusual or outside the norm. We singers encounter this inner critic constantly, because we are constantly stepping outside of our own comfort zone, and the comfort zone of society, by getting up in front of people and taking one of the ultimate social risks - singing in front of others. Singing is one of the most vulnerable things we can do, and if you have ever performed publicly you know that it can result in harsh criticism from audience members. Unfortunately, this negative criticism almost always outweighs the dozens of positive compliments you get after performances. Mara comes in the form of strangers, friends, family, mentors, teachers, and colleagues who say mean, unhelpful things about your singing. It happens to all of us, and it’s a hard pill to swallow. For me, the most important part of the story of Mara and the Buddha is the question “Who do you think you are?” My inner critic usually sounds something along the lines of - “Who do you think you are to try and sing opera?” “Who do you think you are to assert yourself as a professional artist?” “Who do you think you are calling out the issues and injustices within the world of singing?” “Who do you think you are to get up on stage gladly, joyfully, and confidently, taking up so much space and attention?” “Who do you think you are to feel good about yourself?” Sound familiar? In many ways, our society actually values smallness. We perpetuate systems that oppress. Many don’t like it when women are too loud, confident, or intelligent. We cringe when we see someone daring to be different, to be themselves. We are afraid of going outside the box because the unknown is scary. And when we are bold enough to say “I want to be a professional singer” our own inner Mara arrives, hurling insults at us, saying “This is not for you. You’re not good enough. That is impractical. That career path is for the others who are so much better than you. You will never be able to make it. It won’t work out.” I created my signature coaching program, Align, to help singers find the confidence and courage to make bold moves like what the soon-to-be Buddha did in the face of judgement and faithlessness from his own inner critic - putting his hand down to the earth in a gesture of strength and belonging. Saying “I belong here, doing what I am doing. I am dedicating myself to this because it is bigger than me, bigger than my ego, bigger than YOU, Mara. This is vital work to the unfoldment of a better world, of awakening.” In Align, you will learn how to do the external and internal work you need that will get you moving forward towards your own personal enlightenment.
You will learn how to listen deeply to your inner guide and discern what you are being called to contribute to the musical world.
You will finally start making decisions that are best for YOU and the causes and communities you care about.
You will use the inner fortitude that you build in the program to strengthen your external efforts - time management, productive practice sessions, creating performing opportunities - and get you truly moving in the direction of the singing career you have always dreamed of.
In my Align program you will learn how to
* Empower yourself as a vital creative contributor
* Get more paid work
* Learn marketing and branding basics to grow your singing business
* Grow your confidence so you can create and share with courage
The program includes
* 6 1:1 coaching sessions
* Option to add weekly 1 Hour voice lessons
* Life time access to my Align online course (see stories and link in bio)
* Lifetime access to my Creative Income Streams online course (see
* Unlimited Voxer access for the duration of the six week program - reach out to me anytime for support between sessions.
If this resonates, let’s schedule a free coaching call. Visit baileybarnessoprano.com/align-program to get all the details about the program, and use my contact page on my website to reach out. You can also DM me on Instagram or Facebook with questions or to schedule your free call - Bailey B Sings.
No matter your race, gender, religion, nationality, mental or physical health conditions you are welcome and encouraged to participate in my programs. Come as you are, and always feel free to be yourself. I am committed to creating a safe, supportive, equitable environment for my clients, students, and stakeholders. For my full DEI statement check out my website https://www.baileybarnessoprano.com/diversity-equitability-and-inclusio