My yoga friend Helen, a pianist, recently mentioned the work of Don Greene, a well-known sports psychologist and performance coach. Skimming his writings, I found the following tip for “centering” before performing:

Conjure up a “process cue”: words, images, sounds, or sensations associated with successful performance.

This could be a phrase like “good tempo,” a positive memory, a song. He says that music is very effective. It conjures up a mood, a setting; it can psych you up or calm you down.

A song? In February I took my Intro I assessment toward Iyengar certification. (Intro I is akin to a qualifying exam; if you pass, you can proceed to Intro II assessment for the first level of certification.) Driving to the early morning practice segment, I was absentmindedly listening to CBC Radio when the host played “Good Morning Starshine”:

Good morning starshine
The earth says hello
You twinkle above us
We twinkle below

Good morning starshine
You lead us along
My love and me as we sing
Our early morning singing song

Now, I’ve never seen the musical Hair. I’m neither a ’60s flower child nor a nouveau hippie wanna-be. But who hasn’t heard this song? I can’t recall if it was the original or a cover, but I recognized the melody and lyrics. They were perfect at that moment.

“Good Morning Starshine” played in my head all day. When I rode the bus back to the studio for my afternoon teaching segment, guess what I heard in my mental soundtrack? For some reason, the song made me feel lighthearted on a very consequential day. For a week after the assessment (which I passed!), I couldn’t shake off this tune.

I’d probably pick another song if I were deliberately to choose a musical “process cue.” But this accidental one worked just fine.

What is your go-to song?