THE BLOG

Why I Finally Listened to the Music in My Mind

I did it. I left the cubicle lifestyle, propelled by an urgency to take the leap, to leave the routine and explore the unknown.
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When to Jump is a curated community featuring the ideas and stories of people who have made the decision to leave something comfortable and chase a passion.

"Thank you for an opportunity to work in this department. This is my resignation letter." I handed my boss an envelope with a simple smile and bold conviction.

I did it. I left the cubicle lifestyle, propelled by an urgency to take the leap, to leave the routine and explore the unknown.

I kept the plan secret for a few weeks. I grew up in a tightly-knit, traditional immigrant community; jumping from a set path isn't exactly the norm. It took me a while to tell my parents. When I did, they were terrified about what they'd tell their friends. As I began sharing my decision with others, I got more of the same: "How could you leave a stable, prestigious position? You don't have a concrete track to follow!"

"Are you out of your mind?" No. Finally, my heart leads my mind.

My intuition guided me onto a new journey to spent one month hosteling solo through four countries, with a small carry on. Upon arrival in Heathrow London, I discovered pianos welcoming me as well as street musicians in random walkways and metro stops. I felt a sense of relief, to witness an effort and awareness of the value of music and art apparent in everyday life. My experience in Europe inspired me to continue Mindful Music, a side project I developed at the UCLA utilizing elements of music therapy and performance for wellness, with the guidance and support of Jane & Terry Semel, Dr. Peter Whybrow, and Dr. Robert Bilder. If you think about it, music spans the world: across language, culture, differences. It speaks to the heart. What would our world be without it?

I launched the program by gathering distinguished philanthropists, community leaders, passionate students, leading scientists, and accomplished musicians, and putting everyone together as a creative public health solution aiming to alleviate high stress levels, depression, and loneliness. Today, Mindful Music now serves the UCLA Health System and greater campus environment of 80,000 students, staff, faculty, and visitors with a customized process of exposing talented student musicians. Students exiting a stressful exam or patients walking through the hospital can now experience a pop-up performance space at selected, unusual spaces. We've partnered with the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative and over ten campus departments, providing the first-ever opportunity for student musicians to share music for the well-being of students, faculty, and staff at the David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA Health System, and the greater campus.

In 2015, my Mindful Music program was institutionalized and adopted by the Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior at UCLA. This includes piano installations in the chairman's office and the auditorium, as well as the welcome entrance of the institute itself-a symbolic representation of the impact of music on human behavior across the lifespan.

I jumped to challenge the traditional notion of music and art as a destination -- whether it is a museum or concert hall. This is my passion: introducing a new way for art to be seen, heard, understood, and discovered and integrated into daily life. It's not easy to jump when your family doesn't understand it, or your inner circles are hesitant to embrace it. But if it is what you truly want to do be doing, then you will never regret trying.

When to Jump is a curated community featuring the ideas and stories of people who have made the decision to leave something comfortable and chase a passion. You can follow When to Jump on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and learn more about the Jump Curve framework here. For more stories like this one, sign up for the When to Jump newsletter here. (Note: The When to Jump newsletter is not managed by The Huffington Post.)