I focused on my breath, on my belly and diaphragm and lungs, on my open throat. I even used a small breathing meditation that I have picked up recently from my reading of Thich Nhat Hanh (currently, Peace is Every Step). The first two lines go like this:
When used in conjunction with a vocalize, especially the long ones I was doing today, this creates a nice long smile! And what does smiling do? Relaxes your face. I could feel the difference in my voice and in my mind.
Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
I’m using longer vocalizes here in order to help kick-in my breath support. At this altitude, oxygen is a bit harder to come by, so we all have to work a little harder to maintain support on long phrases. My favorite exercise for checking my support is a series of scales of a ninth – imagine starting at middle C and singing up to the D nine notes above, then back down to C. I cycle through as many vowels as I can on one breath, which at sea level is about six. Up here, I can get five, but only if I really focus that breath!
TNH encourages practicing mindfulness in all our regular activities – washing the dishes, eating, driving. I think practicing is a perfect opportunity as well.