Saturday, June 10, 2006

Warm-up Meditation

Today as I was warming up in preparation for my lesson, I recognized an opportunity for meditation. Call it meditation, mindfulness, awareness, or even just focus, the idea of concentrating on the task at hand and not allowing myself to get distracted with thoughts of other things is a major goal for me these days. So instead of walking around my house while warming up, looking at all the “things” around me and letting my mind wander, I sat down on the edge of a chair and just sang.

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:
Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
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.

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.


M. C- said...

alexander tech has an exercise called the whispered ah, where you essentially calm your body to allow the air in through your nose, think of something amusing to elicit a natural smile and lifting of the cheek bones, and breathe out on a quiet, open-throated ah while expanding in all directions, but especially up. it never fails to bring me back into my body.

Melissa said...

TNH is one of my favorites -- I need to go back and revisit his stuff. I was just going to post about a meditative experience I had during the B Minor Mass last night -- stay tuned! :) Hope you're doing well in Santa Fe!

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