How to Overcome Anxiety Using Breath and Intention
Using the power of Breath and Intention, to Empower Your Voice
Though I have always been a musically expressive person, when I first heard about the chakras, I actually did not believe they were real. The idea of having seven major points that governed certain organs in my body, radiating different colors and notes, and spinning clockwise when in balance seemed strange to me. It was not taught to me in school (as it is to children in India) and seemed irrelevant. It wasn’t until I was faced with healing an 8 inch scar along my core, that I was motivated to explore the idea that maybe if I could put this knowledge to good use, I would heal faster.
This need emerged when doctors nicked my bowel by accident while performing a laparoscopy. The worst place for a singer to have a wound – outside of the throat, is the abdomen. In addition, due to an allergic reaction I had to the Morphine the hospital had been pumping into my veins as a pain killer, my body had purged itself of every toxin imaginable. I was so thin and so weak, I could barely lift my arms. I had to build my lung capacity by blowing into a tube to make the little balls rise above the line. I left the hospital weighing a mere 98 pounds at 5 ft 9. Doctors told me it would likely take six to eight months to heal. I knew I had to heal way faster than that if I wanted to survive financially!
The connection that I was able to make with my body, my energy and my breath taught me that I am much more powerful than I thought, and that my breath, energy and intention can literally shift my vibration and generate healing in my body. Every day, as I developed a practice regiment, more light and knowledge poured into my mind and within two weeks, I was riding my bike with my little dog. I wasn’t fully healed, but well on my way, and over time, I was able to take the amazing things I learned and provide a structure for singers and speakers to not only gain physiological advantages in their voice, but also mental and emotional advantages which open and heal the soul. By tuning in to your spirit in a way that goes beyond diaphragmatic breathing, you can learn how to improve your speaking and singing voice, as well as your communication, energy, presence and confidence.
BREATH PRECEDES THE TONE
The Arabic origin of the word breath stems from the word “spirit”. Breath creates the underlying quality of everything we do. The way we breathe can literally determine how we think, feel and the quality of our lives.
In order to relieve stress, most people say, “Take a deep breath”, but they are ignoring the fact that your thoughts and feelings while taking in the breath also play a huge role in how well you can shift from stress into empowerment. For example, if you breathe in a chesty, voiced breath while thinking a stressful thought about the future such as, “Oh no! I hope I don’t mess this up again!” you are breathing in fearful thoughts about the future. This tells your brain to send nerve signals down your spinal chord to your adrenaline glands, which release adrenaline, causing an increase of blood sugar, heart rate and blood pressure. At the same time, your brain’s hypothalamus signals your pituitary gland to release factors that tell your adrenal cortex to produce the stress hormone, cortisol, which will keep you in that “fight or flight” state. While you are in this highly charged mental state, your body is far from being involved with healing, peace, or empowerment. It’s simply trying to survive. Sadly, this is where many people live, and it’s amazing to consider how many more of us fall into this state before we have to use our voice for something important.
I’d like to share with you how just a little bit of awareness and a few tools can make a huge difference in your overall well being, which is directly related to the power of your voice. As you commit to doing this exercise with me above in the video and others found in Connecting Breath to Soul, you may notice your nerves start to disappear in important situations, and your voice becoming more smooth, more rich, and more powerful.
The first step is understanding that when you inhale, you are literally taking in the world as you experience it, and you get to choose what you are inviting into your consciousness as you do this. Most of us do it subconsciously [about 21,600 time per day], but either way, the amount of love or fear you breathe in at any given time will have a direct effect on your mental, emotional and physical health – and in turn, your voice. Before I learned to heal myself, I didn’t realize how this concept alone had a profound effect on the confidence and power of my voice. For example, if you are thinking right before you sing, as you breathe in, “Oh no, what if they hate my voice?” there is a good chance your breath will be shallow and cause anxiety, which will them tell the body to create tension in the chest area and neck. Then your throat gets tight and an airy weak sound emerges. You might blame your voice for this, but really, it was only responding to how you were thinking and feeling when you took in a breath.
The simple, yet powerful integrative breathing exercises I discovered and developed over the past 8 years after my accident, help people to naturally tap into their CORE connection, and from here, they are able to speak and sing from what I call their “CORE Voice.” Your CORE Voice is your free, authentic, voice that doesn’t have any vocal blocks [stress in body, tension, fear, etc]. When you are using your CORE Voice, your chakras are aligned and you are able to speak and sing freely, without being nervous or micromanaging your voice. In any situation you speak and sing from the truest part of who you are.
Below, I will explain the most important fundamental key to creating the ease within that is required if you want to have a more balanced energy and confident voice. It has to do with how we take in the world.
Build PRESENCE with the Breath of Ah-wareness (BOA)
1. Standing or sitting with your chest risen, feet shoulder width apart and a straight spine, while you think the sound “ah”, inhale silently and lovingly through a relaxed, but open mouth.
What did you experience? If you allowed yourself to hear yourself say, “ah” in your mind as you inhaled, you may have noticed this breath fills you immediately and you may feel an inner calmness and natural expansion, but don’t try to create this–allow it. Keep in mind, you don’t need to take in a lot of air.
2. Take a moment to feel how open and expanded you are.
3. On the exhale, you can either use a gentle unvoiced “hhhhhhhh” sound, or voice the sound “ah” as a sigh of relief, but keep your chest elevated as you do this.
The key to doing this exercise is in the silent, loving inhale. Subvocalizing the sound “ah” on the inhale allows you to naturally open your heart and create an expansion of the diaphragm without even trying. The result should be that you are completely present. If you are not used to this, it may bring up a sense of impatience or even tears. Accept whatever shows up for you and continue to work in harmony with yourself through this as it may take time.
4. You can inhale through your nose as well, but for most people at first, nose breathing feels more connected to the head. I want you to connect as close to the base of your spine as you can when you inhale. Once you become good at inhaling through the mouth, switch to the nose. When you do this, be sure to imagine the sound “ah” at the back of a relaxed throat.
5. When you become advanced in the BOA exercise, on the inhale, hold and exhale, you may affirm this phrase in your mind: “I am here now and I am okay!” or any other affirmation to help you manifest what you’d like to create, instead of what you don’t want to create like the example I gave earlier. I call this, “intentional breathing,” which means that now, instead of taking 21,600 unconscious breaths a day, you can actually put meaning into how you want to think and feel and spend part of your day breathing consciously. This is an important pre-curser for vocal expression. If you want your voice to show up the way you need it to, you must prepare it mentally and emotionally.
This simple but powerful breathing exercise has given my students instant access to expanding their diaphragm without spending several months on diaphragmatic breathing. It has given them the clarity and peace needed to create the favorable conditions for their CORE Voice to emerge.
Want to learn more about how to breathe from your CORE and build an empowered voice? Click here.
Thank you for visiting my blog. It means the world to me if I can be helpful to you as you progress along your vocal journey. Please feel free to post questions and comments if there is something particular you would like support with.