I have been reading a great deal lately about ‘breath’ and its applications in Yoga, for example, as it is promoted in business; mindfulness training to help relieve stress and much more. But, nowhere do I read about integrating breath as profoundly, simply, as we do in Vocal Awareness.
Vocal Awareness is a technique that teaches Empowerment through Voice and Personal Mastery Through Communication. One of its primary techniques is mindfulness through breathing. I have been teaching this transformational and mindful Work for over five decades. After having trained for many years as a classical singer and voice teacher, I created this discipline and in doing so recognized that in all forms of mastery, there is what I call an ‘off switch’. For example, many practice yoga assiduously but do they actually apply the mind/body/spirit connection to the rest of their lives?
I have trained great numbers of artists and elite athletes who clearly are in mastery in their skill set but, once they leave the stage, the field, the court…they are no longer in mastery. They are simply behaving as the rest of us—habitually in a less consciously aware state—what we might call normal every day behavior. Once again, when great athletes/artists are in performance mastery, average would never be tolerated.
With Vocal Awareness, however, there is a truly important opportunity through a unique breathing technique called “Conscious, Loving Breathing”, to incorporate mindfulness— Conscious Awareness— a sense of empowerment and, ultimately, mastery—not just through what we do, but in who we are and with no off switch.
A number of years ago I taught the noted motivational speaker, Tony Robbins, who referred to the 7 Rituals of Vocal Awareness as ‘pattern interrupts’. He said to create a new pattern you had to interrupt an old one, focus and effectively repeat the desired behavior to rid yourself of the unwanted pattern.
This article is focused on breathing and the new pattern I want to instill is this: breath has strategic value.
It is not only necessary for life, but the point is, this new breathing system will enhance your life—intra and interpersonally. Our ability to breathe is regulated by the autonomic nervous system. It is a control system that acts largely unconsciously and regulates bodily functions. This new pattern is called a Conscious Loving Breath, what I often refer to as CLB.
When we engage in Conscious Loving Breathing, an integrative process begins to emerge which can help you energetically achieve multisensory integration. Through this technique, we can begin to shift our behavior from unconscious to consciously aware and systematically and energetically initiate a fundamentally new pattern that instills in us the ability to integrate and claim personal mastery through mind/body/spirit mindfulness in every breath, enabling you to tap into something truly inspiring that you are likely never to have experienced before.
The root of the word ‘spirit’ means ‘to breathe’. The root of the word inspire, ‘inspirare’ is to ‘to breathe into’. The Hebrew word, ‘neshama’ means both ‘soul’ and ‘breath’. I share this observation because a breath is not only physical but also emotional. I share the above observations about mastery and mindfulness because to achieve mastery requires the integration of mind/body/spirit. Once again, however, we tend to leave it in the yoga studio or in our meditation period. We do not take it with us everywhere we go. In Vocal Awareness we do. The following is a simple technique to begin to integrate this transformative breathing technique into your daily life.
1. Begin by standing or sitting comfortably in Stature, erect and relaxed with a certain sense of dignity. The concept of Stature helps us spiritually/emotionally claim our aspirational Self. First, experience what it is like to simply take a deep breath, as though it is the ‘top of the morning’ and ‘It’s great to be alive.’ Notice how it feels to inhale like this. Does your chest rise? Does your larynx and tongue constrict? Then, exhale and relax. Refrain from judging the process.
2. Next, I would like you to experience a very different kind of breath. Please do not rush. This inhalation will take 5-7 seconds. As you inhale, please respond to this thought: Allow a slow, silent, Conscious Loving Breath. Now exhale.
Notice the difference from the breath you first took. When you allowed a breath, your abdomen and rib cage both expanded as a bellows and you felt more open and relaxed. Your internal and external space are instantly quieter. Please take time to observe what changes occurred. The shifts may be subtle or obvious but they are taking place.
As you get comfortable with this transformative breath, experiment. For example, notice what happens when you speak without a breath. What do you sound or feel like? Then, take a breath and speak. Lastly, when you experience a CLB speaking at the apex of your exhalation, please notice that your pitch will be lower; your voice stronger, more resonant and emotionally warmer.
Initially, please commit to practicing a Conscious Loving Breath for a total of 7 minutes a day—a couple of minutes at night while in bed before you go to sleep, a couple in the morning before you get out of bed, and 3 minutes throughout the rest of your day at work or play—before an important phone call, a meeting, PowerPoint presentation—any time there is a critical opportunity to claim your power.
I will leave you with one final Vocal Awareness axiom: breath is fuel. If we don’t put gas in the tank of our car, we will never reach our destination. By extension, please remember that if it is important enough to say, it is important enough to breathe before you say it and please do so integrating a Conscious Loving Breath to engage mind/body/spirit. CLB and this axiom are the pattern interrupts that I want you to retain. This breath will create the opportunity for you, not only to do but to be your best. As I say to all my students/clients—enjoy the Journey.