As a voice teacher, I frequently come across the same misuses of the vocal mechanism (ick, that sounds so impersonal, but I’m at a lack for words right now) and find myself explaining a more complete use of the body – which is the instrument. A couple times the thought has come through my mind – proven by this lack of awareness of the body as a whole in the majority of our society.
To truly access your voice, you must truly access your whole self. The vocal chords are to your body what the reeds of an oboe are to the whole instrument. While they function on their own, they cannot work alone if you want to access your best sound. Noticing the imbalance in my students often leads to discussions and activities to bring awareness of the whole self. And once or twice it has led to a deeper philosophical discussion that I feel encouraged to talk about today.
photo by Octavio Valencia Photography
It is amazing to connect to the whole self, to truly become one with your own body. This is something I first accessed in my practice of yoga. To be aware of the goings on within yourself as a whole being allows you to move beyond society’s views of beauty, or how we think we should look.
God designed each of us to be perfectly ourselves. Knowing that, how could you not treat your body – your whole SELF, body and mind – as a vessel created by God and entrusted to your care? Not enough time is taken to become aware of the inner workings of the body itself. We think of ourselves as talking heads with our bodies as objects that we own and must whittle to the ‘appropriate’ shapes and sizes. We spend time improving our minds, learning and thinking, listening to music and watching tv shows and thinking of ourselves as busts. A talking head.
We disconnect from the world around us in the most basic sense. I am guilty just as much as the next person of that, but I try to take time to notice when I’m losing myself and when I need to reconnect. Even to just take time to breathe.
So, I encourage, implore you to explore what it is to be God’s whole creature. How does it feel when you breathe, how do your ribs expand and move when you take a deep breath? What happens if you stand and inhale from your feet to your head and back down? How do you experience the breath? What do you feel when you pay attention to your legs, your arms, your ribs? Do you notice the changes of your body from day to day?
I have done yoga my whole life and it is one of the best ways to discover your whole self and become aware of the ‘comings and goings’ of your whole person. Thanks to my whole self awareness, I knew I was pregnant before taking a test with each of my boys. I know when something is different and I’m more aware of how to access breath and support I need for singing or functioning. I know when I’ve been tuned out and how to tune back in.
And it’s worth it. It changes your perspective on your life. And on whatever higher power you believe (or don’t believe) in.
Have you ever taken time to be self-attentive? Self-aware in more than the mental and emotional sense? What’s your favorite way to reconnect to yourself and the world around you?