You might think that singing is closer to an athletic feat than it is to meditative practice, but think again! Although it’s true that the physical muscle coordination necessary to sing at a high level requires a solid workout, you may be surprised to learn that building body awareness is the first major step in learning to sing well. After all, if your mind and body aren’t listening to each other, it’s really essential to create a mind-body connection through mindfulness.
What do we mean by body awareness? Well, take a deep breath. What did you feel? If you can’t answer this question in a clear, specific way, perhaps this is a great starting point for you! Try again, breathing deeply, and this time, try listening and feeling more acutely. Did your belly expand? Did your shoulders rise up? Did you feel any tension in your jaw, tongue, or throat? Did you inhale through your mouth, or through your nose? Are you using good posture? Are your knees locked out? Any observation, no matter how small, can be useful in getting to know your body– your instrument.
Once you’re familiar with what your habits feel like, you can start to dismantle them and better understand what changes might be beneficial. For instance, if your shoulders rise when you inhale, experiment with laying on your back and noticing how the intake of breath changes (hint: place your hands on your belly). As modern humans, often in a hurry, and regularly crunching the back of our necks to crane up at a computer screen, releasing tensions and finding efficiency in our breath and movements is key to unlocking the full potential of your voice. Our muscular system is interlaced throughout our bodies, so surprising as it may be, lower back tension, or even locking your knees can have trickle-down effects that impact the voice.
If you are beginning to learn your body and study singing, take a minute or two at the start of every practice to do a mental scan: Where are you tense? What can you let go of? Visualize letting your stresses melt down through the soles of your feet and away. A body that is free and relaxed allows for flexibility, even flow of energy, and ultimately, efficiency in whatever challenges you take on. A voice that is free and relaxed will be a voice that better responds to your musical and artistic intent (yes, even if you sing hard rock styles that require distortion).
Ready to build your awareness and realize real change in your singing singing? Get in touch with a teacher and build your personalized mindful singing practice.