Happy almost Valentine’s Day!
As I take in all the Hallmark sentiments floating around this time of year, I’m reminded that love is much deeper than romance. Love comes in many forms.
Your relationship with your voice and with singing is the kind of love that can help you achieve things you never thought you could and take you places you never thought you’d go. . . . . if you only let it.
I think we’ve all experienced moments when we just couldn’t get out of our head while singing. Some of us only experience it as a fleeting frustration, while others find it debilitating.
Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, I’m pretty sure that getting stuck in your head is a universal experience for most artists in some way, shape or form.
And the reason why it’s so frustrating is because in that moment, your mind is standing in the way of the full expression of your love. And the feeling sucks!
This is why so much of my teaching and the content I bring you centers around the idea of mindfulness as it relates to singers and vocal technique. Without it, your expression – your LOVE – remains blocked.
It occurred to me recently that you might not have much experience with what mindfulness is (or isn’t), or that you might have had a negative experience with it in the past (perhaps you’ve tried a mindful practice and found it really hard to stick with).
So today I wanted to share a really wonderful TEDx Talk given by Daron Larson, a Mindful Awareness Trainer.
One of my students in The 4 Month Intensive sent it to me because the talk really resonated with him and, after watching it myself, I totally understand why.
You have to watch it. It’s short, only about 10min.
I just love Larson’s take on a practical mindfulness because it dovetails so nicely onto what I’m always saying which is:
Do the footwork and let go of the outcome!
But how do you do that? And what does that even really mean?
It means stop trying to get the outcome you are hoping for and put your attention on doing the footwork required instead.
It means interrupt that mental spin of striving for what you think you need/want your voice to sound like – a spin that has become autopilot for so many of us – and learn what it means to be present with your instrument instead.
You can’t do the footwork in the now if your mind is focused on the outcome somewhere in the future.
So when you are singing, don’t go on autopilot. Any opportunity where you habitually check out is an invitation for the inner critic, the striving and the old story to re-assert itself.
Start to make a practice of checking in. Larson gives some very simple ideas for how to do this in his TEDx Talk.
I encourage you to start to notice the details of your sensory experience. Singing is a somatic endeavor best presided over by focusing on sensations in the body rather then the spin of the mind.
Instead of trying to “sing”, what if you tried to notice what was happening in your body? Every time you engage in this noticing you disrupt the inner critic, the narrative of the old story, the mental spin and you bring yourself back into the present moment where the magic of this somatic experience can actually happen.
Ask yourself: What do you witness in your body when you breathe before a difficult phrase? What do you notice in your body as you sing up the scale or down the scale? Does your body do something different when you sing one phrase vs another?
Stop focusing on the singing and start focusing on the noticing.
The noticing will help you improve your singing much more quickly and in a far more meaningful way because the first step to change something is to take the blinders off and allow yourself to truly see it and understand it.
In this way, noticing also connects you back to the LOVE as you are seen and accepted by yourself in those moments. And at the end of the day, I think that’s the essence of what we all want.
Go watch Larson’s TEDx and have a wonderful Valentine’s Day tomorrow!