“The big ancient secret is this: there is an “off” switch for the mind, and that switch is the breath.”
Rajshree Patel – The Power of Vital Force
Our thoughts are connected to our emotions, and the breath mirrors how we feel. Every emotion affects our breathing. Discover this for yourself: when you see something exciting, your breathing immediately goes up. You catch your breath or you inhale quickly. Then think of a beautiful moment in your life for which you are grateful, and your breathing immediately drops and slows. There is room to breathe. Breathing is actually a processing of what you’re feeling.
But sometimes the processing doesn’t go well, for example because you’re holding your breath in. Or because the stress response no longer stops and on a long-term basis you’re breathing too much. The breath is then the simplest way to let the entire system rest.
In summary: our thoughts and emotions affect our breath, but the same also applies the other way round.
When playing a wind instrument or singing, the breath is the bridge to sound. We as musicians work with the breath to have control over our sound through breath support. But technique alone is not the way to musical magic. Just like learning a new musical piece; technique and practice is required but just as important is the next step of surrender in order to pave the way for the music itself to shine through. When you can’t let go it results in tension and your breath will mirror that.
So in order to develop or improve breathing technique it is necessary to be aware of your whole body and emotions and to be open to what your breathing is telling you. In that way the breath is showing you where you are. It becomes a constant process of becoming aware, letting go of tension, acknowledging how you feel, focusing on the music and work together with the breath to create the music.
In my online course Effortless breathing for musicians (available on my website and on Udemy) I give exercises that will help you to become aware and discover the power of breathing, combined with knowledge about the physical aspects of breathing, breath support and the influence of breathing on our health.