Soulful Breath

There is an organization called Playing For Change that travels globally, as well as connects musicians all over the world, on behalf of healing and connecting all of us through music.   I haven’t yet found a video that they have done that I haven’t overwhelmingly enjoyed.  However the most recent one below has to be one of the most SOULFUL pieces I have heard in a very long time!

Listening to this I couldn’t keep still and I found the music moving me in body, heart, soul and breath!  It wasn’t about the words….it was about the feeling within the voice, the passion in the depths of the music, the interconnection between all of the group that created the deep soulful rendering of a very old song.

When I drop into what a “soulful breath” is I feel that it has these same qualities.  The feeling and quality within the breath.  You have an opportunity every time you breathe to put some “soul” in it so to speak.  Passion for your life, the relationships you are creating, and the way you treat your environment.

Does your breath reach way down into the depths of your lungs, belly, hips, and back?  Or does it show up as a shallow rendition of your life?  Is there passion as you breathe and move, or are you on automatic?  What if your breath was your lover.  Would you pay more attention to it then?

Take some time to listen to this Playing For Change song soulfully rendered by the Blind Man….and if you are not moved physically and deep down into your very soul…… then you better check your pulse! (and your breathing!)

Ecstatic Breathing – Birthing the Breath

This week I was privileged to view a video that stunned me with its beauty and sacredness.  If you go to the dictionary, ecstatic is described as “in a trance like state of great rapture or delight.  Showing or feeling great enthusiasm.  And….a person who has periods of intense trance like joy”.

In this video you will view a woman giving birth in the most sacred and natural of ways – the way in which it was meant to be.  The most important component in these hours of “labor” was breath, and the sounding that birthed from the breath.  There is no doubt that there is pain involved as you watch this beautiful woman in her birthing passage, yet it is the breath that washes the pain through and expands the stressful process of birthing through “sounding out breath” into an ecstatic state.

I invite you to watch this video now and then come back to see what you can do to practice “sounding out” your breath.

Dr. Chris Northrup posted this link on her twitter feed.  It’s a video of a woman going through labor and birth – an ecstatic birth experience.  The video is 18 minutes long.  I say take the time to watch the entire video.  It is worth every moment spent whether you have ever given birth or not.

You’ll find it here:

Sounding Out Breath Practice:
Last week we talked about how the breath is such an integral part of being able to sing with your full being and voice.  A big part of the healing power of singing, sounding, and chanting is that they work to regulate our breathing. When we sing, whatever the words of the song, we tend to “sound the breath out” until it’s time to inhale. The more often we sing, the better our breathing as it expands our capacity to not only bring in more life giving breath, but also intimately supports the letting go within the exhale.

Chanting adds to this the inherent power of certain sounds. Sounding the breath out with ooooommmm has long been practiced to deepen meditative states. And aaaahhhh, the sound that people often make when feeling pleasure or satisfaction, can be used to intentionally generate healing energy in the body.  This sounding out breathing also “turns on” the parasympathetic system in the body which signals the relaxation response, and stimulates the “feel good” chemicals of the endorphin system.

PRACTICE:  With a long slow inhale
 let the air out through the mouth with a
 long sustained sound of aaaaaahhhhhh . . .
Breathe all the way out, until it’s time to inhale
.  Then breathe in through the nose a long slow inhale
 and sound the breath all the way out
 with a long sustained sound of aaaaaahhhhhh . . .Pause for a few moments noticing any feelings or sensations.
Now continue for several more breaths,
 breathing in through the nose, 
filling yourself with energy, and sound out the breath
 with a long, gentle aaaaaahhhhhh . . .

then experiment with a fuller, more powerful aaaaahhhhhhh….changing the texture, sound, and vibration as you feel so moved.

Practice this daily whenever you feel stress or you feel “stuck”.  Breathe into the stress or the frustration and release it with a long slow exhale –  sounding whenever you are able, and experimenting with types of sounds and perhaps movement.  This will become an automatic response to stressful or difficult situations as they happen – and can lead you into a place of ecstatic breath.  Enjoy the moments…birth the breath…    


Songs Are Thoughts Sung With The Breath

“Songs are thoughts sung with the breath when people are moved by great forces and ordinary speech no longer suffices”.

“There are so many occasions in one’s life when a joy or a sorrow is felt in such a way that the desire comes to sing. All my being is songs, and I sing as I draw breath.”

— Orpingalik  (Inuit poet and shaman)

From the beginning of time humans sang their stories.  Sacred, playful, joyous, sensual, blues, gospel, or wild – song has woven our history on this planet.  It was at a “Song Weavers” event last weekend that I realized that it is rare that I break out in song myself, and certainly don’t sing with my friends or my community.  It was also at this event that I discovered how tight my singing voice actually was.  Yet, within the space of a couple of hours I also realized how easily, within the company of others, that voice can be released and played with.

The video below instructs us on how to breathe for singing.  Watch and listen carefully and notice that this breath strengthens and expands our diaphragm muscles and relaxes the upper chest, neck and facial muscles –  secondary breathing muscles that are often used in tight, contracted, chest breathing and stressful situations.   The emphasis on lengthening the exhale with the hissss sound allows us to find our ground of being, relaxed voice, and our full expression.  This also builds and expands our capacity for breath and thus for LIFE.  Practice this and then let loose with a song, a sound, a tone!

P.S.  For those of you that are Carol King/James Taylor lovers here is a treat – they are back together and are touring.  Not only do they love to sing the “hits” –  we love to sing along with them!