Posted by: bellissimanh | March 25, 2012

Just Breathe…

A couple of weeks ago I began to take voice lessons with Susan Brinker. Although I cannot remember a time when I was not singing in front of people, I’ve never had any formal training. Since joining DaCapo, I’ve become more and more curious about technique and developed a desire to really hone my skills and improve my vocal abilities.

The very first thing we discussed was breathing. One of the things that affects breathing the most is posture. Susan worked with me to make sure I was standing tall, my shoulders relaxed, and asked me to focus on opening up my ribcage, allowing it to expand as I inhaled, and to push the air out of my lungs with my chest, rather that doing all the work with my mouth. I learned that to hit the higher notes beautifully, more air is needed, and that the position of my body has a direct relationship to how deeply I’m able to breathe.

Around the same time, I began a training program to help get me into shape. The program is called c25k (unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard of it). It’s an interval training program that is supposed to take you from being a couch potato to being able to run a 5k in 30 minutes – comfortably.

My initial efforts were wearisome and flat out HARD. My feet were landing hard on the pavement (heel striking, anyone?), and I had a tendency to look down at the road in directly in front or me, or at my feet, rather than keeping my head up and fixing my eyes on the road laid out before me. The result was that I was hunched over, and actually fighting the forward motion, in effect working against myself. My heels hitting the ground in front of me were virtually putting on the brakes with each step, rather than working with my body to propel me forward, and having my chin tucked into my chest really restricted my breathing.

I thought how interesting it is that I began these two pursuits nearly simultaneously. I didn’t plan it that way, it just kind of happened. Through the course of my training, Susan has referred to my running training more than once during our sessions, pointing out the similarities between my vocal training and athleticism. Really, both of these activities are ultimately dependent on posture. How I position myself makes all the difference in the world as far as being ready for the task ahead, whether it’s running a 5k race or belting out Via Delorosa.

It’s fascinating to me that the Greek word for Spirit (as in the Holy Spirit) is “pneuma.” It’s root is the word “Pneo” which literally means “to breathe”. As I thought about the way God has brought this whole concept of breathing to the forefront for me over the last couple of months, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was more He wanted me to see than just the physical aspects of breathing. Today it struck me fresh that my spiritual posture has such a deep impact on my ability to live by the Spirit.

Psalm 95:6-7 encourages us to “…worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker. For He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand.”

And then there’s this gem:

“ Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:5-7)Image

Humility is the natural posture of one who is gripped by the greatness of God. As I humble myself before Him, I give room for His Holy Spirit to breathe in me and flow through me. It’s as if by bringing myself low before Him, I am opening up the spaces of my heart and mind, and that puts me in the best position to drink in the fullness of His Holy Spirit and experience victory in Christ.

Susan assures me that once I am able to give up my need for control and micromanaging my singing, my voice is going to do things I never knew it could… and that it will feel effortless. Similarly, when I let go of my pride and let the Holy Spirit have complete control, Jesus and I will accomplish some mighty things together. The more the Spirit flows through me, the more I will begin to think, speak and act like my Heavenly Father… and it will be the Spirit breathing through me that brings this about, not my own self effort. It’s my prayer to look a little more like Christ with each passing day. To do that, I need to position myself for pneuma… the breath of His Holy Spirit.

I’m sure there are many ways to position ourselves as we come before God… this idea of humility is just one aspect of it. What comes to your mind when you think of spiritual posture? Discuss amongst yourselves. 😉

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