Don't Forget To Breathe

As well as we may know ourselves, we can never see our selves from the outside. This is the reason even veteran athletes work with trainers and coaches. These people can spot things the athlete is doing that they don't even realize.

The same can be said for artists. Sometimes we need a fresh perspective from another person. This happened to me. As a drummer, I was having some problems with my drumming. I just didn't feel comfortable and relaxed anymore. It took a friend to notice and tell me that I was holding my breath when I played. I never noticed that, because it had become something natural to do. But by holding my breath, I was inhibiting the natural flow of things.

If you play brass or winds, the breath is integral with making your music. You are taught how to breathe with the phrasing of the music. The same can be said for string players and other musicians. But as a drummer, no one had ever discussed breathing with me. No one. So I never gave it much thought. And as time went by, I started to hold my breath when playing something difficult or when feeling stressed. 

When you stop breathing, you stop the flow of energy and motion in your body. The lack of oxygen makes your muscles tense up and it starts to impede your natural motion. If you keep doing this, the tenseness becomes a natural part of you, and you may even tense up when breathing correctly because your body and brain learned it as a response to certain situations.

It's important to check yourself out, to see what your physical aspects are when you practice your art. Try to be an observer of yourself while you are working. Notice the little things, like holding your breath, or leaning over, or tensing the muscles in your shoulder, or a thousand other things. When we learn to be aware of ourselves, we can correct the small things before they become larger habits. 

Meditation, Yoga, Tai Chi, and other similar practices can help us to learn about our breath (and our body) and be aware of it. Then we can learn to use it to keep us calm, loose, and relaxed, even in difficult situations.

Exercise #1 - Before you start working on something, take a few minutes to just breathe. Be aware of your breath and its rhythm. Feel the energy of your breath and let yourself relax. Then start working.

Exercise #2 - If you are working and feel like you are in a rut, or blocked, or are just struggling without much progress, step back. Step back and reconnect with your breath. Settle your self down again, relax, re-energize. Then start again. 

Breathing is something we do most of our lives without any thought. Sometimes it's important to think about how we are doing it.

Don't forget to breathe.

~ MB


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