Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Carry Me Away, On the Breath of Innocence

How often do we pay attention to our breathing? What would you even say merits a deep breath? Is the only purpose to relieve frustration? Is it only there to sulk in self pity? Have we become immune to sighs of relief? Whatever happened to that innocent child that would gasp for air with excitement? Or that would walk into the living room on Christmas morning to see all their gifts laid out under the tree, and breathes in deeply with awe? That child that sees their mom or dad after the first day of school and inhales with everything they have, to scream out to them with joy. What happened to that child? How does that child maintain that innocent breath? Maybe it's because children don't know where it comes from. They just know how good it feels. That it feels right, so it can't be wrong. They aren't tainted with worry or the hurts of this world. They're pure. Can we ever get it back? I believe we can, but it does take a bit of effort.

First we have to understand how important it is. How we take it for granted. How we waste it. Truly, we waste our breath the most. We waste it on hurting others, airing our own judgements or opinions, we can even waste it with coarse joking. Why is that? Don't we value it? Have we lost control of it? Can we really believe that our breath can change our attitude, our demeanor?

I can honestly say I never really thought about it myself until my piano teacher expressed how important it is in order to achieve the sound you want. At that time I didn't really understand what she meant. I know how important it is for a woodwind instrumentalist to maintain a controlled breathing pattern and also a lyricist. But a piano player?? It seemed sort of bazaar. Was I missing something? Was I supposed to blow on the keys? or maybe the teacher! No, that can't be right. So what did she mean? As she was speaking to me, she walked behind me and she took her hands and placed them on my hunched shoulders and pulled them back, opening my chest. She then relaxed my arms from my shoulder to my wrists and said, "Posture is just as important as your fingers playing the keys." She then told me to begin playing. At first I was thinking much too hard about maintaining this posture she had just placed me in (completely missing the point). I started making mistakes and even began to breathe heavily with frustration. She said, "Don't worry about mistakes. I want you to just close your eyes, breathe, and play."Basically free yourself. Allow yourself to remember who you are when no ones watching, when you aren't even watching. Your true self. Your innocent self. In that moment I let myself go. I felt my ribs expand with each breath, I no longer felt tension in my neck and shoulders, I couldn't even feel my hands touching the keys. I felt relief, I felt rest. And I listened to beauty. Were there mistakes? Yes, but that didn't matter. All that mattered was that innocent breath I was being carried away on. It was an amazing new perspective. Now, allow yourself to be carried away.

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