Written by Heather Dick
PRESENCE & POWER Series - Part 2
Freeing Your Potential Through Breath
As I wrote in part one of this Presence and Power series, awareness of what is happening physically inside your body, and of your body in relationship to the space around you, immediately brings you into the present moment which is essential for all meaningful communication. Read my Part 1 blog for more background information on this series and try the exercise there to bring your body alive.
Once you’ve completed that first exercise and you’re physically 'in the moment' as we actors call it, the next step is to begin exploring how to communicate in an open, heart-centred way. The second B in B-BRAVE* will start you on your journey of discovery.
The second B in my acronym stands for BREATH. Breath is our life force, the river along which all communication (physical, verbal and non-verbal) travels, and the source of our physical, vocal and emotional power. If our communication is going to be clear and direct, our breath must be directly connected to our thoughts and feelings, those thoughts and feelings must be specific, and our breathing pathway must be open and free of any tension that might hijack or block the expression of the thoughts and feelings.
“We are fascinating because we are open and vulnerable. Those around us can’t wait to see what will happen next.”
We often think that communicating is only about speaking or that speaking forcefully is the best way to get our message across. Consider what happens though when we’re caught off guard or surprised by something unexpected? Don’t we respond instinctively and instantaneously? Aren’t those responses fascinating to observe?
What I find most interesting about these moments is that our responses often happen only on breath without any sound. Filled with surprise, awe, fear or wonder, we might gasp or sigh, breath might rush in or whoosh out. These expressive, intuitive responses, far richer and more honest than any words we might utter, happen when our breath is directly connected to what we’re feeling and thinking and free to simply fly out of our body. In these uncensored, unplanned moments our ‘presence’ is magnetic and powerful. We are fascinating because we are open and vulnerable. Those around us can’t wait to see what will happen next.
If we can consciously bring this openness and honesty into our everyday lives, our relationships with others will be richer, more rewarding and less susceptible to misunderstandings. The key to this magical magnetism is our breath, directly connected to clear thoughts and feelings, flowing unobstructed from inside ourselves to outside and across the space to our listeners.
In my first post, Freeing Your Potential Through Body Awareness, the practical activity I shared helped you to develop moment-to-moment physical awareness. The activity here will help to connect your breath to the specific thoughts and feelings arising from this awareness so that you can express them clearly.
The Activity: Come to a place of stillness. Either stand balanced on the centre of your feet or sit in a straight-backed chair with your feet flat on the floor directly under your knees. Close your eyes, allow your lips to part a little, and let breath fall in and out of your body, quietly and easily. Observe yourself. Are you controlling your breathing in any way? Are you holding your breath, even slightly, before breathing out? Is it possible to simply observe the movement of your breath into and out of your body and to allow your body to breathe as it wishes?
Gently massage your cheeks as you send a message of letting go to the muscles around your lips, tongue and jaw so that they become a little slack and your tongue rests calmly in your lower jaw behind your bottom teeth. Lick your lips. As the next breath falls into your body, feel the cool, dry air flowing past your wet lips and along the roof of your mouth before falling down into your lungs. Notice, as the air releases up and out of your mouth and past your lips, that it is warm and damp. Continue to lick your lips and explore this gentle flow and ebb of air for a minute.
“Without effort, simply observe the relaxation that floods through your body”
Now that you’re aware of breath moving in and out of your body, imagine that with each new breath, the air falls deeper and deeper into your torso. Picture it first falling to the bottom of your ribs, then into your stomach area, then your lower back and finally into your pelvis. You might find it helpful to place a hand in each spot to bring your focus to that specific area. Without effort, simply observe the relaxation that floods through your body with each new breath and become aware of how much more air is now falling in and releasing up and out.
Feed in an impulse for a yawn and a stretch allowing your body to move as it needs to. Let the energy of the stretch travel through your body as your breath releases up and out. Open your eyes and bring your focus back into the room. Actively look at several objects around you so that you come again into the space.
Rest here for a moment or two breathing gently, actively quiet and present. Notice any specific physical feelings, emotions or thoughts that bubble up. Acknowledge each of these individual impulses on an outgoing sigh of breath only. After a moment, feed in an impulse for another yawn and a stretch and take a walk or move through the space.
Use this audio file of the exercise from your phone, any where and any time.
In my next post, discover how to Free Yourself Through Relaxation (R = Relaxation) using your now grounded body and breath awareness to release tension.
Until then, B-BRAVE and enjoy being alive and connected to your body and breath.
*B-BRAVE © Heather Dick, 2020.