Monday, November 26, 2012

Learning to Breathe

When I work with a choir, one of the very first things I teach is how to breathe.  Many of you will probably think, "Um, Katie, I thought that was all hard-wired into the brain/respiration thing. The point is that you don't think about it.  That's why you don't stop breathing when you fall asleep."

Yes, that's true, but there is a difference between breathing, and breathing properly.

Have you ever watched a sleeping baby breathe?  They are so peaceful and quiet.  They lay there with their sweet little lashes gently brushing their little fat, rosy cheeks and their mouth sags open just slightly. You just want to kiss them on the cheek (but you don't because if you wake them, you rock them).  But notice their breathing. They breathe from the belly.  Their shoulders never move, only their little tummies (or their backs, if they're laying on their tummies).  That's they way that all children breathe, and it's the proper way to breathe.  The diaphragm pulls down out of the way, sucking air into the lungs and then, when your lungs are full of oxygen, the diaphragm releases it's grip and pushes out CO2. In fact, if I watched you sleep, you would breathe the same way.  It's the way God intended for us to breathe, and because of that, it's the best way to produce sound for everything from singing to speaking to screaming at the football game.  It's only as we mature and think we have to do it all for ourselves, that we forget how to breathe and cause problems for ourselves.

Breathing is so automatic for us that we don't even think about doing it, yet, we, as adults, rarely do it right. Why? Because we humans know best.  It's the same old saw.  It's the reason Eve took the proverbial apple from the tree. Submission is hard.  It takes humility.  Human beings are not good at humility.  It takes practice.

So, for the same reason that I have to remind my choirs every time we sing to breathe right, I find myself reminded that I am not in charge of the world around me.  I am only in charge of submitting to the will of God, where ever that leads me.  I can stand up for my faith.  I can speak the truth.  I can even be "the Mom".  But I am not in charge of the outcome.  Sometimes that outcome doesn't seem right to me, just like a new singer will sometimes complain that they are uncomfortable breathing that way.  But, they do it right, their singing will improve.  And if I stay the course and stay faithful, God makes it all work out His way.

All I have to do is remember to breathe.

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