You’re probably wondering why I’m talking about Meditation in a blog about Singing. Well, I discovered something that I had not thought about before and I wanted to share it with you.
Some months ago, I was feeling physically and mentally burnt-out. My brain felt like it was full of cotton wool and my body felt like lead. Every day it felt like I was in some sort of continual cycle that I couldn’t break away from. I was seriously worried that I was suffering from exhaustion. This may all sound a little too familiar to you. If it is, keep reading...
Modern life is hectic. There’s a constant line of work to do, places to go and people to see. The worse part for me was I never seemed to have enough time, brain space or the energy to practice my singing.
Surprisingly by incorporating Meditation as part of my lifestyle, I began to notice that the cotton wool in my brain was disappearing. I could focus and concentrate on tasks better. And worked more efficiently. Overall I felt less stressed and pressured to get every one of the 10 million things on my ‘to do’ list done each day.
What I didn’t expect was how massively helpful Meditation would be to my Singing practice and improving my singing. Meditation helped me to find the time and brain space to practice regularly.
To focus and increased my concentration on my Singing practice, as well as helping improve the memorising of music easier and faster. Like I said, I didn’t intend for Meditation to improve my singing but it has. And when I really think about it, it makes perfect sense!
The voice is part of us. It is easily affected by our physical, mental and emotional health and wellbeing. It is through living a healthy balanced lifestyle that we are also improving our vocal health and improving as singers.
Daily Meditation plays a key role in managing that balance.
If you've not done Meditation before, getting started can be difficult to know where to begin.
In this article, I wanted share with you what I have discovered so far and help you find some inspiration to get you started and improve your physical, mental, emotional and, most importantly, vocal wellbeing.
Hi, I'm Rebecca! And I truly love everything about the art, science, and teaching of singing. If you're looking to build an effective and healthier singing technique so that you can sing with more ease and confidence, then you're in the right place! Here's a few other blog posts you might also like to read:
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WHAT IS MEDITATION
We all have a general understanding of what Meditation is. Or what we think Meditation is. Headspace defines Meditation as:
“We like to think of meditation as exercise for the brain. Through meditation, we can build up areas of our brain and actually rewire it to enhance positive traits like focus and decision making and diminish the less positive ones like fear and stress. Most importantly, this means there is a possibility to change your brain for the better in a way that is long-lasting” – Headspace
Meditation is an ancient practice originating in India from around 1500 BCE (or perhaps earlier) and would most likely to have religious or spiritual connections.
Nowadays it’s more about creating a sense of calmness and inner peace in this busy world.
THE BENEFITS OF MEDITATION
I think that we're all aware that Meditation has benefits. But did you know that the benefits of daily Meditation include:
Lowering blood pressure
Reducing depression and anxiety
Helps with weight loss
Improving focus and concentration
Improving compassion and self-compassion
Boosting the immune system
It’s mind-boggling to think that stopping and sitting for a few minutes each day can have such an impact on our physical and mental health and wellbeing.
What I also found was that the benefits didn’t stop at physical and mental health and wellbeing but had a knock-on effect to my Singing and Singing practice.
I found that Meditation improved my Singing by:
Reducing stress levels and therefore reducing physical tension
Improving focus and concentration and therefore improving the quality of practice and performance
Reducing levels of anxiety before a performance
And I’m still finding new ways that Meditation is helping me improve as a Singer.
TYPES OF MEDITATION
When I decided that I needed to give Meditation ago, what I wasn’t expecting was the range of choice. And I had no idea where to start.
It took some time to wade through the minefield to find the right one(s) for me. But it’s important to remember that not every type of Meditation will work for you. You need to be willing to experiment to see which works best. Here are 6 types of Meditation practices to get you started:
1 | Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness Meditation is more about the non-judgmental acknowledgement of your thoughts as they pass through your mind.
It’s about being present and being aware of your environment, breath and/or thoughts.
This is easily done on your own anywhere by focusing on an inanimate object or on your breath.
2 | Spiritual Meditation
Spiritual Meditation has strong links with religions, like Hinduism and Buddhism.
Its main purpose is to make a closer connection to god, higher beings or the universe.
3 | Focused Meditation
Focused Meditation uses our five senses to focus all your attention on an internal or external object.
This can be difficult for beginners as it requires practice to stay focused for long periods of time.
Movement Meditation is an active form of Meditation where movement guides you and allows your mind to wonder.
This can include, Yoga, walking, qigong and other similar activities.
Mantra Meditation uses repetitive sounds and vibrations to help clear and focus the mind.
Transcendental Meditation is the most common form of Meditation.
It differs from the other types of Meditation because it doesn’t require concentration because the goal is to turn inwards and be silent and feel peaceful.
HOW TO GET STARTED
Once you’ve chosen a Meditation practice to try out, how do you then get started? I’ve tried a number of things to see what works. But the most important thing I have found is creating time in your daily schedule to Meditate.
We all have good intentions but it's whether we actually do it. You may want to set yourself a routine of the same time each day. Consider whether you want to practice morning meditation or night-time meditation or both.
Personally, I’ve chosen, for the time being, to do morning meditation for a number of reasons. Firstly, I’m more likely to Meditate if I do it first thing. If I leave tasks like meditating, exercising or singing practice to later in the day, I know that I’m more likely to put it off until tomorrow.
And then the next day. And the next day. And days go by. I know I can be consistent if I do it first thing.
Secondly, afterwards, I feel more energised yet calm and I feel much more ready to face the day. As I said, I didn’t intend to start meditation to improve my singing but it has. Once you know the when it’s then about the how. Again, there are a lot of different options and I would encourage you to try them all and find what works for you.
I’ve compiled 5 ways to get you started on your meditation practice. Depending on your time constraints and budget you could consider:
1 | Books
Just like Singing, reading about the practice of Meditation will help provide you with a deeper understanding that will help improve your practice. Here are 3 books to read on Meditation for beginners:
2 | TedTalks
TedTalks are great for giving you insights into the latest research and provide you with more information in a fun and entertaining way.
I love TedTalks mostly because whilst they are informative they are also inspirational and I find that I'm generally more motivated to try something out for myself.
Shauna Shapiro – The Power of Mindfulness: What Your Practice Grows Stronger
Mamata Venkat - How Meditation Changed my Life
Dr. Kasim Al-Mashat – How Mindfulness Meditation Redefines Pain, Happiness & Satisfation
3 | Classes, Workshops or Courses
Classes, workshops or courses are useful if you need assistance in getting started or if you're struggling to maintain your practice by yourself.
They're also a great place to meet likeminded people.
Use Google or Facebook to search for classes, workshops or courses in your local area.
Alternatively, you could take an online course, like:
For a limited period – Mindworks is offering a free 14-day beginners course that takes about 20-minutes each day.
Free classes, workshops or courses may be great on your purse strings and to get you started or if you’re unsure whether it’s something you’ll stick to.
But if you're serious about continuing you practice then paid classes, workshops or courses are more likely to offer better quality help and advice.
4 | YouTube Videos
If you're on a budget, YouTube provides a great source of information and guided meditations for you to do at home.
These are really great to get your started.
5 Amazon Echo or Dot, Podcasts or Apps
Yep, your Amazon’s Alexa can provide guided meditations or meditation sounds to suit your Meditation needs.
You’ll find these under “Skills & Games” on your Amazon Alexa app.
The Meditation Podcast.com
The Meditation Podcast, founded by a husband and wife, offers a combination of guided meditation, binaural beats, and mindfulness to suit your needs and requirements.
The Daily Meditation Podcast
The Daily Meditation Podcast by Mary Meckley has themes centred around emotions and offers daily meditation techniques.
Meditation Minis is an award-winning guided meditation podcast by hypnotherapist Chel Hamilton. These are great 10-minute meditations if you’re short on time or need a quick reset throughout the day.
Headspace offers guided meditation to relieve stress, anxiety, and sleep together with a website full of articles on improving your mental health - https://www.headspace.com
Is the number one app for meditation and relaxation.
It includes guided meditations, sleep stories, breathing programs, stretching exercises and relaxing music at a cost of $12.99 per month (or UK equivalent) – you can also get full access to their website.
Like I said, don’t be afraid to try different things to see what works best for you. Be open to experimentation.
Personally, I have found the podcasts particularly useful, as well as the Yoga movement meditation on YouTube. These have been brilliant and enabled me to continue my practice during quarantine. And once lockdown ends I will be looking for what else is out there to continue this journey.
For me, it’s months down the line and it’s still a work in progress. I’m still trying new things and working out what works best. Honestly, Meditation it didn’t come easy at first.
Especially with my mind wandering all over the place, but with practice, this has definitely improved. But overall, I feel much more calm and able to get through each day without feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by the end.
I find I can manage daily tasks better and more efficiently and I have more time and brain space to practice my singing. And I notice when I don’t do at least 10-minutes a day.
As I said, I didn’t intend to start meditation to improve my singing but it has. And I now consider it an equally important part of my general lifestyle as well as my vocal health Try it and see for yourself.
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