I was never good at sports, mostly because whenever I ran I could never catch my breath. When I did sit-ups, I held my breath. It was one or the other; I was never able to breathe and move my body at the same time. I guess this is where normal people stop reading. What the heck is she talking about? Goodbye, have a good day.
When the aerobics fad hit in the 1980’s, I not only had a problem with trying to breathe as I moved, but if they shifted left-right-left too quickly I was not able to keep up and thus froze like our good friend, the deer in the headlights. Something inside my brain locked up. This also happened on the dance floor, which I avoided at all costs.
Last night I went to choir practice. This in itself is monumental. I have no training in singing and going to group things is difficult for me, but it once was impossible. In my younger days, I was so self-conscious that I thought everyone in the room was staring at me and finding every fault. Now I know that it was merely the echo of my father’s voice criticizing me. In reality, I blended in very nicely with the woodwork.
After we sang a few songs, a woman (let’s call her Michelle) got up to lead us in breathing exercises. I was nervous, but I didn’t run out of the room like I would have 20 years ago. I know now that I am just one in the crowd; I don’t stand out, but blend in very nicely.
Michelle instructed us to sit up straight and breathe in deeply. Feel the breath fill up our lungs, separate our ribs and even fill in spaces in our backs. Hold our shoulders back. Wow, I hadn’t done that in ages because when I did, I bumped into the woman sitting next to me. I have large shoulders and long arms. I instinctively curled back and slumped, but caught myself. I am allowed to take up space on this planet. My shoulders are not too big; they are mine. Comfortable in my own skin 101.
Michelle had us stand up, take in a breathe for a count of three and breathe out for a count of eight. Take in another breathe and breathe out for a count of 10. Hello, we’re your lungs. We’ve been here for you all this time. Maybe we can finally be friends.
Michelle had us breathe in again and follow her in vocal scales of some kind. I did the best I could, being sure not to be too loud but also remembering that I am allowed to make sound also. My voice does matter.
We sang a few more songs, then it was on to the Fellowship Hall for some snacks. Several people approached me and introduced themselves. They are a friendly bunch. I look forward to learning more about the people, about singing, and finally learning how to breathe.