Navigating Transition

Singing Yoga Transitions

Have you ever had a period of your life in which you feel unmoored and the future is uncertain; a period in which you are letting go of something big and aren’t sure yet what you’re moving into? Perhaps some of you reading this are experiencing this now! I certainly am. Thankfully I have experienced other transitional times in my life and have gained some amount of wisdom on how to navigate them. I have also gathered insights on this topic from my vocal yoga practice and teaching experience, and would love to share those with you today. 

 

One of the potential goals of voice training is to “smooth out” the registers of the voice; a register is defined as a relatively stable position of the larynx, and the transitions between them are called passages. One useful analogy that is often used to help folks understand this phenomenon is that of “shifting gears,” as in a car. Oftentimes prior to voice training the shifting between the registers can be a bit sudden and unpredictable, like someone new to driving a car with a manual transmission. After some amount of time studying with an experienced teacher, the singer becomes more used to navigating these transitions and the shifting occurs in an imperceptible (or almost imperceptible) way, like a car shifting on its own as it would with an automatic transmission. When we are learning to navigate these smaller transitions in the instruments of our bodies, the lessons and experiences can inform us in navigating life’s transitions with more ease. When approaching a passage, the first step towards more easeful transitioning is awareness. It is important to know that the passage is approaching, so that you can then take the next preparatory steps.

 

The following recommended step is to SLOW DOWN. Many people have an understandable tendency in this situation to speed up, perhaps from a feeling of fear or impatience – the desire to reach a more stable state sooner. But this will more than likely lead to a sudden transition that will be audible and may jolt the nervous system, or even lead to vocal injury if this sort of transition occurs habitually. What happens when we slow down and mindfully approach the transition with curiosity?

 

Another important step which ideally would occur simultaneously with the slowing down is an inner insistence on keeping the breath flowing. I often use the phrase “let the breath lead” in my teaching, and it can be a fascinating and potentially joyous journey to discover for yourself what this means. Especially when approaching a passage from above, the tendency may be to release the breath support muscles, but that is exactly when we need to call upon them in an easeful, energized way. When applying this insight to life’s transitions, I consider breath to represent Source, or however you’d like to define an intelligent cohesive energy underlying all things, especially all of life. How can we call more deeply upon the Breath of Life to resource us during life’s transitions?

 

The last step that I’ll mention here, which again is potentially simultaneous with other steps, is to embrace uncertainty. Easier said than done! When we’re singing the song of life and a transition approaches, I find that it is best to cultivate curiosity about where we’ll end up, rather than being attached to any particular vision. It is wonderful to set intentions, but can we let go of any expectations around how those intentions will manifest? Maybe it will be even better than we can imagine! It will certainly be different than we think, I can guarantee that. It is so tempting and understandable to do a bit of “future tripping” doing these transitional times, but remember, all we truly have is NOW.

 

When it comes to navigating transitions in singing but also in life, what I have found to work the best for me is to slow down mindfully, commit to brightness and openness while letting go of attachment to any particular outcome, and always keep the breath flowing. And as with anything, the more practiced we become in transitioning, the more easeful it can be!

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