“A well-developed sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to your steps as you walk the tightrope of life.” - William Arthur Ward
The majority of devoted vocalists take their craft pretty seriously. We have dedicated countless hours, days, years, decades, LIFETIMES to the progression of our form. We make amendments to our sleep schedules, diets, and extra-curricular activities. We sacrifice finances, social life, and opportunities. We are consistently seeking improvement. We are constantly striving to evolve our skill set and enhance our potency as performers. But there reaches a point when the rigidity surrounding our goals/timelines for desired progression becomes counter-productive.
Levity is key when it comes to expression. There is a lightness of self that emerges through humor. We can simultaneously take our craft seriously without taking ourselves too seriously. When we grasp too tightly to results, we lose the opportunity to find nuances that are discovered through play. Engaging in silliness is the gateway to sanity and sustainability.
Try to pinpoint a memory from early childhood when you were being ridiculously playful. As young children, we lacked the innate bias that developed with experience. We didn’t care how we were perceived or received. We were captivated by our own joy. We were enamored by the freedom to express for the sake of expression, without judgement.
I have developed a series to help us return to that limitless feeling of play. Approach it with an open mind and heart. As jaded adults, it is common to experience unease in seeing, hearing, or feeling yourself be “silly”. Allow the judgmental thoughts to arise. Acknowledge their existence, Then release and resume the exercise. I know you can do it! SERIOUSLY!
For the following series, you’ll need:
A SPACE WHERE YOU HAVE PRIVACY
You’ll need to find space which facilitates the freedom to make faces, shapes, and sounds without embarrassment of being witnessed by others. (Unless you don’t care about that, which is even better!)
Ideally a full-length mirror, but at least one that you do not need your hands to hold up.
A RUG OR YOGA MAT
We’re not going crazy with poses here, but you’ll need something to support yourself while sitting/lying on the floor.
A SENSE OF HUMOR
Say what? I mentioned that already? How SILLY of me!
THAT’S A STRETCH…
“The first step towards true enlightenment is to lighten up on yourself.” - Bashar
Facial stretching is a great way to loosen up and begin softening the muscles and mind. Here’s a few to try. Begin in a comfortable seated position:
“O” FACE (um not THAT kind of “O” face, the literal one)
- Open mouth wide open as if you’ve just been surprised (let the jaw release naturally, DON’T FORCE!)
- Keeping the mouth in this open shape, pucker just the lips forward to make a small “O” shape
- Release. repeat 5 times.
LION FACE (Simhasana face)
- open mouth and stick out tongue
- cross the eyes and roll them upward
- inhale through the nose, then exhale aggressively out the mouth
- repeat 3 times
MAN IN THE MIRROR / SILLY SELFIE
“It is a curious fact that people are never so trivial as when they take themselves seriously.” - Oscar Wilde
Mirror play is essential in learning how to take ourselves less seriously. Take a few minutes to find some of your most ridiculous, unattractive characters. Start with the face, and incorporate the whole body. The more mortifying, the better! Now, once you’ve developed your most monstrous/hilarious mugs, snap 3 selfies to keep on your phone. (Or send to a friend!) Whenever life hits you with a fierce punch, scan your camera roll and find these gems to remind you that the absurdity of life can also be amusing.
Here are my three most ludicrous. Please don’t blackmail me.
STRIKE A POSE
“Comedy is acting out optimism.” - Robin Williams
Swaying Tree Pose:
“Humor is the affectionate communication of insight.” - Leo Rosten
- Take a comfortable seat on your rug, mat, etc.
- Raise yourself up by placing an extra folded blanket under your seat
- Take 3 rounds of mindful, slow inhales and exhales
- Allow the corners of your mouth to curl upward forming a grin
- Deepen your grin by letting your smile widen, allowing the teeth to show and the mouth to open slightly
- Begin to chuckle lightly
- Allow the laughter to deepen incorporating the muscles of the belly
- Laugh for laughter’s sake, not attaching it to someone or something
- Whatever emotion emerges through the exercise, see if you can laugh with it, not against it. Find levity in what is heavy. Find weightlessness in what is light.
- Let your laughter authentically dissipate. Then sit in silence and stillness and observe your breath, body, and mind.
“Your obsession with being in control of your mind makes you so stiff all the times; that is why our egos are growing, and our sense of humor is shrinking.” -Jazz Gill
The Blah Blah Blah:
The Ooh Wee Ooh:
Once you feel comfortable doing this series (or portion of the series) on your own, try incorporating a partner or small group. A shared experience of ridiculousness starts to break down the preciousness and fear of how we are perceived by others. Particularly, in this social media drenched existence of presenting our ideal selves, cracking the perception of perfection is so liberating! Till next time, clowns…