“Every emotion is connected with the breath. If you change the breath, change the rhythm, you can change the emotion.” — Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Breathing. Something so simple, so autonomic, we rarely give it much thought. When we do take a moment to focus on our breath, the effects on the body, mind, and spirit are extensive. “Slow, deep breathing actually stimulates [a] parasympathetic reaction…that calms us down,” says Esther Sternberg, physician, author, and researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health (Cuda, 2010).
If you’ve ever sung in a choir, or attempted to hold on for the 20-second phrase in Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day,” you know that deep breathing is essential to sustaining long notes. Without even being aware of it, you can improve your breathing by singing. According to researchers with Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in New York City, singing “helps to lower depression symptoms and improves breathing better than traditional treatment alone.” (Robeznieks, 2016).
While conducting both individual and group music therapy sessions here at Kensington Park, smiles, laughter, and positive verbal expressions, such as “This is fun!” or “That was good!,” confirm these findings. Most recently, the 1934 favorite, “Summertime,” has been sung to close our summer music therapy groups, and it’s a tune that engages each member in singing along. A deep breath is necessary for the long phrase, “and the livin’ is easy,” and the carefree lyrics of this ballad promote relaxation.
To learn more about the benefits of singing in music therapy, or about our music therapy groups at Kensington Park, please contact music therapist Rachelle Splechter, at firstname.lastname@example.org.