All we have to hold us
Is our breath
Of all things I hold sacred, my breath is at the center- of my voice in prayer- in song, of my movement- in dance, in theatre, in storytelling, in travel, of my spirit awakening- in ritual, in reflection, in connection, of my life. When was the last time you allowed yourself to sit in the divine presence of your own breath? Every morning I take a moment when I wake to lay with my breathing, a signal to me that I am alive. I imagine my breath moving through my body and waking not only my physical self, but my spirit, activating my inner self to come to life. In moments when life feels overwhelming, when I feel I cannot find control, when I am holding fear in my body and it captures my spirit, when I feel the intensity of what it is to be a human being, I center myself in breathing. Awareness of my breath, brings me focus, brings me back to the ground and allows me to calm moments unrest. Breath is power- and I have learned that understanding this power allows you to connect to all life in a deeper way.
Breath is life source, it is the center of what sustains our physical being and it is what connects our physical self, to our spirit. Without breath, we become without life. We can go weeks without food, days without water, but only minutes without breath- understanding the truth of this helps me to remember my breath and take pause to connect to it. Take a moment just to be with your breath, just one moment of seeing it fill you with life as you inhale and see how you disperse and fill the space with your being as you exhale.
Understanding and connecting deeply to my breath is essential to my spiritual practice- recognizing and seeing my breath is core to my recognition of life’s miracle and my gratitude in living. Just take some time in this day to visualize your breath, see what shape it takes as it enters inside you, from your nasal passage down through your throat, into your lungs expanding and then see it travel beyond that, awakening the whole of your body. See the journey of your breath through your body, into your stomach, deep into the bowl of your pelvis, into your thighs, into your legs, the soles of your feet and out your toes. See your breath move up your back, climbing up and down your spine, into your shoulders through your arms, into your palms, and our your finger tips. See your breath travel through your face, every line and wrinkle and hair follicle, on the top of your head and then watch your breath be released again through your mouth. See it leave your body. After taking this time let yourself recognize how important it is to connect with your breathing and how it informs us of something greater than ourselves. When we release our breath into the world it acts as an exchange with all other life around us and beyond us.
Understanding and connecting deeply to my breath is essential to my artistry. I have been taught in many forms of theatre technique and most often, we attribute psychology to the practice, but I have learned in my own spiritual and performative artistic practices that connection of human being, the spirit of storytelling, and artistic expression will always begin with breath. Anyone who works with me knows that connection to breath is where I focus much of my discipline in performance.
In all my work as a performer and a director I work with my community to center in breath. I teach my students that breath is the center of your ability to transform and embody the story of another. Your breath, in connection to your physicality, creates foundation for voice, emotion and movement. This is the center of my practice creating “Movement Theatre”- the integration of physical theatre practice, social justice mindset and spiritual ritual and connectivity. How and in which way do we let our breath inform and connect to our emotions, to our physicalities, to our voices? Understanding breath in rhythms and pattern create vocal manipulations so we might be able to communicate with varied tone, pitch, rhythm, and volume.By finding mastery of connecting to breath we can take on the voice of other human beings, shifting accents, and laughter, and shouts and screams and wails and whispers and character through vocal creations. But, even beyond that if we understand how other living beings breathe, the animals, the trees, the winds and the sky (the breath of our ancestors and a greater spirit), we can open ourselves to realizing that breath is what truly connects all living things on this earth. We can embody this connection within ourselves, by first simply being aware. My understanding of this and its connection to our anatomy manipulation is how I teach my students to create character. Finding the pattern of breath that lives through a physical being, in posture, position and the activation and movement that not only happens on our outer anatomy, but within. I ask my students to discover “What is your breath like when you are sad (happy, mad, at peace, etc.)?” Pay attention to your breath first and see how it informs the rest of your being and how it communicates something that emerges from inside you.
Before any words, before movement, before a simple facial expression, breath communicates something within us being released. My students work with their breath heavily throughout the development of characters and the formulation of how they create their stories and communicate the messages and themes that come up in their work performing the human experience and condition on stage.It also connects them to each other- creating ensemble connectivity and relation.
The performance work of The Journey of a Brown Girl is centered in sisterhood circles held together by breath exchange. Throughout the piece the sisters breathe together and through every pinay experience and identity that they embody. And at the end of each segment in unison they exhale the tellings from their voice, their bodies, their malongs. And before each rehearsal, performance or gathering I have invited all those I have every worked with, young and old to find collective breath together and allow it to link us and create deep exchange between us as we move forward.
Centering my artistry in breath and having it be something that I look to master in relation to my skill in voice and movement work, not only elevates my capacity to create artistic works, but also helps me to uplift my creation of self- in forming the way I feel and connect to all other life . I believe that the way I carry my breath determines how I will be held in every given moment that I live through. Breath is the strongest most utilized tool in my process of creating and is a fundamental part of why my artistry has become so linked to my spiritual practice.