Photo: Michael Gold
... a few words about music.

Important note: this work makes no medical claims, and it is up to you, dear reader, to use any information you find here responsibly and intelligently, toward yourself and others.

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"With Bated Breath"
March 3, 2023

Nope, not  “baited.” That might be a fish tale (not a tail). My Inner Editor winces (not winches—those are on lobster boats!) whenever I see that typo.


            Okayyyy, it’s Friday morning, and I’m having a little Fun with Phonics. But here’s the point: Have you ever noticed yourself involuntarily holding your breath while you’re focusing on something?

            Yesterday morning I was cleaning up the kitchen after breakfast, and caught myself doing it as I wiped the countertops. I asked myself: Why? Was I tense? No. Was I upset? No, just engaged in some pleasant housekeeping. Was I thinking about something else while in motion, and got caught between the two activities? Maybe. I wonder what it was...

            Then last night, I was listening intently in an online discussion group, and there it was again. Bated breath. It comes out of “abated”: lessened or diminished. It happens all the time, and I’d be willing to bet it happens to you too.

            An email containing the latest big fat winter fuel bill just popped up a push notice. Oops! am I breathing, or “bated”? There’s almost a little gasp in the sound of the word.

            My voice students, when they’re learning a new element of skill, or repertoire, or vocal awareness, often hold their breath while doing the new thing. Or even an old thing. Sometimes they notice; sometimes I notice and remind them.

            So far, it seems we can find ourselves holding our breath when we’re caught up in an outward activity, a thought process, an emotional reaction. Maybe other things, too. Do I hold my breath when someone else is speaking?

            My dog doesn’t hold his breath at all; he just breathes. (And sometimes snores softly when he’s napping.)

            So what is it about we humans, that we make this unconscious stop inside? When do you catch yourself in it?

            My thought for today is that we don’t need to over-analyze. We simply need to stop for a moment—inwardly if we can’t stop what we’re doing outwardly—and notice. And without judgment, refocus our attention on the breath itself, in the core of the body. Thoughts, feelings, waving our appendages around like lobsters, tend to automatically take us up and out of our physical core. If I bring my attention back inside, the breath can release itself.

            Or I can help it by doing a nice long slow exhalation, get rid of the stuck breath, and notice how my body takes the next in-breath for me. Rinse and repeat. Three times will usually change a person’s state a bit. Notice how each time you exhale and turn the inhalation over to the body, it tends to come in a little deeper, broader. And on a subtle level it builds trust in the body, which actually does breathe for us 24/7, whether we’re awake or asleep—in or out of bed. We just get in the way sometimes, without intending to.

            My breath is the connection, the interface, between the mini-world inside me and the limitless world outside.

            Want to take the bait and observe? Let me know what you find! Send a note through the Contact page. And keep that breath moving!



March 3, 2023