Your Body as an Instrument of Music and Healing

Join Donatella at Humboldt State University, Room 109 Music A. In opera, our bodies become chambers for air and channels for sound. We breathe from our diaphragms, opening ourselves so deeply that our voices shatter glass at certain frequencies and fill entire theaters without the use of amplification. The techniques we use to transform our bodies into instruments of music similarly can be used to transform our bodies into instruments of healing – for ourselves and for others. In particular, when we breathe from the diaphragm, we touch the vagus nerve, stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system and activating the body’s innate healing response mechanism. Approaching opera as musicians, this healing response happens as a byproduct of the singing. Approaching opera as healers, however, this healing response happens deliberately: It is both the purpose and the focus of our singing, as our attention shifts from that which is intellectual, competitive, and performance-driven to that which is heart-centered, soul-awakening, and perception-shifting. When singing opera, many of us have had the experience of opening a trap door and “stepping into” an expansive attic, where we embody a force far greater than ourselves. That force has the power to shake loose the stuck energy in the body, or qi – as it is called in Chinese medicine – and stimulate the healthy flow of that energy, bringing the body back into harmonious balance and, in doing so, disintegrating dis-ease.

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