Want a real cure for the hiccoughs?
There are many myths about how to cure the hiccoughs, from getting a fright to drinking water upside-down, but most of them are more amusing than helpful.
Hiccoughs are caused by a spasm in your diaphragm, the muscle that helps you breathe in and out. This breath control exercise will bring conscious energy into that muscle and so calm the spasm. It works every time.
You may not be able to isolate your diaphragm exactly. That's OK. The trick is to use the muscles in your diaphragm, solarplexis and belly as mindfully as possible. Remember: this is a control exercise, specifically designed to calm nerves or a fluttery diaphragm, it is not to be used in performance or as part of your practice towards free, relaxed sound.
As evenly and measuredly as you can:
(Using the muscles in your diaphragm, solarplexis and belly to breathe, not your shoulders or your throat!)
1. Breathe in for 5 counts
2. Hold the breath inside you for 3 counts
3. Breathe out for 10 counts on a fricative.
A fricative is a consonant sounds that creates friction as the air escapes. “Ffffff” is the best for being inconspicuous, for example when you have an attack of hiccoughs in a job interview or on a crowded train, but “Sssss”, “Thhh”, “Zzzz” and “Jjjjj” will work just as well.
Repeat steps 1 through 3 without stopping five times. For extreme cases you may need to repeat the steps up to ten times. It won't work if you're multitasking, you will need to put all of your attention on your breath. In most cases 3 to 5 breaths will have you hiccough-free! :)
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We all know that things like habitual tension are more than just physical. It's a committed emotional relationship. We grow attached to our old ways. Like an unhealthy romance we just don't want to end because we have so much HISTORY. Am I right?
So here's a fun exercise: let's take the metaphor to a whole new level. . .
Step 1. Write a break up letter to your tension. Tell your aches and pains and muscular tightness and stress that you are leaving them for a new love: an open relaxed body! Take the exercise as far as you can. Why did you start the relationship to begin with? What were you expecting? What did it turn out to be in reality? What do you get out of it? (Be honest, there's a reason you're still together.) What memories and parts of yourself have you attached to this relationship that you are scared you'll lose when you admit that it's over? How are you realizing now that this is destructive and stopping you from being who you really want to be? Have your friends commented? Is an intervention necessary? Personify your tension, tell it how it makes you feel. Then gently, but firmly, let it know you are moving on to a healthier you.
Step 2: Write a letter to yourself to strengthen your resolve. How will your life be better with your new flame? Do you need support from your friends? - Ask them! How about a new regimen? Dream about what life will be like when you are free.
Write it and mean it. Even mail it to yourself to make it more official.
Step 3: Stick by what you've said. Implement your new habits and cut those ties for good. It's a process, it takes time, you'll have days when you want to run back and beg forgiveness. But you know this is best. Be strong. Pamper yourself and commit to a healthier, happier you. :)
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This passed weekend I treated myself to a mini-intensive voice workshop with David Smukler. It was a joy to be a student again and to surrender to the learning process. David is so ruthlessly perceptive that I feel my practice has deepened to a whole new level.
It's so easy (for me anyway) to get lost in the mechanics of an exercise that I practice regularly. The habit of "doing" is so powerful that if I'm not careful I go into autopilot and forget to simply "be". My experience this weekend was so freeing that I have promised myself that I will approach each exercise like it is the very first time, every time. Like a virgin in fact. (no blog post is complete without a pop-culture reference)
Sure, mindfulness takes longer and I'm going to have to let go of the urge to "know" and "get it right" but you know what? It is so worth it and I am excited about my practice again in a way I haven't been in ages! What in your life do you love that you could approach again like it was the very first time? What will you rediscover?
The articulation tip for today (say that 10 times fast!) is to D your T's.
No! I don't mean say budder instead of butter! This is about being precise, not lazy. D and T are a plosive pair. That means the only real difference in making them is that one is voiced (D) and the other is unvoiced (T). Other than that, they are exactly the same!
I've been hearing a lot of splashy T's lately, the result of either a lazy or an over active tongue tip. The "splash" is usually caused by the tongue straying too close to the upper teeth, either upon contact or as it releases. The placement of the tongue for the letter T should be exactly the same as for the letter D, that is firm on the ridge behind your teeth. I've included a graphic here because it's hard to explain, please excuse my ineptitude with a pencil. Click on the image to see a larger version.
The tongue should move up to touch the ridge behind your front top teeth and then retract straight back into your mouth. If your tongue slips forward at the end of your T then you are being too enthusiastic!
Try this simple exercise of sneaking a T in with the D's to create a more precise, less explosive T.
1. d d d d d d
2. d d d t d d d t (x 4)
3. d d t d d t (x 8)
4. d t d t (as much as you can without letting the T run away with you)
If you notice the T is more precise at the beginning of the exercise but that your habitual splashiness creeps in near the end, repeat the second line over and over again until you can do the third without reverting, then repeat the third until you can do the fourth comfortably.
If you do any work with a microphone this exercise is very important. Too much air on a mic results in headaches for sound engineers and less than desirable recordings of your beautiful voice. You'll have to slow down at first when you practice in order to retrain your tongue, but once you have the knack you'll be able to return to your regular speaking speed.
Danielle Benzon coaches entrepreneurs and performing artists in voice, acting and audition technique. She is also certified to teach the Meisner Approach through the True Acting Institute. Danielle is based in Vancouver, Canada.