You say your mind is too active. You get too tired. You can’t just sit there and do nothing. As well as other reasons to avoid doing it. Trust me, I’ve had the same excuses in the past.
I’m going to challenge you to give up the idea that you’re no good at meditating, and just do it.
Because guess what?
First of all,
I’ve never heard of anyone being proficient at meditating without practice.
Like learning your musical instrument (or any sport, art or skill), it takes time, daily effort and practice to be good at clearing your mind. Remember, you didn’t learn to sing like that in a day!
The key is to do it again and again.
The second key is not to judge. Like a daily writing practice, some days will ‘flow’ more than others. This is normal and expected… and totally fine. Besides, the more you judge it, the more chatter there will be in your head. Focus on what your body feels like in that moment. Be curious about whether you feel uneasy, tired, elated or peaceful. Observe objectively what your mind wants to do. Accept all as it is, knowing that moment is unique, and that ‘this too shall pass’ and will give way to other moments just as fleeting.
Remember, if you’re taking the time out to practice meditating, just like singing, it counts as your ‘drop in the bucket’ toward mastery. Period. Accept your best effort in your practice today, stay with it going forward, and count on it being easier in future.
We all know the benefits of meditation by now, with research-based evidence in neuroscience. We know we can ‘rewire’ our brains to serve us, our communities and our loved ones maximally. It is also tremendously useful for musical performance preparation as it reduces anxiety and promotes a healthy outlook and state.
If you want to level up your meditation ability in an inviting space with other singers just like you, you will have a chance to do so at our next workshop Sunday January 26th. As part of this ‘elevate your stage performance’ day, I will introduce you to original guided meditations for singers to find stillness and grounded power together. Registration for this event is now open! For more information and to sign up with the early bird special, see www.fitforthestage.com/workshops/.
As singers, we know how crucial it is that we stay healthy and functioning well for our shows and our well being. Western medicine is getting wise to the health benefits of medicinal mushrooms, immune support among them.
If you tend to catch things easily, or have persistent infections, and you haven’t explored these gems, maybe it’s time!
Mushrooms have compounds that resemble a microbe and when our immune cells recognize this, they increase front-line activity, strengthening our immune systems over time.
Amazingly, certain mushrooms can support both physical and mental health, help manage stress, tame your allergies and promote overall wellness.
Let’s have a look at a couple of mushrooms commonly used for their health benefits. I bet you’ll be keen to give them a try after this, even if you were never sweet on them before.
most commonly used medicinal mushroom, reishi is used to support
It also helps support
the adrenal glands,
so it’s a good one to use if you’re run down, stressed out or getting
sick regularly. It’s also a fabulous mushroom for
allergies and hay fever as
it can reduce the histamine response to external stimuli.
Best known for its neurological and mental health benefits, clinical research has shown Lion’s Mane’s efficacy for anxiety, depression and cognitive function. This is mushroom to consider for overall nervous system health! Yes please.
for its immune supportive properties, maitake mushrooms can be
incorporated into your diet for overall
how do you take them?
need to be heated for bioavailability, so making teas with them is a
great way to start, using sliced or dried versions. Supplements in
the form of capsules and extracts are also widely available. When
looking for supplements, ensure they are organic, that the mushrooms
have been heated, and that if buying a tincture, both water and
alcohol are used; alcohol extracts important compounds.
you want to try your hand at a nice tasting tea (really!), here is a
recipe for Reishi
Chai Tea below.
1 quart of water add:
slices of dried Reishi
Turn heat on medium-high until the tea reaches a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Strain and add milk and/or sweetener of your choice. This can be chilled for an iced version.
However you choose to consume them, I hope you will benefit from the health boost you can achieve with medicinal mushrooms. Enjoy!
On this fine Monday, I wanted to send a wee shoutout to these wonderful singers who are thriving in the Fit for the Stage program. If you are on the fence about joining our next singers’ workshop this Sunday October 27th, read these! You won’t regret learning the tools to take your body and mind to the next level for the stage and life. Message me, or go to www.fitforthestage.com/workshops to save your spot, and get a special gift if you sign up today.
Date: Sunday, October 27, 2019 Time: 3:00pm – 8:00pm Location: 918 Bathurst St. (N of Bloor), Toronto [MAP]
This 5-hour workshop delivers a step-by-step guide to stage preparation. It focuses on managing your mindset and state using various tools including original meditations and NLP (Neurolinguisic Programming). Includes healthy light dinner, take-home exercises, access to online membership, giveaways, and more.
For this blog post, I wanted to share a copy of the article I recently published in ISing Magazine last month! Here it is below, or check it out at: www.isingmag.com/?s=Leigh+Graham
Are you holistically Stage Ready?
You have your own unique magic, your true creative essence
that has the opportunity to shine in
musical expression. When you get out of your own way, it works
Have you ever noticed that sometimes you feel more than
ready for the stage, feeling primed and in the zone, both physically and
mentally? Other times, you feel tired, nervous, scattered or unfocused?
Perhaps you’ve been performing for a long time, but you
still feel you lack consistency. You desire a singing preparation routine that
works. You do the vocal exercises, practice the repertoire, maybe learn some
choreography, and do some breathing exercises. After that, do you just hope for
the best that all will turn out?
In my lifelong journey as a singer, I’ve had the privilege
of performing in small and large venues around the world. In doing so, I have
been reminded of the notion that, ‘wherever you go, there you are’. My doubts
followed me, as did my negative self-talk and anxiety. Can you relate? It made
me wonder, after singing on stage my whole life, is it too much to ask to enjoy
connecting with the audience while delivering the goods? I didn’t think so.
Being a fitness and mindset coach, I looked for clues in the
mind and body. I came to discover that you don’t have to leave your state on
stage up to chance. I realized singers
could absolutely transform their performance using specific tools through
mindset, movement, and other nourishing habits in addition to practicing the
music. A big component of a successful performance is mental and state-based,
and I discovered some other health hacks for feeling great onstage, in your
What about our bodies? Should we be doing something in
particular with them in between practice sessions that can benefit us? Singing
affects the whole body. While proper breathing is essential, there are many
other body aspects to consider including musculature, posture, strength,
stamina, mobility and flexibility in all of the right places. A strong core is
important, for example, but the abs can’t be too tight, or stuck, otherwise you
will struggle with breath control and line. Immune and nervous system support
are important to consider as well.
Enter the mind. Ever used visualization? One of my favourite
courses in my Kinesiology undergrad at Western University in London, Ontario,
Canada, was Sport Psychology. I thought it fascinating that science had proven
that the brain doesn’t differentiate between skill practice and skill
visualization! Applying the principles to music performance courses as well, I
found the claim to be true across the board.
TIP: When too ill to practice, try practicing the song to perfection in your head. Then take the time to visualize your ultimate performance in real time. To see what you would like to see, hear and feel. You need to immerse yourself in the fantasy. It should feel real. In addition to helping you become very clear on your intention for the show, you are programming ‘future memories’ into your brain.
The missing link we have not yet discussed is how to
integrate mind and body for the stage. All the preparation in the world can go
out the window when nerves and hyper (or hypo) stimulation come into play. So
how do you manage colliding fears, doubts and habits that hold you back from
freedom and joy on stage? First, you
need to simply be aware of the state you’re in; then manage it if you’re not in
a positive one. Particularly when used alongside an energizing or relaxing
physical activity set, Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) offers some useful
tools to get you in the state you want to be in. If you want to practice
consistently getting ‘in the zone’ (or in an optimal state) before singing, try
the NLP exercise called Anchoring or Anchors.
The individual study of each of these components culminated
in my development of a mind-body stage preparation program for singers called Fit for the Stage.
In addition to the tips mentioned prior, here are a few of
my singers’ favourite check-ins and resets that can be done anywhere relatively
quickly to get you in the optimal state to sing; feeling grounded but
energized, connected and present. I hope you will use them and enjoy the magic
Tune into your body. Do you need to fire it up, or take
it down a notch? If you need more energy, go for a brisk walk or try my
energizing set. If you are feeling overwhelmed, slow down with a few stretches
or use my relaxing set.
Adopt a meditation practice.It will help you
clear your mind more effectively and efficiently whenever you need to. There are
some great free apps that guide you
in only 5 minutes a day.
Or contact me for singer-specific meditations and
Make sure you’re nutritionally nourished.On the
run? Try a smoothie with greens, berries, healthy fats and protein. It
will help balance your blood sugar, and subsequently regulate your nervous
system, all part of a healthy singer. Particularly if you’re drinking it right
before you sing, avoid substituting in dairy, coffee, anything ice cold, acidic
tropical fruits, or spicy foods.
And happy singing!
Leigh Graham is a Canadian vocalist and fifteen-year Health, Mindset and Fitness Professional. She is an NLP Practitioner and Fitness for Mental Health specialist. Her education, passion and experience in Kinesiology and Music Performance led her to create a singer-specific mind-body training protocol that she is sharing with the world’s vocalists so they can maximize their impact in, and joy of, performing.
When you’re on stage singing, you can have a lot of information coming at you. Bright Lights. Blurry Faces. Smoke Machines. A loud band or orchestra. Other performers on stage with you. Moving props. Each of us is unique in how we process this stimuli, and it is important as a singer and performer to be able to focus on certain things and not others while we’re up there.
What are some things we need to aware of on stage?
Well, once we’ve practiced our vocals and interpretation to the point of mastery, at the very least we have support, breath, stamina, posture, memory, and portraying the story to think about. For some of us singers, there may also be spoken lines and choreography to rock.
To do all this effectively as a singer and performer, we need to be in a certain state. When we are, we have access to awareness, confidence and joy, which allow for the audience to feel, and to connect deeply with our music.
Ask yourself these four questions before you step onto that stage:
Am I able to take a deep breath? (Exhaling at least on a 4-6 count)
Can I be aware of my body, noticing how it feels?
Do I feel grounded and able to focus on one thing?
Am I also energized?
If you answered ‘yes’ to all of these questions, you are ready to get out there.
If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, you may like to take a minute with one or more exercise below to take you to an optimal state for your best performance.
Some Fit for the StageTM approved hacks to optimize your singing state:
If you’re hyper-energized/anxious or unable to take a deep breath before you get on stage, reduce overstimulation and practice singular focus with one or more of these:
Do a body roll. From standing, hang down from the waist like a rag doll. Inhale at the bottom, and as you sllllowly roll up, stacking the spine, with head coming up last, exhale with the movement. Perform three times.
Sitting upright, close your eyes and do a meditative body scan from head to toe to light up your awareness of your body, and summon that grounded presence.
Take one minute to sift through each of your senses (sight, sound, touch, smell) one by one, and see what you can notice with each. You may like to close your eyes when you’re not using sight.
If you’re feeling bored or tired, get in the zone with one or both of these:
Practice visualizing your ideal performance. Imagine the audience participating with joy and excitement. Imagine YOU in full immersion, sharing your talents. What would make it feel wonderful and impact the audience immensely? Notice the details. What do you SEE? Smiling faces? What do you HEAR? Cheers and laughter? What do you FEEL? Energy pulsing through your veins? Have fun with it.
Move your body in a way that is silly, fun and playful for you. Bust out a ridiculous sexy dance for a few bars. Something that loosens you up in body and spirit. Something that makes you laugh. Watch the tension fly away. And watch those stage hands thank you for the pre-show…
What are some of your backstage ‘get into the zone’ hacks? Love to hear them.