“Pressure pushing down on me/ Pressing down on you, no man ask for/ Under pressure that burns a building down/ Splits a family in two/ Puts people on streets/ It’s the terror of knowing/ What this world is about/ Watching some good friends/ Screaming, “Let me out!”/ Insanity laughs under pressure we’re cracking/ Can’t we give ourselves one more chance?”-Queen
We’ve reached the end of week one at the Napa Music Festival and, right on schedule, we’re starting to feel the pressure. With our first series of performances beginning this weekend and still so much to be perfected, memorized, and staged, all of the performers are nearing the overwhelmed threshold. Sometimes that pressure manifests itself in tears, sometimes in tight shoulders or sighs, but we’re all feeling it. “Exhausted” is becoming the standard answer to “how are you doing?” As we roam the halls from lessons to coachings to operatic rehearsals, we pass like zombies in the night. Feet shuffling and half-opened eyes, our brains are playing a constant shuffle of musical notes, staging cues, technique corrections, and texts. All of this scramble brings so much tension into our bodies that we struggle to sing or make progress. Frankly, it can become so much that I just want to collapse into the fetal position and whimper softly to myself. The weight of the world begins to land on my shoulders and I find myself rapidly moving into panic mode.
But then I pause. I take a 5 minute meditation break and just close my eyes and breathe. I begin to count my breath: inhaling for 4, holding my breath for 2, exhaling for 6, and holding for 2. I slow down my racing thoughts and move my awareness through my body to recognize areas of tension that I can release. I put myself in a time out, run through a few sun salutations to release trapped anxious energy, and do an inversion to ground my body. It’s amazing how taking 5 minutes to release a bit of pressure can make a difference in my ability to focus, breathe, and succeed. So, when you find yourself bubbling out of control, stop and let go of some pressure. Slow the boil to a light simmer and regroup for the next thing that’s being thrown your way. Your body and your voice will thank you.