Keeping it Fresh: setting goals & evolving your practice

 

Hello Friends!

If you’ve followed our posts for awhile you know we love considering all things cyclical and seasonal at BeSpoke Communication. So as summer draws to a close we are taking a few more opportunities to rest, travel, and spend time with family but we are also thinking about what’s next. Key to maintaining a communication skills and presence practice is assessing where you are and what you want focus on moving forward. The foundation of core components like supportive posture, breathwork, mindfulness, and articulation exercises will always be there but depending on where we find ourselves, our attention and approaches will shift and vary. So from time to time it’s worth thinking about what you need from your practice overall and how it can support your goals.

We’re taking some time to focus on this too. As our last post mentioned, we’ll have a little end of summer hiatus where we’ll be creating some new content together and ramping up our plans. It would be great to know what you would find beneficial, what you think about when it comes to communication skills, and how you like to work.

Don’t be shy! We’d love to hear from you.

To get the ball rolling, here are some prompts to get you thinking, writing, drawing about how you’re feeling, what areas are going well, where you’d like to place more attention, and what impact you want your communication skills to have on your life. We’re not trying to give anyone an existential crisis so this could be as simple as being confident in your next performance review or taking on a monologue in a new accent. Or it might be something bigger. It’s all about where you are and what you need.

  • What is going well in your practice right now?
    • Think of something physical that’s feeling good
    • Think about an aspect of your mindset that’s positive
    • Think of one of your favorite personal speaking habits
  • Where are you feeling challenged?
    • Are there physical obstacles for how you want to communicate?
    • Think of where you can cultivate some positivity in your mind
    • Is there a communication habit you would like to shift?
  • What are the goals you’re working towards right now? What would you like to be working towards?
    • Think of a few short term goals, perhaps consider these categories:
      • Personal
      • Professional
      • Family/relationships
    • Think of a few long term goals, again considering these categories:
      • Personal
      • Professional
      • Family/relationships
    • Using whatever arises think about how your communication skills can support these goals and areas of your life:
      • What skills will help you physically?
      • What will help mentally?
      • What habits do you hope to develop in your communications?

Hopefully this gives you some food for thought! Let us know how you get on and we’ll look forward to evolving together this autumn!

Take Good Care,

Lindsay & Christine

 

 

 

 

 

 

De-Stimulation Sequence

IMG_0276

Hi Friends,

Feeling a little spread thin or stressed out? Here is a sequence that uses mindful voice work to help you de-stimulate your nervous system and chill out. This sequence is great for relaxation all by itself, but also great for your voice. Relaxed bodies lead to more relaxed breathing which leads to easier speaking. So get into something comfy and create yourself a nice little atmosphere (why not a candle? Maybe some flowers? Who says voice work can’t be romantic?) and enjoy!

Take good care,

Christine & Lindsay

 

Be a Springtime Blossom! Tips for Spring Allergies and Vocal Care

peony

Hello Friends!

First of all, Happy Spring! We are very happy to see flowers blooming, the days growing longer, and even getting that little bit warmer in London, although like all early spring days things are certainly changeable. For some (including me), this changeability can cause imbalances in the sinuses and, trying to be as tasteful as possible, hefty production of mucus, which can leave my throat itchy and uncomfortable with post-nasal drip and bring an unhealthy rasp to my voice. It’s not fun and can impact range, breath support, and resonance. But no one should miss out on the fun of spring and of course there are always ways to support ourselves through pungent, pollinated times.

To that end, we thought it would be helpful to share some strategies for coping with the allergy and sinus challenges spring can pose. Because we are not ENTs or allergists these are not medical suggestions but natural means for relief that we have found effective. Please ensure you seek the advice of a doctor for your allergies, especially if you’re being severely affected. We just hope these thoughts will encourage some mindful self-care.

1. Starting with the obvious and eternal advice: HYDRATE

We regularly mention hydration on this blog so I’ll stick to the spring-relevant points here. When temperatures are going up and we’re feeling warmer and perhaps sweating a bit more, drinking hydrating fluids is very important for overall health. In the case of assisting allergies and sinuses, maintaining a good level of hydration can dilute mucus thickness and combat the drying effect that allergy medications like antihistamines and decongestants have on the throat. Just remember drinking water does not instantly hydrate your throat, vital organs reap the benefits first. By some measures it takes at least 20 minutes for your throat and vocal folds to feel any benefit of drinking water while some sticklers say overall hydration is only achieved after 4 hours. Don’t drive yourself crazy with these timelines, just drink throughout the day. A glass of water first thing in the morning and before bed will help too. Spring is a great time of year to make some trendy water infusions so pile in the mint, strawberry, and cucumber!

2. Take a sinus rinse…NETI POT

We could probably write an entire manifesto on Neti pots. Using them has been a game-changer in terms of caring for our voices while living in a big city and suffering from sensitive sinuses. Because they only use salt packets and water we’ve found them to be a great alternative to nasal sprays. Neti pots and salt packets can be found in the allergy treatment sections of drugstores or on Amazon. A written explanation of how to use them is difficult but luckily the amazing Adriene Mishler of Yoga With Adriene has a video on the subject. Check it out and see what you think. For our part, we’ve looked back.

3. Soothing Smells…AROMATHERAPY

This is a simple suggestion, but sometimes experiencing lots of congestion during warmer weather can feel very oppressive. A little essential oil action can go a long way. My preferred oils for this scenario are peppermint and eucalyptus. Just putting a few drops on a tissue, holding it to my nose and gently breathing in goes a long way. I also like to place a few drops on my pillow before bed. Whether it’s essential oils or a lavender infused eye pillow, soothing smell and sensory stimulation can be an easy way to alleviate pressure and provide yourself with some lovely smells!

4. Maintain useful habits…BREATHE AND MOVE

When we don’t feel well it’s tempting to feel like moving should be put on the back burner. Despite this, stretching and tying movement to breath offers the chance to find gentle relief through working muscles and moving the breath, which will gently work on the throat and sinuses. Turning to Adriene again, this is a sequence I like to do when I’m feeling particularly bad (it’s really great for a bad cold as well as allergies).

5. Fresh air, plenty of sleep, good food…SELF CARE

When your allergies are making you all kinds of sniffly don’t shut the windows and stay in a stuffy room, let some air in and get outside. It will help you acclimate to the changes in pollen levels and avoid the dust you find indoors. Pair this with getting enough sleep and eating plenty of good vitamin-packed foods. Dust off that nutri bullet, personal blender, giant blender and make some smoothies! In short, find ways to give yourself extra healthy support.

Please let us know what you find most helpful and we would love to hear your favorite strategies!

Take Care and Be Well,

Lindsay and Christine

Open Your Heart! (Be our communication Valentines?)

heart

Hello Friends, 

So it’s mid-February, the Valentine’s Day displays are upon on us. They’re cheesy, some of them are fun, some of them makes us deeply frustrated with society, but at the very least it’s possible to find good deals on wine and chocolate regardless of your celebration inclinations.  We both like to be a bit “light-hearted,” if you will, (sorry I can’t help myself) about the holiday, so we thought let’s make a self-love sequence that focuses on keeping the heart open, literally and metaphorically.

Extremes in the chest impede our ability to breathe with ease and support. Collapse through rounded shoulders or forcing the chest forward through shoulders pressed back leaves the body vulnerable to tension and sends a consistent message of stress. Whatever your stance is on the metaphorical concept of an open heart, the physical situation bears on our ability to access our thoughts and feelings with clarity and presence. So grab an empowered, upright seat and take the time to give your heart some love this Valentine’s Day. That’s all we ask from our communication Valentines.

Let us know how it goes and remember:

“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” -Oscar Wilde

Lots of Love,

Lindsay and Christine

Post-Turkey Tummy Time!!

thanksgiving-2015

Just one of our very lovely Thanksgiving occasions!

Hello Friends!

A week gone, we hope anyone partaking enjoyed a very Happy Thanksgiving!. In difficult times we are very grateful to have loved ones around us and for the ability to share our ideas and experiment in this space.

Now, it’s no secret that we both are ardent supporters of occasions that require a love and commitment to eating, but occasionally this can lead to stress…especially in the tummy area when its been overloaded by decadent vegetarian stuffing and divine mashed potatoes. This of course can lead to some rough digestive feelings, which we know impacts our ability to communicate. This sequence is designed to give you a little easy tummy love any time you might need it.

This is a floor sequence so grab a mat, towel, or just settle down on a clean carpet.

Let us know how you like it!

Take Good Care,

Lindsay and Christine

Voicing the Inner Voice; Gratitude

img_2031
My safe space. Where’s yours? 

Hey Y’all,

Happy Thanksgiving Week! Because of all the craziness going on in the world, we thought this would be a good time to tune in to your inner voice. Since it’s Thanksgiving, we’re practicing voicing the mantra ‘I’m grateful’. Put on something comfy, find your safe space, and tune in.

Take good care,

Christine and Lindsay

 

Managing Nerves: The Moment Before

Version 2
My cat, Sadie. I think this photo perfectly captures what so many of us feel like the moment before a performance or presentation! 

Hi Friends,

We have many posts on the site that help you warm up and prepare ahead of a performance or a presentation, but what about that moment right before you get up to speak? That moment, while you are waiting, is often nerve-wracking. This is a short sequence that coaches you through where to place your focus in that moment before, allowing you to stay present, rather than in another world thinking about how nervous you are. You can listen to it ahead of time and then keep the sequence in mind whenever you are in ‘the moment before’. The sequence is very simple but very effective!

Let us know how it goes. Sadie the cat wants to know!

Take good care,

Christine and Lindsay

Stress Bustin’ Breathing and Snazzy Sighing!

color-lungs

Illustration from Madison Cavanaugh’s The One Minute Cure

Hello Friends!

I hope your October is ending well, and if you’re into Halloween that you’re getting ready for some spooky fun. This week’s sequence might awaken your inner ghost with some sighing or simply afford a bit of tranquility with attention to the breath.

Let us know how you get on and if you find this helpful in bringing you to a happy place!

Take Good Care,

Lindsay and Christine

 

 

 

 

Create Your Consistency!

linds-pic

Hello Friends!

So, here we are just past mid-October. The weather for many of us is crisper, perhaps there’s some beautiful foliage for you to enjoy. There is also, for many of us, a shift into the next gear of work or school as we begin the ramping up of things to accomplish before the semester (“term” for my Brits shaking their heads) or financial year ends. We confront project deadlines, late nights, and the stress that impacts us as a result. And that can mean certain things fall by the wayside. Like your attentiveness to an individual communication/voice/mindfulness practice for example. We are taking this head-on and offering some ideas to keep you engaged rather than exhausted before things really swirl into the chaos officially known as the “holiday season.”

We’re going to be very upfront here… some of you may be in full-time drama school training programs, or part-time, or something else in between. For the great spectrum of professional people out there, it may be that you take communications courses or see a coach privately or maybe you are doing entirely your own variation of unguided engagements around this kind of work, it’s all good. But you better be making a conscious effort to engage with the process in your mind/body. Most people in our line of work will tell you how frustrating it can feel when we see the people we work with expecting our contact time to simply “fix” whatever it is they want to address or that somehow by showing up and going through the motions they will be “trained”through attending classes. There’s much more to it than that, and it depends on the work you’re willing to do. As with anything in life, but particularly when it comes to communication skills. Why? HABITS.

Our habits dictate many aspects of our lives and our communication behaviors such as posture, accent, vocal patterns, gesture…you name it, it’s involved and been forming through all stages of your life. In order to increase flexibility and use of communication skills habits must be identified and replaced with habits that encourage adaptivity and awareness. Coaches and teachers are invaluable for helping this process along and guiding us through set backs and breakthroughs, but ultimately long-term progress comes back to our willingness to engage, question, and notice. Especially when we’re busy. There are so many insights that might be missed because we feel the need to constantly plough ahead instead of examining what’s happening through our experiences. That’s why we’re proposing a dedication to creating consistency by finding ways to engage with your communication skill-building work solo.

These are our suggestions:

Be Realistic: Identify a few key skills you feel confident working on individually. Write down the exercises you know to be helpful so you don’t have to scramble. Don’t set crazy time expectations. Even 5 minutes can help you on your way when consistently and thoughtfully used.

Ask For Support: Ask coaches and teachers what they recommend in terms of solo work that will help you work toward your goals. Trust us, they’ll love it.

Plan Ahead: Notice where setting time aside will be possible, it doesn’t always have to be the same. Pencil in pockets of time and do your best to stick to them.

Create Rituals: Enjoy having a candle lit during evening practice? Go for it. Have a favorite bench in the park where you can practice mindfulness in peace? Get yourself there. Find ways to create space and occasion for your practices

Talk About It: Tell your loved ones (or you know, housemates) about what you’re doing whether just casually or in a full blown detailed conversation. Either way you will be engaging your own thought process around your goals and letting them know you shouldn’t be disturbed while practicing.

Get Creative: Don’t be afraid to go off on tangents. Research and experiment, keep yourself curious so that the process isn’t a chore. Keep it spicy!

Hopefully these suggestions provide some food for thought. We truly believe communication skills goals can be achieved wherever you’re coming from, especially when you feel connected to and present with your own process. Let us know how it goes and what you think!

Take Good Care,

Lindsay and Christine

Connect to Your Thought: Mindfulness Exercise for Sight-Reading and Speaking With Notes

 

img_4540

Hello Friends!

Happy October, it’s pumpkin time! This is the second part of our series on working with text and notes. We’ve put together a mindfulness exercise that aims to help you connect your breath to thought with the context of an important event or to simply get you in the headspace for practicing.

Everything starts to ramp up this time of year so please let us know in the comments if there’s anything you feel would be beneficial! And please give us any feedback you have on this exercise!

Take Good Care,

Lindsay and Christine