Open Your Heart! (Be our communication Valentines?)

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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

The Eyes: Finding an Aligned Perspective

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Hi Friends,

Look at this poor monster waiting for the bus stop. (My partner took this picture in Brooklyn in 2012– the “monster” was shooting a cold medicine commercial.) He is almost standing in his alignment, but because his eyes are looking down, his whole head-neck relationship is off and he has shortened himself.

Thinking about how you use your eyes (and how you see the world) is an easy way to check in with your alignment and your perspective. Being in your alignment is key to finding groundedness, presence, and grace. It also makes breathing easier, which makes speaking easier. This will be an especially useful sequence for you if you tend to get rigid when finding your alignment, or if you tend to hyper-focus with your vision.

Let us know how it goes!

Take good care,

Christine and Lindsay

The Clock: For Abdominal Release

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Hi Friends,

This week we’re offering a Shiatsu abdominal self-massage called “The Clock, ” which was introduced to Christine by her teacher, Catherine Fitzmaurice. Shiatsu is a type of Japanese massage that uses acupressure. This is a great abdominal release sequence for those of you who feel like you often walk around holding your abs in– not so useful for deep breathing or connected, supported speaking. You can do this sequence any time, but it can be particularly useful after having done an ab workout. Remember, a fully flexible muscle is one that can fully engage and can fully release. If you are only working out your muscles, they are only fully engaging, so over time they will grow tighter and tighter and lose their flexibility. Release work is therefore a really important antidote to any workout– to keep those muscles nice and flexible.

So find a comfy spot, wear some nice loose clothing, and enjoy!

Please let us know how your experience with this goes. We want to hear from you!

Take good care,

Christine & Lindsay

Working the Balance: Listen and Be Heard

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Hello Friends!

What a week its been! First, the happiest news is that we were able to celebrate the rather wonderful birth of Christine, see below. Lindsay speaking for a moment: it was the brightest light being able to honor a dear friend who keeps my life full of laughter, love, lessons, hope,and of course quality food, and cocktails.

Now this was coupled with an inauguration, no secret if you read our post after the election, that we are deeply troubled by. However, it is our conviction not to be silenced by fear but to be courageous and stand with those who would progress equal rights,confront the battles of social justice, champion diversity, and address climate change.

The Women’s March on London was a fantastic place to start. It was filled with humor and passion, and the most AMAZING samba band to keep us going through packed streets and a delayed start due to the sheer numbers inundating Grosvenor square. In the intensity of this temporary community, brought together to be heard and show solidarity, it was striking how much listening there was to be done, from absorbing signs which covered subjects ranging from feminism to LGBTQIA to refugees to Black Lives Matter, to Climate Change, then there were the chants, and the conversations, and the simple directives that allowed the march to maintain its peaceful organization. There was something deeply moving about standing in the midst of these varied, yet aligned messages and feeling the energy of collective communication.

Communication and our choices around it will be a deeply impactful part of shaping the political climate and agenda as we move forward. Sometimes it will be a wonderful way to share and connect. Sometimes it will be much more challenging. We advocate basking in the connections and rising to the challenges wherever and whenever you’re able to. Maybe that’s in artistic expression, maybe it means being braver in your communication in everyday life. To be clear, this courageous expression needs to involve the balance of listening and being heard. Listening to understand, and not purely react, is no easy feat. Especially when what we’re hearing makes us uncomfortable. Responding from that place makes us more susceptible to losing our intention and dilutes the point we wanted to make. All this leads to to a scenario where neither party hears anything from the other.

We would like to encourage a communication practice that works to allow the most productive conversations possible. It is our hope that coming from a place of grounding and clarity may pave the way for understanding each other better. We also hope it will make those we’re speaking to more receptive, although depending on where they’re coming from this may be deeply challenging. Even if that is so, better to know we tried with integrity to build a bridge, rather than impose a wall.

Here are a few simple techniques we hope will serve you in that goal:

  • Establish the intention of this conversation for yourself. Be clear about what you are trying to understand through listening and the points you want to make by speaking.
  • Breathe to the person/people you’re speaking to. It may sound strange but try to direct you’re breathing toward them. The aim is to allow your abdominals to relax and take a full breath, if those you’re speaking to mirror you they will also be taking deeper breaths. Deep breathing combats stress hormones and will allow your thinking to remain clear.
  • Find your feet on the ground. Whether standing or sitting, actively feel your feet making contact with the surface beneath you. It’s a great reminder to be present in the moment and a literal way to “stand your ground.”
  • Notice any tension occurring in your body, especially in the face, neck, and shoulders. Try breathing to these places with the aim of allowing them to soften. Recognize this is a sign of defensiveness that may be unconsciously mirrored by the person/people you’re speaking to.

We recognize sometimes it’s necessary to be defensive to extricate yourself from a threatening situation, please be mindful and safe.

Let us know how it goes, good luck and stay present in listening and speech!

With Love,

Lindsay and Christine

 

 

 

 

Rib Opening Sequence

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Hey friends,

This week we’re offering a gentle rib opening sequence that will help you breathe more easily. This is great if you find deep breathing difficult or if you find you often hold your ribs in place and they don’t seem to move with ease. Having easy rib movement is key to a powerful voice. So get something comfortable to lie on and grab some pillows– you definitely want to be comfy for this gentle sequence.

Happy breathing!

Christine and Lindsay

Get Vocal about New Year’s Resolutions!

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Happy New Year everyone! We hope you had a festive and restful holiday season. We both got to go home for Christmas, and both had a great time visiting friends and family. But now we are back and ready for 2017.

January is always an interesting time. A time of recovering from the holidays and getting back to reality, but also a time filled with hope and newness— a chance to reflect, shift perspectives, try on new habits. You may have already made some personal new year’s resolutions, but have you thought about how you would like to grow vocally in 2017?

These are some shaky times we live in, and this would be a good year to cultivate a strong voice— you may need it! The more mindful you can be about setting yourself some goals for your vocal growth and health, the more likely you are to stick to them. Here are some good examples of New Year’s Resolutions* for the voice:

  1. Incorporate a voice warm-up into your regular routine. Voice work is like exercise, the more you do, the more you’ll notice a lasting change and impact. As we always say, a little often is better than a lot sometimes. Even 5 minutes a day every day is better than none at all. Start small and see how it grows from there. If you get lost for warm up ideas, use our audio guides to guide you! This one is a good place to start.
  2. Make speaking from support a consistent habit. Habits take time to form, and new, healthier vocal habits often have to be formed quite consciously, because they involve un-doing less healthy habits. Speaking from support on a regular basis will not only keep your voice healthy, but will help you speak from a place of connection and engagement. So make this a priority this year— if supporting your voice is not your habit, then begin to get conscious. Every time you speak, ask yourself: am I supporting this? And if not, do it! But do take this in digestible bites. Maybe start with only your phone conversations. Then at least one in-person conversation a day. Then work your way up to thinking about this every time you speak.We have excellent audio guides that describe what “support” is and help you find it here, here, here and here.
  3. Practice Listening. Voice work is about a lot more than just working on the sound of your own voice— it’s about becoming an engaging and engaged speaker. Being engaged requires the ability to listen and receive, something this world will be in desperate need of in 2017! We can all get better at listening, which just like anything else, is a practice. A good place to start is to practice listening to yourself. Voice warm ups provide a good platform for this self-listening. What does your body/voice/mind/spirit need today to warm up and be present? Here are some good mindful voice work audio guides that can help you practice. Then the question becomes, how can you transfer this practice into listening to others?
  4. Be generous with your speech. This is purposefully worded broadly, because you can take that in many directions. Be generous with your words and your approach to others. Also, be generous to others by speaking clearly, sending them your sound and clearly articulating your words, so that they don’t have to work to hear you. You will sound more committed to what you are saying because you are willing to be heard, but you will also engage your audience more because they can just focus on your words, rather than on trying to understand you. (I use that term audience loosely— it could be a theatre audience or your mom.) Here and here are some good audio guides that can help you find that clear speech.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but hopefully a good starting place to get you thinking about how you would like to grow vocally this year. In our experience, following through with goals or resolutions happens more easily when we write them down first (giving that writing voice a platform too! Hey, that could be resolution #5!). So take a moment, grab some pen and paper and maybe even a nice cup of tea, sit somewhere comfy and write down some plans for your vocal growth this next year. Email us or comment below to let us know how it goes. We want to hear your resolutions and help support you in them!
Happy New Year,

Christine and Lindsay
*If you don’t like New Year’s resolutions, don’t worry! These don’t have to be resolutions. They can also be straight-up goals.

Find Your Ground: Foot Massage Sequence

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Hey friends!

This is a joyous time of year, but the busyness of the holiday season can often feel a bit de-stablizing. This is a massage sequence to help you find your ground again. When you’re standing up, a good way to find your ground is to feel where your feet connect with the floor. You have three points of contact between your feet and the floor: the ball joint of the big toe, the ball joint of the little toe, and the heel. Together, they are shaped like a ‘tripod’, and balancing your weight across this tripod brings a sense of grounding that can help you stay present in the moment. Being grounded helps you breathe easier, which makes it easier to speak fluidly and clearly.

You can bring your awareness to your tripods anytime, but sometimes a little massage to that area can help increase your awareness and sensation in that area. And it just feels good! So give this a try, especially before a speech, show, Christmas pantomime, or hey, maybe even before a holiday party where you’ll be doing a lot of standing and talking. Let us know how it goes!

Take good care,

Christine and Lindsay

Post-Turkey Tummy Time!!

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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

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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

 

PSA: Free Voice Coaching for Activists

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Last week was the first week we didn’t post since we started this blog on March 8th, 2016. We have no excuse, other than that as two American citizens, we were deeply concerned by the results of the presidential elections last week. Without going too deeply into politics, we were saddened that a candidate who seems to be interested in marginalizing or silencing voices, particularly voices from populations that differ from his own, won the day. And at the same time, we felt it was important to acknowledge the voices of the people who did vote for him– that perhaps we had failed to hear these voices before the election– their concerns, fears, trials, tribulations and general motivations for voting for this kind of change.

Anyway, we spent most of the week feeling speechless, and a lot of the week hiding and imbibing the delicious cocktails you see above, or just straight whiskey. (Some of you may not know this, but Lindsay is a genius at concocting cocktails. This one was a rosemary and cinnamon Old Fashioned.) Feeling speechless is always a humbling experience, particularly when one is a voice coach! But if you can breathe with that speechlessness, it can provide an interesting moment to think, feel and listen.

In our reflective time away, we have had an idea. We want to use our skills as voice coaches to ensure that, in this new world, some voices, particularly those of the under-priviledged, minorities, women, and those who identify as LGBTQ+, aren’t lost. Therefore, if you are an activist giving a speech on behalf of one of these groups, or for one of these groups, or as a member of one of these groups, then we have an offer for you. We would like to offer you 1 free hour of voice and public speaking coaching to help you with your speech– in person or via Skype (so you don’t have to be local to London). In this era of constant communication, we seem to have difficulty hearing each other and communicating with each other respectfully, particularly when we have differing opinions. We would like to help you get your message across effectively and build a rapport with your audience– for FREE.

If this is something that you think remotely relates to you, or that you are interested in, please contact us. You can email us at bespoke.comcontact@gmail.com or comment below. And if you know of anyone that you think would benefit from this, please help us spread the word. We are committed to living in a world where every voice is heard. Let’s start with yours!

ps. By the way, the list of groups doesn’t have to end with the ones mentioned above. If you are an activist who is promoting inclusion, love and care in any way, and you would like public speaking help, please contact us.

pps. This offer will never end.