The heart of developing your singing is time spent practicing. And at the heart of practicing is the space you use to do this. I wonder if we really take the time we need to assess if our space is working for us – or think of ways we can make it more inspiring. Today let’s take a step back and ask about the ingredients that go into creating a space in which you can be creative and productive.
I’ve been working as a consultant in this area for years. As a registered dietician and health professional, I’ve noticed how one’s environment can affect life progress negatively or positively.
We’re going to explore some practical changes you can make to your creative space in your home – whether it’s a small apartment, a rented room, or a magnificent mansion (we wish!).
Observe Your Singing Space
Start by taking a look at the room you are using for your singing. If you are home, reading this blog off your computer screen or on your phone, you are most probably surrounded by a bunch of clutter. Piled up mail, random items on your desk or table, (if you are me: colored post it notes with “to dos” for the day).
How do these items make you feel? I can confidently answer for myself and many others: overwhelmed, de-energized, not motivated…this vibe only hinders our creativity to produce. Think of when you are on stage. When our fields and platform are occupied by space there’s nowhere to begin the practical planning of new projects and building dreams.
“Feng-Shui” is an ancient practice that claims to use energy forces to harmonize individuals with their surrounding environment. Our space reflects our life and can either support or deter our goals. Your LIFE EXPERIENCE is directly affected by how your studio and practice space is set up.
You know this better than anyone! As musicians, noise can be both harmony and cacophony. It can be peaceful or disruptive. Your ability to tune into life is dependent on your energy and space. Opening up your home, apartment, studio, practice room-wherever you dwell, will create clarity, peace, presence, awareness, engagement, and a deeper connection to all we do.
Changes to Your “Singing Sanctuary”
- Keep it natural.
Professor Irving Biederman of the University of Southern California found when people view scenes that are universally preferred, sunset, valleys, nature, trees, etc., the nerve cells in our brains are activated. Natural painkillers and hormones start flowing and we get a morphine high from just looking at beautiful scenery. Thus, our home practice space can have measurable effects on our well-being. Hang paintings of serene valleys, bodies of water, or even create a space with floor to ceiling windows facing the great outdoors. Add a plant or flowers to the room, or even a tabletop water fountain stream.
- Keep it Light
Sunlight has a huge impact on our mood. Picture it: how do you feel on the days you wake up to sunshine vs a gloomy, cloudy morning? Sunlight has been proven to not only affect performance of office workers but also impacts hospitalized patients suffering with depression. Natural rays of sunshine initiate a slue of positive responses building macrophages (which are white blood cells) throughout the body that fight disease and help us heal. Install bright lights and find a space with windows to share natures glow. Himalayan salt lamps can be a huge asset to your space. The pink light illuminates a room and has been believed to have major health benefits, including air purifier, soothes allergies, boost mood, and induces a state of calm and relaxation.
- Keep it Aromatic
Scents are nostalgic. Consider the feeling when pulling fresh apple pie out of the oven or the scent of your mother’s perfume when you were a child. You have at some point experienced a visceral reaction between smell and emotions. These droplets of chemicals can relax us, or if they were experiences at a time of stress, they can leave us at unease. Consider the following scents as aromatherapy:
- Menthol – also known as peppermint oil is known for its cooling effects that promote breathing, improve nasal congestion, sore muscles and stabilize emotions. Oh, how this scent is reminiscent of my soccer days and feeling a “Charlie horse” after a full day’s practice. The soothing scent of menthol on my body was a savior!
- Lavender – relaxation, relieves tension, induces sleep (great for anyone suffering with insomnia).
- Eucalyptus – Similar to menthol, also touted for its benefits of relieving sore muscles, eases pain, arthritis and other inflammatory markers.
- Mandarin – known to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression; helps stabilize moods.
- Lemongrass – a tropical, grassy plant used to relieve stress, anxiety, and depression.
Aromatherapy can be used in the form of essential oils used in a diffuser, scented candles, or even room sprays. Your best bet is getting the natural plant itself, dried out and leaving as room décor for the added nature scene mentioned above!
If you’ve read the ingredients to a healthy singing body, these tips on creating a balanced, yet energized living/working space are essential compliments.
Make Some Changes Today
Some of the changes above are actually very easy to make. Remember: our environment affects our well-being and productivity. Like a room that is cluttered, there is no space to live, as so the same goes for the mind. Building a sanctuary that is innovatively fit, will allow “juices” to flow through your brain, so that you can engage in the musical magic you possess.
Now…get to building that feng shui practice space!
Sharon Zarabi is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Dietitian Nutritionist (RD, CDN) and Certified Personal Fitness Trainer. She has worked in the obesity/weight management and wellness space for over 15 years. Her mission is to optimize health through ancient wisdom, modern science, common sense, virtue, mastery and fun. She is a contributor to The Singer’s Guide to Complete Health (Oxford University Press) and her work can be viewed at www.sharonzarabi.com