Through my own healing & management of panic disorder I have come to know a fair bit about mindfulness. I don't have a qualification in it but I have been practicing it in one form or another since I was a teenager! I can remember picking up 'You Can Heal Your Life' by Louise Hay at 14 and being utterly fascinated with the concept of how our thoughts create our reality. Since reading it, I've never been able to forget it and have been applying it in one form or another, ever since.
My background is in beauty therapy and Reiki and only now is the link between mindfulness and singing becoming very apparent. The quality of your voice is TOTALLY related to what is going on in your mind, body and emotions.
1. Mindfulness is the ability to focus on a meditation object (such as your breath or your footsteps) and then notice when you're engaged in thought again. When you notice that you're engaged in thought again, you simply return to focusing on your breath. During your practice you may carry out this process countless times. It is not about having no thought, it is about noticing your thoughts and the quality of them. How are they making you feel? Angry, sad, bored, stressed, frustrated, happy, horny, pumped? Thoughts are always transient but the thing that is thinking them (you/your awareness) is ever present. Mindfulness teaches us to focus on that which is always present rather than that which is always transient. Because singing connects us to our consciousness, it could be seen as a meditation object. When we sing from the heart and don't engage with negative self talk around our voices, it increases our feelings of wellbeing and therefore our voice/practice/performance feels better to us. But if we are constantly identifying with the inner critic, of course we are going to manifest fear, worry and dissatisfaction.
2. Tim Ferris author of the Four Hour Work Week studies high level entrepreneurs and discovers what they do to stay at the top of their game. 80% of these high achievers have some form of Mindfulness Practice which they attribute to their success. Eckhart Tolle, the world's number one spiritual/mindfulness teacher recently did a talk at Google to train employees of the importance of mindfulness during their work day. I urge you to watch it on YouTube. Search Eckhart Tolle Google. I have tried to train many students who are just so scattered in their thinking, that their bodies and minds are constantly twitching. Learning to sing require an ability to focus on the subtle movements of the larynx, pharynx and abdomen within. If you cannot still yourself and remember to apply the techniques that have been routined, you're just not going to get anywhere. Mindfulness helps us to remember to remember.
3. Singing is an art form pertaining to self expression. The freer you can be from inhibition the deeper you will be able to go within yourself and the more you will be able to touch people's souls. Lady Gaga's new re-invention perfectly underpins the relevance of this. Her collaboration with performance artist Marina Abramovich is a must watch. She removes all the layers of make up and costume and becomes naked with her and her voice alone. By practising your connection to the present moment (aka consciousness/all that is/God/The Universe) through mindfulness you will undoubtedly deepen your singing performance.
4. Singing is a form of athleticism that requires heightened physical & aural focus. Professional singers are athletes. Look at Madonna or Pink as examples of physical athletes and Pentatonix or Take 6 as aural athletes. Training to this level requires mental and emotional discipline. The discipline is to NOT GET DISTRACTED! It is possible to practice not getting distracted through mindfulness. In essence, that is what mindfulness is. It is the practice of not getting distracted by your thoughts. Thoughts are so tempting to run away with as they are stimulating and can offer us an escape from boredom. But why are we board in the first place? Are we not seeing the beauty of the present moment? Are we not fascinated with the consciousness that exsits behind our thoughts? If not, you really should start to take an interest, as this is the ONLY thing that will ultimately offer you any kind of comfort, protection or security as our circumstances constantly change. Circumstances include worrying about singing.
5. Amidst the shit hitting the fan, mindfulness is our faithful companion and helps us to become steadfast and centered in the eye of the storm. Performing and singing (if you're nervous about it) is an example of a self created storm. Singing and performing can make us feel nervous because of the whirring thoughts we have about potential disastrous outcomes. This is also known as worrying. Of course if you don't know your stuff you might have a genuine reason to worry (and I'm not saying that mindfulness should replace your practice) but what I am saying is that you need to practice mindfulness IN COMBINATION with your singing practice or performance to get the best out of yourself. What thoughts are you having that are simply not true? What thoughts are you having that are pre-empting something that hasn't happened yet? The only way we can find answers to these deep questions are through mindful practices.