Singing has been proven over time to be beneficial for mindfulness and wellbeing - and not just for the professionals. When the Zoom room opened for Sing for Better Health, a sense of community was immediately established for all who attended as we were warmly welcomed by our group leader Udita Everett. With her experience of being a trained music therapist, First Nature voice/breath/body coach, and Singing for Lung Health leader (as mentioned on the Sing for Better Health website), she was the natural choice to put everyone at ease, whether you were new or had been attending from the original day of launch fourteen years ago.
This is not just any singing group, but one that tackles loneliness
The session began with some mindful breathing exercises to enable us to connect with our breath on a deeper level, such as imagining you had a big balloon on your back, which you had to imagine breathing into for longer sections of songs. There was also an exercise which Udita classed as "joyful gasps" into the ribcage to enable a shorter breath in order to aid with smaller time gaps between each line. This was extremely useful, as no matter what level of singing we were at, these exercises grounded us all and prepared us for the song choices ahead.
There were times when some of us didn't know the songs on the list at all, or that well. However, with the mic being muted to prevent Zoom having a massive time lag, as well as the tunes being easy to pick up, it was easy to settle into. With most of the music played and recorded by Polina on the piano, it was extremely enjoyable on a simple level, with no other instruments involved. It meant that we could just focus on our own emotional journeys as we sang, with no worry of being judged, which helped to build inner confidence. Plus the sense of community continued between songs as people shared their joy at the pets appearing on screen and laughing with each other, deepening the connection between them all, which was lovely to watch.
For some who were used to working in a more structured way singing wise, like myself for instance, the relaxed mindful approach took a little getting used to. Once we got into the session, and felt safe enough to express ourselves in a way that was right for us as individuals, it felt so natural and was a pleasure to experience.
The work that Udita does to bring mindfulness into a creative practice every week is inspirational. Especially as this is not just any singing group, but one that tackles loneliness, brings people out of their shells and improves inner confidence. This was a lovely way to set us up for the day, and is a workshop for any age to enjoy.