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  • Writer's pictureValerie Nicolosi Niemerg

Lecture 6 - Make a Space Bigger

Updated: Oct 2, 2022

So, to conclude, you need to breathe to sing. That will be two hundred dollars please…

Much of our anatomy is so subconscious that, unless we stop to think about it, (or are forced to study it) we never really understand how things inside our own bodies work. So, whenever a student with no previous training comes into my studio, there are a few basic principles we have to cover.

Number 1: When you consciously engage in any physical action, what body part do you use?

A) A toenail

B) A muscle

C) Your diaphragm

D) Some cartilage

You can just ignore all answers that say “diaphragm.” I only include it because that’s the answer a troll at the door of my studio tells all my incoming students to say.

The answer, of course, is muscle. You cannot move the bones in your body, you cannot move anything unless it is attached to a muscle.

Number 2: Are your lungs muscles?

A) Yes.

B) No

C) What’s a lung?

D) My diaphragm

I know these may seem pedantic questions but you’d be surprised how few people know the answers.

No. Your lungs are not muscles; therefore, you cannot move them. To breathe, you move the intercostal muscles between your ribs and yes, the diaphragm beneath your lungs. When you inhale, you contract those muscles, and the lungs get stretched into a bigger space, creating what?

Let’s do that again:

The intercostals and diaphragm contract, stretching lungs into a bigger space and create…?


Now pay attention because this is big:

You don’t suck air in. You make a space bigger, and air gets sucked in.

Basic laws of physics. Create a vacuum, open a hole (like your mouth) and air will get sucked in. This is how your body breathes every second of your life.

Repeat after me:

I don’t suck air in.

I make a space bigger.

So, the first thing you need to do is STOP breathing like you’re drowning. Stop with all the sucking noises. Stop with all the squeaking desperation and the tight throated holding and the over exertion. It’s not doing you any good. I never use the word “inhale” with my students, because it often carries tension. Instead, I say, “expand.” Make that breathing cavity bigger.

Mind you, I’m not changing how you breathe. I’m changing how you perceive your breath. But even so, because we’re messing with the primary survival system in your body, you might experience a natural panic response when you try it. Often a student will say to me, “but I’m not getting any air in this way.” To which I reply, “Show me. Turn blue and pass out on my floor.”

Okay, once in thirty years, a student passed out. . . but it turned out she had Mono.

As for all the rest, no one passes out. And nobody asphyxiates. . . it’s a miracle!

Wait. No, it’s just physics. It’s just how your body was made to breathe. You do it all the time. You have to trust the physics that are naturally built into your own body. Trust. The air is there and you really didn’t have to work hard to get it. You made a space bigger and it just sort of, came.

Likewise, you don’t “pull God in.” Rather, He is always there, all around, waiting for a space to open up. At the first opportunity He will not ask your permission, stop to pay a toll or fill out some liability forms. He will come flying in, so easily, you won’t even know it happened. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. You make the space and He just comes in.

Sometimes, it’s just too crowded in there. Too many earthly desires, too much hanging onto, excusing, and defending sins, too many grudges lingering, too much worry, fear, anxiety, greed, lust. The usual stuff. God can’t get in unless we make a little space. Forgive. Trust. Let go. Re-examine your “treasure” as Our Lord put it. Or as a credit card ad put it: what’s in your wallet?

Make a little space, and God will come in. Make a space bigger and air will come in, so easily, you might not even believe it's there.

Once you understand how inhalation really works, the next step is an adventure in real estate. That’s right, it’s time to scan the vast terrain of these once seemingly small sponges in the middle of your torso. And the most important factor in your new sprawling suburban territory? …

Location, location, location.

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