Hey there, hero!
Your friendly neighborhood rainbow encrusted unicorn VOHeroes coach, Karen-Eileen Gordon, will be a featured speaker at VO Atlanta over the next week or so.
You should consider attending this virtual event! It’s going to rock. Here’s a link:
https://vms.swoogo.com/voa21/ (be sure to join the event, then look for her session and join that)
Coach K-E will be speaking on a subject she rocks the house at: self-care. This is taking care of you and your instrument, health and wellness-wise. And her version is RaDiCaL!
If you want more of her gooey goodness, do sign up for her VOHeroes workout this or any other month.
Well, hello there lovely humans! I am Karen-Eileen Gordon and welcome, a warm and cordial welcome, to “How to Calm the F Down.”
Woooooo! Sitting ovation! Now before we get into the beautiful, beautiful gems, tools, tips and tricks that I would like to give you, let me talk for a moment about what this beautiful podcast is—and why I wanted to gift it to the world. I am, as some of you may know, a joyfully working film-television-stage and voiceover actor/actress, I will answer to both…and, the entertainment industry is not the most peaceful career path on the planet. And I’m being very, very, very, very kind indeed. And I have just found, both in my creative life and in my civilian life— they’re connected obviously—it’s very helpful to have a treasure chest full of gems to boost my peace level and calmness level and bring down my anxiety level, now. Right the f now. Because typically when anxiety (or panic if you’re dealing with panic—I have had panic attacks in my life. I first moved to LA, they started immediately—that was a really lovely gift—not so much!)…I very quickly realized that the ability to calm down right away was really important. And it’s easy to calm down or feel peaceful when we have the luxury of placing ourselves in an environment that generates that feeling within us, maybe on a yoga mat, in a yoga studio—either at home or a live class—out in nature, on a massage table, on the water, at the beach, playing your video games…whatever thing— binge watching your favorite television (for me it’s MasterChef: shout out to Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich, Christina Tosi—I’m leaving somebody out Aarón Sánchez—it’s my peeps, they’re my peeps even though they don’t know they’re my peeps. When we can get—immerse ourselves in the thing that automatically produces the the relaxation response in us, that’s wonderful and life doesn’t always unfold that way. So I decided I wanted to give a giant gift to the planet with the hopes that it will help some of you out there—many of you I’m hoping—in those times where you’re in the middle of something and you just need to find a way to calm down and boost your peace right now. That could be a challenging conversation with a fill-in-the-blank, with a boss, with a loved one, with a friend, with a co-worker, with a vendor…that could be in line at the grocery store—at the time of this recording, if somebody’s too close to you without wearing their mask or sneezing and coughing and being super naughty…that could be a challenging, challenging day with your children, if you happen to be one of the many parents who are homeschooling at the moment or homeschooling-light, the teachers are teaching but you have to wrangle the kids. There’s so much going on that is brand new territory for so many of us. There are so many scenarios, and by the way those of us like the film and television actors—the majority of us are…are sitting and waiting for production studios to open. Auditions are coming back very slowly but it’s a fraction of the giant tsunami of work that we’re used to, that we were used to back in March. So all of the actor population is sort of sitting around going “Well, what the heck is coming for me and what’s happening?” And that sometimes can tend to engender some stress and not so much some calm. So, there’s lots of us I think that would benefit from break-the-glass, use immediately, feel better now tools—calmness tools—so that is why I am being brave and diving into the podcast universe! I have thought about this for a long time, and have been encouraged by my teachers and mentors to do it, and it’s time. Here we are! And, I want to give a shout out to my friend and voiceover mentor David H. Lawrence the 17th. This podcast is modeled after something I saw him do that I really liked, which is this: there will be three ways for you to consume and snack on this beautiful material. One of them is a video that will be available to you on my YouTube channel, Karen-Eileen Gordon, cute little hyphen in the middle, one of them will be the podcast, audio only so you can safely walk—get out of the, out of the house or the apartment and take a stroll and have me in your ear and let’s calm down together…and the other one will be text so you can either consume with your eyeballs your ear balls, or what’s the other one? Eyeballs? Ear balls? You get it. Anyway, welcome. Welcome welcome welcome, to Calm the F Down. That’s what we’re gonna do here. And my preference is for gems that work, as I said, very, very quickly—so this was a beautiful introduction. I’m actually going to give you the first tool I’d love to give you today, which is called Alternate Nostril Breathing. So here we go. Alternate nostril breathing, those of you who are familiar with the yoga world will be familiar with this technique, it’s used many places and the first place I encountered it was in the world of yoga. I was very blessed to go through a yoga teacher training, I’m an instructor in restorative hatha, RYT200 is my designation—shout out to Yoga Alliance and all my yoga practitioners and instructors. If you were in a yoga class or if you’re watching a yoga dvd or streaming yoga they would have you do a really fun hand position called a mudra. Mudra, which I believe means hand in Sanskrit—I will look that up and put that in the notes—and, for our purposes, you’re going to use whatever hand position you like. The idea is to do sort of what it sounds like: alternate nostril breathing means you’re going to breathe in and out consciously, specifically through one nostril and then the other. And I’m going to talk you through it, and then we’re going to do 30 seconds of it together. Please not while you’re driving. If you’re driving, please wait until you are safely parked or at a stoplight, please always be very very safe when practicing calmness techniques—we want you safe and calm. Good. So I’m going to talk you through it. Basically i like to use my thumb, so I would block—start with the right nostril, block it, breathe in deeply and slowly through the left…then I would block my left nostril (sounding kind of funny here) and breathe out through the right, take a little beat, then I’d breathe back in through the right, block the right nostril, open the left, breathe out through the left, and the cycle continues. And there’s something really fascinating that happens those who love this technique tell me—the right and the left sides of the brain which do very different things—and again we understand a small fraction of what the brain does. I think as we grow in our knowledge, we will get some really beautiful surprises and at the moment what we do know is we use a very small percentage of our brain, and what’s accessible to us. And we also know that the left and right sides of the brain function differently. And when there’s a stress response, when we’re freaked out or stressed or anxious, the left and right sides of the brain don’t talk to each other very well. They’re kind of off doing their own thing. And of course I’m paraphrasing this—if there’s any neuroscientists or neurobiologists out there please, um, be kind—I’m doing the best I can to explain what I understand of it. Alternate nostril breathing basically helps the left and right sides of the brain to calm down and talk to each other again. And what happens when they talk to each other beautifully again is that we feel relaxed and peaceful and grounded and centered. And the other cool thing about alternate nostril breathing is that it takes very little to calm us down. I have found that 30 to 60 seconds of this gets people in a very very different state. So before we start, on a scale of 1 to ten, with one being you’re so relaxed you’re a noodle, you might fall asleep peacefully wherever you are—that’s one…all the way to ten, which is you’re pretty close to a panic attack and you feel like your scalp is on fire. So one is noodle, noodly noodly, and ten is panic attack. So on a scale of one to ten on the calmness or anxiety or stress scale, where are you now? Just notice your number, there’s only right answers. We’re gonna come back to it in a second. So please get comfortable wherever you are, comfortable, again safely, please—and I’m gonna do it with you and talk you through it. And the idea is to breathe in and out through your nose, because there’s a different level of calmness that happens when we breathe in and out through our nose. It sort of forces us to breathe more slowly and deeply and fully than when we breathe in and out through our mouth. So if you happen to be in a place where your allergies are kicking up or you’ve got something going on where you cannot breathe in and out through your nostrils, know that breathing in and out deeply and slowly through your mouth will also help you to calm. Please do whatever you’re able to do, first choice would be if you’re able to breathe in and out through nostrils, please follow along with that. So here we go. Take your thumb or whatever you you like, block your right nostril. We’re going to breathe in deeply through the left…count of four helps, so: one two three four, block the left nostril, open the right, out through the right, one two three four, hold for a little beat, in through the right nostril, one two three four, block the right, out through the left, one two three four, in through the left, one two three four, block the left, out through the right, one two three four, in through the right, one two three four, block the right out through the left, one two three four, last round, in through the left, one two three four, block the left, out through the right, one two three four, deep breath in, out with some sound.
One more, deep breath in, out with some sound.
Very nice. I can tell I have some very nice breathers with me today. That was about 30 seconds. I’d like you to just gently notice on that scale of 1 to 10, which you made note of before, one being noodle, 10 being panic attack, where is your number now? And I’m gonna be very bossypants and guess that there are a bunch of you out there that feel much more noodle-like now after 30 seconds than before we did alternate nostril breathing.
This is something you can do throughout the day. Again 30 seconds, 60 seconds. If you’re in a state where you’re very very riled up, it might take a few minutes. And I want to be really clear here—it doesn’t take hours. It doesn’t take 30 minutes, 45 minutes, you don’t need any special equipment. You need your lungs, which you have, and the ability to breathe in and out, which you have, and a way to block your nostrils, which you have. You have everything you need. I am so excited to have given you this gem today. Please leave comments, I love comments, I love to know how things are working for you. Let me know how it’s going, and I can’t wait to see you again next time.