Baritone Notes – Giving Life Some Flavour


As we noted in the introductory article, the “Baritone” voice, the second lowest, is represented in the body from the bottom of the sternum to the top of the pelvis – the belly and the mid and small of the back.

I wrote that the Baritone is an “enhancement” voice that adds what might be described as “deep colour” to the Quartet.

I googled Baritone, and got: “Dramatic Baritone”:

This category, often associated with the Wagnerian music dramas, also contains roles in French and Italian opera. The Dramatic Baritone voice is large in volume, with a metallic cast to the voice that enables it to slice through the heaviest Wagnerian orchestra. Almost as important as the vocal qualifications is to possess sheer physical stamina.

The belly is a sensitive area, and in Myss’ Chakra theory is the “home” to self-esteem and one’s sense of self. Further, it is the home of the major internal organs nicknamed “the guts.” From which we get, “No guts, no glory.” Secondly, we have “gut feelings.” More on this form of “body language” in a minute.

We always want to remember we are mammals and that we’ve been human mammals for, say, 100,000 generations. Once we climbed down from the trees and started running about the savannah of Africa, we soon discovered that being upright meant we could reach higher, but it also meant that our bellies were exposed.

It’s said that the origin of the right-handed handshake was so that neither person could grab something pointy and shove it into the other. For a “slightly” comedic take on this, check out, of all things, the story of Ehud, in the book of Judges in the Bible. The plot turns on the fact that Ehud was a “left-handed man.”

We learned early on that we needed to protect our bellies. Indeed, we tend to save our bellies for those we really trust. In Bodywork, the belly is a semi-difficult area to work with, as the muscles ride above the guts. Tricky to get a hold of them. Most people jump slightly when I first touch the area. It’s an old, old, fear – “I’m putting my life, my belly, in your hands.”

It’s no wonder that self-esteem is tied up in the belly.

When we feel insecure, we often say, “my stomach is tied up in knots.” Oh. Right. I was going to say something about body language.

Some day I just have to collect every body part reference to something seemingly unrelated, such as, “he’s a pain in the butt.” Or, “she broke my heart.”

If you think about it, such expressions are quite odd. First of all, the part of the body is quite specific and seldom varies. People are pains in the butt or the neck. We never hear, “Boy she’s a pain in the spleen.”

Now, you may be saying, “So what???”

Well, the reason such expressions get into the language is because we feel different life experiences in different parts of the body… which is one of the key elements behind Bodywork.

I want you to buy into the idea that emotions and situations are felt in the body, not just interpreted in the head, and that finding that “just right place” when dealing with life is our best chance for emotional, mental, spiritual and physical health.

A deeply self aware, self-appreciative and self-responsible person might be said to have a resonance with his or her own life. They are not at war with themselves, nor have they sold themselves to the vagaries of fate. This unfortunately, is the rare individual indeed.

Unfortunately, the norm in our society is to be externally identified and validated, or negated altogether.

Many are the people who come through my doors who simply refuse to acknowledge themselves. They block themselves at every turn. They blame their upbringing, their circumstances, and it’s always going to get better when someone else changes.

When confronted with their “lack of guts,” they tell me they “can’t” change, because others won’t let them, or they are too weak, or they lack something vital that “everyone else has.”

Or, they come in over-filled with themselves, but it’s the feeling one gets from eating too much poutine. Bloated with their own self-importance, their need to stand out, to be special, to be noticed, to be in a position of authority.

Their lives are frenetic, running from task to task, place to place, never centered in themselves, never content to simply be. They agree that I have it 66.7% correct. They want to “simply be…noticed.” The body expression is “full of hot air.” Bloated, gassy, bilious living.

Back to the Three Bears: The first is too cold, the second too hot, and the “just right place” is self-centered attention.

The just right place is a calm and meditative place, full of depth and resonance. It’s a belly thing.

In Japan they talk about a person being hara no aru hito. The phrase means, literally, the man with belly (hara). A simpler definition is: centered. In Japan, the hara, the belly, is the strength of the person.

Now, understand. This is about training the body as a way of training the self. The point of all Zen training, for example, is letting the inner Master out. This is accomplished, wait for it, through self-knowing, self-control and self-responsibility. All without ego.

The “just right” belly place is centered, quiet, self-responsible and self-referent. It is open, it is trusting, and it is strong.

Next week, one more look at this region, as we examine gut feelings.

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