A Voice that Conveys

In 2021, when I appeared live in the studio on the NHK (Japanese public broadcasting) general TV program, “Asa-Ichi,” I introduced our “whole-body relaxation exercise” and received a great response from the public.

This is an exercise aimed at “resetting” unconscious tension/exertion in our body.

Tension/exertion causes our body to tire easily, yet it is not very easy to recognize it on our own. “I don’t think I am exerting myself, but I am exhausted by the time the evening comes around” – many people might have had this experience.

In fact, such troublesome tension/exertion can be a “reset” in a simple way.

First, stand on your tiptoes and check if you have a naturally balanced posture.

Next, shake your hands as if you were shaking water droplets off your fingertips in a downward motion. It is better to try to shake your hands comfortably rather than shaking them quickly.

At this point, if the vibration from shaking your fingertips is traveling through your body and reaching all the way to your toes, it means that you are relaxed.

If the vibration stops in the middle, there is an unconscious tension/exertion lurking there.

If you touch the area where your tension is, you may be able to feel it. If you try to shake or lightly tap the area, or even move your body a little, you may be able to relieve the tension.

Then shake your hands again and repeat until the vibration is felt throughout your body.

When you reached this state, gradually stop the movement of your hands/fingertips. If you consciously stop the movement, it will become the source of tension, so it should feel like you are letting go and waiting for it to quiet down on its own.

Simply doing this will reset your tension.

By the way, “relaxing” is not the same as being lazy or weak (dead relaxation). This is called “collapsing,” and it actually makes you tire more easily.

As a rule of thumb, if your body feels heavy after shaking your fingers, then you are in a collapsed state. If you feel light and
airy, then you are in a relaxed state.

“Shizentai” (literally – “natural body”) means you are in “a state of being naturally balanced as a result of relaxation”. In this state, you don’t get tired because your body is supported with a minimal amount of effort/power.

The transmission of vibrations to all parts of the body can be applied to vocalization.

When we speak, we create vibrations. When we speak in a relaxed state, the vibrations are transmitted throughout the body.

These vibrations also affect our surroundings and become a “voice that conveys”.

Working in pairs, place your hand on the back or the side of your partner. If your hand is stiff or tense, you will not be able to feel, so touch your partner softly.

If you are relaxed, you should be able to feel the vibration of your partner’s voice through your hands.

If the vibration of your partner’s voice is not transmitted to your body, return to the whole-body relaxation exercise.

By repeating this, the vibration of your partner’s voice will be transmitted throughout your body. It is a very subtle sensation, and you can’t really feel it unless you are truly relaxed.

Your partner doesn’t have to be loud suddenly. Make sure you can feel the vibration of the voice first, then ask your partner to gradually speak louder.

Just as a low-performance speaker makes a crackling sound, if your partner tries to speak loudly while his or her body is tense, the voice will sound forceful or strained. In a relaxed state, the sound of the voice is clear even if it is very loud.

It is said that “a person’s whole-body is like a musical instrument,” and I think it is really true.

This is an important theme for actors and singers, so I focus on teaching this in their practice of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido. Everyone seems to be practicing with a great emphasis on the whole-body relaxation exercise.

“A voice that conveys” is essential for Shinshin Toitsu Aikido instructors when they teach. In particular, Kiai and counting must be done in such a voice.

When we make business presentations or conduct business negotiations, we will be able to do so in a voice that is full of confidence and builds mutual trust.

Even when parents talk about important things to their children, the way these things are conveyed will change. Your voice will be calm and easily absorbed into the child’s mind.

Practicing the “whole-body relaxation exercise” is something that anyone can do at anytime. Let’s strive to master this art.

Translated by Mayumi Case
Edited by David Shaner and Matthew Attarian
Eastern Ki Federation

Original article in Japanese: 伝わる声 (A Voice that Conveys)
March 1, 2023