In my thirty years of work with actors’ speaking voices I have focused on breath as the vital active ingredient for physical sound-making as well as for the expression of ideas.
“Inspiration” denotes both the physical act of breathing in, and the mental act of creating a thought. The expiration (breathing out) or expression of the thought is likewise both physical and mental.
It is the harmonizing of these twin aspects of speaking – the physical needs and impulses and the mental thought processes – that I address, and through them the harmonizing of the two functions of the nervous system in the act of breathing for speaking: the autonomic (which is an unconscious response by the diaphragm to a need for oxygen) and the central (which can override autonomic respiratory rhythm through conscious motor control).
The diaphragm contains both unstriated and striated muscle and is responsive to both the autonomic and central nervous systems. It is therefore uniquely appropriate as a site to create such harmony, so that the healing of the culturally prevalent body/mind split is not merely a metaphysical, but is actually a physical and obtainable, goal which brings impulse and thought together as action.
“Breathing is Meaning” in The Vocal Vision, ed. Dr. Marian Hampton. New York: Applause Books, 1997. pp. 247 – 252.