001 • Braided Breath

February 2023

Feb 10, 2023

“The rivers flow not past, but through us, thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber & cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide & sing.”

~ John Muir

Do you ever have a moment in your day when you just take a deep breath & sigh with a loud exhale? It happens to me all the time. I know I haven’t stopped breathing, but I still feel the need for a rush of oxygen… and the release that follows. Even though breathing is mostly a thoughtless, involuntary act, it seems like so many of us are surviving on shallow sips of air throughout our day.

To begin our Substack journey together, I want to draw attention to the most simplest of things: our breath. And I want to share with you a simple practice that has recently transformed my daily living: breathwork.

Breathwork is intentional deep breathing over a short period of time. It’s also an easy way to practice being present. Breathwork has been scientifically-proven to do wonders for our bodies, from relieving stress & anxiety to elevating mood & clearing the mind. I don’t know about you, but I could use a LOT of that in these chaotic days. Each time I sit down & do 5-10 minutes of breathwork, I immediately feel reset & re-calibrated.

Even though it’s relatively simple, there are specific breath patterns that bring different results. So when I began exploring this practice, I wanted a guide to show me the way. When one of my favorite composers, Ben Lukas Boysen, posted about an original score he had created for a breathwork app called Respira, I was instantly intrigued. I looked it up & began my oxygen-filled journey. Since then, I have used this app almost every day – as a way to start my day, before starting a project, & on occasion as I drift off to sleep. And what I really love about Respira is their symphonic approach to breathwork, integrating immersive music by notable composers to guide & hold you through each session.

To make things even more interesting, I ended up chatting with the folks from Respira, and we’ve decided to pursue an ongoing collaboration where we will create a series of long-play, audio/visual meditations that sync my drone footage up with their music & breathwork! In fact, the short piece above is the 1st glimpse at episode 001, “Braided Breath”, featuring a meditative soundscape by Ben Lukas Boysen.

As this collaboration develops, I will be sure you let you know. Until then, I invite you to practice some breathwork if you haven’t already. A great way to start is by downloading Respira & diving into a few of their free sessions.

I hope this awareness of our breath along with this simple practice is as transformative for you as it has been for me. Happy breathing!

Music That Moves Me

If you know me, then you know I love a good soundtrack. I always have some ambient project playing in the background, especially when on an adventurous road-trip.

This month, I wanted to highlight the soundtrack for BBC’s “Frozen Planet II”. This project was scored by three amazing composers: Hans Zimmer, Adam Lukas, & James Everingham (who happens to be a friend!)

Whenever I need to feel inspired, I put this album on. It transports me to another world & energizes me creatively. And it’s incredible to listen to when winter blesses us with a frozen world of our very own, as many of us have experienced recently. It takes the whole experience to the next level!

Check it out by click/touching the album artwork below. It’s also available on all streaming platforms.

Newly Released Drone Footage

For artists, storytellers, church leaders, & anyone who considers themselves to be a creative professional.

I’ve just released two brand new collections of aerial visuals on my stock footage licensing site!

The first might look a little familiar. The Braids is my favorite landscape I’ve ever flown over & filmed. These hypnotic veins of the earth flow down from a glacier in New Zealand. The blue in the water is a natural effect caused by glacial flour, ancient sediments & chemicals released when the glacier melts. I love how it looks more like abstract art than anything else!

The second collection is called Fiordland & features a section of the Southern Alps just south of the The Braids in New Zealand. These snowy mountains are ever-flowing with icy waterfalls that flow deep into nearby valleys & chasms.

These long-play visuals work great in many mediums, including lyric videos & immersive projection at live events.

And for the rest of you who aren’t in the market for stock footage, you can still enjoy the scenery from The Braids & Fiordland. Here are two collabs I created, one with cellist Peter Gregson & the other with composer Jordan Critz last year for his single, Imbre.

Well, I think that’s enough for the first newsletter. I’d love to know your thoughts on this format, if you have any feedback. Feel free to leave a comment!

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Thank you again for subscribing & joining me on this new venture! I hope it brings a little bit of calm, wonder, & inspiration to your day.

Peace be with you,

Stephen P.