**For info on my upcoming "Re-Connecting Voice and Heart" workshop, please scroll down to previous post or click onto the May post on the right.
Healing My Voice
My Vocal Fears
It wasn't so long ago that I had no stability in my voice. I never knew for certain if my voice was really going to "be there" for me or not. I never knew if my throat was going to suddenly close down in the middle of a conversation, leaving me coughing and choking and feeling humiliated. In days gone by, my biggest fear around leading workshops or doing public speaking was never around the material I was presenting. Generally I felt pretty confident that I knew my topic. My biggest fear and anxiety was around whether my voice would hold up and my throat would stay open long enough for me to complete my presentation or workshop. This has pretty much been a lifelong "affliction". Like many people, I learned very early on that my opinion or my feelings or desires were not welcomed. I learned to "stay quiet". At school, some teachers would become very angry with me for not speaking up even when I knew the answers to their questions. At that same school, I was not allowed to sing because the music teacher said my voice wasn't good enough to be in the school choir. Mixed messages all over the place in regards to my voice! Add to that mix that I was a shy, introverted, easily traumatized child anyway. That child who was terrified to open her mouth and speak up has lived in the adult me for many years.
Trying to Heal
A number of years back I encountered the concept of Sound Healing. I found some wonderful Sound Healers -- people who could create amazing and beautiful healing sounds through their voices. I tried so hard to get my voice "out there" like that but the end result for me would be a strained voice and a traumatized me!!! Just hearing my voice "out there" was scary enough to shut me down again.
Creating a Healing Pathway for My Voice
I am truly grateful that I have, at least in the past 7 years, managed to create a healing pathway for my voice that is working well for me. There are always a few bumps on the road to healing, but that is the healing journey -- at least as I know it.
The Turning Point
The turning point for me, when I got really serious about healing my voice, was 7 years ago, at age 57. I inadvertently found myself in a small circle of people who had great voices and loved to sing. At that point, I had never tried to sing in front of anyone and pretty much steered clear of anything to do with singing or Karaoke. The group that I found myself in on that particular evening always did a deep healing process that involved writing. I loved writing so this worked really well for me. BUT.....this one particular evening, only a few people showed up and the decision was made (not by me!) that we would forgo the writing exercise and share songs instead. Well I couldn't sing, couldn't share any songs. All I wanted in the world was to dash out of there. I couldn't do that either. I was dependent on the facilitator for a ride home. So I spent the rest of that evening struggling desperately not to burst into tears. It felt so terrible to be in a group where everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time sharing their songs, sharing their voices while I was feeling miserable and inadequate. I felt ashamed and embarrassed that I was exuding this miserable feeling energy when everyone else was just having a great time.
My First Singing Teacher
By the next day, after a sleepless night, I knew I couldn't live like this, with such a blocked up voice, anymore. Within a week, I found myself in a singing studio, microphone in hand! The first teacher that I found did get me singing, which was quite miraculous. I still have the CD recordings of me singing my first few songs. The problem I encountered with this initial singing experience was that I could only sing in a high, disconnected voice. I could not get into any lower notes and I definitely did not feel my voice in my body at all. The teacher told me I was a Soprano and I should just sing high songs. This didn't feel right to me. My voice kept cracking as I tried to sing and I couldn't get any volume on my voice despite the teacher constantly pushing me to blast my voice out to the far wall. I couldn't do it.
The good thing about that initial singing experience, besides the fact that it awoke my passion for songs and singing, was that it helped me get clear about what my voice needed. I finally understood, that as a shy introvert with a weak voice, it would never work for me to try and "blast" my voice out there. Clearly a voice that has not been used very much, in addition to feeling locked down in fear, is going to need a gentle, safe, step by step program to rebuild the weakened vocal apparatus (vocal cords, larynx) and this is not an overnight, or one workshop practice.
Bringing My Voice into My Body
So I went searching for a vocal technique. I just knew there was something out there that could help to heal and strengthen my voice. I knew there was something or someone who could explain my vocal weaknesses and teach me how my voice worked so I could re-build. Voila! I found a technique and a teacher who knew how to help me bring my voice down into my body and how to develop the stability that the low vocal range offers. Suddenly I had discovered a whole new low voice that I didn't even know I had. Actually, "suddenly" might not be the exact best word! It was a step by step process. I was dedicated to my weekly lessons and daily practice. For the better part of two years, my teacher and I worked on developing this low voice of mine. Through the vocal exercises and scales that I so faithfully practiced, I also felt tremendous release and opening through my whole chest. It was a remarkable, exciting and powerful feeling. Even now, I just love vocalizing in that low range and singing deep, low songs.
A Bittersweet Moment
After the excitement of discovering my low voice and expanding my vocal range phenomenally, I did have to come to a bittersweet moment of realizing that I probably didn't have that "classically beautiful" singing voice that I was hoping to unleash or develop!! So what was the next step for me vocally? What was important for me in my pursuit of a strong and freer voice? I still continue to learn about, and experiment with, singing. I love the practice of and the learning about songs and singing. I'm extremely grateful to have re-connected with the songs and singers and music that I love. But my Heart and Voice, plus all my previous work with Chakras, seemed to be calling me into another way of exploring and freeing my voice and maybe even helping others explore and free their voices. These days, it is feeling very important, urgent even, that we ALL begin to speak the truth of our Hearts and Souls -- even, or maybe especially, those of us who are shy introverts. These quiet, gentle voices need to be freed and heard.
Re-Connecting the Voice and the Heart
So now I am all about step by step rebuilding of the voice, strengthening and stretching (gently) those vocal cords, learning how to drop our voices into the body so we can re-connect the Voice and the Heart. And to gently rebuild the confidence to speak (or sing) our truth. Oh yes -- and for that child within who may never have gotten to speak out or sing out, or just make joyful sound, I am also all about just having fun with voice and sound -- however it may want to show up.
I am very thankful for all the ways and techniques, and all the voice teachers and to my own unwavering determination that helped me find my Path to my own Vocal, Heart Centered Healing.
May we all learn to love our Voices and to appreciate all the amazing ways they work for us.
Thanks for allowing me to share my story. I'd love to hear your vocal story!