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What is essence of your voice?

What is essence of your voice?

What is essence of your voice?

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel

My mom always reminds me (insert high-pitched, Philadelphia-born, Jewish mother’s accent), “Alli, you were always your worst critic!” 

She’s right. I was. I would finish any performance and analyze all the things that went wrong and how I must have sounded awful. This went on for a very long time. 😔

But there were a few times when something went really, really right. You know what I’m talking about? Can you call that to mind for yourself? 

Those moments (and sometimes they really are just moments) when you felt the most aligned, alive, connected, electrified yet calm, and so brave that you responded, and leaned into a moment and showed up for yourself. 💪

Ah, I remember these moments with such sweet clarity and joy, and I think, “could that have been real, or am I imagining that happened?”

No. It was real.

You were in a state of flow, connected with your essence. It is in these moments that we are tapped into a wellspring of inspiration, creativity, and the flow that comes from source.

Honestly, the real triumph of these pinnacle moments in our life is that we let our damn guard down. As a result, the true essence of your voice could be heard, seen, felt, and received by others

Dear One, your triumph is not a fluke. It is a sacred lesson.

A lesson to root firmly into the essence of who you are, and to allow your voice, your energy, and your sound flow from within.

I drew a picture to illustrate.

That little spot in the middle? That’s the sweet spot, my friend. It’s infinite, but simple. That’s the essence. Your heart is the portal.

The image on the left is when we are in flow. The energy moves from the inside-out.

But often, when we use our voice, we usually show up like the image on the right: armored. Your essence is protected, like the king on a chess board. Outside-in.

Most of the time, we would rather show up with armor, protecting our squishy inner core, ready to fend off the mistakes and critiques and rejections before one air molecule is affected.

Why? Because showing up on a stage, no matter the size or type, can feel like the most vulnerable thing you can do because, frankly it is. I believe this is one of the reasons we admire certain performers and artists: we recognize their capacity to show up without so much armor.

Remember your triumphant moment? Remember those times when you showed up for yourself? When you responded to the moment with YES? Here is the lesson: triumphs are not an exception. They are the new rule.

💗 Open your heart.

🧠 Stabilize your fear.

⚡️ Ground your energy.

🔥 Move into flow.

Tapping into your essence does not have to be a hit or miss situation. It is a radically simple formula and practice to be applied whenever you create the intention to do so. It can be a Thing You Do all the time.

It is a joyful practice of becoming whole as you develop your voice, your artistry, and your courage to show up as your most essential, aligned, and peaceful self as you quake the air molecules around you.

Lucky are the ones who receive the gift of your clear, luminous, divine vibration.

Love,

allison

further reading

What is essence of your voice?
What is essence of your voice?

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel [dssb_sharing_buttons columns="5" btn_padding="0px||||false|false" _builder_version="4.9.2" _module_preset="default" share_font="Alata||||||||" share_text_align="left" width="90%" max_width="100%" module_alignment="left"...

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How to make beautiful sound
How to make beautiful sound

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel Last night I was scurrying home from the grocery store, and pulled into my driveway just after dusk. As I was gathering my bags from the trunk, I turned to look up at the chilly sky. (I always look up whenever I am outside.) I spied...

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Naked singing
Naked singing

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel No, no, no. Not what you think. Not really, anyway. But why does singing sometimes feel so naked? Especially when you are going solo. Just you and your voice. You and your sound. You and your thoughts. (Oh, the thoughts!) You and...

read more
Naked singing

Naked singing

Naked singing

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel

No, no, no. Not what you think. Not really, anyway.

But why does singing sometimes feel so naked?

Especially when you are going solo. Just you and your voice. You and your sound. You and your thoughts. (Oh, the thoughts!) You and your fears.

Of being heard and seen… by them. Others.

Others who may have something to think about you and your voice. Others who may attack, or deny, or reject, or criticize, or abandon, or betray, or be upset, or disallow.

Others. Them. Outside of you. Outside of your skin. Outside of your control. Others with arrows who may, or may not, use them to hurt us and our naked singing selves as we risk exposure to being heard and seen.

Which leaves you with two different options on how to proceed with this singing business.

Option #1 
Don’t ever be naked. Build your suit of armor. Stay safe, blend in. No risk, no attack.

Option #2
Shine from within. Build strength from self-love and trust. Try new things, step forward. Take a risk, weather any storm.

I know the answer is obvious. I also know how insanely difficult that feels and IS. Human beings are not hard-wired to take risks, but rather to stay safe at all costs. Our life literally depends on it.

To bring forth your unique voice into the world can feel like one of the biggest leaps you could take. So naked!

But this does not have to be so insanely difficult. It helps to understand what you are feeling, and how you are unconsciously responding to your fear of being exposed. Because when you understand, you can manage all of this swirling, chaotic fear and move through it anyway.

So, as Ariadne led Theseus through the labyrinth, let’s walk through this…

Remember: when you use your sacred voice and deliver a message with sacred intent, you are unleashing a surge of power. You may not be used to it, because it is not something we typically practice in our everyday lives. But when it’s time to show up and make a holy sound, things heat up.

So I want you to consider your energy management.

When you take that risk, when you step forward, be prepared for that surge. It’s going to look like nerves and feeling like you are a floating head without a body. It’s going to make you think about anything and everything that could be more pressing than what is actually happening in the present moment. It’s an Ego Takeover.

(For singers, this is typically expressed as either an obsession with either the notes or the quality of your sound.)

That energy surge is going to make you feel ungrounded. But like a lightning rod, you need to be anchored. You learn how to secure yourself in two places: within and without.

Within, you anchor into the heart.
Here is the present moment, the source, the whole.

Without, you anchor into the body.
Here is the physical, the instrument, the vessel.

Not a willful pressing, but rather allowing the intention of your energy to be connected, firm, and dare I say… safe.

Safe within yourself to stand your ground, connect to your higher power, and unfurl your sacred flag.

The arrows may or may not come. You cannot control the reactions of others.

But I believe the entire point of coming to this planet in the first place is so that you can contribute in some way to the betterment of humanity. That may involve having to show yourself! 

You can start right now. Begin to feel into that yearning of sharing your voice. Move that feeling into the heart, and listen to the inner guidance you receive.

The important thing is that you respond to it. But you know you are not going to like it, because it means you have to get a little naked. (On the inside, that is.)

So be wise to yourself: when you choose to be heard, you are going to react in fear.

This makes you 100% normal.

But the test is to remove your song-armor and move through the fear, knowing that you are ever-safe in the heart.

It’s a practice. And a prescription. For art, and for life.

Hugs,

allison

further reading

What is essence of your voice?
What is essence of your voice?

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel [dssb_sharing_buttons columns="5" btn_padding="0px||||false|false" _builder_version="4.9.2" _module_preset="default" share_font="Alata||||||||" share_text_align="left" width="90%" max_width="100%" module_alignment="left"...

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How to make beautiful sound
How to make beautiful sound

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel Last night I was scurrying home from the grocery store, and pulled into my driveway just after dusk. As I was gathering my bags from the trunk, I turned to look up at the chilly sky. (I always look up whenever I am outside.) I spied...

read more
Naked singing
Naked singing

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel No, no, no. Not what you think. Not really, anyway. But why does singing sometimes feel so naked? Especially when you are going solo. Just you and your voice. You and your sound. You and your thoughts. (Oh, the thoughts!) You and...

read more

That time I sang for President Obama

That time I sang for President Obama

That time I sang for President Obama

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel

I remember that time like it was yesterday: it was a frigidly cold January day, and I was equal parts Ready-To-Kill-It and Scared-To-Freaking-Death.

For years I had taught singing at Washington National Cathedral, occasionally singing here and there as needed. I had been asked by my boss to contribute some chant by Hildegard von Bingen (my muse) as part of the National Prayer Service, an event held the day after the Presidential Inauguration here in the U.S.

Um, of course?

So there I was, after a lifetime of waiting in anticipation, ready to begin the service, managing the Secret Service checkpoints (which made trips to the ladies room a nightmare 😭), the freezing cold conditions, the feeling that my cassock/ hairstyle/ relative height made me feel like a small, little girl, and this nagging terror that using my tuning fork to get my first pitch could possibly be construed as some kind of weapon by the Secret Service Agent to my immediate left.

At last, I finally step up to the podium to deliver my message. Unaccompanied. Tuning fork anxiety. Naked voice. Regrettable choice of hair clip. Awkward church clothing. People watching. Don’t look nervous, keep your head up. Dear GOD do not wet yourself right now because you actually could.

My inner world was utter chaos

So thank goodness, then, when I heard this inner voice, clear as day:

Just. Breathe.

I gripped the sides of my podium stand, and let a gush of air rush into my body, then felt myself surge with in-the-momentness and then, well, I let ‘er rip.

Here is what I sang:

Nunc gaudeant materna viscera Ecclesie,
quia in superna simphonia filii eius
in sinum suum collocati sunt.

(Now let the maternal heart of the Church rejoice,
for in celestial harmony her children
are gathered into her bosom.)

In hindsight, I know why this experience was so overwhelming: it was a power surge like none I had ever experienced before. It was truly a moment in which I recognized the presence and power of the divine, sacred feminine moving through me.

And the lesson is clear: you must surrender to the power of your very own voice.

Your voice is married to a source of great power and divinity. My friend, that is a Big Deal. It means that if you are not clear or sure or wise to it, you can feel completely overwhelmed and underwater.

In that moment of power, standing on a podium, for (literally) the world and the most “important” person in the world to hear, I became the channel of an incantation of a divine, healing, feminine prayer to gather us back into whole and right relationship with ourselves and the planet.

We are in the midst of an awakening to the sacred feminine, and I see this directly in the way we use our voice. Indeed, it is my ardent prayer that we, as singers, relieve ourselves of the suffering wrought upon us by subscribing the outdated paradigm of vocal technique that cultivates a perfectionistic ideal of the voice.

Let’s evolve.

More than any skill or technique I exercised on that podium was the power of the act of surrender of my own ego so that my voice could be a conduit of the prayer. This is not boastful, this is fact.

The power is the thing.

If you notice any resistance to your own voice, know what that is. There is a resistance to your very own freaking power. Say this prayer:

I release the resistance to my own power, and allow my voice to flow through me with ease and grace. I embrace the message that moves through me for my own healing, and the healing of the world.

Let us envision a way forward with our voice that is free from strife, grief, longing, and worry. Let us step into a way that is supportive, nurturing, healing, freeing, soulful, and, oh yes… POWERFUL. 🔥

Hugs,

allison

further reading

How to make beautiful sound
How to make beautiful sound

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel Last night I was scurrying home from the grocery store, and pulled into my driveway just after dusk. As I was gathering my bags from the trunk, I turned to look up at the chilly sky. (I always look up whenever I am outside.) I spied...

read more
Naked singing
Naked singing

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel No, no, no. Not what you think. Not really, anyway. But why does singing sometimes feel so naked? Especially when you are going solo. Just you and your voice. You and your sound. You and your thoughts. (Oh, the thoughts!) You and...

read more
That time I sang for President Obama
That time I sang for President Obama

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel I remember that time like it was yesterday: it was a frigidly cold January day, and I was equal parts Ready-To-Kill-It and Scared-To-Freaking-Death. For years I had taught singing at Washington National Cathedral, occasionally...

read more

Your one and only voice

Your one and only voice

Your one and only voice

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel

When I began graduate school I became instant friends with a talented singer who entered at the same time. One afternoon we were leaving class and walking across Harvard Square, headed to our favorite tea café. As we were walking, she stated nonchalantly (in a thick New Zealand accent), “don’t you sometimes just LOVE the sound of your voice?”

I made some attempt to half-smile, and did not answer, head down. What I was thinking was, “Um, no? Who thinks that?”

It took a long time to acknowledge and accept that my voice was… my voice. The end. No tradesies, no opting out. This is my voice, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer. So I best figure out how to make peace with the one and only voice that I’ve got.

It took steady affirmations and much inner work to get this current place. It took a lot of falling down, and getting back up. It took quite a great deal of nurturing and reassuring. And it is a constant work in progress.

And right now, I will most certainly assure you that yes, sometimes I just LOVE the sound of my voice. But way more importantly, I just love my voice for who she is. And guess what? She is so much more than mere sound.

When we have this kind of soul-level acceptance, past the barriers of ego and self-doubt, your voice begins to change. There is something exciting that begins to brew. You have an access to greater flexibility, greater confidence, and greater flow, but amazingly: you have access to a new dimension.

This a sacred dimension. It is the place from which the sacred voice is sourced. But it is more easily defined as an inner peace that flows from within, and explodes in the form of possibility.

Have you felt that before? Or does that sound crazy to you right now? I would understand if it did. I would understand if this experience of sacredness made you feel resentful or sullen. It would have for me, just as I felt when walking to TeaLuxe with my über-confident friend. I certainly do not intend to do so.

But I want you to set aside any resistance to this state of being. Instead, allow yourself the space to hold this question: how will I use my one and only voice?

Please refrain from saying “I don’t know.” Your ego does not know, because it’s a new and intimidating question. Just hold space for your inner self to answer, because that is where the answer lies.

I ask myself this question every day. Perhaps I am never satisfied with the answer. You know why? Because using your voice, in its truest form, is challenging. I have do hard things every damn day.

This unfolding process of discovering and actualizing the voice is a life’s journey. It is also one of the most enriching and important journeys I could have hoped for in this lifetime. 

Your voice, and the pathway you walk with your voice, has the potential to transform your entire life. That is certainly what has unfolded for me.

The work and the practice is to persevere in your efforts to grow more in love and acceptance with your voice. The byproduct is the expansion of your current reality, and your expanding access to a dimension of creative potential more than you thought was possible.

Please do not let the new and intimidating nature of this journey to shut you down. I have bad news: growing bigger will always feel new and intimidating. There is simply no help for it.

But you are in good company: we all desire a true connection with our voice. We are all scared, too. But we move ahead anyway, because that is what seekers do, despite the relative discomfort of change and growth and expansion.

So knowing that the road is bumpy (unavoidable), and knowing that you have work to do (inevitable), and knowing that the result could be more gorgeous that you ever thought possible (insanely absolutely)…

How will you use your one and only voice today?

Hugs,

allison

further reading

What is essence of your voice?
What is essence of your voice?

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel [dssb_sharing_buttons columns="5" btn_padding="0px||||false|false" _builder_version="4.9.2" _module_preset="default" share_font="Alata||||||||" share_text_align="left" width="90%" max_width="100%" module_alignment="left"...

read more
How to make beautiful sound
How to make beautiful sound

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel Last night I was scurrying home from the grocery store, and pulled into my driveway just after dusk. As I was gathering my bags from the trunk, I turned to look up at the chilly sky. (I always look up whenever I am outside.) I spied...

read more
Naked singing
Naked singing

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel No, no, no. Not what you think. Not really, anyway. But why does singing sometimes feel so naked? Especially when you are going solo. Just you and your voice. You and your sound. You and your thoughts. (Oh, the thoughts!) You and...

read more

Limited or Limitless: what is possible?

Limited or Limitless: what is possible?

Limited or Limitless: what is possible?

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel

I have a bold theory.

If it holds true, it can transform your experience of singing. This simple truth can exorcise any negative thinking or fears that keep you tucked away in your mind, and stuck in that old proverbial rut.

Here it is:

Your voice is sourced from your heart center.

That’s it. Not fancy, right? Not mind-blowing. Not even interesting.

But when we have a lifetime of experience that has taught us otherwise, well, it may seem like a truly alien concept.

My aim is to offer a method that aligns this concept with your reality.

Because what we learn from a lifetime of experience here on Planet Earth is that:

1) You either have a good voice or an OK voice or a bad voice.
2) You either have learned how to sing or not learned how to sing.
3) You have either committed to singing or not committed to singing.
4) Your voice is either better than others or worse than others.

Etc. etc. You get the idea.

Is this list kind of maddening? It makes me genuinely upset. It makes me think: is this what we have come to with music-making? A constant internal ticker tape of worthiness and subjective quality and limited to our relative ability?

In my experience, the constant iteration of these societal benchmarks has caused the overtaking of our singing by what I call the “ego voice”.

The ego voice is that aspect of our mind that will seize all functions if left unchecked. This voice is attuned to your unconscious fears and conscious thoughts that have been conditioned by how you are perceived by others.

(Cosmic ugh.)

But where is the magic? The art? The intelligence? The creativity and inspiration? The healing and wholeness? I know you have tasted these things. How can we savor them all the time?

Can you envision a way of singing that does not get mired in constant self-evaluation, but rather allows you the freedom to just, like, sing?

Ideally, to sing in a way that synthesizes the mind and quiets the ego. That enlivens the body and expands your energy. That opens a channel to divine source. That never, ever tells you that you can’t.

The heart allows.

When activated and open, it holds you in a place of quietude, knowing, and limitless capacity. This state of being will connect you with the sacred voice. 

And this is my whole big bold boring theory: when you source your voice from your heart center, you activate a different voice.

But it is a conscious choice you have to make, and an ensuing practice to undertake. The choice and the practice are simple, but not easy.

Here is the practice: 

1) Whenever, and every time, you are going to sing, take one moment to consciously connect with your heart center.

2) When you begin to breathe and sing, stay there. When your attention strays (which it will), return there. Over and over again.

Come back to this place especially when you feel the most scared and lost and limited.

To feel limited is common. To feel limitless? Uncommon. If you take a moment to understand how often you have been taught that your voice is limited, well, it may take time to transform this way of understanding.

But I will guarantee that any thoughts that bubble up that say “You can’t” are sourced directly from your ego voice.

The sacred voice will always say: “You can, and you will.”

allison

further reading

What is essence of your voice?
What is essence of your voice?

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel [dssb_sharing_buttons columns="5" btn_padding="0px||||false|false" _builder_version="4.9.2" _module_preset="default" share_font="Alata||||||||" share_text_align="left" width="90%" max_width="100%" module_alignment="left"...

read more
How to make beautiful sound
How to make beautiful sound

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel Last night I was scurrying home from the grocery store, and pulled into my driveway just after dusk. As I was gathering my bags from the trunk, I turned to look up at the chilly sky. (I always look up whenever I am outside.) I spied...

read more
Naked singing
Naked singing

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel No, no, no. Not what you think. Not really, anyway. But why does singing sometimes feel so naked? Especially when you are going solo. Just you and your voice. You and your sound. You and your thoughts. (Oh, the thoughts!) You and...

read more

Take back control of your voice

Take back control of your voice

Take back control of your voice

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel

One of my favorite movies is The Wizard of Oz. I had a mural of Oz painted on my childhood bedroom wall. I even had the theme of the decorations for my bat mitzvah reception decked in Oz technicolor. One of the most creative was a “smoky” sign  made of wire and cotton hung from the ceiling that read “Surrender, Allison.”

(How prescient!)

I think of this sign all the time. It reminds me of the #1 lesson that I have learned in singing, and in life.

Using your voice is easily one of the most vulnerable and courageous acts we undertake. And I am certain that your voice has a lot to say, to express, and to share. But that fact, in and of itself, is enough to make us clam up and hold back. And it triggers an internal response to control the situation.

We are wired to move a hot current of energy through our frames. And when you sing, that energy is amplified. But we are not taught how to effectively manage that energy. We are taught, rather, that we need to manipulate the sound in order to meet some kind of invisible standard of alright-ness. (Fuh-gedda-bout energy!)

For whom does it need to be alright enough?

If you are a human being reading this, I know for sure that your efforts to manipulate your sound may feel frustrating at times. Why? Because you have been trying to control the sound, rather than allow the energy.

Wanting to gain control of your voice is a response to feeling, well, out of control. You have not learned – yet – how to manage that hot current, and it is intense! Possibly even life-threatening.

The mind has its own internal safety protocols that will inherently trigger a red flag when it is threatened. It will begin pulling levers for you. The mind says, let’s work proactively so that this process does not have to be so scary!

The Ego Voice takes over. In singing, this may look like: holding the gut muscles; holding back sound; pushing through the tightness of your throat; over-working the articulation of the words with the mouth; gearing up for a high note with some errant squeeze; and evaluate, evaluate, evaluate every moment of each phrase for quality (ahem) control.

Lack of control in your singing is a terrible feeling. And it’s complicated: there are so many layers to how you experience your voice, including your personality, past experiences, training (or lack thereof), self-esteem, or that you simply have no idea what you’re supposed to be doing other than, well, manipulating your sound to be Alright Enough.

Let’s regain control of the situation.

First, consider this…

What if your need for control was in direct proportion to how much energy is flowing through you? 

  • Can you envision that wild current of energy?
  • Can you feel it?
  • Can you understand that holding on to the sound of that energy is inherently limiting its audacious potential?

Then consider…

  • How can you allow a more free-flowing movement of this energy?
  • What is keeping you from this flow?
  • When do you stop it?
  • What is the internal message you hear when it is moving through you right before you sing?

I believe the real work is to understand that channeling the power of our voice is not a mortal threat. It is part of our purpose.

So how can we transmute the impulse to control our voice? We learn to allow our voice.

I invite you to practice strengthening your Allow muscle. Make it an experiment: tinker with the idea. Try this mantra in your singing practice:

“Surrender, Dorothy.” (But please insert your name instead.)

And remember: when you feel the need to control, remind yourself that there is something deeply powerful that would appreciate moving through in that moment. And the most annoying – but true – piece of the whole surrender puzzle?

When you let go, you regain control.

Hugs,

allison

IMAGE: Photo from The Wizard of Oz

further reading

What is essence of your voice?
What is essence of your voice?

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel [dssb_sharing_buttons columns="5" btn_padding="0px||||false|false" _builder_version="4.9.2" _module_preset="default" share_font="Alata||||||||" share_text_align="left" width="90%" max_width="100%" module_alignment="left"...

read more
How to make beautiful sound
How to make beautiful sound

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel Last night I was scurrying home from the grocery store, and pulled into my driveway just after dusk. As I was gathering my bags from the trunk, I turned to look up at the chilly sky. (I always look up whenever I am outside.) I spied...

read more
Naked singing
Naked singing

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel No, no, no. Not what you think. Not really, anyway. But why does singing sometimes feel so naked? Especially when you are going solo. Just you and your voice. You and your sound. You and your thoughts. (Oh, the thoughts!) You and...

read more