Where has my voice gone?
Well, it depends on which voice you mean.
Is it the ego voice? Or the Sacred Voice.
The “ego voice,” based in your mind, is terrified of something: rejection, judgment, punishment. It craves validation and acceptance. The ego voice is fed by the External. It allows something outside of itself to determine its worth, thereby granting or withholding permission to sing. Have you been given permission? Or has it been withheld? Or somewhere in between…
Your Sacred Voice does not go away. It simply waits, ready and alert. And sometimes, that inner voice gets so loud that it seeks a way out and there is some catalytic moment when a person declares:
That’s it. I need to sing.
And then the process of unfolding begins. It is very beautiful, but oh so tender.
I have worked with a number of singers who have begun this reclamation process. I have and continue to do this work myself. It is the healing process. We do not like to speak of it in classical music, my personal breeding ground. It is taboo, for a number of reasons. But when you feel so disconnected from your voice, I believe healing your relationship with your voice is the solution, no matter your style, musical aptitude, or inherent talent for singing.
It has become clear that there are two strands of this process: the Inner Work and the Outer Work.
The inner work is focused on a person’s voice story: what in the world has happened that has caused this separation from our voice? Sometimes the answer is quite clear, but just too painful and overwhelming. Sometimes it is fuzzy and buried deep, also too painful to allow to resurface, for any number of reasons. It’s personal.
Whatever the cause, the ego has shut it down. The result is some blockage in the energy system. It stems from our fears. This lack of free flowing, outwardly-expressing energy can make some people feel literally gagged or choked. Our voice is simply not accessible. For others, it may be less acute, but no less of a barrier.
Consider how integrated we are as human beings. The stories we construct around our voice have everything to do with us, not necessarily our voice. This means that our voice, or access to our voice, may be affected by blocked energy anywhere in the body. For me, it was my solar plexus (limping self-worth) and my heart (encased in stone). It’s personal.
So, what to do?
It’s a double job: we do the inner work and we do the outer work. You can do one without the other. I believe it is more effective, liberating, and rewarding when you steep yourself in both practices.
THE INNER WORK
1) Ignite Curiosity
Any process of healing begins with awareness. The whole reason we have found ourselves cut off from our voice is because our ego mind has been harboring attachments to painful memories or diminished impressions of our Self. By practicing curiosity we enable ourselves to regain some neutral ground by becoming the Observer, rather than the Afflicted. We practice curiosity and ask a very important question: What’s really going on here? The way to practice curiosity: connect with your heart center as you begin any practice. Your heart will never judge and has piercing clarity.
2) Write Your Voice Story
If you desire more freedom and connection with your voice, it is crucial that you evaluate where you are and take stock of your relationship with your voice. Write it down: What is my Voice Story? What is my current relationship with my voice? What do I think? Feel? How long have I felt this way? Why does this feel so challenging? Do not expect revelations or to be immediately fixed, just allow the exploration to begin.
3) Release, Release, Release
Yup. Sorry. Here is the truth: painful experiences, hurtful comments, and rejections (to name a few) are highly impactful and often detrimental. These traumas, no matter how seemingly trivial, impact your ability to use your voice. They feed they ego voice and obscure the Sacred Voice. They block your energy, period. Thus, acknowledging and releasing your experiences, and your emotional response to them, is a crucial step towards healing and recovering your Sacred Voice. It will liberate your voice and change your life.
4) Write your Sacred Voice Story
If you could wave a magic wand and have exactly the voice you wanted, this is what that would be. When you let go of limiting beliefs, you transform your relationship with your voice. However, it is vital to re-envision your relationship with your Sacred Voice. What do you want to do with your voice? What is your vision? You may have no idea how you will get there, but begin by imagining a purposeful and joyful experience of using your voice. You will be amazed at how this vision will become your reality.
THE OUTER WORK
Here is where most people begin to recover their voice relationship. It is the obvious place to begin, but I believe it is a slower route. It is very much a part of my process, and helps singers de-tangle their fears from using their instrument. It can be rather sticky, but is a crucial aspect of how to heal.
1) Learn the Ropes
Learn how to sing. Or really, learn how your instrument can already sing. Learn how to breathe and harness breath energy. Eventually, when you become capable, you feel more confident, and then you feel more connected with your voice. As the curious observer, you learn how your breath gets caught when you start overthinking (i.e. scared, doubtful, critical, etc.). You learn the workarounds to an overthinking mind. You cannot think your singing. Essentially, you learn how to weave your mind into an integrated whole, centered and anchored at the heart, so that your fears, embedded in your mind and promulgated by your nervous system, are pacified.
2) Expand your Capacity
Breath and fear are bedfellows. (Oh, do I have so much to say about that!) Fear will constrict and limit your breath and cause your soft tissues to tighten. Like, all of them. You learn how to soften and relax and release and strengthen those muscles that support your voice. Bodies love breath. They thrive on it. Singing easefully and without fear is supported with expansive breath, the fuel of life. Learning how to breathe was the catalyst for my own voice healing. Importantly, when you gain greater access to your breath, your ego mind’s vice grip on your voice is loosened. You learn to trust your voice and feel more confident.
The Inner Work is now supported by the Outer Work. They weave together like a strand of DNA, made strong by the most crucial component of all combined: your will to transform. It may seem as though your voice has left the building. This is a very important part of your journey. But I believe the most important part is your willingness to call it back and to make yourself whole once more.
Your Sacred Voice is irrevocably part of you. You may be disheartened or displeased or appalled or abandoned by your ego voice, but know that the inner voice is truly divine. It is still with you. Your voice can never really be gone. Just waiting.