Are you afraid to share your voice?

courage-comfort zone-self expression

For years I felt a block around sharing my voice. I thought I was a terrible singer and had trouble speaking up in groups.  It's hard to say when it began, but small experiences throughout my life added up to a huge block of self-expression.  By the time I got to college, I felt so terrified of public speaking that I avoided it at all costs and would never for a second consider myself a singer.

I eventually went to a counselor at my school because I realized I couldn't live my life without speaking up, and I was ready to do what I needed to move on with my life.  However, the response the counselor gave me was not what I was expecting, "I think you should try voice lessons."

"Voice lessons?  Me?  I'm not a singer!" I thought.  He reassured me the voice teacher he knew would help me with my breath and speaking voice so I could feel confident speaking in my classes.

So, I took his advice and the next week arranged a series of lessons with Caroline, my voice teacher.  I remember so much emotion and fear came up at my first lesson.  I broke down in tears as I started to open up because I had so much self-criticism about my voice.

So, for the first month, all I worked on with Caroline was the breath.  She guided me to breathe all the way down into my lower back and fill my body with breath to strengthen my voice.  She guided me to clear out my nasal passages and expand the space inside my body for breath to move more freely.  Those lessons made a world of difference for me and laid a foundation for me to further explore my voice when I later became a yoga teacher.

In summer of 2010, I moved to San Francisco and bought a tiny ukulele.  I had done my lessons and wanted to keep using my voice.  I would shut myself in my room for hours, practicing where no one could hear.  But eventually, the ukulele led to the guitar and more songs, and I couldn't keep it all to myself, so shared a few songs with my housemates.

Then I discovered kirtan.

It was through devotional singing that I learned my voice was a tool to come into a deeper state of meditation.  As I used my breath and sang, more oxygen would fill my body and I felt a state of presence and stillness after each song.  I discovered:

When you focus on the breath and add intention from the heart, the voice becomes an expression of the soul.  {tweet it}

Since then, I've explored singing with guitar, ukulele, and most recently the harmonium.

I asked myself, "How can I share singing in a safe and exploratory way to encourage others to gain confidence using their voice?"  The answer came in a series of yoga classes with the harmonium.

If you are curious about using your voice through devotional song, I invite you to join me September 22 - November 3 for my Yin Yoga & Harmonium Series at The dhyana Center in Sebastopol.

And I would love to hear - What thoughts come up for you when you think about singing and sharing your voice?  Are you ready to break through those old fears?  I'd love to hear in the comments below.

With love, Meredith