Here's my latest post, published on Over the Moon Magazine. Read the full article here.
Last month on the Winter Solstice, I was invited to sing in front of 150 people. I arrived, a little nervous, but confident in my offering. I sat with my harmonium, poised with a microphone near my mouth and my instrument. I welcomed the group into a meditation and began to sing, "Ong Namo Gurudev Namo."
I finished the song feeling proud. I did it, I thought. The moment I had been anticipating for weeks was over. I did it. The brief moment in time felt so surreal.
I realized that if I had been asked to sing in front of a group this size a year ago, I would have been terrified. Expressing myself through my voice, especially singing, has been one of life's biggest challenges and greatest gifts.
I remember struggling to introduce myself in front of a small group of people in high school and freaking out before presentations in college. I always felt like a deer in the headlights and struggled to find my breath and voice.
The fear of sharing my voice was actually what inspired me to become a yoga teacher. I remember admiring my teacher in New York, gracefully walking across the room while powerfully commanding the yogis from one pose to the next. Could I ever be like that? I thought.
I was introduced to the harmonium by another yoga teacher, Kimber Simpkins, who opened and closed every class singing with the harmonium. As I began to use my voice, I felt the vibration in my body and began to discover the sound inside me. As I watched her, confident and poised, I again asked, Could I ever be like that?
Soon after discovering Kimber's classes, I fell in love with a musician. Watching him sing so beautifully in front of a crowd brought out all the insecurities inside me.
Every time I went to watch him perform, I felt more nervous than he did. I realized this fear was telling me something: maybe it was time for me to share my voice. I then discovered this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt:
"Courage is more exhilarating than fear and in the long run it is easier. We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down."
I began to make small steps to face the fear. First, I started teaching yoga classes. Every time I stood in front of the room as a teacher, I became more confident in myself and my voice. Each step I took to face the fear gave me the courage to go further.
I remember the first time I sang in front of my boyfriend, terrified at what he would think. My fingers were shaking on the guitar. I had him close his eyes because I felt so exposed. It was uncomfortable, yes, but I survived, and in the end, I received praise. I felt proud of myself.
That sense of pride kept me going.
My boyfriend encouraged me to step out of my shell. One night, I asked if he would sing with me around the fire at a friend's house. I felt the nervousness arise as I held the guitar, but I sang anyway. It wasn't perfect, but again, I was praised.
A few months later, I was at a full moon ceremony to release fear. As each person spoke, I knew this was the step I needed to take again and again to develop my strength. In the ceremony, I shared the fears I carried around my voice and did the thing that scared me most: I sang with the harmonium in front of the entire group.
There I was, years later, embodying the teachers I had looked up to most.
Every time I faced my fear and shared my voice, a new door opened from the universe. Opportunities and invitations came, and my confidence grew. Eventually, I was led to the sacred moment at the Winter Solstice to share my voice with more people than I ever had before.
Every step of the way, I was being prepared.
Every step of the way, I had to trust myself that I was ready...
Continue reading at Over the Moon Mag...