“We don’t present our voices to the audience, we resonate our souls.”
~ Thomas Hampson
I used to sing a lot. I sang solos in high school and was chosen to sing in the all-state choir a couple of times, and I sang in the college choir at Iowa State University back in the day. I sang to my children when they were babies, and once the kids were older, I would sing in the car as I traversed rural highways, from one small Iowa town to the next, contributing to my parental “bleacher butt” as I supported the many extra-curricular activities that our kids were involved in.
Singing helped to pass the time and singing expressed emotion, but mostly, it just felt good to sing, and then one day I realized I couldn’t remember the last time I crooned a favorite song or belted out a tune. So, I selected an old, favorite jingle on my cell phone playlist, opened my mouth and wheezed out a tune. It was awful. My voice crackled and I couldn’t hold a pitch. I had forgotten lyrics I used to know by heart. High notes were out of reach and I was unable to raise the timbre of my voice with the smooth transition I once felt. My throat constricted and the sound creaked forth like the rusty hinge on an iron gate. I started thinking then, beyond my singing voice to my speaking voice. I had grown quiet. Not that I’ve ever been chatty, but it dawned on me that expression through the spoken word had diminished for me. I had become much more comfortable internalizing my thoughts and my wishes. Less conflict that way. And I didn’t have to fear what someone might think of me if I offered my opinion. And I wondered to myself, when did this self-silencing begin? Was it a gradual process? And why have I chosen restraint over expression? If I don’t speak my mind, how will my feelings be known?
I thought about what I do when I want an honest opinion. I ask my oldest daughter a question. She’s an attorney and she doesn’t dance around issues. She has an opinion on just about everything and she is not timid about voicing it. It’s a quality that I love and admire, even when our opinions differ. The truth is, I would much rather hear an honest response, than a muffled peep of indecision. We are blessed with a voice, and have the freedom to use it. There are things that need to be said,
and feelings that can be expressed more clearly through well-chosen words, than angry bursts of emotion or waffling babble.
I am regaining my voice. I have given myself permission to admit, out loud, when I feel I have been wronged. My opinion matters. My perspective has value. While it’s easy to lay blame on our “audience” for feeling stifled or ignored, the courage to speak up must come from within. With my eyes I absorb color and images. My ears take in vibration and melody. Skin detects warmth and chill and the comfort of an embrace. But our voice is for giving. It is the clearest way to communicate what is happening on the inside to those on the outside.
In our yoga practice we often recite The Three Gates of Speech, “Is it true?” “Is it necessary?” “Is it kind?” So, if what I have to say passes through the three gates with ease, it probably should be spoken out loud.
I have made a promise to sing again too. The sound is not as pleasant as it once was, but the hum of vocal vibration is becoming familiar again and I like it. You don’t have to be Frank Sinatra to sing. The ability to carry a tune is not a prerequisite for expression through song. You don’t need rhythm to dance. There is no need to be able to touch your toes in order to practice yoga. And using your voice to let your feelings be known, is not only freeing, it’s necessary. Speak up. Be heard.
Laurie Kasperbauer, RYT 200, enjoys the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice and instructs both group and private classes. Laurie is also an active Florida realtor specializing in properties in Naples and Marco Island. She can be reached at Harborview Realty, 291 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island, or by calling 712-210-3853.