It was 2005, I was 23.
The air was hot and humid as I sat in silence with 140 other practitioners in the Sivanada ashram in Neyer Dam, India. I had come to India on a pilgrimage of sorts, seeking to understand who I was and what was important to me after the loss of my sister. The days began at 5 am in the hall with a ritual of song and silent meditation. It was on one of these mornings that I heard a voice inside of me - a call to dedicate my life to music and healing.
For 15 years this intention has underscored my work as a recording artist, performer, producer, yoga teacher, training facilitator, and guided me on extensive studies into contemporary psychology and alternative healing modalities. Through thousands of hours of practice, performance, and time with clients I have witnessed how the voice is a portal through which we convey our inner dialogue, beliefs, feelings, sensations, and connection to the outer world. To know our voice is to know our Self.
EMBODIED VOICE IN RELATIONSHIP
Recently I was driving home to the farm with my dad and opened up to him about our relationship. I spoke about our past, shared how it had affected me and touched upon a heated situation that had occurred a few weeks ago that still felt tender and unresolved. There was no or blame, or anger, only a real desire to connect and to understand. He listened, I listened and we had one of the most mature and honest conversations we have had. It was a simple car ride, a simple conversation, and it’s the ease and simplicity which is a testament to a voice embodied, more so then any festival or conference I’ve played or taught at.
"EASE AND SIMPLICITY IN EXPRESSION IS A TESTAMENT TO A VOICE EMBODIED"
Most of us have a person (or maybe more then one) that is the HARDEST to communicate with. Usually it’s a family member or lover. When we are around this person, especially in conflict, all grace goes out the window and we find ourselves sensitive, defensive, seething, yelling, or numb.
Through childhood and well into my adult life I would have thought the conversation I had with my dad would be IMPOSSIBLE. He presented my greatest challenge in communication. Heated conversations with him always ended with me seething, angry, and ashamed. I couldn’t stand the way he spoke to me and was usually so taken aback by his words that I completely lost sight of myself and my needs. Instead of hearing what was underneath, or creating space to act responsively I would become agitated, defensive, numb, and leave feeling the shame of his judgments and disgusted with myself for not ‘being better’
Getting here took time, commitment, and care. I had to face how difficult it was for me to speak up, take responsibility for my reactions, and work little by little to create the space, presence, and skills to communicate effectively. I had to learn what was mine to take on and what had nothing to do with me. Plus, I had to practice, practice, PRACTICE, until eventually I could actually catch myself before I became reactive at a time when all my reactive impulses were firing. To be clear there were a lot of awkward conversations, tears, and self reflections that came before we landed in such a healthy dialogue.
It is an imperfect practice. Mistakes are inevitable, but with time, effort, and compassion our voice becomes the very thing that provides a sense of inner steadiness, worthiness, and love. From here, we may find ourselves creating bridges and strengthening relationships that once felt hopeless.
EMBODIED VOICE IN WORK & OFFERINGS
I have been fortunate to perform and speak in front of thousands of people and be immersed in the magic - the moment when the voice that emerges is not about me, or them, but born form the collective experience. In these moments I have watched my voice do and say things I never knew were possible, that were beyond ‘just me’. This magic (flow state, grace, etc) weaves through conversations, classes, client sessions - it is what I work for, live for, and seek to help others access through their voice.
"ALLOWING OUR VOICE TO COME THROUGH IS A PRACTICE. IT ARRIVES WHEN THE INNER CRITIC IS QUIET, THE MIND IS CLEAR & THE BODY IS BOTH GROUNDED & RECEPTIVE TO THE EMOTIONS & SENSATIONS THAT RUN THROUGH"
"THIS IS WHERE MAGIC LIVES"
Years ago I was just starting out as a performer, I was hired to perform with a jazz trio at a fine dining restaurant. For the entire length of my set a patron, about 3 metres away, spoke loudly about how terrible I was and how they should have hired someone else. It was AWEFUL. Each judgement pierced my insecurities. After my set I excused myself and made my way to a bathroom stall where I could cry alone. It hurt. I hurt, and no one telling me to "let it go" or “to ignore that man” was going to help. What I needed to do, what I did do, was dig. I cried, I hurt, and when it had moved through I came back to the reason I sang, the desire I had to connect to others, to know my voice, to experience the joy of singing. That set was not an experience of magic, but a moment that laid the groundwork for magic to occur. It was a lesson in hearing the voice inside myself that was bigger and wider then any other’s perception of me.
We can all get lost in other's judgements. “You should be famous” or “You need to find a real job” have both sent me reeling over the course of my career. What shifts is that with time and care we develop trust and understanding in our own voice, learn how to listen, and act from there. Whether it’s performing, writing, or facilitating I know that my voice is most powerful when it emerges from a place of connection and truth. When I get to my truth - whatever it is - I connect with my voice.
I am not a ‘singing’ or ‘public speaking’ teacher. I will borrow some of these techniques and tools to expand the dynamics of your voice - but that is not what I do. My philosophy is this.
WHEN WE EXPRESS OURSELVES FROM THE TRUTH & PASSION OF OUR BEING OUR VOICE IS IT ITSELF CLEAR, IMPACTFUL, & EFFORTLESS. TRUTH IS RESONANCE.
Dissonance, those awkward or uncomfortable places, are the gateway to truth. When we integrate the root of our dissonance - that which holds us back - the voice emerges on its own. My job is to help you come into contact with these parts of yourself and offer you guidance in bringing it through. I am not going to give you a quick fix, or one technique to change it all. What I am interested in is helping you access and reveal your truth ~ the one that lands deep in your centre and reminds you of who and what you are. From here we begin with YOUR voice. Whether it's to sing, speak in front of others, or have an effective dialogue the root is in truth, the rest (tone, breath, quality) is refined with technique.
This is a message I received form a client that may give some insight into my method. To be clear by our second session most of our work revolved around singing and expression - her goals for our time together. But first we needed this...
I somehow felt a little disappointed of the session yesterday... had in mind to make more music with you... in a way not wanting to expect anything and still expecting... wanting more... more things to do... more things to feel...
And then after starting to sing today, one minute in, the earth starts to shake... it was applause singing for the earth and touching my soul with my own voice so deeply that tears were just flowing... and thats when I knew it was all just right... thank you for this first step... it feels really good…
~ Julia Oguilia (Bali)
When I work with a client I walk them through a process of understanding the layers of voice - from inner dialogue, somatic connection, dynamic expression, and effective articulation. Together we work with your disposition and learning style, engage your natural natural gifts of communication, and strengthen those areas of voice which you would like to develop. I will challenge you to move into new, often awkward places with your voice but always with your consent and respect for your needs. I believe that everyone has a VOICE that is worth offering and I am dedicated in supporting your VOICE to come through.
WHICH BRINGS ME TO YOU
I'm here to serve, to offer opportunities and insights into how you can discover & share YOUR voice.
Through free content, events, training programs, personal coaching or whatever else I might offer ~ I believe we RISE TOGETHER through liberated expression, self awareness, and compassionate dialogue that enacts a sense of belonging and mutual growth.
THANK YOU for your time, your presence, YOUR VOICE.