When you think about your grandmother what do you remember?
I remember the softness of her satin hands & her surefire temper, how she would swing her cane at my grandpa's ridiculousness well into her nineties. At 8 years old I remember that I was taller than her 4 foot something frame, yet somehow she stood the ground of a giant.
Most stories of my grandmother came not from her but from my mom. She passed when I was I in my early twenties & I never had the chance to know her in her prime. From what I hear she was incredible! She arrived to Canada in her youth, an immigrant from Czechoslovakia. My grandpa & her fell in love while she worked for his family. This was not appreciated by his family & they hid aspects of their relationship until he was done university & they could move on without his family's approval.
My grandmother stood as an equal & did not abide to the gender norms or expectations of the time. When a peer complained of sexual harassment at work my grandmother organized a walk out to protest such behaviour. When a shopkeeper asked to 'speak to her husband' before a large purchase my grandma threatened to take her purchase elsewhere. This women exemplified not just courage but an unbreakable sovereignty and connection to her person & her values.
I know that I am not my grandmother, but I also recognize that her voice lives inside of me. All of us contain a myriad of voices & experiences ~ from the unapologetic cries of our infancy to the wisdom teachings of our ancestry.
Discover Your Voice(s)
The discovery of our voice is about more then technique, it’s about calling back the voices we lost, celebrating the voices we know, & uncovering the voices that live within us.
When we sing we often get stuck in the grooves of our mind & body. It may be a comfortable rut, like singing with an impressive voice, or uncomfortable like second guessing every note or worrying about being judged. In either scenario the real challenge is getting caught on how we might sound or look to others, including our own ideas of how we ‘should’ be. Yet, if we shift our attention to the inner landscape, listen, & allow voices within us to emerge free from constraint, we might just discover an expression of spirit, nature, & humanity.
There are two voices within each of us that directly connect us to the nature of self; the ancient (or grandmother) & the innocent (or child). These voices reflect the dichotomy of life poised between the unknown & known, the possible & experienced, the tender & the strong. When you quiet yourself & listen you may hear both of these voices living within you at once. The little one inside seeking comfort or play & the grandmother keeping her safe with steady presence.
(a.k.a the child, the little one)
Our Innocence is deeply personal ~ it exists before guilt, agenda, or posture. In innocence we are raw ~ our fears, our hurt, our awe & wonder are free from judgement, analysis, or circumvention.
To sing from the innocent is to allow the little one inside the space & time to express when & as she is ready. It may come in whispers, whimpers, or sweet melody, but always it comes from within. Through the innocent we express the essential nature of our hearts & to sing to receive one of the sweetest & most tender gifts of this life.
Download 'Attend' music ~ to use for this practice.
Begin with a connection practice of your choice (meditation, walk, breath work).
Tune into that most tender place within you.
Place a hand delicately on your heart, as though touching a newborn.
Feel your breath.
Listen to the innocence & give her space.
When she is ready allow her to express herself, it may be a chant, a song, or simply follow the melodies in the music provided (vowel sounds of ahhhh, ooooo, & ehhhhh I work well)
Allow any movement that feels supportive.
As she sings listen with your whole body. You may find your voice is quieter or higher, this is absolutely fine
If you notice yourself getting caught on thoughts or judgements, that’s okay. Bring your attention back to listening
* It is common in this practice to feel resistance, discomfort, vulnerability. Please give your ‘little one’ as much space & time as they need.
(a.k.a the grandmother, the great mother)
When I think of the ‘ancient’ I feel the essence of my own grandmother ~ her strength, her no-nonsense approach, her unshakable conviction. These memories weave together in my awareness with an sense of ancestry, nature, & the circle of life.
To sing from the voice of the grandmother is to rest humbly at her feet. To allow her to move through in her time & conviction. Her's is an energy of wisdom, not to be performed but to be revered.
Begin with a a connection practice of your choice.
Tune into the power of the ancient. Feel the strength in your legs, womb, heart.
Listen & give her space.
If you have a question or prayer take time to feel it & offer it to her
Listen with your whole body
Allow her voice to come through, in song, chant, prayer, or simple toning.
You may find your voice is lower, deeper, or different, allow this.
Allow your body to move with it in any way that feel present & true
When a phrase or the practice feel complete pause & feel into your body.
An Ever-Evolving Journey
These voices ~ the innocent, the ancient ~ are not something we achieve. They are voices unfold over time. They arrive spontaneously ~ hearing the sound of the river & sensing the call of the ancient, or feeling your innocence as you go through an old photo album ~ or in glimmers as you practice. There may be moments where these voices seem to take over & moments that they seem so far away ~ both are perfect.
For some the voice of the innocent is most difficult. To sing from her is to be raw & exposed. To hold this energy comfortably in the body may mean allowing for the experience of old wounds to be unearthed or felt. Please invite this energy slowly, gently, & with infinite kindness & care. A soft hum, a lullaby, even just presence & the sound of your breath is more then enough.
The voice of the ancient poses different challenges. Her strength often arrives with our own life experience ~ great joy & great grief offer us an anchor of understanding. To sing from the grandmother is to stand in the strength of our bones & body without apology. Begin small ~ a groan, an Aum, a moment of holding a space of sovereignty is enough.
These voices, the ancient & the innocent, may be inspired & felt in different spaces, sounds, and times. There is no right or wrong way to connect to the archetypes ~ they move & evolve as we do ~ both universal yet wholly unique it their expression through our body, experience, & voice.
About the Author
Amy Thiessen is a coach, writer, & musician who focuses on helping women connect to their confidence, purpose, & self esteem through voice & communication. Offering a holistic approach Amy helps individuals uncover & overcome their unique blocks around voice & communication, connect to their self esteem & purpose, & ultimately express themselves in a way that is empowered & impactful.
Finding our voice is an intimate & vulnerable practice. In my 1:1 Embodied Voice program I work with clients to feel a spiritual & embodied connection to their voice through sound & song. Unlike traditional singing lessons this program approaches voice as a gateway for healing, self expression, self understanding, & freedom! Through processes of breathwork, somatic & vocal techniques, sound, gentle inquiry, & individualized ritual you will bridge the space between felt sense of free expression.If this sounds appealing please book a 20 min session with me with absolutely zero strings. Here you can learn more about the 'Embodied Voice' Program & we can check & see if it's right for you. I PROMISE that if I don't believe I'm the right fit or I believe there is a better vocal coach or therapist for you I will pass along their info.