Updated: Sep 15, 2020
I sit on my balcony & feel an icy tinge in the breeze. This time of year is always contemplative for me - a letting go of the summer freedoms & a re-engagement into routine, work, & the cooler & darker months. This year in particular that sense of letting go is raw as the pandemic continues, fires burn in the states, & there is a global air of uncertainty & transition.
Over the weekend I attended an online class with Janet Stone, an incredible teacher & inspiring human. It was her final class at her home studio Castro Yoga Tree, which is now closing due to the current climate. The tenderness of the class brought up emotions & memories not only from this goodbye but from the many I have felt personally or witnessed in the lives of my friends, family, & community. From the loss of touch & free play of children, to businesses shutting down, to a re-calibration of routine many of us have been greatly impacted by these times.
Inevitably our voice is influenced by big transition. In this blog I acknowledge the challenges we encounter & offer 6 ways in which we may awaken our voice through these changes & perhaps land in humble gratitude as we say goodby to what was & open into new beginnings.
The Challenges of Transitions
We've all endured the challenges of transition - not knowing how to say goodby, getting choked up, or being overwhelmed by pervading anxiety impacts our voice & ability to communicate. However, when we can recognize these challenges we have an opportunity grow in our voice as a whole.
Challenges (among others) may include;
~ Difficulty being with uncomfortable emotions
~ Freezing up & going blank
~ Becoming overly reactive or Irritable
~ Becoming numb or apathetic
~ Tightness in our throat or chest
~ Desperation - urgently seeking to fix or get to the next step
~ Over analyzing ourself & others
These challenges are indicators that we might benefit from stepping back & supporting ourself through the transition. Let's be honest it's not always easy to turn towards our ourself or face these challenges - but with a gentle approach we can do so in a way that empowers our sense of self & our voice as a whole.
Unfortunately when we don't take time to address our inner experience we may develop chronic patterns of behaviour that effect our communication & even the tone & quality of our voice itself.
Some examples include;
~ The inability to listen effectively
~ Avoiding or dominating uncomfortable conversations.
~ Fear of Intimacy
~ Inability to understand how we feel
~ Overcompensating "people pleasing"
~ Difficulty in creative expression
~ Unable to speak up or ask for help
~ Incongruence between who we are & what others see
~ Paralyzing fear in putting ourselves out there.
The reality is that if we want to engage in honest conversation, express ourselves effectively in performance or presentation, or even share a moment of intimacy with another person we will inevitably face grief, instigate transition & self growth, & face judgement of others. Navigating transition with the willingness to learn & grow builds character & offers an opportunity to clarify our priorities, connect to our self, & ultimately become more coherent in who we are & how we articulate ourself in the world.
Supporting our Voice through Transition.
As Brene Brown points out in her infamous Ted talk The Power of Vulnerability - it is in allowing our vulnerability that we awaken a greater capacity for love, connection, & a deeper experience of life. These times of vulnerability are an invitation to deepen the capacity & versatility of our voice, communication, & even creativity.
So Where to Begin?
Below I outline 6 Simple Ways you can meet your voice in transition - whether it's a huge life shift or a new job these methods will help you clarify your inner world & ultimately communicate yourself more effectively. I strongly encourage you to not just read these - but to engage at least 1-2 of them in the next week. Of course if you want to share about your experience I would LOVE to hear about it in the comments!
Permission & Listening
Permission & listening are fundamental to experiencing the fullness of our voice. Permission means that we allow everything... yes everything that arises. This could be judgment, anger, hurt, confusion, numbness, all of it. The essential companion to this permission is listening. To listen is to allow the wholeness of our experience to be felt & heard without adding judgement or analyzation. For example, we may experience attachment (let's be real most goodbyes come with attachment) but to listen means we recognize this attachment for what it is - an experience that is moving through us - not who we are. Listening creates a subtle separation between that which is being observed & the observer. To listen is to allow greater understanding to organically unfold.
Time & Space
Even in times of transition we still have ‘adult’. Our responsibilities don’t go away just because we are going through a rough patch heck, sometimes they are compounded! So let's approach this realistically. Every day, yes every single day carve out the space & time to Pause, Breath, & Observe. Get creative. Whether you put on a 2 minute timer during your bathroom break at work (or needed escape from children) or adopt a daily meditation practice - it's less about the length of time & more about the consistency. Even just 2-3 minutes a day to intentionally connect to ourself can be highly impactful.
Free Flow Expression
This is a multi-purpose practice. Not only does it provide a means for self understanding it also helps us clarify our thoughts & express ourselves & our needs more effectively. Whether we feel numb & disconnected from our inner world or are overwhelmed with emotions & narratives this exercise (especially done consistently) is incredibly helpful.
~ Get a journal
~ Write (by hand)
~ Don't stop till you have filled 3 pages or more (normal size pages)
* It usually takes 1-2 pages to find a flow - even if all you are writing about is how much you don't want to write stick it out.
* Simple journal prompts may include; In this moment I am... or If I was allowed to say anything to anyone I would say...
Just because you wrote it one day does not mean it will be true the next. When you are done writing put it aside & allow it to percolate. This space allows your understanding to deepen over time & for the key themes to eventually rise to the top & be acknowledged.
Singing & Sound
As mentioned in a previous blog singing is an incredible way to move emotion, balance our nervous system, & express ourselves without having to know what to say or how. Not only does it benefit our mental & emotional health it also builds better breathing & more agility & resonance in the voice itself.
Try any of these approaches
~ Belt out to your favourite song in the car (Yup it counts!)
~ Choose a song that perfectly expresses how you feel & sing that
~ Connect in Devotion - sing a mantra, prayer, or hymn that connects you.
~ Sigh to Sing - Take a deep breath & sigh it out. Continue & make any noises from groans to singing on your exhale.
(Need some inspiration? The Voice Your Value free mini program offers exercises & audio for finding this expression)
Whether we talk to a trusted friend, a therapist, or even our pet sharing our experiences can help us unload the burden & deepen intimacy with ourself & others. These casual conversations remind us of our shared humanity & help us build confidence in our communication. We may even develop the ability to ask for what we need - be it support, an ear, or an outing for ice cream! Reach out to those people you know are there for you - whether it's a friend, family member, even a help hotline. I know it can feel embarrassing or vulnerable, but it really is an act of permission & self love.
Engage Genuine Gratitude
Gratitude in it's truest expression comes through our heart. It arrives as we receive the fullness of an experience & can be found in a simple moment of appreciation or as an overwhelming sense of fullness.
Gratitude is both ever present & simultaneously not be rushed.
Practice gratitude by recognizing & appreciating those aspects that are easy to be thankful for. The ones you connect to from a genuine heart. Look for these moments of grace - the blossom of a flower, an incredible cup of coffee, a smiling stranger - & take note. Be specific, reflect, & appreciate that which is easy to appreciate. This practice instills a pattern of behaviour whereby we are more likely to notice these graces. However, when we feel like we ‘should’ be grateful & aren’t or can’t even see how we might be grateful for an experience it is not yet time for gratitude.
In those particularly difficult transitions & experiences it may take time for gratitude to arrive. Authentic gratitude which arises after traversing a tumultuous experience, carries with it a wisdom & empathy that can only be found by going through. There is no rush to get here. Inevitably as you come to know yourself gratitude will arise on it's own.
You Can't Rush Your Healing
I close today's blog with a Trevor Hall lyric ( from a song Janet played in her class)
Wherever you are in this endless journey of transitions I sincerely hope that you sense the depth of voice that lives within you & know that even if it seems miles away - even in this place & this moment -you are worthy of love & acceptance.
As always if you would like to learn more about my work or take a leap in awakening your voice I encourage you to book a free consult or join my Rise in Resonance Program beginning October 6th which will provide you with ample opportunity & support to know & awaken your voice!
About the Author Amy Thiessen is a coach, writer, & musician who focuses on helping others find & express a their voice with resonance. Her unique approach works with the wholistic mechanism of voice utilizing somatic awareness, psychology, mindfulness, spiritual practice, & vocal techniques of toning & song.