Updated: Apr 28, 2021
When I think of devotion the first image that comes to mind is my mom. As a kid I would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night & find her softly whispering her prayers on the couch sitting the dark. This was her time to connect with her God.
As an adult my spiritual path differs from my mom but that sense of faith & a personal connection to grace lives inside. As a practice, devotion creates a sanctuary where we can come to know, love, & express ourself fully. To sing in devotion is its own alchemy. A place where voice, body, & truth converge in resonance.
Embodiment & Devotion
Embodiment is the the ability & permission to be in our bodies with the sensations & emotions that arise. The idea of embodiment is simple however it’s practice can be more complex. Through our lives we collect lessons & traumas that often unconsciously prevent us from experiencing or allowing our inner state. Perhaps we learned that vulnerability is weakness, or that anger is ‘unbecoming’ or even ‘unsafe.’
Devotion is similar to unconditional positive regard a therapeutic technique developed by humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers. The premise of this technique is that the therapist honours a patient’s intrinsic value & offers unconditional acceptance regardless of their state, behaviour, or circumstance. This does not mean they condone poor behaviour but that regardless of this behaviour the patient is still accepted & valued. Through this relationship the patient learn to love & accept their self.
When we sing in devotion we are building a sanctuary between this tumultuous human experience & unconditional love. Here every aspect of our experience is allowed to be ~ our confusion, our anger, our joy, even our sense of numbness ~ all have a place to be witnessed without judgement.
Devotion to What?
When I think of my mom in those evening prayers I see a friendship. A relationship where she could share & speak to that which always listened & always loved.
The challenge for many is that their connection to God or a greater power has become tainted by dogma or hypocrisy. The transcendence of this exists when we realize that our relationship to God or a higher power is ours to define & explore. Perhaps the definition of God you were given as as a child is outdated or ineffective. However, I trust that you have experienced grace in your life, been moved by a sunrise, or touched deeply the hug of a child.
Devotion is like an arrow pointing us towards this grace. Whether you connect with God as a deity, feel a connection to nature, or just sense the essence of love & gratitude it is all perfect. Simply put devotion is a relationship with that which is unconditionally loving, kind, steady, & safe. For purposes of this blog I will call it ‘grace’.
The Alchemy of Singing in Devotion
Devotion is a dialogue with grace & as such carries two elements ~ expressing our truth & listening to its reception.
Singing in devotion is unlike performance. It’s not about sounding ‘pretty’ or hitting the right notes. Instead devotional singing is about allowing our whole body to offer it’s truth through sound & song while simultaneously feeling & listening to the experience. Here, there is no need to rush or get it all out. The silence & space between notes has a purpose ~ allowing grace to weave it’s way through this sacred dialogue. Even as we cringe a little with an off note, or pull back with a very raw expression... grace listens & holds us in acceptance.
In this space we learn to offer our truth & build bridges between our experience & ability to vocalize. In listening we uncover our layers & allow ourself to be held in both silence & vibration. This all occurs while the unique medicine of singing itself helps to regulate our nervous system.
An Authentic Voice
When I write about an authentic voice what I mean is that ability express ourself from a state of honesty & listening. In devotional singing we inevitably discover voices that live with in us ~ those of hurt, grief, gratitude, innocence, embarrassment, & any number of human experiences. Within the sanctuary of devotion we tend to these voices, befriend them, & come to understand the depths of what they are saying. At the same time we build our ability to express them.
These connections become part of our life. Little by little we become more able to say what we need to say & to listen when we need to listen. In time the practice of devotion weaves itself not only between the notes & sounds we make but into our work, our relationships, & the voice we use every day.
And this is why we sing.
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.