Updated: Nov 18, 2020
There is something distinctly magical about witnessing a parent sing to their child. There's no performance, no worrying about notes or tones, just a pure expression of love. The power of such a song is instinctual. When they cry, when they fuss, when they snuggle up we sing to these little ones & let them know that they are seen, they are held, & they are safe.
This is the inspiration of today's practice.
To meet ourselves with the same tenderness & care we would a little one. To unpack those difficult voices of worry, doubt, & fear, anchor into our bodies & offer a tender voice - to be all at once the parent & the child - the holder & the held.
There is a mis-understanding out there that to be self realized is to be always happy. But it's far more nuanced than this. Even as we find greater presence & contentment the joys & pains of life still move through us. With practice we learn to widen our capacity & humbly accept all that this life offers - even the most uncomfortable teachers.
Inner dialogue can be one of our greatest challenges. Those inner voices that criticize, demean, doubt, or dismiss us can, at times, becomes overwhelming. At first we may try to fix them or dismiss them entirely only to find they grow stronger, meaner, or that we grow more numb & separated from ourselves.
Inside each of us lives an vast array of experience, coping mechanism, & ideologies. Those inner voices we deem as ‘bad’ are generally expressions of coping mechanisms that no longer serve us. They serve a need - a desire to be seen, to belong, to be safe, to be loved & though their strategies may be outdated their reasons are very real. No different then the tired angry child having a temper tantrum - seeking it’s independence but also displaying its need for a nap & a sandwich.
(On a side note - before digging deep into any inner struggle pause & ask yourself if you need a nap or a sandwich - it will save you from unnecessary struggle many times.)
The first obstacle we must overcome is the idea that we shouldn't have these voices - we shouldn't be anxious, worried, depressed, or lonely. But these voices are simply like children within us - asking to be seen, heard, & understood - & like a young child they may not have the ability to communicate themselves as clearly as we like. Yet if we are willing to take the time to learn & listen to these voices with the presence & tenderness of a parent we may find profound healing & self understanding.
If as you read this you feel resistance in the idea of welcoming or allowing this voice - I encourage you to see only the possibility that it may be helpful. A crack of possibility is incredibly powerful.
Move slowly through this practice, write by hand, & give yourself the space to go through these steps.
You will need
~ music (Link Here)
1) Locate Your Self
Take three deep breaths & extend the exhale. Become present to your body & the sensations of breathing.
2) Name the Voice in Dissonance (i.e. The Critic, Anxious Annie, Poor Me)
Give a name to the inner voice that is challenging you. You can name it anything you want. Write it down.
3) Write What it Says
Listen to this voice as an impartial witness. Write down all the things it says & the impressions that it makes or implies. Let it all come out, regardless of how messy, incoherent, or unsavoury it is.
*If you notice yourself getting caught up & losing presence - pause, locate yourself, take a deep breath, & notice whats in your visual field. When you feel calm begin again or, if you still feel ungrounded skip to step 6 to help balance the system.
4) What is this Voice Afraid of?
Ask yourself what this voice, or part of you is afraid of? Common themes include being judged, being rejected, not being respected, not belonging. Write them down & take them in.
5) What Does this Voice Desire?
When we understand the fears underneath the dissonant voice we come to learn what it desires. What does this voice need right now? Is it to be seen, heard, held, or appreciated? Is it something else? For example if it fears being rejected it may need to a sense of belonging.
Feel into your body & where this voice lives within you as sensation - often it arrives as a tension in the belly or chest. As you ask what this part of you needs listen to your body for it's response.
6) Soothe Yourself with a Personal Lullaby
This step can be done on it’s own & along with the previous steps to meet a particular challenge.
Singing to ourselves has multiple benefits from calming the nervous system to bringing harmony to our overall physiology. When we sing to this very tender part of our self & offer it what it needs (i.e. to be loved, to be seen, to be heard) we also bring integration & healing. Locate in your body where you feel the dissonant voice (for example 'the critic' will often reside with tension in the heart or knotting in the belly) & place one hand gently on this area with the same tenderness you would touch a new born baby.
Softly sing or hum to this part of you & allow yourself to gently rock or move as you would if holding a baby. Allow your voice to be... simple & sweet. Feel the vulnerable place, give it presence, tenderness, & love. You may even image yourself as a child or baby that you are singing to.
Sing a song or lullaby that you know calms you.
Play the ‘Attend’ Recording & hum or sing along (Let your voice flow organically hitting whatever notes or sounds come through)
Listen to a song that soothes your soul & sing along.
As you sing listen to it with your entire body. Feel the vibrations touch you & whole a wide container for sensations & emotions to rise & fall. Continue for 5-10 minutes. If you feel silly or awkward at first that's normal, stay with it for the full 5 - 10 minutes.
7) Notice Where you Land
When you finish singing pause & notice how you feel now. Bring your awareness to your periphery (i.e. the sensations on your skin) & observe. Whatever arises allow it & if helpful remind yourself you are there with simple words like - I hear you. I accept you. I am committed to you.
This type of work is often magnified when done with support. Whether working with a voice & communication coach as myself, a therapist, or even a steady friend it is beneficial to work through those initial steps with someone who can be fully present with you.
Why this Works
Singing is in itself incredibly beneficial for our physical, mental, & emotional health. The act of singing calms the nervous system & brings harmony to various systems in the body. Emotionally the practice allows us to express ourselves in a way that is not hindered by language - offering us a refuge to express those feelings we want to express. This practice also takes us out of the over analyzing or anxious mind giving it much needed rest - & allowing our pre-frontal cortex to come back online.
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.
It can help to have support as you learn to uncover inner dialogue. If you would like to talk about how I might be able to support you please book a free consult & we can discuss if this type of coahcing is right for you.