Permission to Sing! Awaken the Medicine in Your Voice

Back in March, during the beginnings of the pandemic, I was in Bali unsure if or when I would be getting home. My parents, who are nearing 80, were on the farm in Canada, self-isolating. I talked to them daily, particularly my mom who I’m quite close to and could tell isolation was weighing on her. I felt like we needed something more then talking, something special, so I suggested that everyday we sing together. My mom, who would be the first to tell you she is not a singer, agreed and it became one of the sweetest parts of my day.

I looked up old gospel tunes and some of my mom’s favourite Patsy Cline songs and every morning we sang. It didn’t always come naturally. Some days we’d talk and it felt heavy, with one or both of us feeling reluctant to sing. But, we would try anyway and within 5 minutes of crooning “I fall to Pieces” or “Amazing Grace” we both felt better. It changed the energy and gave us a place to focus our attention, sing our emotions, and connect even from opposite sides of the planet.

After the government urgently requested I return home (several times) I made my way back to quarantine in a friend’s condo. It was cold, grey, and I struggled with leaving my dreams of Bali behind. However, my mom and I kept the ritual alive. It wasn’t quite as often but every second day or so we would sing together. And even though I was tired, depressed, and reluctant, it always made me feel better. I think it did the same for my mom.

After quarantine I stayed with my parents where I got to sing with my mom in person. One afternoon, she was feeling unenthusiastic in general. After convincing her to sing we began and the energy shifted. It lead into an afternoon of looking up, listening and singing songs from her childhood.

With singing, so often the hardest part is getting started. But, once we do the medicine begins.

Everyone… yes Everyone can Sing

“I can’t sing”

“I’m tone def”

“You don’t want to hear me sing”

“I can’t carry a tune”

These are the excuses I hear all the time. People tell me a myriad of reasons why they can’t sing. Usually, there’s a story - someone told them they shouldn’t sing when they were younger, they got teased, or their a voice changed and now feels unfamiliar. A LOT of people have these stories, they are probably more prevalent then not. However, I’m here to tell you, these stories aren’t true, that you, yes YOU can sing.

I know one women who was told she couldn’t sing by her brother when she was five years old. So, she didn’t, not in front of anyone. Then at 70 she joined a choir, still nervous about her voice but sang anyway. And you know what? She loved it!

One client I worked with struggled to sing because her voice had changed dramatically. An intense fitness regime and supplements had lowered her voice and made it uncomfortable. When she went to sing her throat tightened and she felt the painful regret of her choices. Though our sessions together, slowly, gently, we shifted the beliefs that stopped her from singing, calmed her nervous system, and by our last session she sang without pain. Her voice was deeper and resonated with the weight and wisdom of her experiences. As someone who had the privilege of hearing her, I can you it was stunning.

When we are young we often hear “good” singers and compare ourselves to them. If we don’t hit the notes right, or forget the words, we recoil and become quiet. But singing is so much more then the sounds we make. It is a place to express our emotions, connect in community, connect to spirit, and as as you will learn it is an accessible way to bring healing to our entire system.

We can re-write the story, shift our language, and gift ourselves permission to sing.

“I can sing”

“I choose to sing”

“I sing because I love it/ I want to/ I’m curious”

“It feels good to sing”

“Singing is my practice”

“I sing for myself”

“I sing as a prayer”

Fact: Singing is Medicine

Maybe you’ve felt the power of singing, the sense of freedom, breath, and possibi