Sunday, May 15, 2016

Know Your Voice, Know Your Power

When I was in grammar school, I remember doing a science experiment with a prism, sunlight and a piece of paper. Our teacher told us that if we used the prism to reflect the sunlight onto the paper at the correct angle, we could harness the energy of the sun and burn a hole in the paper.

That sounded like fun and even magical to grammar school aged me. I remember trying to figure out what the correct angle might be. So many different possibilities existed, and many of them yielded no result. But after a lot of experimentation, I was overjoyed to find the right angle, and watch my prism bend the sun's light and burn a hole in my piece of paper. Once I found that right angle, I could repeat the process over and over again. And I felt like I had just been introduced to a super power!

As I grew into a singer/songwriter and even an author and public speaker, I realized the metaphor of the prism, the paper and the sunlight was a helpful one to explain and illustrate the power of voice. You may ask, "what is voice?" Voice is a very deeply rooted, innate sense of who we are. To connect with that innate sense of self requires not only introspection, but also embodied introspection. If we are not grounded, and feeling and sensing our somatic experience, it is hard to find that deep internal place that might be called essence or soul or spirit. That deep place is where we experience the part of us who just knows who we really are. When we find that place, voice gives us a way to direct our core energy through an expressive pathway and to create a mark in the world, however large or small.

Connecting with that core sense of self is a journey and a process. And even if we find our core sense of self deep in our heart or gut, being able to translate the felt sense into meaningful expression is a whole other process. I believe that human beings are innately creative, and finding a pathway to connect with and express our creative energy is important to health, well-being and joie de vivre. Our society is very verbal, so "voice" is often expected to be experienced and expressed in words. Words are certainly one form of expression for voice, but not the only one. Drawing, painting, taking photographs and other visual arts, dancing, just plain moving, singing, songwriting or any other form of musical composing or even acts of service towards others can also be expressions of voice. All of these forms can be very powerful both for the creator and the receiver.

What is most important is both the energy you direct and how you direct it. When the energy comes from your core, it can feel enlivening to channel it. Opening our creative channel to find an authentic expression of that energy, is a practice that can be enhanced by learning how to become present the moment, grounded in our felt experience and non-judgmental about what will come through, when and how. When an athlete is in the zone, they are likely connected to their felt sense of core energy, and channeling it through their physical art form. Finding our "zone" for living the dailiness of life as well as for creative endeavors helps us feel more powerful and authentic in our actions and interactions.

For women, the power of voice is even wired into our neurobiology. When a woman in stressed out, in order to decompress, she usually needs to write, vent, speak, or express herself in some meaningful way to another human being. If she is not allowed to express, she feels like she will implode. This is the equivalent of the way a man decompresses by sitting on the couch in front of the tv and channel surfing. Different neurobiologies is different genders lead to different needs for destressing and decompression.

Being able to express oneself to decompress and being able to express oneself to create or bring something into being through channeling one's energies are two very important examples of the power of voice.