Sunday, November 21, 2010

Finding Your Lost Voice

This spirituality blog post is directed towards those who lost their voice or whose voice is really underdeveloped. For you, talking to others or speaking in front of people is very intimidating. It may be so bad that you find yourself a mute in certain situations. If it's underdeveloped, a lot of the practice will be needed to find your comfort and to work out the issues that are constricting your vocal (and probably even written) expression. You don't need to worry about talking about spirituality specifically. You simply need to practice talking.

When Your Voice Shutdown
For those dealing with wounds to their voice and their abilities to express themselves, you need to go back in time to when you felt like you still had your voice. This may be a little tricky because the voice can get squashed at an early age for some people. You may be feeling like you don't remember ever having a voice. But even if you feel like you have to imagine being a baby when you could scream, wail, babble, giggle, and everything else, there is almost certainly a time when you had a strong voice. Then something happened.

In all likelihood, you probably absorbed someone else's voice issue. If someone had been abusing their voice around you or towards you, you may have shutdown to protect yourself. People who yell and scream at others feel like they themselves have no voice. They are trying to be heard and recognized, but obviously, this isn't being done deftly. It most likely is meeting with resistance or silence from their audience, and this may confuse the person more. They may think that they're just expressing themselves, but they aren't mindful at all of how they are doing it or how they are influencing others. One of the big things about retrieving your voice will require you to be mindful in how you bring it back. Otherwise you may perpetuate a similar cycle.

What You Have to Say Is Important
Part of a damaged voice often comes through a lack of self worth. You feel like you don't have anything worthwhile to say. That's just not true. You have many beautiful things to say, and you should offer them to the world and to others. Even if what you are saying is known to others, the value is in the practice of speaking, and for many friends and family, they genuinely do want to hear your expression. I may not be saying anything new about climate change or spirituality, but my friends genuinely want to hear my expression because they love me. Not talking doesn't give my friends space to appreciate my voice, and it also diminishes the relationships.

No One Is Listening: The Importance of Spiritual Community Strikes Again
Well, you don't have to talk to friends in a spiritual community at this point, although it helps. Any community that actively encourages you to talk and make mistakes without judgment is a helpful one. You could join a toastmasters group or sign up for a public speaking class. I am sure both will scare the fear right out of your vocal cords...eventually. The point is to be around a community that actively listens to you. Active listening is incredibly nourishing and encouraging. Active listening reflects the energy that you project from your voice. It creates a stronger bond that supports you. This type of community support further helps your healing and can allow you to own your voice more quickly and easily.

Your Voice and Intimacy
There are a wide variety of issues that can affect your voice. You may lose it in specific situations where an issue is activated in you. Perhaps you aren't comfortable with your sexuality, so when you're getting close to physical intimacy, it shuts down. Perhaps you aren't comfortable with your heart, so when you're getting close to being in love, you can't talk to your partner. Whenever it shuts down, you have been given a clue as to what the underlying issue is, and you can use that clue to go back in your memories to find a time when that issue first ignited. Perhaps you were about to tell your very first boyfriend/girlfriend that you loved him or her, but that was the day that person broke up with you. So now, your voice immediately shuts off when you get close to someone still expecting to be hurt right at the edge of that space of connection. Bring your awareness to this issue, and then with your next partner, you can start talking about this beforehand. A loving partner actively listening to you can be immensely healing, and they can offer encouragement by understanding the issue at hand.

Voice Robbing and Traumatic Events
There are plenty of other really nasty things that happen to people that cause them to lose their voices. A violent crime coupled with intense shame can leave many people unable to explain what happened to them. In serious situations like that, you may have to find the perpetrator (in a safe space) to confront them and take back your voice. This would have to be done with a lot of support and preparation. If it's not possible to do it with a perpetrator in a safe way, you may seek out others to set up the situation and allow you to relive it. This time you are able to use your voice. This is an intense thing to do, and you'll need a very safe space with very strong people to be with you to relive a trauma. This is also assuming that talking about the situation hasn't brought healing to you along the way. Talking in safe spaces is always the first part for finding your lost voice. You can even begin by talking to yourself at home. You  may feel crazy, but you aren't. You're just learning to be with your voice and to take back what is yours.

Experiencing Your Voice Again for the First Time
Healing your voice is a powerful thing. It will shift the relationships around you. Where some people have been used to doing all the talking, they'll have to learn to give space to your voice. True loving friends will do so, although they may be surprised that you have so much to say. It's okay. Stick with it. It really is all right to express yourself because if you don't, who else could possibly speak for you?

Next blog: Abuse of the Voice and Healing on the Spiritual Path
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