Thursday, November 4, 2010

Finding Your Voice

It's time to talk about finding your voice. Even if you're mute, we live in an amazing world with so many ways for self-expression that vocalization isn't totally necessary. Especially at the beginning of cultivating spirituality in your life, finding your voice means finding a way to express yourself that feels true to who you are. At later points, we'll talk about moving out of the comfort zone to expand your voice as well as all other aspects of yourself. For now, let's look at some simple forms of expression.

Journaling

"Oh, God. Not with the journaling thing again!" I know. I'm kind of a broken record on this topic. I've already talked about it as one of the top spiritual tools to use. It really is great though. When you write for yourself, the only person who ever has to see it is you. You can make all the grammatical mistakes you want. You can say the wildest, craziest things you want. You can say the most mean spirited and awful things about anyone. It's all fair game. And that's important. To really look at yourself and to start to be able to express yourself, you need a place in life where you can put all the cards on the table. If you have a super amazing friend who can hear everything down to your deepest darkest secrets, then that's great. But even with super amazing friends, there always seems to be that one thing that we don't want to admit even to them. So for now, I really recommend buying a notepad and a pack of Bic pens and let things flow. (Obviously writing on the computer is fine too. Just get started!)

Talking

Of course, talking about your feelings and your experiences is important. Western culture is pretty verbal. We talk all the time. If you're someone who always has to be talking, however, it's probably time to talk less. Start to pay attention to what you're saying and how much you're repeating the same thing over and over. A lot of times, we don't really say that much, and a lot of people talk because they're afraid of silence. If this is you, you probably would benefit from a silent meditation retreat. The retreat is helpful to break your cycle of perpetual gabbing. It then can help you pay attention to the perpetual gabbing and storytelling that's going on inside you.

If you aren't much of a talker, then opening up more will really help you. Find a close friend or a spiritual community where you can start to talk. Remember, you don't have to be perfect. Just let the words start to find their way out. You'll find a lot of blocks and issues to your voice by what topics you suddenly pull back from talking about. It will become a roadmap to where your spiritual growth will go. Each block is like a dam in front of the river of energy in you. In my own experiences, clearing out a lot of blockages has given me so much confidence in my voice. And especially in regards to the spiritual path, talk about your spiritual experiences. That helps to manifest your higher knowledge and to bring it more fully into your being.

Singing and Chanting

Maybe your words don't come readily to you, so use someone else's. Church choirs, kirtan chanting, and all kinds of other toning and sound-making are wonderful ways to open up your voice. Find a group that you like and let 'er rip.

Seriously.

You don't have to be any good. If you've ever sung hymnals at a church, you know how bad some people are at singing. So don't join the choir if you're nervous. You can also stand in the back row, pick up a hymnal book, and blare it out. Clear it all out. You probably won't be the worst one singing, and even if you are, you're coming with the intent to open your voice. If a church is nothing else spiritual for you, let it be a place where you practice opening your voice. God will understand what you're doing.

Spiritual Reading

Continuing on the theme of using someone else's words, find a spiritual text you like, and read it out loud. Yes. The work to finding your voice can be that simple. My words have often been inspired when I read (not necessarily out loud) other people with some amazing message or something that resonates with me. I could try to list all the great spiritual writers and poets, but Hafiz and Rumi are the too that immediately come to mind. Khalil Gibran is another good one. Herman Hesse's book Siddhartha has also sorts of wisdom although it isn't so poetic.

But it doesn't mean. The poetry of the soul doesn't need a particular rhyme or rhythm, and in this instance, it's simply a means to opening your voice and getting used to that wonderful feel of spiritual truth coming from you. See what really resonates, and then let yourself write or talk about that topic.

Paint, Sculpt, Dance, Explore

If you feel really blocked around words, painting, sculpting, dancing, and other creative activities can help you find a non-verbal level of expression. I consider these helpers to start to allow you to express yourself. Especially if there's trauma or abuse for which you don't have words, creative activities can allow your body and your imagination to explore what's happened and begin to surface the pain. If you simply haven't ever explored your voice, this type of creativity can be the start of energizing your voice, but you will need to put it into words at some point.

Speaking is an important part of embodying the spiritual truth, and you'll probably run up against all kinds of excuses about why you can't talk or why you shouldn't talk. Pain speaks in many ways, so of which will attempt to sound quite rational. As you continue to deepen your spiritual awareness, you will need to get better and better at discerning these inner excuses and ego games. This in turn will likely mean you feel that same deep initial insecurity as you open up your voice further. Don't worry. If you've already done it once, you can do it again.

Share It All With the World...Later

Most of this blog and the series I'm working through is about building a spiritual foundation. This is the stage where you may be in the space of a seedling. Strong protective walls let you start to develop these fragile shoots, find what works, and develop your deeper core that's rooted in love, strength, and faith. A part of you will start to want to share your findings with the whole world. Wait. Let it all develop. There is a time for these things. There is a time to go on a speaking tour or to start a public blog. During the initial and transitory parts of spiritual path building and/or spiritual awakening (if it has manifested for you), you need to keep that growing energy within you. Share your findings with close friends and a safe spiritual community, but otherwise, let this new world grow within you. In time, you will be able to shout it all from the mountaintops with confidence, ease, and kindness.

Next blog: The Art of Listening
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