Rich, silky, smooth—it’s curious how many adjectives can be used to describe either the sound of a voice or the texture of chocolate.
Organic, pure, thick.
And though chocolate is a devilishly satisfying pleasure, voice can be (by far) the more life-changing sustenance.
Warm, raw, sweet.
When I was 14 years old, I had an experience that inspired a lifelong journey. Like so many teens, I loved to sing and write songs that I played (hammered out, really) on a small keyboard. And like so many, I also felt very insecure about my voice and my ability to speak up for myself as a young, slightly eccentric girl.
I avoided conflict at all cost.
One day I was listening back to some recordings on a cassette tape (yes, those still existed) and I began to feel plagued by crippling self-doubt.
Was I any good? Would I ever feel good enough? Would I ever succeed?
As I sat on the bed crying my little eyes out, my dad walked into the room and saw me in distress. He listened to my anxieties but being a silent man, was at a loss about how to comfort me. Later that afternoon he surprised me with a funky white mug, filled to the brim with chocolate caramels, that said “I love you” in bold black print. It was all I needed to hear.
I realized that day that there was a great deal of power locked within my voice.
On one hand it was a place where I felt vulnerable, not fully in control—which was terrifying! On the other, it was a source of pure vibrating joy when I could tap into the pleasure of it. I became determined to understand who I was and face my own sound.
In true Millennial fashion, I matured into my 20s and began pouring years of my life, time and money into acquiring the metaphysical knowledge that would give me some kind of…permission? roadmap? courage?…to become who I was meant to be. I dove enthusiastically into music, meditation, consciousness, Buddhism, sound healing, alchemy and more.
Everything I inhaled in over a decade of spiritual pilgrimage was nourishing on many levels, but no path or practice was (or continues to be) as awakening and healing as the journey of allowing myself to have my own voice—and love it. Which meant letting my voice teach me about who I was.
By realizing that when I didn’t breathe in enough air to support my voice it reflected back to me how I blocked myself from receiving support in general.
By noticing how many times I said yes when I actually wanted to say no and what that did to my body.
By recognizing that the way I intoned a single vowel was a fairly clear reflection of how I habitually used my energy—starting out strong, but deflating towards the end. And by understanding, quite viscerally, that where I held back in my voice I usually held back in my life.
Yes, knowledge is eye-opening. Yes, meditation is expansive. Yes, music is transformational. But, Holy Cacao, sound is incredibly potent!
Voice impacts how we move, how we breathe, how we speak, how we feel, how we create, how we sing, how we connect.
It was only through getting playful enough to explore my voice from the inside out, favoring organic sensation rather than strict technique, that I actually grounded back into my body and let go of my attachment to knowing in favor of improvisational flow. When I realized that I’d spent more time focused on analyzing my life than on living it, the only sane thing to do was use something other than my head as a gateway for being present.
If we’re willing to get out of our comfort zones, our voices can help us uncover the places where we feel emotionally blocked and illuminate the spaces where we can be authentically expressive. To go beyond meaning what we say into actually becoming what we speak or sing or chant.
There’s a common metaphor that describes life as a dramatic play: our bodies as costumes, our personalities as actors and the situations we experience as a complex plot. If that poetic idea holds some truth to it, then inquiring deeply into how we interact and communicate is essential to becoming fully integrated and embodied individuals.
And for those of us who have ever felt stuck being the supporting character of our own experiences, voice can help us trust ourselves enough to move faithfully into the lead. But to do so requires facing a monstrous fear: the dread of becoming visible—and of course, audible.
Yes, stepping out of that hidden corner on the sidelines and into the limelight of our own life is a process. For me, the ability to do so (albeit slowly) has come about through getting very real about developing my capacity to communicate honest emotion, allowing myself to feel both powerful and vulnerable. Because who else can speak my truth (cliché as it sounds) if I don’t do it for myself? If I don’t empower myself to show up as I am at any given moment?
As obvious as it may seem, no one can be the main character of our lives but us. So why hold back? Why not get comfortable using the creative tools at our disposal to express ourselves utterly? If we can trust our voice enough to surrender to its own unfolding, relaxing our need to constantly control our words and judge our sounds, it can become a source of wisdom and clarity and bliss—just like chocolate!
We have this wild opportunity to become who we are in our lifetime—to perform ourselves if you will—and create our own magical theater. And when all is said and done, we need each other to commit to fully inhabiting ourselves in body, speech and mind, because let’s face it: nothing is as soul-changing profoundly healing and incredibly desired as genuine human connection.
That is our truest masterpiece.
Author: Ana Cristina Caelen
Editor: Nicole Cameron