“Noticing the (w)hole in me”: Photo by Kimberly Barber, Edmonton, October 18, 2019

I’m reflecting today on lessons learned while teaching. This whole past weekend, I was working with (mostly) non-singers. They were a group of 30 some folks, close to finishing up their Yoga Teacher Training, and I was working with them on the healthy, embodied use of their voices. Again and again, shame, trauma and grief came up. And a whole lot of fear. I kept asking them to show up with their whole selves, and to park the baggage of their past at the door. I asked them to reclaim who they are in their deepest selves, without judgement, without filters, just standing there, singing a simple song (they all had to prepare a few bars of a song they just liked—it could be anything, even Happy Birthday!). Perhaps not at all surprising that this is very hard to do. 

Again and again these brave and intrepid souls opened themselves to the possibility that they might have something worthwhile to offer. Again and again, they butted up against their inner demons, and sometimes came with their stories and their excuses (“I didn’t sleep well last night”. “I drank too much”. “I have a cold”. “I’m not that good at this”. And so on). But one by one, I watched these people connect with something deep, facilitated by their breath, their sound, and (to my incredible gratitude) their trust in me. And each and every one of these people recognized some little piece of their wholeness. It’s a beautiful thing to witness. (There were tears. From all of us.)

And then, I had my own voice lesson later in the afternoon. And I was invited to do the same. To not try to accomplish something, but just to show up and with my WHOLE HEART, simply do. And as I did, I was reminded of the words on the t-shirt of the last participant (a phenomenal singer who had stopped singing after completing her music undergrad under a cloud of shaming critics). It said: “Decide. Commit. Thrive.” And I chose to do that, one exercise at a time. And I felt myself coming home. Back to my self. Feeling whole. Not worrying about being perfect. Just being me. And that’s enough.