Food for Body Thinking (Bessel van der Kolk’s groundbreaking book)

Anyone who knows me knows about my respect for the body’s wisdom. It’s the cornerstone of my pedagogy in the studio and a passionate research interest, and of course there’s a growing body of research (pun intended). I’ve read loads of books (some favourites: The Body has a Mind of its Own by Sandra Blakeslee, The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, and When the Body says No by Gabor Mate) and I’ve made many observations of my own practice in this, as well as that of my students over the years. But this week’s realization comes from my own body and what it’s been telling me. More importantly: how I haven’t been listening to what my body’s been trying to tell me. It’s been sending me signals and I haven’t been paying attention. Each of us has a signalling mechanism from our body–often it’s the weakest link that will send us the first alarm bell. And sadly for me (as a singer), this link happens to be my voice.

The last few weeks I’ve been going at a whirlwind pace. My voice has been increasingly giving me the message that it’s too much. Hard to warm up, reluctant to respond, I’ve been forcing it into submission. And as any career singer will tell you, this is NOT a good recipe for vocal health. So…after feeling increasingly despondent about my instrument’s unwillingness to bend to my ego-driven desires, I have made a decision to cut back, slow down, spend more time with myself and my body (meditation or yoga, anyone?) and see if I can’t find a more humane pace to live by. As one colleague once said: “Sad canaries don’t sing”. So this canary is going to go into Overdrive Rehab and see if I can’t find the love inside myself that is big enough to restore my love of singing and of my own voice. Stay tuned.