Lots of ruminating on the shadow self this past week, as I have discovered the Art of Swearing to access my inner voice. I’ve been using profanity to tap into aspects of myself that I tend to suppress, and seeing some interesting results. Often my voice seems more stable, more embodied, more accessible afterwards. Why might this be, I wonder?

I was listening to CBC last weekend, and they were interviewing the producer of a new Netflix series starring the always-weird Nicolas Cage called The History of Swear Words. Apparently this new series explores not only the origin of our most common cuss words, but also the neuroscience behind our use of them. And one of the things they mentioned is that swearing accesses our reptilian brain, while also giving us a dose of cortisol (among other things), allowing us to increase our endurance and pain tolerance. What I’ve noticed about its power in my singing practice is how it seems to help me to release pent-up energy and repressed emotion, and generally make me feel more integrated and empowered. I’ve been using it as a warm up before beginning to vocalize (at the suggestion of my teacher, Neil Semer–also known for his potty mouth). And it seems effective.

So: my advice to you singer types is to give it a go. Try swearing a blue streak before you sing and see if it doesn’t unleash a side of yourself that really ought to be singing.