Monday, June 20, 2016

Root Chakra and Prosperity Consciousness

**This post was originally written and posted April 28, 2013. Updated today, June 20, 2016

Yesterday I had a moment (or two!) of falling head first into that swirling cesspool of money anxiety -- or more accurately, anxiety about not having enough. I wonder if anyone else could relate to that (like maybe most of the world's population!)? I decided to go for an inspiring walk amongst the trees and think about creative ways to deal with my "lack of money focused" anxiety. I've already spent way too much time in that cesspool -- if it's not my own money anxiety torturing me, then I take on other people's insecurities around money and I make them mine. It doesn't take much to trigger that fear.

Time to Shift that Old Pattern!

I discovered "The Prosperity Song" by Jai Josefs many years ago. In fact I had it stored away. It's on a dusty old cassette tape that I hadn't thought about for a very long time. Seems like it is not even on CD, but fortunately it is now on youtube. So check out the link below for a fun, bouncy, dancey song that is full of positive affirmations around money. And I suspect that singing affirmations may be more powerful that speaking them. Either way,  I'd rather be singing that song and feeding some good prosperity thoughts into my psyche.  Sure beats letting those "scarcity thoughts" run rampant! I find that fear and anxiety can paralyze and sometimes just a little singing and/or dancing can help the Creative Spirit to start flowing again.

The Prosperity Song

The Root Chakra

As I walked amongst the trees in my favourite place -- Riverdale Farm -- I started to connect with the Roots of those amazing and beautiful trees. I thought about the unwavering stability of those roots, the deep, solid connection with Mother Earth -- almost like the umbilical cord that connects Mother and Baby. Those Roots take in all that is needed for life -- nutrients, moisture and support from the soil, from The Mother.

In the human energy system of the Chakras, the Root Chakra (which is centered at the base of the Spine) is also, energetically, our connection with Mother Earth. It is the Root Chakra that gives us our sense of Stability, Security (including financial), Safety, Connection with Life. It is our Foundation. The Root Chakra has a lot to do with feeling prosperous, abundant and financially secure.

A Positive Approach to Root (or Base) Chakra Healing

Just as it is so easy for many of us to fall into that negative, fearful thinking about money, it is also equally easy for many of us to be thinking about what is "wrong" with us, or thinking about how our Chakras are "blocked" or "damaged".  I do believe we have all come to this planet with lessons to be learned and experiences to be experienced, but I think a lot of what we consider "blockages" or "damage" may simply be those erroneous attitudes, beliefs and judgements that have been imposed upon us from our earliest days and may be still getting into us through the media, political leaders etc. . So I think we need to counteract, or at least balance, all that negativity by nurturing and "feeding" our Root Chakras with more positive thoughts and energy and actions.

Imagination is a great healer.

I like to work with Chakras by looking at the positive qualities and imagining them to be true (even if I don't currently experience the truth of them.) By imagining, for example, that I FEEL SECURE AND STABLE, I am feeding that energy and idea into my Root Chakra. And if I really listen deeply at the same time that I am imagining this quality to be present , I find that often I will get messages or inspirations as to how to nurture that feeling. Imagining feeling stable makes me think about the connection of my feet on the Earth. It makes me think about being more present in my body. It makes me think about the stability and strength of those stately trees and I can take that feeling of stability and strength right into my own body and Root system. And I can further act on all of that by (for example) energizing my feet through Reflexology, becoming more present in my body through Yoga, Tai Chi or other forms of bodywork or whatever feels nurturing and stabilizing to my Roots. Nourishing the body with good food and water is a pretty essential part of Root Chakra Healing.

So my threefold Chakra Healing Approach is:

1. Affirm. Sit quietly, settle into your physical body, focus on the base of the spine and pelvic floor (the Root Chakra) and say the affirmation** a few times. Let it sink in.
2. Imagine. Imagine that the affirmation is true and explore how that truth would show up in your body and in your life.
3. Act.  From the above imagining and exploration, pay close attention to to any messages or inspirations that show up about how you might help to nurture and feed that quality that you are affirming. Then take action.

(Another possibility occurred to me as I was thinking about  #3. ACT. Maybe the action could be that you actually act out the affirmation, as in role playing or dancing it. That could be really fun!)

**Suggested Root Chakra Affirmations

I'll leave you with just a few more Positive Root Chakra Affirmations you can work with, or use as an inspiration to create your own!

1. My physical body is healthy and strong.
2. I have an abundance of physical energy.
3. I peacefully accept and honour all parts of myself and my family.
4. I experience a strong and healthy connection to my community.
5. I feel my connection with all that exists.
6. I am in tune with my own instinctual wisdom.
7. I am deeply connected with Mother Earth and all of her Beings.

'Til next time.

Happy Healing!


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Speech Level Singing and the Chakras

My many previous years of working, playing, healing, dancing and in many other ways, developing my connection with the Chakras, have provided a wonderful background for my current passion of developing my connection with Voice. My own Vocal Development has been primarily through the method that I have written copious amounts about in previous blogs -- and that is Speech Level Singing.

 Speech Level Singing (SLS for short) is a brilliant, and very sensible down to earth vocal technique that was developed by Seth Riggs (who lives and continues to teach in LA, California). I have been a passionate student of this vocal technique for over two and a half years now -- check back to some of my previous blogs to hear more about that incredible journey.

Prior to my  "Awakening Vocal Passion", my focus was the Chakras -- the energy centres of the body -- hence the original title of this blog "Chakra Dancer". That title may soon have to change since I seem to be writing more about the voice now than anything else. But the exciting discovery that I have been making, as I come to understand more about Speech Level Singing, is that, for me, there is a profound and exciting connection between SLS and Chakras. Although you wouldn't likely hear an SLS teacher speaking about Chakras, you would hear, in an SLS lesson, a lot about Chest Voice, Head Voice and the Middle or Mix Voice (which is the bridge between the Head Voice and the Chest Voice). In "Chakra" language, and in my way of experiencing the Voice and the Chakras, the Chest Voice, with its beautiful deep resonant quality connects us more deeply with the lower three Chakras -- the Root, the Sacral and the Solar Plexus. These are the Chakras that help us stay grounded, connected and functioning in this physical Earthly reality we currently live in. The Head Voice, with its lighter, more ethereal quality and higher vibration, connects us more with the upper three Chakras -- the Throat Chakra, the Third Eye Chakra and the Crown Chakra. These Chakras relate to our Spiritual, Intuitive, Creative, Divine, Wise Nature. The Middle or Mix Voice is the transition from Chest Voice to Head Voice. It is the bridge between that powerful deep low earthy vocal vibration and that higher headier more spiritual type of vibration. In the Chakra system, it is the Heart Chakra that is the bridge between our lower, earth bound physical nature and our higher spiritual nature. In SLS, the Bridge, or Mix Voice is a combination of Chest Voice and Head Voice that becomes gradually lighter as we sing up into the higher notes, or gradually deepens as we move down more fully into the lower range.

One really wonderful thing I have learned through my Speech Level Singing training is that we ALL have a Chest Voice and we ALL have a Head Voice. And it is very possible to train the Voice to connect between those two parts of our Voices. In other words, we probably all have a much greater vocal range than most of us ever thought possible. From my understanding (and brief experience) of older methods of singing instruction, Voices were generally classified as Soprano, or Baritone, or Tenor etc.This labelling of Voices meant that Voices were severely limited in range and possibility. And since the Voice is connected with the nervous system, that means that a part of the nervous system was being overworked while the rest of it would lie dormant. That also meant one portion of the voice was being overused while the rest of it was lying dormant. In Speech Level Singing, we get to develop the Whole Voice.

A similar thing happens in the Chakra system. Some people may go through life with an overabundance of energy and focus in the lower three Chakras which means they become overly focused on material gain and overly dependent on external status symbols and power. This can lead to greed and conflict and a feeling of disconnection from one's true values. Other people may feel more energy in their upper three Chakras and more drawn to things that are spiritual and psychic in nature. Being overly focused in this upper realm can leave one feeling disconnected from the body and the physical world and it can make coping with everyday realities more difficult. This also means that the nervous system becomes overdeveloped and overused in one area and underdeveloped in another area of our lives and physical bodies. Most of us do have a tendency to operate more from either the Upper Chakras or from the Lower Chakras, just as most of us tend to speak or vocalize or sing more from our Head Voice or more from our Chest Voice.

The ideal Vocal situation is to learn to vocalize and sing through our Entire Vocal Range.

In the case of the Chakras, the ideal is to develop an equal flow of energy through our Entire Chakra System. We open the door to this flow of energy through the Heart which is the bridge between our Lower Earthy Nature and our Higher, Divine Nature. Both aspects of ourselves are equally important to our functioning as a Whole Human Being.

Developing Head Voice and Chest Voice and connecting them through the Mix Voice or Bridge  are equally important to freeing the Entire Range of Our Voices.

In Sanskrit (an ancient East Indian language), the Throat Chakra (the energy centre which is the most directly connected with Voice) is called Vishudda. That word literally means Purification. Freeing the Voice and allowing it to move and dance between Head and Chest, or through the Upper and Lower Chakras, can create a powerful catharsis and cleansing of our energy system. It can also awaken those previously dormant aspects of our nervous system. Not only that, but it is really fun and energizing to allow the Voice to play and dance through its entire range. 

Lots more could be said about this fascinating Vocal/Chakra connection (and probably will be in future blogs). In the meantime, check out my events column to the left of this blog. I am offering a twice a month vocal event where we learn to care for the voice and we get to allow our voices to play and dance freely. AND -- we explore and sing some really fun and interesting songs.

I'll leave you with that old saying "Sing your own special song in your own special way" hopefully through the entire range of your voice!


Monday, September 5, 2011

Re-Visioning Our Health Care System

Another World is not only possible, She is on her way. On a quiet day I can hear her breathing."
                                  --Arundhati Roy-- 

 This was a quote offered to us from Stephen Lewis at the end of his eulogy for Jack Layton at Jack's State Funeral on Aug. 27 2011. So much about that service and so many of the words spoken by various people touched me in the depths of my Heart and Soul but I have to say that this quote touched me in the very core of my being. It keeps going through my mind like a mantra. On that day of honoring and celebrating Jack Layton's life and hopes and dreams, I could "hear her breathing". In the tremendous and beautiful community that came together that day to grieve, to cry, to love, to hope, to dream, to connect, I could "hear her breathing". It has made me think about other events, other gatherings, other connections of like minded people, other times when I have heard "her breathing". It has made me think about the story I am writing and the Shamanic journey groups I attend which connect me more deeply with my loving "Alien Friends" (see my 2010 blogs) and I know the sounds I hear in those moments are "her breathing".  In those moments, I can feel the tangible feeling of that New World emerging.

I know "She" is on her way. In those moments when love and compassion and connection happens between people, as it certainly did at Jack Layton's service, I can feel that She is living and breathing among us.

As we allow that New World to emerge more fully through our love and compassion and our willingness to dream and create, I believe She can come in even more strongly if we define and share our dreams in a tangible and concrete way.

Jack did inspire us to dream big! Bigger than one lifetime.

My Dream for a New Health Care System 

Imagine a Health Care System that really and truly cares about the good health and emotional well being of every individual.

Imagine a Health Care System where everyone has easy access to good, clean, organic food (no more pesticide and preservative laden foods full of cancer causing chemicals).

Imagine a Health Care System where everyone has easy access to clean, fresh drinking water.

Imagine a Health Care System where everyone has easy access to high quality supplements and vitamins that support and strengthen the body's immune system and all of its organs and systems.

Imagine a Health Care System where everyone has easy access to body/mind/emotion therapies to deal with and clear out the stresses and traumas that wreck havoc on the human body.

Imagine a Health Care System that ensures all stores can sell only natural, environmentally friendly cleaning products, skin care products etc.and only at reasonable prices.

Imagine a Health Care System that educates Doctors and Nurses in  the art of creating and maintaining good health. Imagine a Health Care System where Preventative Medicine is the primary area of Specialization.

Imagine a Health Care System that offers choices and works in harmony with nature and with the human body.


If the Health Care System could begin to re-create itself by being devoted to the basics, of life -- clean food, clean water,  clean environment, emotional support -- whatever money would be needed to subsidize these kinds of programs would be significantly less that what is needed now to "attack" all the cancerous and other disease forms that are resulting from this currently unhealthy lifestyle that has happened to us.

And let's face it, the current medical "Cut, Burn Poison" (see Sept. 2011 Our Blog)  method of "treating" cancer really isn't working very well. We all had some glimpse into the final struggle of Jack Layton, a man who so loved and respected life and people, whose life ended way too soon and in such a tragic way. I watched my own father, also a very loving, kind, generous man, die at age 58 after suffering through the devastating effects of surgeries/radiation/chemotherapy. And I'm sure most of us could tell similar stories of friends, family, colleagues, who have been through the system in similar ways.I think the question we need to ask is "Why would a man, like Jack Layton, who was at the very pinnacle of his career, a man whose leadership is so needed in this country, be cut down so abruptly and so tragically?" I believe that our Health Care System needs to get right back to basics and focus on helping us access those things, like clean food and water, which will create better health in all of us. Then maybe we won't be losing so many good people so soon.

That is my "Health Care Dream". I feel pretty certain that Jack would support this Dream wholeheartedly.

I really do feel that this is an ideal time to be especially proactive in Dreaming Our Dreams and  Speaking What is in Our Hearts.

I've been writing so much recently about "Freeing the Voice " in various ways. This blog might seem like a bit of a departure from all of my recent Vocal Focus, but it is really not. Yes, Freeing the Voice is about Vocal Cord Development and Sounding and Singing and it is about Freeing the Voice to speak the Truth of Our Hearts.

So let's Dream Our Dreams, Speak Our Truth and Sing Our Songs!!

See you -- maybe at our Sing a Long Fri. Sept. 9??


Monday, August 29, 2011

Freeing the Natural Voice

  A song is "an emotion put into words and music."  That definition is from "Singing with Your Own Voice" by Orlanda Cook.

I am becoming increasingly fascinated and intrigued by the idea  of the Human Primal Voice (as named and described by Oren L. Brown in his book, "Discover Your Voice"). Orlanda Cook refers to that Natural Human Voice as "Primitive Vocal Energy".

According to these people, both of whom have been brilliant voice teachers in their own way, we cannot really truly learn to sing until our Natural Voice is first freed. In "Discover Your Voice", Mr. Brown makes a comment that what we here in the Western World consider "good" singing is not really natural to the Human Voice. Obviously the voice can be trained to sing with proper pitch and timing and vibrato and all of the things that make for a beautiful, powerful voice and beautiful song. And with the right kind of training -- as you probably know by now, I'm convinced that Speech Level Singing is the absolute best kind of vocal training --  the vocal cords will be properly developed in a way that supports and strengthens the whole vocal apparatus. Clearly any kind of vocal training or vocal technique calls primarily on the upper brain or the thinking part of our brain in order for us to get it "right" -- in terms of learning or perfecting pitch, timing, proper bridging, vibrato, understanding the mechanics of the song etc.

But what about the fact that, according to the definition above, a song is an emotion. Aside from all of the technical aspects of learning a song (upper brain function), where does the emotion come from? Well, according to "Discover Your Voice" it is the lower brain (also known as the Reptilian Brain) that releases emotion. It is also that lower brain that releases automatic vocal responses. When we are startled or frightened, we don't stop to think about what sound to make. It comes out automatically without our conscious help. When something really tickles our funny bone, we don't think about laughing, we just laugh. If we win the Lotto, we don't think about screaming for joy or how we can make that scream "sound right" -- we just do it. That's our natural sound, our natural voice, our authentic vocal response that just happens simultaneously with the experience of the emotion

Babies are Masters of Natural Emotional/Vocal Expression. They feel an emotion, a desire, a need and simultaneously with feeling the emotion, they vocalize it. And even though there are no words in a baby's vocalizing, it is usually pretty clear if that baby is happy or distressed or hungry or content or amused.

Children too will naturally and freely vocalize, sing, or in some way express in sound what they are feeling -- until the adult world or the cultural expectations, start to impose limits and beliefs about which sounds are appropriate and which are not. At that point, the natural emotional/vocal expression from the Reptilian brain begins to shut down. The thinking brain then has to take over and it begins to monitor and judge what emotions and sounds are acceptable and appropriate (according to what we have been taught) and which are not. For many of us, that shutdown begins to happen at a very early age. do we effectively sing a song, which is an expression of emotion, if we are, to whatever extent, emotionally and vocally shut down?

That is the exact question or reflection I have been focusing on as I think about preparing for the next Vocal/Singalong evening that is coming up on Sept. 9.

One of the reasons I feel that a good thorough vocal warm up is essential before we sing songs is to properly energize and prepare the vocal cords and to be certain that our breath and our voices are coming from a deep and connected place. Otherwise, if we just push the voice to sing  before it is properly warmed up, we may stress and strain our vocal cords. Without a proper warm up, we may also stress ourselves emotionally if we try to push ourselves to sing before we feel emotionally ready to allow our voices to be "out there". A warm up gives us the chance to feel out and explore what the voice feels ready to do and what we feel ready for in terms of letting the voice out.

The other reason I like to offer a warm up is that it does give us an opportunity to just allow the voice to move and play and explore. Before we begin to impose certain pitches and melodies and other structures onto the voice, it is really good to allow the voice to find its own "free form dance". This is a way that we can begin to re-connect with our natural voice in a way that we each feel ready to do.

In our upcoming Sing a Long, we are going to play a little with the idea of re-connecting the voice with emotion. Hopefully this may help us free up some of the restrictions that have been imposed on the lower brain. The ideal is to find that equal balance between lower or Reptilian brain and upper or Thinking brain.

In the meantime, one very simple way to begin to re-connect with the natural voice is to take in a big breath through the mouth and allow a big Y-A-W-N to emerge. With the release of that yawn, allow a big loud sigh or AHHHHH... to flow out. Imagine that sound traveling down through your whole body as you drop your head and relax and release all the muscles in your body.On your next Inhalation, straighten up and repeat at least three times.This is also a great way to release tension after a challenging day or to relax before snuggling into bed.

Happy Yawning and Sweet Dreams!


Friday, May 20, 2011

Move, Vocalize and Sing!!

The Human Voice is an incredible gift, capable of calming, soothing, comforting, healing, energizing, encouraging, motivating etc. Through our Voice, we touch others in so many ways -- probably in many ways that we are not even aware of.

The Throat Chakra is called "Vishuddha" in Sanskrit which means Purification. Vocal catharsis or vocal release can cleanse, heal and purify.

The Voice is also an amazing instrument capable of creating beautiful, powerful sounds and songs.


In light of my upcoming Sing a Long on Fri. June 3, at 7:15 pm (for more info, e-mail me @ ) I am inspired to share a little more of my vocal adventure and to explore the focus of this upcoming Sing a Long.  My hope is to create a Sing a Long that is easy and comfortable and enjoyable for all and that also helps us care for and appreciate our voices. I'm happy to hear if you have any comments or suggestions or insights for future Sing a Longs.

Also see the previous blog for My Journey into Speech Level Singing.
If you have read my previous blog then you already know some of my reasons for loving this technique called Speech Level Singing. Now I'll share some more! And just know that I share my experiences and current knowledge as an avid student of Speech Level Singing. For more "expert information", check with one of the many very qualified teachers of this method. See link to the left of this blog.

Developing My Chest Voice

I really love that SLS (Speech Level Singing) focuses on developing and expanding the entire range of the Voice. When I first started singing lessons, before I found SLS, the teacher immediately classified my voice as Soprano because I could only sing in my head voice. I couldn't dip down into any low notes  or into my Chest Voice at all. The teacher's suggestion was that I should sing soprano in a Church Choir. However I wanted to sing Pop and Country Songs -- many of which are, at least partially, in Chest Voice. In most Pop and Country songs, and in Rhythm and Blues (my current passion!) one has to be able to move smoothly between Chest Voice and Head Voice. That was a problem since, at that point, I had no Chest Voice or at least no connection to that Voice.

The exciting news is that since I have been working with a Speech Level Singing Teacher,  I now have a very developed low range, or Chest Voice. Now I can sing an entire song in this deep low range and this (Chest Voice) is a Voice I didn't even have before I started Speech Level Singing! Personally I think that is pretty remarkable. And now that I am connected with my Chest Voice, or the Root of my Voice, my over all Voice is much stronger. My Voice doesn't crack in the way that it used to. I used to frequently get that "frog in my throat" feeling and often had to constantly clear my throat just to carry on a conversation. That is at least 90% better now that my Voice is coming from a deeper place inside of me. And I feel generally more grounded. Oh yes-- and I can now do lectures and facilitate workshops that involve a lot of speaking, usually without the aid of a microphone, without any vocal strain at all. Couldn't do that prior to SLS training!
My challenge now is in learning how to transition smoothly between my Chest Voice and Head Voice and that is one of the main focuses of my current SLS training.

So with all that in mind, it feels really important to me to offer a Sing a Long which begins with a warm up to connect us more deeply to our Chest Voice. And I like the idea of "exploring" our lower range with various sounds and sounding exercises, as opposed to trying to push the voice into something it may not be ready for.  So the warm up is really just an opportunity for the Voice to play and explore. And it is a chance for us to  learn how to pay more attention to our Voices and to explore what might feel good and supportive to them.

To continue with that theme of connecting more deeply with the Root of the Voice, many of the Songs that I choose for this Sing a Long are centered a lot in the Chest Voice.

Movement and Singing

Chakra Dancer Meets Speech Level Singer!

I love Free form or Improve Dance, Yoga, Pilates, Feldenkrais -- or any physical movement that takes me into a deeper place in my body. I've been practicing Yoga most of my life; I spent many years developing and teaching The Dance of the Chakras. To me, sounding or vocalizing are also very internal, physical experiences. I love to explore how sound can lead to movement and how movement can lead to sound and how they can blend together. I love that feeling of sound travelling through the body. It is very exciting and powerful to me when I can actually feel the vibration of my voice in my Root Chakra or in my Sacral Chakra or in my Solar Plexus. I can feel the vocal vibration pretty readily in the higher Chakras -- it is fairly easy to feel in the Heart, Throat, and Head (Third Eye and Crown). To feel that vocal vibration consistently in those lower Earthy Chakras is definitely something I aspire to!!

I love to watch singers who seem to be as fluid and at ease in their bodies as they are in their voices. I am still pretty awed by Michael Jackson's videos -- how he combined very complex songs with very complex dance moves and how the movement and the voice just flowed together as one, or moved one into the other.

At the very least, I believe that it is easier and healthier for the Voice to move through a fluid, energized body.  For this reason my Sing a Long warm up does start with some gentle flowing movement to free and energize the body first. 

Do feel free to leave any thoughts, comments or vocal insights or stories that you may want to share. I love hearing other people's vocal stories!

In the meantime -- Sing, Dance, Love Your Voice, Love Your Body!!


Thursday, April 7, 2011

My Journey into Speech Level Singing

This blog is dedicated to the Absolute Joy of Singing!

 And it is dedicated to the hope that we can all, in some way, touch that joy of singing, of vocalizing, of experiencing a voice that is free to play and express.

For me, that hope is becoming a reality. It is this beautiful, rich technique called Speech Level Singing that is taking me, one gentle but powerful step at a time, towards my hope and dream of allowing my voice to play and express through song.

My Vocal Story
I want to share a little more of my own personal vocal story. A number of my blog entries have been "vocally inspired" -- that is to say many have references to Vocal Healings, Vocal Power, Sounding, Singing, etc. And I really feel the need right now to "sing the praises" of Speech Level Singing. I have been working with this technique and with a very skilled teacher of this technique ( for the past two years and every now and then I seem to drop into a deeper level of experiencing and understanding the real essence and power of this method. My previous vocal repression was extreme and I've explored many ways and methods of overcoming that repression. Speech Level Singing is the one thing that has worked for me in a way that is lasting and solid. For me, it has been, and continues to be, a very safe step by step process that is building a powerful foundation for my voice. And I know that vocal foundation that I (with a lot of help from my teacher) am building is offering me much greater vocal confidence and ability for vocalizing in various ways and for singing the songs that mean so much to me.

Up until I was well into my 57th year on this planet, I never sang. Well, maybe I sang a little bit -- when I was alone and certain that no one would hear me! And I have a feeling that there may be others who have been, or maybe still are, travelling in this "non singing" boat. I firmly believe now that it is not right and it is not natural to live without singing.

A few years prior to age 57, I did attend various vocal workshops -- mainly based on Sounding (allowing the voice to flow freely from one's depths) and in rare moments, my voice would burst out in big loud sounds -- only to close down even more afterwards. Often, my throat would literally constrict, for no apparent reason, leaving me with a choking sensation at its worst or with a continual feeling of frogginess and need to constantly clear my throat (by the way, constant throat clearing is not good for the vocal cords).

Finally, one evening I found myself in a small group of people -- it was a cricle that generally used writing as the Creative and Transformative tool that it can be. I was really comfortable with writing and so I was generally pretty comfortable in this group. Imagine my dismay and distress when, instead of our usual writing exercises, a decision was made to share songs. Not only could I not open my mouth to share a song, I could not even open my mouth to join in the songs that were being shared. There were some excellent singers in the group -- which only served to make me feel totally inadequate and miserable.

That was the vocal turning point for me.

Within a week and a half after that group I found myself standing in front of a microphone in the small studio space of a teacher who taught Karaoke type singing. Remarkably, he did get me singing by the third lesson. My very first song was Love Me Tender. That was a hugely exciting moment for me. I still have the recording of myself singing my very first song and it still brings tears to my eyes to listen to it! A whole new world began to burst open for me. I was very excited to start really listening to some of my favorite songs and I started trying to sing those songs with my favorite singers (Anne Murray songs were high on my list in those days).
But frustration began to quickly set in. The harder I tried to sing those songs, the more my voice would "crack". My throat would start to close down and I would get that "froggy" need to continually clear my throat as I approached the Karaoke teacher's studio. En route to my lesson, I would pray to the Angels of Singing to help me open my throat enough to get through my lesson. That didn't always work.

Hooked On Singing
The good news was that by then, I was hooked on wanting to sing! By then I understood the need for a really good vocal technique and a teacher who could work with the kinds of vocal challenges I was facing. I went searching. This time the Angels of Singing were guiding me and I found Speech Level Singing. And I found  3rd voice studio. And I found Brandon Brophy-- a very skilled SLS teacher. I have to add here that not only is Brandon very skilled at teaching the method itself, he is (in my viewpoint) remarkably skilled at gently easing through  the "vocal baggage" that I suspect we all carry in one way or another. For me, part of that bagagge was that old fashioned notion that women's singing voices should sound "pretty". Speech Level Singing really emphasizes Chest Voice Developement and connection. It is the Chest Voice that creates the foundation for the voice and without a connection to the Chest Voice, the voice will never sound full or rich and from what I understand, singing without that important Chest Voice connection is damaging to the vocal cords.   To me, connecting with the depths of the Chest Voice is like connecting to the Roots of the Voice. When I first started SLS, I was not even speaking from my Chest voice. I was speaking, and trying to sing, from a disconnected head voice. With my voice having no connection to its roots, just rying to sing, or even trying to speak up, were literally straining my voice. Initially I kind of rebelled against some of the deep chest sounds that Brandon encouraged me to sing because they didn't sound "pretty". But I  came to realize that they (deep chest sounds) sounded pretty powerful and felt absolutely wonderful. And with every lesson, I started to feel more and more "grounded" or connected deep inside my body. It is a truly wonderful feeling when the voice can flow right from the depths of our being.

I could carry on about the Joys of Singing and in particular, the Joys of Speech Level Singing for a long time. It is a very special vocal journey I am taking with this technique and I am so grateful to all of the teachers who are bringing this method to us. 

"May we all sing our own special songs in our own special ways."

Got to go practice my scales now!


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dance, Beauty and Joy will Heal the World

An Important Message from my Shadow Self

   On Thurs. Feb. 24, several of us gathered for our monthly Shamanic Journey Circle facilitated by Jeannette McCullough (see past blogs for previous Shamanic Journey adventures).

   On our first of two journeys that evening, Jeannette introduced the idea of working with our Shadow Self and we began with a lovely poem from Rumi suggesting that we allow all aspects of ourselves, all emotions etc. to be welcomed "home" as an honoured guest. The question that Jeannette offered to us to use in our journey (if we wished) was "What, that could be helpful to me, am I denying access to my house?"

   Prior tot this particular journey, my impression of the Shadow part of myself was that it was the place where anger, grief, pain, guilt, depression etc. were stored. I thought of the Shadow as a place where I would hide away all of those "so called" negative emotions. 

   Imagine my surprise when my Shadow revealed itself as the place where I was hiding away the sensual, sexual, beautiful, joyful aspects of myself!!

   And it is true! I am actually very good at accepting and welcoming in the pain, the guilt, the depression etc.  I willingly work with these aspects of myself through therapy, writing, dialoguing and different forms of cathartic release. But to welcome in beauty and joy and sensuality and sexuality as being at least an equally important part of me? That was a big shift in thinking for me. And here is how it played itself out in my Journey:


Sweet Wisdom
   As the drumbeat began, signalling the beginning of our journey, I saw myself climbing to the top of a huge willow tree -- a very special and sacred tree from my childhood . There I awaited the arrival of my Purple Dragon friend who would transport me to the Upper World (or the Space Station, as I know it) where my friends, particularly my beautiful Spirit Guide, Sweet Wisdom, would be waiting for me. I arrived and walked into the front door to be greeted not only by Sweet Wisdom, but also by a huge troupe of exquisitely beautiful belly dancers. The sheer joy and pleasure and sensuality that exuded from these  dancers was awesome to behold. They quickly drew me in, dressed me in the same kind of sexy flowing outfit that they were wearing and put me right in the middle of the dance. I joined in easily, the dance and the sensuality and the joy  flowing right through me. As I experienced the sheer pleasure of the movement and felt myself smiling happily, I realized that this is the part of me that I haven't been allowing to come "home", that I haven't welcomed in to my house. Here was my shadow expressing itself in this gorgeous dance, filling and surrounding me in beauty and sensuality like I have never experienced before. I experienced a feeling of contented happiness that I have never known before.

   In the midst of this extreme pleasure, something was "niggling" at me. I stopped and said to Sweet Wisdom, "This is so much fun and feels so good, I just want to stay in this energy. But, here we all are, having an absolutely wonderful time dancing these incredible Middle Eastern dances, while in reality, there is so much turmoil and suffering and chaos in the Middle East. Shouldn't I be doing something to help? How can I just dance and have a wonderful time while there is so much need in the world? I can't just turn my back on the people."

   Sweet Wisdom offered me one of her beautiful, compassionate smiles as she said,"It is the vibration of beauty and joy and sensuality that will bring healing to the people and to the World."
   As proof, she transported all of us to the Middle East where we continued our dance of beauty and joy and pleasure. As we danced, I saw the people being showered with the vibration of love and joy. The energy being stirred up by our dance looked like little rose quartz crystals and they were filling the whole area with love.

   We arrived back at the Space Station just as Jeannette's drumbeat changed to signal that it was time to return to Earth. My purple dragon friend was waiting and I climbed on his back knowing he would take me back to the treetop where my journey began. Well -another surprise. I didn't land on the treetop. I found myself "dropped" with a bit of a jolt, right in the middle of the Arabesque Belly Dance School here in Toronto. This is a school that I have gone to on and off (more off than on, I'm afraid!!). As I sat there in the middle of the floor where I had landed, I realized that it truly is time to allow the beauty and the sensuality that belly dance represents to me, to come "home", to express itself through me in whatever form it wants.

   I have come to the conclusion that every time any one of us dances or sings or expresses joy in any form, whether we are alone or with others, we are showering blessings on the Whole World.

   Love and Blessings to all,