I am not one to post anything political on either of my website blogs or Facebook accounts, but with all the anger and frustration bubbling up over this upcoming election, I cannot help but take a step back and look at how much has been accomplished in just the last ten years with regard to who can now realistically become President of this beautiful country. I consider myself and my children lucky to be living at a time when the best person for the job can actually have the job, should the popular and electoral vote prove them electable.
Perhaps for some people this is no big deal, but for me it is nothing short of miraculous. What a privilege to know that my cousins, nieces and nephews, should they desire a life of political service, achieve the highest office possible—and that in spite of their skin color or gender. And hopefully someday soon, their sexual identity. We all deserve to speak the truth of our voice! And especially if we are called to be President of the United States of America!!
“We all walk in shoes too small for us.” Carl Jung
I remember when I first read this quote how curious I was as to how tight my shoes fit with regard to my life’s work. Were the activities of my day to day existence pinching my toes or roomy enough to encourage self growth? And were the hopes and dreams for my future merely fragments of wishful thinking or glimpses of my personal destiny? And were those hopes and dreams big enough to hold all of my potentiality as a woman, an artist and a healer?
“Imagination is the eye of the soul.” Joseph Joubert
I have always desired to make my mark on this world. And I have had ample opportunities to do so on stage, in the classroom and in my private practice. Hopefully I have also been a positive influence on my children and my community at large. Even now my prayer is that what I have to say in my writings will find its way into the heart of those who read them.
But often what I have desired for myself has not always manifested, at least not in the way I would have wished. There have been significant struggles, failures, wrong turns and false dreams along the way, which looking back now, do not seem near as devastating as they felt in the past. What I am trying to say is that these disappointments have at times made me cautious, wary, distrustful, and slow to act. In other words, SCARED!
“God wouldn’t put the dream in your heart if He didn’t have a way.
You don’t have to figure out how it’s going to happen.
Your job is to believe.” Joel Osteen
Yet, something inside of me has always nudged me forward—to stand at the edge of the abyss of change and opportunity and stare down into its dark mystery of promise. My mother once accused me of being a dreamer, which I am in part. Yet a dreamer often does not take action, for the dream is always more beautiful than the hard work and possible disappointment that may come in its pursuit.
So, transformation takes a courageous heart as well as intelligence, discipline and perseverance. But if we do not take that initial step of faith, then how can we ever know for certain that we are living in the full potentiality of our being?
I leave this blog with a quote from my beloved teacher Aftab Omer at Meridian University on the occasion of my last day of class. It was a bittersweet moment for both of us as I was leaving the comfortable nest of graduate school and flying away toward the larger purpose of my life as I knew it to be then.
“May you find the courage you need to step into your imagination!”
Just as the rest is a crucial aspect of musical notation, silence is important when we speak of the voice. Knowing when and what to say is important, yet counterbalanced with the knowledge of when one should embrace silence. Silence is important in communication for it allows one to listen actively with whom they are communicating with gives the other person the feeling that they are being listened to and in turn valued.
“But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.” Habakkuk 2:20
Silence is also important for the individual for it offers the opportunity to be psychically present, to be in a space where words are “poor translation.” Silence is different than merely being quiet. Being silent means that we have turned off the chatter in our minds (at least to the best of our abilities), as well as our mouths. We have instead surrendered to either the offerings of the inner voice or the serene nothingness of the moment.
For me it is all those things and more. Being silent is a gift for it allows me to re-form what it is I want to say and how I want to say it once I do step into my voice. The voice is only as soul-filled as the silence beneath it. So to be a person of my word, I must also be a person of my silence.
“The kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17: 21
There is an innate holiness to silence. It is an expansive space compared to the often limiting stricture of words. To me it isn’t strange that in contemplative orders silence is not only revered, but part of its policy. It’s standard procedure at Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village, for example, that certain days of the week or month are designated for silence only.
I advise us all to take time out to be silent, if not for a few minutes each day, at least for the greater part of a single day once a week or once a month. It may surprise us all how greatly it will affect our speech when we finally do step into the truth of our Voice.
I am excited to announce the recent publication of my book, Soul of Voice, which is now available in print as well as for electronic readers. Many of you have asked what it is I do in my private practice, and this book culminates my system as well as its application in a concise yet enriching manner. I plan to keep you posted when artists and other voice practitioners are utilizing my book and / or its methodology.
No mistake about it, the events of the last few weeks have been heart wrenching. The outpouring of shared grief and solidarity between people and nations has brought us even closer together as a species. Terror does that—it draws us into community rather than distances us from our neighbors. Fear and uncertainty can also divide us as we search for ways in which we can keep ourselves safe while at the same time serve our fellow man (women and children included).
The incident that most struck the heart of my being was when the French people leaving the disrupted friendly soccer game between France and Germany suddenly burst into song. France’s national anthem, The Marseillaise, has long had a history as a revolutionary song, an anthem to freedom, a patriotic call to mobilize all the citizens and an exhortation to fight against tyranny and foreign invasion. Written in 1729, this anthem has survived every war from the French Revolution through both World Wars and beyond. And as of last week, this new incarnation, signifies the resilience and determination of the French people to defy terror—to not become weakened from the attacks, but rather to gain strength of purpose and will.
As I watched the spectators leave the stadium holding hands and singing as expressively as they could, I too joined them while sitting at home viewing their resolve from the comfort of my living room. I share their grief, but I also share their energy and commitment to not let fear take away their sense of joy and safety. I pray for peace, but I also hold hands and sing out for liberte, egalite and fraternite with all those who wish to stop terror dead in its tracks.
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.