“I meet so many people who do not feel that they have the right to express themselves. If we live within this prison of silence we are safe…but we are also unable to feel the full range of our experience and the inherent creativity that is central to all humans.”
Ancient Wisdom, Modern Science
The human voice is comprised of air and breath shaped into waves that move out into the world and affect (vibrate) all that they encounter. It is this vibrational initiation that causes sound to move matter. In fact, sound waves or pulses can have an immense impact on the environment that they move through and there are numerous examples of the physical effects of sound. The act of turning breath into sound is a profound act of magic and all of the words we speak and songs we sing have an impact in the world.
In the ancient yogic teachings, the very first event in the great void was a sound (AUM) that subsequently gave birth to all the other vibrations of the universe. What is most interesting to note here is that modern science is now beginning to understand and articulate what yogis have known for millennia. The world is alive, interconnected and it is all vibrating! In other words, the world is singing!
Humans are very sensitive, much more than we often think, and we are constantly receiving vibrational information through the instrument of our bodies. We are like walking antennas picking up signals and responding in each moment, and our bodies hold all of our experience as an energetic signature. In the modern world, many of us are vibrationally overwhelmed and this is causing much of the trauma patterns that we see around us. Humans (and animals) are made to express what impacts us (both positive and negative)…if we do not express what impacts us, then we hold onto those vibrations, experiences and emotions as stress or unexpressed emotions which over time can become tension, injury and disease. So many of the current trauma responses and coping mechanisms such as addiction, depression, anxiety, PTSD, disconnection, isolation, violence etc. are due to long term buildup of stressful impacts and little or no way to respond or process. In the field of somatic experiencing, there are studies that show that discharging (or rinsing) these stuck energies from the body can be extremely effective modalities for recovery. This discharge can be physical (shaking, stomping, etc.) but it can be even more effective when making sound is included because sound vibrates us from the inside out, moves stuck energy patterns and strengthens vital life force.
On a purely physical level, when we move energy through the body and the voice through physical practices like yoga, dance and singing we help to remove blocks to the natural life force (prana) and increase our ability to heal and respond creatively to life. In other words, in nature and in human bodies, a healthy system is one in which the energy is moving. When we remove stuck energy or habitual and calcified energy signatures, the body naturally responds by bringing itself into a state of resonance and healing. Just as sounds are vibrations that can deeply affect matter, self-expression is one of the keys to healing. We can use our own voices to remove blocks, awaken the body as instrument and respond to our lives with the full range of our emotions, life force and creativity intact.
We Are Designed for Self Expression
Humans are uniquely hard-wired for expression. Throughout history cultures have created specific times, places and rituals that allowed for the primal human impulses and emotions to have conduits for expression. We had times for grieving, for expressing terror and anger, times for celebrating and coming together in community. We had rites of passage marking the ages of our lives…rituals that gave us ways to understand the human experience in the broader context of the mytho-poetic and universal truths of being alive. But through religious and cultural oppression and colonization, perhaps driven by our need to control the wildness of nature both within us and around us, the natural forms of human expression have come to been seen as dangerous at worst and silly at best. Mechanistic thinking and controlled behavior has taken precedence over the intrinsic wisdom of the body and has served to suppress the very thing that has the power to help us be whole and to feel connected to each other and the world. We have come to overvalue that which can be “proven” and measured over the forces of mystery, magic and imagination. As a result, our expression and creativity are suppressed, devalued and seen as accessible only to professional artists, rather than the birthright of all humans.
Healing the Wounds and Living our Truth
I meet so many people who do not feel that they have the right to express themselves. A large majority of people that I meet have been told at some point that they should not sing or even speak their truth. Many of us were raised in environments of violence, fear and excessive criticism and some of us would even now be unsafe if we spoke and lived the full truth of who we are. When we are unsafe, or when we internalize external judgment, we can shut down completely, we can become afraid to be seen and heard in any way and we are forced as self protection to silence the very creativity of our soul. If we live within this prison of silence we are safe…but we are also unable to feel the full range of our experience and the inherent creativity that is central to all humans. With no expression allowed to move from inside us to the outside and loss of a way to connect to others, we may even lose our ability to experience true intimacy. Part of the healing available to us in finding our voice lies in understanding the idea that living truth is a creative act. In order to truly find our authentic truth we must go beneath the conditioned thinking of our particular upbringing , and take on the challenging work of healing the wounds and cycles of violence that we inherited. Once we can tap into the inherent wisdom of our own truth and GIVE IT VOICE, we often have an experience of liberation and joy. When we express and create, and especially when we do so in community, we invite the inner child to be part of our experience and that inner child is directly connected to our deepest self…the part of us that is the most direct route to our purpose and our joy. So finding our voice asks us to engage with our deep creativity, expression and ability to connect with others and to focus those gifts in ways that are beneficial to ourselves and the world.
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About Suzanne Sterling:
Suzanne Sterling is a dedicated musician, yogi, activist and social innovator who has been performing and teaching transformational workshops for over 20 years. She is co-founder of Off The Mat, Into the World and founder of Voice of Change which offers programs dedicated to inspiring others to find their unique voice and to use self expression as a tool for community building and conscious evolution.
Suzanne has been a featured artist/teacher at numerous festivals and conferences such as, Wanderlust, Omega, Esalen, Kripalu, Yoga Journal, Hanuman, Burning Man, Symbiosis, Ecstatic Dance, Bhaktifest, Boomfest, LIB, IONS, Bioneers, Earthdance (where she led the worlds largest Spiral Dance for 5000 people) and many more. She has been guest teacher in numerous Yoga Teacher Trainings and is part of the nationwide faculty for YogaWorks Teacher Trainings.
Since 2007 she has been training leaders of conscious activism through her co-founded (with Seane Corn and Hala Khouri) organization Off The Mat, Into the World. As director of the Seva Challenge Humanitarian Tours which have raised over $4 million since 2007, she has spent time in the US, India, Cambodia, Haiti, Ecuador and Africa working with communities in need and getting the yoga community involved in fund and awareness raising efforts across the globe.
For nearly 30 years, she has worked with the International Reclaiming Community, creating ritual and training teachers in eco feminist spirituality. Together with Ravyn Stanfield she created the Priestessing Apprenticeship in Sacred Leadership which for the last ten years has offered year long immersions into the art of creating ritual for the modern world. An award winning musician, she has released 5 solo albums and numerous DVD soundtracks.
Find out more at www.suzannesterling.com