Finding the Song of Your Soul
I am about about to embark on my journey off to the Soul Seed Gathering tomorrow, and I wanted to share my thoughts about my offering, Finding the Song of Your Soul. There were just so many ideas that seemed to fit into the presentation and exercises for the class, but I needed to boil it down. So here are some of ideas I wish to share.
I opened an old book that I purchased at an antique book store a while back when unpacking some boxes, and synchronistically read this wordy, but apt quote."
"The voice is the musical instrument given by God to every human being and, whatever beauty or culture, he keeps on using it to accompany his slow progress upon the road of life. Musical instinct- if not culture- being closely woven in his soul, his song reflects his joys and pains alike and fills his hours of solitude. If his voice is beautiful, he loves it for its physical sake, as he enjoys such harmonious sounds of nature... If his voice is devoid of beauty, never mind. He listens to the words it utters and his imagination hears the music." - Yves Tinayre, Musicologist Be Your Own Music Critic.
Tinayre reminds us that our voice is our instrument that leads through our lives. Or as life coach, Suzannah Galland wrote in the Huffington Post Blog,
"Music is the language of the soul. Sing it, feel it, own it."
How do we start this journey? It starts within us.
Music is Part of You
Have you ever considered what sound is? What music is? Sound, technically, is made up of vibrations that travel through the air (or another medium) and can be received by a human or an animal ear. Moreover, sound is produced by continuous and regular vibrations, as opposed to noise which are random vibrations that do not convey information. Sound applies to more than to what we hear, it also applies to our physical and emotional state. ("He is of sound body. She is not of sound mind.") An ancient meaning of "sound" is "to become whole or healed."
Molecular biologist Candace Pert has discovered that hormones and neurotransmitters through the human body communicate with each other through distinctive sympathetic vibrations. If one instrument is off, the entire orchestra is off. For our bodies to "fall out of tune" is to break communication between our physical systems and to "literally lose the music."
Each person has a distinctive resonant frequency that is unique to them. In the same way that the body of a guitar is designed to vibrate pleasantly in certain frequencies, our bodies have their own "resonant frequency."
Tuning In Exercise
Exhale all of your air, now exhale again let your vocal cords produce whatever pitch they naturally fall to. Sustain that sound now. At the end of a yoga class has the teacher ever asked everyone to hum "Om" together. Let's all chant in this way on "Om" and listen to the way all of our bodies vibrate together.
In yogic thought, Om is the name of the sound of the cosmic vibration, not the sound itself. All sounds together, whether they be created by humans, animals, or even machines, are part of this cosmic hum.
Singing Is Good For You
Singing is good for your cardiovascular health, even if you are not a "good" singer. (This has been proven!) Studies have shown that the act of singing increases oxygenation in the bloodstream, and serves as a heart-healthy aerobic activity. Anecdotally, I heard from a choral teacher that one hour of passioned singing was equal to an hour of bailing hay!
Singing is good for the brain and mental health. It lessens feelings of depression and loneliness. It alleviates stress by releasing oxytocin into the bloodstream. In patients with dementia, it has been shown to improve memory, sociability, and mood.
Group singing has been found to have the same effect on the brain, as group meditation. When we sing together, our breath begins to move together and we literally and figuratively resonate together.
Singing Reconnects Us With Our Feminine Side
In ancient indigenous cultures the eye and masculine brain were strongly connected. The eye were depicted symbolically as an arrow, direct and focused on its target. The ear was symbolically associated with the conch shell which represented the female reproductive organs. The ear was considered in tune with the feminine brain due to its ability to receive "deep, interior, and mysterious" information or sounds.
When we sing and truly listen we focus on the meaning behind what we say, our intentions. Traditionally feminine qualities such as love, endurance, compassion, intimate wisdom of the body, and the ability to nurture and to connect with others can be brought back to the center of our lives through the ear.
Before we can express out loud, we need to learn to listen to our inner-teacher, our breath.
"The sound of your breath... honoring your soul, your song, your voice, the energy that is YOU."
- Adriene Mishler, 31 Day Yoga Revolution, Day 13 Practice Opening
Yogic Breathing Exercises
Lie the on floor with your knees bent so that your feet are on the floor. (This helps keep your lower back flush.) Place your hands on your stomach. Feel the air naturally going in and our of your lungs. Observe the how much your stomach expands and contracts as you breathe. Let's stay in this position for a short amount of time and feel and focus on how our breath moves. This is a type of Buddhist mindfulness meditation, our breath is our mantra.
Breathe in for four counts, breathe out for four counts using ocean breath. (Make sure you are entirely full of air on four and entirely out of air on four.)
Breathe in for four counts and out for eight. (Make sure you are entirely full of air on four and entirely out of air on eight.)
Breathe in for four counts and out for sixteen. (Make sure you are entirely full of air on four and entirely out of air on sixteen.)
We will now inhale for eight and exhale until we are entirely empty of air. Let's do that again, but this time when we breathe out we will make an audile hiss.
Now take in a quick, full inhale and sigh as you exhale. Allow your voice to extend through its entire range. Let out any tension you find in your body.
Physically shake out the tension in your body by throwing your arms down. Let's do that at least three times, until we feel relaxed.
The Hidden Powers of Vowels Exercise
The power of vowels has been known to humans for thousands of years. The Ancient Egyptians used vowels for healing purposes, and the term "toning" for stress reduction has been recorded since the 14th century. This is the thought behind Indian mantra practice. The Pueblo Indians of New Mexico associate the five main vowels with specific states of being. A non-demonational method to "tone" your body is through vowels. Different vowel shapes naturally resonate different parts of your body. If you are familiar with Kundalini Yoga, you will know these points as the chakra points.
Uh - The base of the spine
Oo (like book) - About three inches below the navel
Oh - At the navel
Ah - In the center of the chest
Eye - In your throat
Aye - At the third eye point
Eee - At the front of the top of your head
In vocal practice, we consider the first three the chest voice vowels are they resonant in the chest, Ah as the neutral vowel, and the top three as head voice. Singers will alter the way they pronounce words to fit these vowels shapes to better fit the emotional or melodic aspects of a performance. Listen for this next time you enjoy your favorite experienced singer.
Let's sing together the various vowels and focus on where they resonate in our bodies. When we sustain these sounds, we are "toning" our bodies and releasing stress which we may be storing at these points in these points of our bodies.
What is Mantra?
A mantra is "a sound, syllable word, or group of words that is considered capable of transformation." The apparent meaning of these words does not matter, only the association you may have with them in your mind. The purpose of mantra is to aid us as observers of our thoughts by giving something to focus on.
The act of saying words out loud is transforming. Fears lose their power when we proclaim that we can conquer them, we begin to judge ourselves less harshly, and quiet our negative self-talk. We say many things in our minds about ourselves that we would never say to another person. Speaking out loud what we want to be, sets us into action.
Mantra Creation Journal Activity
Write down the first things that come to your mind, negative or positive, about how you feel about your life and/or yourself. Who are you? What are you? What goals do you have?
Take any of these that are negative and write a positive version of it. Now take the vowel sounds from the words and create a new word of your own. This is your own "secret mantra" You bestowed it to yourself; you are your own best teacher.
Now speak out loud in a calm, clear voice. Listen to how it feels, hear the ways the words have their natural rhythm and pitch shape as you speak. Now repeat.
Say the "mantra" again elongating the words, and see how the natural melody takes shape.
Now record yourself singing your mantra, teach it to others, and practice it every day to see how saying what we say to ourselves out loud effects our day to day lives. We all have a song, it is our distinct frequency, our place in the world. When we resonate along with our authentic purpose, we are free to be our best selves.
"Keep at least one catchword for your life. It can be anything that will remind you always of the highest truth. It need not be the same word for everyone. If there is some inspiring phrase or word that particularly strikes you, that's your catchword. In any situation where you feel a little shaky, think of that catchword. It will immediately elevate you and lift you above the problem." - Sri Swami Satchidanada, The Golden Present
Breathing, Mother of Rhythm, The Alexander Technique, Georgia Dias, 2006.
Singing Is Good Medicine, Berkeley Wellness, December 16, 2015.
Singing is Good for Your Health, Chicago Tribune, June 15, 2016.
Words Speak Us - The Power of Saying It Out Loud, Esther Harris, Huffington Post, The Blog, February 7, 2015.
Yoga With Adriene, Adriene Mishler, 2017.
The Alchemy of the Voice, Stewart Pearce, Findhorn Press, 2010.
Ancient Sounds: Modern Healing: Intelligence, Health, and Energy Through the Magic of Music, Jill Mattson, Wings of Light, 2015.
Be Your Own Music Critic. Robert Edward Simon, Ed. Carnegie Hall Anniversary Lectures, 1941.
The Golden Present. Sri Swami Satchidananda, Integral Yoga, 1987.
The World We Used to Live in. Vine Deloria, Jr., Fulcrum Publishing, 2006.
The Yoga of Sound, Russill Paul, New World Library, 2004.SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave
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