Yoga has taught me that the idea of using your emotional experiences as inspiration and information is critical to building a connection to what you are singing or writing or painting and, in fact, to building connections in your life. Called satya in yoga, this translates to truthfulness. It is imperative to speak your truth in your art and in your life. When we add singing into the mix, we find a way to vocalize our truth through song which is an incredibly powerful experience. Singing can open up the gates, so to speak, if you are used to holding back in your creative endeavors or in your life.
A conscious focus of my teaching is this idea of satya; how connecting to emotional experiences enhances your voice and your ability to communicate your personal truth. On my side this is about opening up to my students to show more of myself in my teaching and for them, how they can open up to their own emotional experiences and allow those to inform their singing and by extension, their existence.
The ability to convey emotions means you must be aware of them and how they feel when you experience them – physically, emotionally and mentally. Delving into this territory takes courage and will probably make you uncomfortable. (Big side note: If you are uncomfortable doing this, you are probably on the right track!).
In her book DARING GREATLY, Brené Brown says, “To put our art, our writing, our photography, our ideas out into the world with no assurance of acceptance or appreciation – that’s vulnerability.” Indeed, how many times have you created something new, a concert, a character, a book, a presentation and felt terrified before setting it free into the world?
But, how many times have you gone to a concert, seen an art exhibit or read something where the creator has clearly laid their soul plain for the world and loved your experience? I know I have. I also know that vulnerability is definitely not my strong suit which is I why I understand its value. My greatest experiences performing, teaching and living come when I have opened to my own emotions allowing them to inform my experience. Not in that messy, over-sharing TMI type of way, but in the way that yoga has taught me: mindfully – when I have worked through the experience and transformed it into wisdom that informs my journey.
For me yoga is the pathway into vulnerability and the voice is a way to get comfortable expressing it. I work to center myself before teaching and engage with students honestly, being open about my experiences singing and in life. Lessons begin with breathing, centering, and meditating. Sometimes I do make them lie on the floor in a yoga pose to open up the body along with the mind. We pause while vocalizing and singing through rep to look at things through the lens of emotion and see how that informs the moment. Sometimes we both end up in tears. I’ve learned not to shy away from those moments, but to lean in because I know good things are happening.
When we relax the body, slow the breath and quiet the mind, we can see and feel our emotions without letting them carry us away as though we are on an out-of-control freight train! We learn to be a compassionate observer who gathers data without judging and we move closer to our personal truth. When we verbalize it through song it becomes more comfortable.
Is your vulnerable truth coming through in your craft, be it singing, writing, painting or presenting? It might be uncomfortable, but it is always worth it in the end.