Welcome to the Autumn edition of the Voice-MS newsletter. Despite the turbulent time over the course of the last season we hope that the summer brought happy times for you and an opportunity to connect with family, friends and nature. If there’s been one constant positive this year it has ironically been the British weather. Thankfully we are still enjoying another spell of sunshine. It’s wonderful to walk around the woodlands with the warm yellow sun wending it’s way through the spaces in between the trees. This is such a treat to the senses, not just visually appealing but kinesthetically and auditory too. The warmth of the sun against the skin and the sound of twigs cracking with the birds chirping so tunefully creates a sensation which promotes well being. Being out in the woods is an opportunity to be entertained by the orchestra of nature.
There is so much to share with you this season I feel like bursting into song...‘the hills are alive with the sound of music’... Don’t worry I won’t. I would like to talk about the ‘sounds of the wild’ and the soothing therapy of sound healing. I’ve been researching the vibrations associated with sound and energy balancing through the yogic Chakra system. Primarily focussing on Chakra 5 - the voice centre; the area for creativity and communication.
The word Chakra comes from the Sanskrit word meaning wheels or circles which are connected to 7 different energy areas in the human body. This ancient wisdom passed down from thousands of years is profoundly relevant as a way to understand ourselves, our patterns of behaviour. Our excess and deficiency in an area can cause us to behave in a way that prevents us from being our optimal self. There are seven chakras that run up through the body from the base of the body in the pelvis up to the crown of the head. Each area is represented by a particular colour which spans the spectrum of the rainbow. Although the chakras are not physical parts of the body they function as valves that are the energy in or out. I like to think of them as energy centres where energy in the body accumulates. In yogic theory it is believed that the Chakras regulate all functions of the body mind and spirit.
From a voice point of view it is vital that we have balance within the whole body as it affects the voice. It’s all too often that our emotions interfere with our ability to communicate in the best way. Recently I’ve been working on Chakra 5, also known as Vissudha, which is based in the throat area. This dynamic energy centre of the body is all about communication, creativity and speaking your truth. I’ve been investigating the benefits of targeted yoga exercises that specialise on this centre of the body with sound and chants. This work is certainly not new and there’s lots to learn about sound healing but here is a window into one element of it.
The colour associated with this chakra is blue. You may notice that my branding is blue, this was not accidental. When this Chakra is out of balance there are 2 ways it can go: in excess or in deficit. The former represents talking too much with an inability to listen or at worse disorders of the throat and jaw. The deficiency manifests as fear of speaking, weak voice or tone deafness. A balanced Chakra 5 produces a resonant voice, good listening skills, good sense of timing and clear communication. That’s our goal!
The healing practices to restore balance come with our practical work of releasing tension, releasing the voice with sound and song, storytelling, journal writing and psychological awareness.
Having an affirmation to state regularly helps to stay connected to vocal balance. Statements like:
I hear and speak the truth
I express myself with clear intent
My voice is necessary
Help to reaffirm the belief in your voice and enable it to flow with ease. We need these things to keep connected to mind and body and therefore the voice.
Don’t Suffer in Silence
One thing that’s stood out for me during the restrictions this year is that social distancing is damaging to certain mental health conditions. Isolating not a good for us humans on the whole. It cuts us off from each other in such a way as to build fear and doubt in the other. Certainly we have to be sensible with health and safety guidelines to reduce the spread of the virus but it doesn’t mean all forms of socialising are out. Let’s all go to the pub! 😉
Earlier this year many of us were embracing the zoom calls and quizzes, some found they were being more social than ever but with this prolonged situation of change and uncertainty it has pushed many people into a dark place. If you are suffering please don’t sit in silence. There’s so much help available in many accessible forms.
“Listening to nature’s soundscape can have a positive effect, aiding deep relaxation and enliven well being”. Carol Anne Strange writes in Breathe Magazine, issue 31. Her article entitled ‘Sounds of the Wild’ takes us into the transcendental experience of being immersed in nature. She draws us into the details of the sounds around us. There are 3 main types of soundscape that you may observe:
Biophony – sounds produced by living creatures such as birdsong, insects and whales!
Geophony – sound from geographical areas like a babbling stream, waves, wind in the trees or ice cracking.
Anthrophony – sound made by humans including music, industrial noise, traffic and vehicles.
The latter has encroached upon the natural sounds practically drowning them out and creating a toxic disorientation that can stimulate the fight or flight response according to Carol Ann Strange. This brings us back to the vital needs to connect with nature. So if you can’t get out in nature you can always listen to a soundscape there are plenty online.
Her words can be used for a beautiful creative visualisation as they keep us in the present moment watching and noticing the details surrounding us.
“Its dawn and in a peaceful dell, far away enough from the human world and all its bustling activity, nothing but the sound of nature permeates the air. Leave are rustling as a slight breeze blows through the trees. A bee buzzes as it rises on the gentle warmth of the morning’s sun. There’s the continuous trickle and babble of water flowing from a nearby brook and, from the branch of a hawthorn tree, a red-breasted robin sings a bright tune as it greets the rising sun.”
Meditate and Visualise!
As many of you who have worked on your voices will know that we love visualisations at Voice-MS. It’s essential to find balance in the mind and body to unlock your true voice and find success in life. Hopefully you have experienced the relaxing and thought provoking benefits of a creative visualisation. They can transform your performance if it is focussed on a particular goal. Try Carol Anne’s ‘Sound of the Wild’ for a general relaxation. Imagination is a great tool for success as you attune your creative mind to the details of your desired outcome.
Since Spring I’ve been beavering away working online with a heavy schedule. A lot of my work was dialect based with a big cohort of my actors wanting to learn accents to boost skills and prepare for film and TV auditions which were still coming in at the plenty despite lock down. There were a few workshops on dialect and character voice and weekly group zoom sessions as well as 121s.
The yoga teacher training continued online and now we are ready to meet face to face I our new space which is exciting.
I have now opened the doors to face to face sessions but the numbers are limited for safety reasons. I have a rigorous hygiene regime and a lovely clear Perspex screen which seems to be working well.
The promotional offer of 5 hourly 121 lessons for £260 or 10 for £500 will continue for the foreseeable future during the current situation.
We now have a new member to our household, Luna our new kitten! She’s a very active feline and into everything so it has certainly been interesting working with this little addition the family Samuels. I love her purrs, apparently there’s sound healing to be had in that too!
I wish you all a happy and peaceful autumnal season and look forward to seeing you soon.