I was getting ready for a Zoom meeting a few days ago. Whilst I was waiting for the other participants to come online, my video screen was the only one visible, as my reflection stared back at me. With nothing else to do, I simply looked on, and it made me remember an expression I had once heard: “The eyes are the windows of the soul”. It is an intriguing thought, isn’t it? The eyes are very expressive, and we can convey a lot through them. This is even more obvious right now, with people wearing masks that obscure the lower half of their faces.
Being a Naad Yogi and working with Sound, I tend to focus more on people’s voices than on their appearance. In my opinion, the voice is the manifestation of a person’s entire being, not just of the soul, but also of the mind and body. The voice reveals it all: how we feel, how healthy we are and what the relationship with ourselves is like.
Did you ever listen to yourself closely when talking to someone? I don’t mean listening to what you say, but to the tone of your voice, the feel and texture of it. You can also record yourself during a conversation and listen to it afterwards. Explore the feelings that arise when you are listening to your voice and your immediate reaction. Are you comfortable with your voice? Do you feel that it resonates with the image you have of yourself? Or does it feel alien, even unpleasant? You can learn a lot from focusing on the Sound of your voice, especially about your level of self-acceptance, confidence and awareness.
I invite you to tune into the Sound of your voice repeatedly over the next two weeks and observe your reactions. Besides learning about how you perceive yourself, this is a first step towards engaging your shadow side and begin a process of integration.
Engaging with your Sound helps you to develop your ability to express yourself authentically. It makes you aware of the difference between the person you believe yourself to be and the persona you unconsciously assume when interacting with others. Since your voice is the manifestation of your whole being, changing your voice will, over time, change who you are.
Whenever you talk to someone, the other person isn’t the only one listening. You might not be aware of it, but your body, mind and soul are also listening.
Let’s assume you are an outgoing, energetic person who likes to socialise and interact with people. You see yourself as confident and competent, someone who enjoys a challenge at work and always puts in 100% effort. But you notice that it is still your colleagues who get exciting projects and receive promotions. In such a scenario, I would recommend tuning into the Sound of your voice on different occasions: while you are talking to a friend, during a discussion with a colleague, and while interacting with a superior. Compare the impressions and feelings that arise each time. If the person you are listening to would be a stranger, what conclusions would you draw regarding that person’s character, personality and confidence? Are those impressions in alignment with how you see yourself?
The most likely scenario, in this case, is: your voice sounds most natural to you when you are talking to a friend, but feels kind of alien in the other two situations. You most likely notice that your voice is higher, thinner and lacks resonance.
This hints towards a certain amount of stress, insecurity or limiting beliefs regarding authority figures. These unconscious perceptions colour the listener’s impression of you, and this can affect your opportunities at work. Even more important, however, is the impact on yourself: the Sound of your voice reinforces the unconsciously held belief which causes the insecurity. Over time, this attitude is becoming more and more ingrained. Fascinating, right? Maybe even a little frightening, especially if you are still new to the world of Sound Alchemy.
The good news is that you can always change from the inside out! You would start by reflecting on the situations where you experience this dissonance between your expression and your sense of self. An experienced Naad Yogi would look for past experiences that could have caused the emotions which accompany such situations. Once you found the reason for the way you feel, what your fears are and which of your beliefs are being triggered, you can begin to release them. Sound Alchemy offers tools to help you with that, for example, Raag Therapy and different ways of working with rhythm.
There is another approach which is more suited to a beginner, but equally helpful for an advanced practitioner: keep listening to your voice consciously in situations where you feel most at ease with how you sound. Hold on to this impression and try to reproduce under varying conditions as often as you can. Observe your body as well along with your posture and the feel of your muscles. If you notice differences, try to shift your body along with your voice. For example, the muscles in a particular area might be tighter or looser, your posture changes etc.
I would also invite you to play with your voice in moments where you feel relaxed and undisturbed. Just take a deep breath in and when breathing out, allow yourself to make a sound - any sound. Don’t worry about whether the Sound is beautiful or not. Just let it be and observe it without judgement. Focus on how it makes you feel, in which part of your body, you can feel it resonating. Also notice the volume: is it barely audible or does your voice come out loud and clear? Repeat this process a few times, then try to change the volume, the pitch etc. Pay attention to tones that make you feel comfortable, as well as those that make you cringe. Relax into the Sound, and embrace the comfort as well as the discomfort. When you finish, close your eyes for a moment, put your arms around yourself and revisit what you heard and observed. Take a deep breath then relax your arms with your exhale.
Working with your voice can be tremendously empowering and bring about changes in various areas of your life simultaneously. Your voice is a powerful tool for your personal development and inner growth, but it also has simple, practical benefits. You can use it to boost your energy, lift your mood, increase your impact at work, induce a meditative state - the possibilities are endless.
You don’t need any gadgets, a special diet or expensive gear. Your voice is always there with you: ready to be a mirror for your introspection, your instrument of self-expression or your connection to the Divine. As a species, we are hot-wired for connection and communication, and we are perfectly equipped with all the tools we need to thrive. All it takes is a little practice and consistency, and you can soar on wings of Sound. Give it a try and see how you feel in two weeks!
You have probably noticed while reading this that there is yet another essential tool being used in Naad Yoga: Listening. Your voice and your listening skills are two sides of the same coin, and one would be useless without the other. I will explore the art and science of Listening in my next blog. Until then, explore your inner world through the mirror of your voice and make sure to have fun along the way!