The theme for this month's Practice Series is VOICE.
Your spoken and written voice is a powerful tool, but when it becomes locked behind fear, sorrow, anger, or stress, it can feel difficult or downright impossible to express yourself. Emotions are important indicators that something is up for us that we need to listen to, yet we often don’t want to give our emotions the space they need to be healthily processed and vocalized.
You can free up your voice, making it easier to talk and write about what you feel, by using your breath and vocal cords to release trapped emotion. This method bypasses any tendency toward story-making, focusing instead on feeling and breathing while the emotion moves through your body. You can use this practice for any emotion that is blocking your ability to express or just keeps sticking around.
You will want to be in a private place for this five-minute practice. You can do this seated or lying down. It's best to read the directions all the way through before you begin.
- First, take several deep breaths. With each breath, go slower and deeper, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth until both your inhale and exhale are at least a 5 count. Do this until you feel yourself relaxing and dropping into your body.
- Bring to mind an emotion you experienced recently that might not have moved fully through you. Welcome that emotion and make some space in your body and heart for it. Don’t try to magnify or stifle it. Allow it to be there, as though it is a friend that just sat down next to you.
- Keep breathing deeply, but speed up your breathing to 3 counts on both inhale and exhale, continuing to inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Count a couple times with the breath to get the pace right, then drop the counting. This faster breath may have a warming effect on your body but shouldn’t make you light-headed
- Now, on each exhale allow the emotion you welcomed in to make a sound through you. Don’t force it, but don’t hold back either. Allow that emotion to use your voice, to be heard. Maybe that emotion wants to groan, cry, sob, scream, laugh. Whatever it is, make space for it and continue to breathe deeply but quickly, vocalizing on the exhale.
- As you do this practice, your vocalizing may become louder or may change in other ways. Let it happen, and keep breathing deeply. Your body may want to move, rock, sway, or shake. Let that happen too. Continue for five minutes or until you feel the emotion shift in some way.
- When you are ready, slow your breathing back down and stop vocalizing. Notice how your body feels. Notice what has changed about the emotion you were feeling. Continue to breathe slowly and deeply until you feel ready to return to your day.
For you, what was the best part about doing this practice? What was the hardest part? Did anything surprise you? Let us know in the comments below!
Illustration by Autumn Skye Morrison