This January I sang in a room full of strangers…and I am not a singer.
After the madness of Holiday parties and the New Year, it was time for a little rest and relaxation. A friend and I decided to take a weekend and go to Kripalu, a yoga retreat, learning center and spa not too far from New York City. We decided to take a class called “The Natural Singer” which is for people who love to sing but don’t want to lose all of their friends and neighbors in the process. One part of the class consisted of getting up in front of the group, performing a solo song and then being coached by the leader of the program, Claude Stein. The idea of getting in front of strangers and singing was not going to be the relaxing part of the weekend, that was for sure.
Let me tell you about my singing voice. I can sing on key (for the most part) but my voice is very thin and not very pretty. I’m never the worst singer in the room but I’m far from the best. But I know that people can change the tone of their voice and just for kicks I wanted to see if he could help me change mine.
When it was my turn, I sang a song in a good key for me. It was exactly as expected: on key and not very pretty. I had gotten the job done…but that was all I had done. Claude looked at me and said the following. “ You sang that song as if you only have a head…from the neck up. You need to feel and be aware of your body and then put some of your body into it. Be fierce!”. Then he went on to say, “I’m guessing that is how you go through life, in your head…you probably sometimes forget your body even exists.”
I knew right then that he was right. After years of using my head to power through whatever stressors came my way, I had gotten into the habit of pushing down feelings that might get in the way of ”thinking things through”. In many ways as a single parent, that was my way of putting out fires as I had to, but for what price? Intellectually I know that our bodies tell us very important things and when we ignore them we are not giving ourselves all of the information we need to make a decision. That’s where the expression ”trusting your gut” actually comes from. But wait…here I am again looking to my head to provide information that it’s ok to trust my body. This isn’t going to be easy…it is going to take a lot of awareness and practice to make this shift. And as I thought about it, it became clear that this translated to my dating life as well. I am certain being in my head and not also my body has had some real consequences in my search for the one. What if the disconnect that I was feeling to my own body looked liked disinterested body language to my date, even thought my words might be saying different things. And if this singing coach could see it in the space of a few minutes what is my date seeing in an entire evening? I need to figure out how to bring my whole body into the room, my head AND the rest. What a task. Where do I start?
For now I needed to start somewhere. I dug in my heels, clenched my fists, felt fierce, and sang from my body. My head was still there but it didn’t work alone.