Saturday, June 20, 2015

When finding our voice is a meditation

photo credit

A dear friend told me her recurring childhood nightmare, of opening her mouth to scream and no sound coming out. Of being rendered voiceless. But this nightmare betrayed her waking reality, as a girl growing up feeling unheard, seeping in to haunt her dreams at night.

I wept when she shared this with me. For her as that little girl with the soundless scream. And unexpectedly, for me as a little-girl-now-grown-woman who is still learning to open her mouth, let alone project her voice. To name her needs, her hurts, her anger, her fears, her desires. I was - and still am - the girl who muffled sobs in her pillow, trying to contain sound before it reached someone’s ears. Who learned, for one reason or another, to make herself smaller, quieter, more agreeable. Who learned to read everyone else's needs and not her own.

You see, I was nearly born a listener. But I’m just now practicing how to speak from the depths of me, without editing and cushioning words until my voice is swallowed.

* * * * *

Finding our voice begins, as yoga meditation does, on the mat. That place where we are fully present, coming home to ourselves. That thin cushion between our sit bones or the soles of our feet and the earth, which holds us up, and our awareness of our full weight bearing down upon it. Or just as likely, it can begin in child’s pose: face down, fully resting pose, arms outstretched in surrender. Here, with eyes closed, we’re ready to come awake.

It starts as a flutter of knowing. An awareness of heart beating, blood pumping, emotion coursing through veins and pathways of flesh and bone. We are a cauldron of life and we are starting to pay attention. The way we begin to listen to what our bodies are telling us, we scavenge for words to pair with feelings, to give form to the opaque masses. We call forth words from the deep of us in the form of breaths and our chests expand and contract, ever lengthening as voice emits. Even without words, the sound releases courage in vibrato.

The breath, the word, the voice generated from deep in our bellies slows, slows, slows -  and we expand.

This finding our voice is a journey of curves, high arches and low dips, not lines drawn in perfection from here to there. It’s a bending and a stretching, a bowing and a rising, a breaking and a mending, an opening and a lifting of our hearts upward. It’s an unfolding into vulnerability, to that very real pain of being unheard, unseen, misunderstood. It’s an unstifled cry, a scream that empties our lungs and fills us back up again, a plea from vocal chords on fire. It’s anger and forgiveness, learning when to hold position and when to release.

It’s a merging of body and soul, our past and present selves, cradling us in the now as we forge the way of becoming.

We practice breathing-speaking in the daylight and in the dark. It matters not because when our eyes are closed we see more clearly, lit up from the inside. Still, we light our candles, turn our mats to face new directions, open windows and prop our backs against the walls. We balance, we fall, we bruise, we rise again.

We gather words in breaths of quiet strength, and open our mouths.

Joining these words with the Kelly and the Small Wonder community



  1. Stunning. Beautiful. Truth.

  2. To find one's true voice and join the chorus - that is the beautiful journey. I appreciate that you join the inner journey of strengthening and flex with the physical journey of yoga - our bodies hold the key to so much awareness. Be blessed, Amber, and I can't wait to hear the songs you continue to sing!

    1. You're so right - there are so many parallels between the journey of yoga and our inner journeys... I'm only just beginning to learn this. Thank you so much for being here.

  3. Oh Amber, You did it again - put feelings into words for me, creating pictures where there are only feelings.

    I love this
    "a merging of body and soul, our past and present selves, cradling us in the now as we forge the way of becoming."

    And this:
    " We balance, we fall, we bruise, we rise again."

    And really, I love all of it.

    1. Oh Carol. I really, really love that my words can create those pictures for you. Such a gift for me, too. Love you, friend.

  4. I loved the word picture as you wove the imagery of yoga into the journey of finding your voice. Sometimes it's a painful process, isn't it? As a child, I was a talkative soul. But, it didn't take long in this sometimes-cruel world to find out that risking a *voice* was often greeted with disdain, judgment, or rejection. I learned how to melt into the background. I am grateful for blogging, as it has given me the opportunity to *speak*.

    Sometimes I feel like a butterfly, daring to venture out of the cocoon. I am also learning how to rise again.


    (Amber, I know I've said this before, but I truly mean it. Your voice is simply beautiful...)

    1. No, it sure doesn't take long for voices to be silenced, does it? I love that, through blogging, you have been finding your voice, Sharon - and that you are daring to venture out of your cocoon. Maybe this is one of the reasons we are drawn to each other in this season... we are both learning how to rise again.

      I love your beautiful voice.

  5. So much amen... (and so much delight that we are neighbors tonight!) Love you so, girlie!

    1. Well, howdy, neighbor :-) Always a delight to see you here! xo

  6. You know I love this for a thousand reasons. What a unique and beautiful way to tell this story. So much I could quote here: "This finding our voice is a journey of curves, high arches and low dips, not lines drawn in perfection from here to there. It’s a bending and a stretching, a bowing and a rising, a breaking and a mending..." What freedom in those words that there's no right way to find these voices. The key is in our finding! I love you and your beautiful heart, my dear friend.

  7. Amber,
    Your words and voice sing beautifully here...Thank you...I nodded my head in agreement as I read your glad you're sharing your voice here, my friend :-)