Finding Your Voice

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action.” – Martha Graham

When I opened my mouth to sing, my voice caught in my throat. The phlegm and irritation of a passing bronchial infection was still there. My voice was gravelly and strained from several days of coughing. And the process of singing wasn’t much fun. The sound coming from my body wasn’t me. I cleared my throat a couple of times, but it was still rough.

Instead of pushing, I lessened the pressure on my throat and kept singing lightly, watching and waiting for my sound to show up. I breathed deeply, imagining the sound coming up from my center. Gradually, the sound smoothed out until I was singing with the connected sound I know to be me.

Standing there, experimenting with finding my voice, I started thinking about the parallels between finding my singing or speaking voice and finding my symbolic or metaphorical voice.

The physical voice flows from a connection between breath and vocal chords. The metaphorical voice is a unique relationship between a person’s values and vision and how they are expressed in action. When I “find my voice,” I find my sense of purpose. I know what I’m about and express myself with much more ease.

When I lose my voice, I can find it again in ways similar to the process I use to regain my singing voice:

I don’t push. Obstacles are a signal to lessen the pressure, dig deeper, and reconnect with what is important.

I breathe deeply and speak from center. When I speak from center, both my literal and figurative voices are strong, clear, and more easily heard.

I practice.Losing my voice is signal for me to stop, look, and practice finding it again. Gradually I get clear on what “my voice” sounds and feels like, and I’m able to regain it more easily.

As Martha Graham suggests, find the vitality, the life force, and the energy that is your voice. With practice, it will become powerful and effortless.