In certain yoga communities “find your voice” or “use your authentic voice” are spoken as a means to encourage students to be themselves, but this phrase requires explanation and instruction. Speaking up is not as simple an action as suggested if you cannot feel comfortable with your own thoughts in the first place. This process begins with an examination of what is taking place in the mind.
I’ve heard “free your voice” spoken for a decade or more but remained untrusting and unknowing as to what this truly meant. I mean, I thought I already did this. I thought I was already speaking what I wanted loudly and boldly. And to varying degrees I was. Except to the people to whom I was closest. I realized getting the words out when feeling intimidated or lacking in confidence was impossible. I wanted to speak up. I wanted to say what I really thought, but I was too scared. In some circumstances, I would just cower. I wouldn’t stand up for myself. I developed strategies for hiding, but had not yet developed strategies to increase personal confidence to come out of feeling shy or scared.
Having a voice sounds like a great theory but how does one not have a voice when they are in a conversation or have relationships? I didn’t get it until I began to realize that I was withholding my deepest opinions, emotions, feelings, and requests. I was not speaking up on my own behalf. Some people I could speak to with integrity of heart and mind, while with others there was a disconnect. In these situations, I saw a veil of fire that I would have to pass through. This was my greatest fear being revealed to me. I was scared I would be abandoned or killed because of my speaking up. A historical reality passed along to modern times. Death is the ultimate threat to control someone from speaking or acting in a way that goes against the tribe or culture.
Withholding became my illness. It became a slow strangle around my heart. I caused myself years of grief and suffering because I held on so tightly around the deeper truths. I tensed every fiber, every muscle 24 hours a day. My body ached and my mind prevented a reframing of the truths. I became a master sugar coater. But I felt a rumbling from deep in my bones. I wasn’t joining my heart and mind. The two missed each other. They longed to unite again. But the path was going to be long and I felt great fears as well as incredible excitement around liberation.
- What are your deepest thoughts and opinions?
- Do you stand up for yourself?
- Are you holding back speaking truthfully?
These questions can help you reveal answers about your own psychology:
- Do you have burning desires or curiosities you daydream about?
- Are you intimidated by certain people?
- Do you fear disappointing another person because of what you really want to say, wear, eat, do?
- Do you fear losing a relationship with a family member, friend, peer, or significant other if you actually act on, speak, or reveal your true thoughts?
- Do you fear losing your own life if you speak up?
- Are there any reality-based consequences if you speak up?
- Would you really be killed or shunned or abandoned?
- Does the risk of speaking up mitigate the risk of choking it down?
- Are there reality-based consequences if you remain silent?
To initiate change you must first be willing to risk taking a leap into the unknown. Practice speaking up in smaller situations to begin the process of walking through fears toward bigger challenges.
These tips have helped me feel alive, vibrant, and well. I no longer feel myself wringing the life essence out of my own marrow. The slow death of my spirit has greater consequences to me than worrying about losing someone I love. I recommend you think hard about what you can gain from stepping into a greater sense of speaking up for your dreams, values, and requests. Instead of ‘winging’ it, spend time preparing yourself for the upcoming battle with your will.
Steps Toward Authentication:
- Visualize: See the end result you want.
- Seated Meditation: Be still while asking yourself what you want to express. Practice saying it out loud at least ten times to get familiar with hearing the words outside your brain waves.
- Walking: Take yourself for a walk to get the energy in motion or work out the emotions that come with the expression. Physical exercise and walking, more specifically, help the body masticate emotions to reveal a message with clarity. Walking also allows you the time, space, and energy to unclog a stuck throat or unlock a clenched jaw that tightens to keep the expressions choked down.
- Horse Stance: Get your legs powered up and primed to hold your body and brain steady before you express your mind.
- Pranayama: 10-count inhale and Lion’s breath exhale. Do this for 5 or more rounds. Lion’s breath guides our inner will and power to move up from the belly, through the throat, and into the world or ears of the listener.
- Risk: Remember the benefits to speaking your mind and heart will align with your spirit.
- Recite: At least ten benefits to saying what you must.
- Do It: Speak it! Act it! Slow steps. Take your time to get the expression out.
- Congratulations: Reward yourself with a few moments to process and take in that you just did something heroic – for yourself!
When you finish, breathe and ask yourself what you learned from the experience. What else did you learn? What else? What benefits did you reveal?
This process can be done over and over again. It is especially good when you are making a big decision. It can mitigate the fears as you take a leap into unknown territory. In these actions alone, blood flows more smoothly, internal pressures lessen, strength is restored and stress induced illnesses lessen as you increase your chances for living a longer, tension free life.
I’ve been greatly rewarded in my own life with a deeper sense of love and joy as a result of speaking up when I have fears. My heart and mind are reunited and every time I pass through the fire veil of fear I get stronger. I have rebuilt my confidence and esteem, and now I know how to take charge of myself. You can, too.
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