Mind The Gap – The Chasm of Disconnection

A letter to those of you who are in pain; emotional pain, anger, discomfort whether physical or emotional it’s all the same thing and it is screaming at us to pay attention.  There is an approach to this that says ‘I must get out in front of this so I can beat it, fix it, fight it and control it, whatever it is. Think positive, get out of discomfort, control this natural coming together in us of above and below, light and dark, masculine and feminine etc.

The Gap is where our rising energy from the earth meets the sky, our mind, the thoughts and the conscious light of our awareness.  From what I have heard of from most people that I work with this is experienced in the solar plexus, our power centre.  Energy rises up from below and gets to the swamp land of our solar plexus where there are no bones about it and sits and goes…Back. To. Sleep.  

There is another force descending from above dropping down in us like light on water and this awareness generally stops at the heart or throat centers.  So there you have it, the Gap.  In-between the Solar Plexus or what I call the Fireplace, and the Heart or the Treasure Chest.  No mans land. 

Over the years of teaching singing I don’t believe I have ever run across someone who doesn’t have some version of this Gap.  I guess it’s our human condition.  Our conditioning showing up in us of doing the same thing over and over and the planet is throwing out soothers for it; food, exercise, positive thinking, meditation, drugs and alcohol.

Our parents did it, their parents did it, their parents before them and so on and the seasons they go round and round….and here we are now.  

There is an evolutionary energy in us called the Kundalini energy system.  This energy at the base of the spine which lies dormant in most albeit a slow trickle moving upwards is the most powerful energy in the world as the ancient yogi’s and sages have told us.  Kunda means snake and lini means coiled; a coiled up snake lying in the base of our spine.  

I believe them.  It’s almost killed me.  This is the stuff that the yoga world, the tantric energy system and Kundalini is after.  To awaken this nectar within us and to evolve our species beyond the fears and stuck energy that we all have in us.  To unlock the potential inside of us all.  

The Gap is where this nectar usually goes to die and a trickle gets to move up the spine to where it’s met by the light of our consciousness and then lights a little fire in our brain.  We get aha moments, insights, creativity and revelations from it.  We become aware of something we weren’t aware of before and it feels really good. 

Stay with me here.  The whole mandate of the egoic world is to keep us away from closing this Gap and to have us to not Mind the Gap.  Because let’s just say that if we all got what’s in the Gap and how to connect these two worlds of above and below, light and dark, feminine and masculine then things would change.  Things would change because we would stop buying it, literally we would stop and unplug from the material world in a very big way. 

Now conspiracy theories aside hopefully you can agree with me that this Gap is real and keeps us separate not only from each other but from our own true power that is our birth right and that now is the time to plug back in.  

Now here’s where the singing voice comes into play.  The voice requires a communication and connection between all the inner players on the field. The whole body. The legs and pelvis for grounding and stability of the voice, the belly for all the emotion in the voice, the power of the diaphragm to project you out of you, the heart to expand and anchor this loving energy, the the throat to carry, spread the voice, the face and head to further reflect the beauty and awe of your connected voice and the crown of the head to extend the meaning in the sound of the voice. 

A mouthful indeed. 

So, hopefully you see the opportunity before us.  If one of these components is missing it’s pretty easy to hear it.  A lack of power and vibration in the voice says so much about what is happening inside of you doesn’t it?  We know this and that’s why singing can terrify people.  Yup, for good reason, the voice tells us the inner weather inside of you down to the rain drops, the coming storms, the droughts and the inner floods.  Our nervous system appearing moment to moment through the sound of our voice. 

There are very few to take this opportunity that lies before.  I have a few singers in my midst who continue to step through the many doors before them in their voices and bodies all the while gaining more and more life, love and laughter in their lives. One morsal at a time, until it isn’t, one morsal at a time, but giant strides.  

When these two plugs, two hands, opposites of existence of light and dark come together inside of us this is where things start to get really interesting.  Now we have lightening strikes on a whole different level and storms we didn’t even know existed!

So what is required of us here? If we know that we have been saying ‘this is good and this is bad’ then maybe it’s time to be curious about what compassion, love and light really have to say about good and bad, and not us.  Let something else decide what’s right and getting the hell out of the way of some badass decisions that we make every day thinking we are in control of something we don’t understand. 

Whew.  Okay, let’s get down to the brass tax of this.  You have a feeling in your gut, your heart or somewhere in you that you disagree with.  Notice this and then notice the huge reflex in you to either; bolt out of or to control it, fix it and make it go away.  Notice the time frame of when you have this feeling to when you open the fridge, your wallet or your car door to get away, far away from something you don’t understand. 

This is another Gap.  The moment you become awake and aware to a feeling to the time you check out of the feeling.  A Gap. What if the first step was to notice you going back and forth between them and to let THIS BE OKAY. 

The next instalment will help you to understand some specifics as to how the kundalini energy moves within you, how you can bring compassion and love to all of weird and wacky wonders that appear within you.  All the while allowing the light of your mind to reflect and penetrate into your body of water, for your birth right to finally arrive within you.

There’s nothing to get over, there’s nothing to throw away but only to bring the light of your awareness to and to Let Go.  

F-E-A-R – Face Everything And Remember. 

The ‘I have a Dream’ (the super-glue of the ego)

I watched an interview today and wanted to share my thoughts on the notion that we all have a dream and that it’s good to have a dream, and well, just plain bad if we don’t have one.  But not only that, our dreams are only valid if they serve a greater (higher) good.  

The interview focused on a particular woman’s difficult journey in her life from poverty in Africa and then her making it to the United States and onto having all of her dreams fulfilled.  Now don’t get me wrong this beautiful woman had me at ‘I had four children an abusive husband and was poor.  My heart was all the way in and I was moved to tears about her brave and beautiful story.  

So it surprised me when I heard the interviewer and the interviewee agree on the concept that having your dream is so much more important if it serves the greater good.   Your dream is only valid if it brings good back to the community and this is the real stuff of humanity. 

Now I know I’m stepping on sacred territory here and the holy ground of Purpose, Goals and The Meaning of Life.  Just what is wrong with having a dream and a purpose and having it be for the greater good?  Serving the community is good right?  Yes of course, having a dream and the greater good etc, but if I may be so bold as to ask the question does my dream have to serve the higher good and have a grand purpose in order for me to have it? 

I’m sharing this because I teach or know a number of beautiful and talented women who struggle so much with the Purpose Dilemma.  These days there are countless workshops, seminars, online webinars, multi-level this and that  for us to buy into to finally figure out our purpose in life and then I-Can-Relax finally.  We are told that we are here for a purpose and it’s our job to find this out.  Oh my that’s a slippery slope if there ever was one.

This Purpose Search is a beautiful search for so many people these days and I write this to inquire into my own search to purify the Purpose/Dream/Work that I do from any infection of Sacrifice and Guilt that might be lingering around.

Women were liberated from the kitchen only to be thrown into the work world and quickly learned how to sacrifice themselves there as well.  I think the notion of ‘it must serve the greater good’ cripples people and stops them dead in their ‘I have a dream’ tracks because dreams and goals really are the beautiful stuff of life and they need to be purified and cleaned of the guilt, shame and sacrifice that has been put on women.  Yup, I said that. 

I think this sacrificial mentality is  the food and the super-glue of the ego that keeps people (okay mostly women if I’m being honest) in the jailhouse of ‘purpose’ forever and this jailhouse is a House of Guilt.  Guilt that I’m not enough, I need to do more and I have to make up for something I’ve done wrong.  This jailhouse has so many women inside who are peering out through the bars wondering ‘how can I serve the world?‘ so that I can get rid of this guilty feeling inside me.

I recently watched a powerful talk by Gabor Mate, a medical doctor and addiction specialist, and he said that his addiction was his work because he gets so much adulation from doing his talks that it is intoxicating to him and therefore he says it is addictive.  Good for him for saying it out loud for others to hear. 

Listening to your own inner wisdom and what you need and want is the right thing for all concerned, and it doesn’t have to be that the right thing for all concerned is the right thing for you.

I think it’s another cover and a set up by the patriarchy to rob women’s voices again.  Make it all about other people, ‘for the good of all’.   I have to have a dream that is huge and for the good of everyone else first.  Not only that but I must work really hard and push myself past my natural limits to get this dream.  

What if I want to sit on a beach forever sipping Marguerita’s, is that for the good of all?  Or do I need to have this grandiose idea of how my life is going to change the world.  

What if sipping margaritas on a beach gives someone else permission to simply relax and enjoy and maybe that’s enough and maybe I just don’t need to be concerned about what other people need do or need not do.  Maybe God’s on that.

A few years ago I went to a workshop seminar in Los Angeles with a ton of women, it was fantastic it was exciting and very inspiring.  And then the Sacrifice Bomb went off.  The leader (a very famous woman who shall remain nameless) said that we all need to take more action and put-our-money-where-our-mouth-is and contribute more to make a change.  We then broke into groups to begin to plot and scheme what good we should get up to and where we should spread our hard earned energy.  My group had a couple of women who were Mothers with small children who were just as eager as the rest of us.   I proceeded to watch these beautiful women began suffer over the next 3 days trying to be even more than they were being as Mothers and caregivers.  They felt they were not doing enough and the sacrificial guilt was oozing out of them.

It feels like another way to make myself over-responsible for the needs of others before me, which is the wound of so many people; the Over-Responsible Self.  Women, be aware.  Trust your own voice and know that in order for you to really have a voice you are going to think you need to do it for someone or something else.  It’s an infection inside of women and mark my words our strings are being pulled.  What does it mean to you to be Selfish? I see that word breaking down into SELF-IS-Holy.  Put your own mask on first, that’s all. 

Yes, do it just for you, no-one else, try it and see if you can. Break the taboo and infection of first of all this will benefit others and I will be rewarded justly if I sacrifice myself for others (and get out of guilt jail).  If there is another ripple affect of your doing and loving of yourself then trust that God’s on that.  It’s not your business.  

Yes there are starving children.  Yes there are millions of poor people and silenced women.  Yes there are many many problems in the world.  Why then do you have the right to have what you want? I shouldn’t complain when there are starving children in the world.  What? Why the hell not.  Complaining is the way we figure out what we want and what we don’t want.  It’s the gauge for our choices. ‘ I don’t like that, I like this, no wait I don’t like that anymore I like this.’  Now answer me this right now.  Are you responsible for the starving children in Africa?  Can you sit on a beach in Mexico and enjoy yourself and not have to cut off an arm so it (your arm) can be in Africa while the rest of your body sits on a beach?

When we follow that little inner fire tiny step by tiny step not worrying about how this tiny step will heal the world then we might be able to move forward being fuelled by our own energy and not a punishing thought of ‘I should’.  This is a movement of energy not a thought construct to whip you into doing.  Now it’s very likely that this sacred energy is going to be helpful to someone else somehow, but if we start there then we are cutting ourselves out of the enjoyment part and we are triggering an Over-Responsible Self and this can be very painful.  (Side-bar here it’s painful because it triggers you back to when you were a child and you felt responsible for your parents, your family, your overwhelming emotion creating guilt inside and felt alone etc, okay moving right along.)

I know a lot of women that have done a shit load of work by raising kids, having full-time jobs, keeping a house hold running and taking care of their husbands (had to slip that in).  They are tired and they want to sit on a beach in Mexico and just breathe.  A lot of them are dogged by the belief that they need to feed the world, save the starving children, free the people etc, because we are fed this bullshit from every direction.  

It doesn’t mean that if you are one of these women and it just so happens you are freeing and helping the people and that makes you really happy that you should stop, that’s not what I’m saying (because this is my business also).  I’m saying simply that having simple pleasures in life and not feel guilty for having them is a beautiful thing.  Now, all of you, go and save those poor children and if you don’t  fifty life-time lashes for you. 

What is The Voice Connection?

What is The Voice Connection?

The short answer is that the voice connection is a meeting place of voice teaching and the study of body-mind-emotions.  Understanding how the body, mind and emotions use, support, and mediate the voice.   

The long answer is long.  

Anna is supported on piano by former Senator Tommy Banks

The voice connection is a study and technique that I developed to help singers to connect to their voices in a way of developing the whole being. 

Not just the technicalities of singing and not only speaking of just the voice, but the whole being.  The body, the heart, the thoughts, the emotions, the sexuality of singing if you like.  (Now there’s a title!)

The kundalini energy has been a fascination of mine for 20 years and it has helped me to understand how the flow of energy in the body is used by the voice, or, alternatively the other way around.  That’s a whole other question for another time.

It’s also the study of psychology and how the mind uses or usurps the voice.  The study of the brain and what the brain does with vibration and what it can light up in the brain and body.

It’s the study of the nervous system and how nerves, anxiety and trauma affect the voice, it’s flow, resonance and clarity, or even the simple fact of having a voice.

It’s also about spirituality and what it means to surrender and allow something greater to take over the wheel, your voice and animate you in full creative expression. 

It’s also about how we do one thing we do everything and that our voices are the carrier, the messenger and the medium for everything in life and is affected by everything.  I like to say the voice is a barometer for our inner weather, it tells us what is occurring on the inside by the sound of the voice. 

Why did you start teaching the Voice Connection?

I started teaching over 20 years ago and I taught private lessons first.  I was an active singer in the business and needed another job so I thought it would be a good idea.  Extra income.  Little did I know how far I would travel with it and how much it would teach me about myself.  I’m still a student of the voice and always will be. 

As I began to learn how disconnected I really was from my voice, even though I was singing professionally, I started to explore new ways and techniques to sing.  When you have to find ways to sing for a living you figure out things pretty quickly and a lot of trial and error.

As I learned about my own disconnection I began to attract students who told me about their own disconnection and they just kept coming to see me.  My students were my teachers pointing the way to where I needed to go to help myself and them. 

Singers who had a lot of training to people with no training came to see me.  The singers had grown apathetic towards regular voice lessons and the lack of compassion and understanding that they said their teachers had.

Not unlike the old boys club the old teachers club is the same, with a ‘stand-off ish’ attitude and huge disconnection in themselves voice teachers didn’t seem to have another way to offer those who needed something more. 

So they started coming to me to breathe, feel, be heard and accepted.  Their voices began to open as they communicated more and more of what they were really feeling.  Of course it’s not just that, it is all of what I said above; the technical, physical, spiritual and mental voices.  

And so as I opened and grew they grew, word by word, note by note the voice and voices began to thaw out and flow with more and more energy.

So when did you teach your first group class?

I began teaching classes about 5 years after teaching privately and called the classes ‘Singing Your Heart Home’.  This title turned into Express Yourself a year later and then 10 years later into The Voice Connection.  And before that it was called The Authentic Voice.  

Was there anyone that influenced you towards this direction of teaching?

A while after I began doing the group classes I came across a teacher by the name of Chloe Goodchild and went to Hollyhock to do a workshop with her.  This changed everything.  She not only taught me a great deal about the connection of the voice to the body but also validated where I was heading.  We began a great friendship and still are friends to this day.  Her work is called the Naked Voice and she is a world leader in the field of voice and spirituality. 

I have had some great voice teachers.  They really began with Sheri Somerville who started me off teaching and took me under her wing, I am such gratitude to her.  Later was Elsie Hepburn who was hugely impactful in a technical manner but also had a way with handling the emotions that was refreshing.  I studied in Germany with a couple of amazing teachers.  It seemed to always be the same though, the other studies of psychology, spirituality were separate and kept away from singing .  The Voice Connection is where all of these come together for the development of the whole being. 

How has your worked changed from 20 years ago to today?

It hasn’t really changed, it has grown and expanded as I have.  My language and understanding of my own embodiment has changed the most.  As I have dropped down into my body through many layers of pain, disconnection and trauma I have walked through many doors into other layers of myself.  It has been an extremely valuable journey and one that continues today.  As the layers continue to fall off my voice is fuller and more connected. 

I would also say that there are more singing teachers like myself who have had to change their approach to accommodate the growing need for connection in the world of voice and life.  No longer can we just operate singers like machines, they, we, are human beings and need to be met in this way first.  The voice is the medium that is expressed from the human heart and soul.  This has to be addressed in the right order.  Human first, voice second.  In order for the vessel, the instrument of the body to properly hold the voice we must contact the instrument holder.  The human being. 

I have more tools, more training and more understanding of myself and others.  The trainings of Integrative Body Psychotherapy, the study of the chakras as well an in-depth study of voice dialogue (the psychology of the Selves), have added an immense amount to my teaching and understanding of how the voice works. 

Being a voice teacher is no small thing if you are really going to help people uncover their voices and discover the immense beauty that is underneath all the defences and blocks.  That is the real work, the uncovering.  

Do you see yourself continuing to teach in the future?

I love teaching the voice.  I love to help people connect with their voice, their spirit, their energy and body, it’s the most beautiful thing to see and hear a voice waking up. 

I need and want to teach and I don’t see myself stopping for a long time.  I would like to move into teaching in different areas of the world.  I have taught in Mexico, Maui, Costa Rica and parts of Western Canada.  I would also like to do more lecturing to teachers or anyone who would like to learn about the coming together of the worlds of voice and yoga, or, voice and spirituality, or even the voice, the chakras and kundalini energy. 

It continues to fascinate me.  The nervous system, the vagus nerve, the brain and vibration and the working of the vocal folds.  This amazing system of magic that produces pure sound and vibration that open hearts and minds. 

I also see myself doing more recordings and moving into teaching larger groups of people to create soundscapes with the beautiful songs I write.  The experience of singing in a large group of people in a conscious way is a world of excitement.  I plan on heading in that direction.