It seems the recording I shared today did not work very well. I’m going to attempt to write it out below — wish me luck!

There is a belief that we can hold in our body — that in order to be heard, we have to push… this is not only leads to not being heard, but it leads to pain, injury, and frustration. There is a better way…

As a singer, I’ve studied and worked for years with the way the voice requires breath. The breath is essentially a vehicle for the voice. Or a wave for the voice to ride on. Without breath, the voice cannot exist.

But, with minimal breath the voice can exist… only, it requires a bunch of other muscles to do a lot of extra work.

Picture a garden hose. Have you ever placed your thumb over the hole of the hose, when the flow of water is low, and seen the way it creates a powerful jet of water? Decreasing the opening increases the pressure, even though it does not increase the flow.

The same is true for our physical voice. If there is not much flow (breath) moving through our body, we can squeeze or press our voice out in order to still be heard. This is effective in making us louder, but it creates so much pressure, and it eventually can lead to injury.

Alternatively, we can invite more breath into our body. With a full stream of breath flowing through our body, we create the possibility of releasing our voice rather than pressing or pushing. Not only is this way of using our voice healthier for us, but it feels a million times better!

As I’ve studied the contrast between pressing my voice due to low flow of breath in order to be heard verses inviting a huge flow of breath and releasing my voice, I’ve begun to see many other areas of my life where this same concept exists. (I think you may already be thinking of a few in your own life.)

I’ve also noticed that it takes a lot more courage to invite a free flow and release my voice than it does to work on a minimal flow and press my voice out. It feels like less control to let go. Again, this feels true in all of these other areas as well.

So this, like so many things in life, comes down to courage.

There is no shortage of breath surrounding me.
There is no shortage in the other areas, either — seemingly infinite amounts of air, sunlight, life, love, attention, hope, opportunities, ideas, and on, and on. All of the things we want and need the most surround us.
The challenge is not in the supply, it is in our openness to receive.

And the further we travel through life in a posture of pressing rather than opening and receiving, the more challenging it becomes to change.

But at some point, even though this posture may be easier for our mind, our body says, “enough,” and we are stopped in our tracks. We lose our voice. We lose our job. We lose our health. Something happens which forces us to stop pressing and pushing.

We view this as a “problem.” An interruption to our life.
The reality: life is the one doing the interrupting.

Years ago, my body said “enough” to the way I was using my voice. I saw this as a major problem and spent years trying to “solve” it. But almost a decade later I am beginning to hear what my body — what life — has been trying to say to me:

Enough.
You do not need to try harder.
You do not need to press out a lot from a little.
You will have to find another way, if you want to move forward from here.
A way that involves opening up. Receiving. Letting go.
A way that is scary, but ultimately feels wonderful. Like flying.

No more carrying. It is time to fly.

I believe our entire culture is at a junction. Many of us are being stopped in our tracks by life in one way or another.
We are being invited to a new way of living. Of receiving.
We are being invited to open and receive the infinite ocean of life that surrounds us.

Making a change at this point will take a lot of courage. But it will lead to a way of living — of finding and sharing our voice in the world — which feels wonderfully effortless.

Another amazing and powerful thing I want to add: when a pressed voice reaches another human being, they are invited into oppression; when a released voice reaches another human, they are invited into freedom.

We are being invited out from oppression and into freedom.

Finding the Courage to Live Effortlessly (written version)

We are being invited out of oppression and into freedom.