Singing | Shifting

photo by Austin Ferguson

photo by Austin Ferguson

I stood in the dark, familiar wings of the stage and waited for my name. It was 2009 and I had mustered up all the courage in my being to audition for the school musical. For three years prior I had been taking theatre classes. At the time, it was my passion and my dream to be an actress. The only thing stopping me was the fact that I didn’t really feel talented. I certainly didn’t feel beautiful enough to stand on a stage and be stared at. And yet, there I was — on a stage, waiting to be called so that I could get judged for my worthiness and ability. 

When I finally heard my name, I felt frozen. Somehow I made it to the center of the stage. There were only a handful of people in the audience, most of them friends. The music started and it was all I could do to squeak. I sang as loudly as I could without crying, I was so nervous. I finished the song and retreated to the wings yet again, adrenaline rushing and feeling proud of myself. You didn’t do that bad, I thought, you’ll at least get a part in the ensemble. Afterwards, I questioned my friends for feedback. 

They reluctantly told me that they couldn’t hear me at all. 

And when the cast list was posted for the musical, even my most tone-deaf friend made the cut — but not I. I remember walking away from that tiny piece of paper taped to the wall, realizing I would never be an actress. That I just wasn’t good enough. I immediately gave up any dream of a career in theatre and placed myself behind the camera. Gratefully, I fell in love with photography — but that’s a story for another journal entry. 

Growing up, my mom was the singer in the house. She encouraged us all to be musical, but, as I grew older and developed self-consciousness and anxiety, I felt like there was no point in my singing because she was so much better. Why would anyone want to listen to me when they could listen to her? I often sang only very softly if at all, unless I was alone. 

Fast forward to a couple years ago when I first practiced Kundalini Yoga. I was being asked to chant mantras I’d never heard or seen before out loud in a group setting, with people I barely knew. When practicing alone in my home, I would chant with fullness and depth. In class, I struggled yet again to be at all audible. I didn't understand it then, but I was totally resistant to being seen or heard out of fear of reliving my rejection from many years ago. 

And yet, gradually, something in me shifted. As I kept up with my personal, daily practice of singing/chanting, I became more confident, secure, contained, and radiant. I could finally sing in class without becomingly overwhelmingly nervous and self-conscious. It felt so freeing to be fully expressed in a way I’d always wanted to be.

photo by Austin Ferguson

photo by Austin Ferguson

Of course, as with all things, it is a practice. Despite how far I’d come, I experienced a fresh wave of insecurity when I began working with clients and teaching classes. It was one thing to sing along with the group, an entirely other to lead the group with all eyes on me. The first few times, my voice shook. But I still saw it as a victory and I kept going. Kept singing. Kept expressing. And again, it was a gradual shift. But it was a real shift, not a temporary or superficial one. 

Today, I actually enjoy singing with fullness, depth, and projection, both in class and in life! I still have the self-doubting thought patterns arise, I simply choose not to subscribe to that channel, so to speak. The wonderful thing about chanting/singing mantra is that you’re using a mantra, which is a tool to retrain the mind. Allowing the mantra to cut through any block and staying devoted to my fullest, highest expression gives me the energy to keep up when my mind tells me that I’m not worthy of being seen and heard. 

The truth is — your voice, your light, your presence, your medicine is needed now more than ever. If you are feeling called to create or offer something, know that it is because there is someone out there praying for it. Kundalini Yoga allows us to access and activate our infinite energy, highest potential, deepest radiance, and the destiny of our greatest fulfillment so that we can be of service to the world and manifest success on all levels. If you’re looking for support and guidance in creating your own daily practice (Sadhana), I look forward to connecting over a session.