After a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with my two kids and close friends, I returned home feeling full, yet empty.
This was my first U.S. Thanksgiving since I became a U.S. citizen in December 2020, and my second family Thanksgiving without my husband.
Just as I was about to cry myself to sleep after narrowly avoiding an anxiety attack by deep breathing, I pulled out something unexpected from my Emotional Emergency Tool Kit:
That’s right, singing! Don’t get too excited – I’m no Adele. Historically, the only singing I did was in the shower.
But this time, I leaned into the inner artist I’ve been developing. As I’ve written about recently, I’ve created space in my life to explore my creative, expressive side through dance. I’m always drawn to a dance that represents exactly what I’m working on within myself and how I connect with others.
Recently, I’ve been most inspired by Julia Cameron’s best-selling book, The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. Her words about developing the artists within each of us really resonate with me.
So I decided to try something new after the Jewish high holidays, during which I felt spiritually uplifted by the chanting – it felt like the best form of prayer to heaven.
Singing as though no one is listening feels especially healing for my mind, body and soul.
So at 2:00 AM, I turned on my computer and turned on my voice. I began singing along to music sheets with transliterations from Hebrew to English.
I sang. And sang. And sang.
My kids thought I was nuts.
But I had the fortitude to know when I discovered how to soothe myself when I was in deep pain.
A friend of mine is the artistic director of the Toronto Jewish Chorus (TJC) – which features amateur singers who either attend in-person or online. I joined the choir online, as a total newbie: I had no clue about the singing voices – soprano, alto, tenor, bass – and I don’t know how to read music or transliterations. Frankly, I find it easier to read Hebrew!
But I joined with an open mind and enthusiasm. And here’s how I discovered the joy in singing with a choir:
Singing helps me find my voice
Singing moves me outside my comfort zone, and gives me a new outlet to express myself. In many ways, I had lost my voice and my sense of self when I got married. Twice.
I often did not feel seen or heard. I could not express my opinions, or disagree in a healthy way without feeling that I was being shut down, silenced or stonewalled.
I’m a people-pleaser, yet I could not hear my inner voice, or tune into my core values through all the noise and chaos.
This is similar to how it feels when you’re working in a toxic environment.
Singing out loud, in harmony with others, allows me to feel seen and heard. Here, we welcome diverse voices singing as one: We are one choir, with one voice.
We hear each other in harmony
There’s something truly amazing about the power of the collective voice. We’re all amateurs and there’s no need for perfect pitch. It’s all about singing together in harmony to create beautiful music. There’s nothing more powerful than multiple voices coming together in one collective chorus.
Judy, the TJC’s director tells us that the sound the group creates is more beautiful than any sound that an individual could produce on their own. Every voice matters. And the goal is to become part of the unified sound and intention.
Blending into the harmony involves listening to the voices around you and contributing your most beautiful sound. Hearing and feeling the voices around each singer gives us strength, removes anxiety and worry over how we sound, and, as a result, we sound stronger and even better.
Have a listen here to part of last year’s Virtual Concert HERE.
Singing for solace
There’s something about singing that is so moving, inspiring. It’s like chanting; mantras put me in a meditative state.
Neuroscientist and musician Dr. Daniel Levitan has studied how music affects us emotionally, and he notes that when people sing together, oxytocin – the ‘feel good’ hormone – is released, causing us to trust each other and feel bonded together.
When it’s just me and my voice, singing helps me with my breathwork – this is another essential item in my toolkit that helps me become calm and focused, when I’m in distress.
We’re taught to bring ourselves back to the breath. The breath required for singing is no different; it’s all about mindfulness. Restorative breathing, and taking a breath to relax and decompress.
I have harnessed some of these principles in a library of mindfulness video breaks for use at work, conferences and everyday life. Some of the byte-sized units include:
The videos are available in a stand-alone portal (The Virtual Wellness Lounge) or they can be included and broadcasted inside your meeting agenda or conference platform.
Click HERE to book a Zoom call with me so we can discuss!
PS: NEW! Get on my COACHING WAIT LIST so you can learn how to explore new options, directions and creative space for yourself in 2022.
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