All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
— (Shakespeare, W., As You Like It, 2 – 7)
Since most of us have developed our intellect from lecturers representing authorities at the front of the classroom, we miss the opportunity to truly think for ourselves. We are so used to either being the authority telling people what to do. Or conversely, being told what to do. We seldom have the opportunity to fully self reflect and challenge our own thinking.
Stepping out of one’s own way is realising one’s own thinking patterns which includes fear of failing, and fear of making a mistake. If you can get over these fears, then you can pioneer new trends and possibilities from which new gifts of connectedness emerge.
Let’s begin with something elemental yet often overlooked:
The voice is special. For with it we communicate the depth and extent of our knowledge, commitment, wisdom, passion, strength, sensitivity, and warmth to others and ourselves. How you use your voice matters more than even the words you say. Ralph Waldo Emerson once observed, “Who you are speaks so strongly I cannot hear what you say.”
Take a moment now to reflect how your voice projects your intended message. Is it muffled or clear, staccato or smooth, high pitched or deep, choppy or resonant, monotonous or varied?
What are the unique qualities of your voice? Your practicing some of the simple guidelines and exercises detailed in this chapter along with listening carefully to actual voices of the greatest speakers of the century will assist you in developing the quality of voice that truly matches your intentions. You will be able to get the results you want when you speak about any subject.
If your voice is staccato, with sharp edges, rather then trying to correct it right now first take a moment to exaggerate how staccato you can sound.
Michelangelo, as we wrote earlier, has been credited with saying, “I saw the angel in the marble, and I chiselled till I set it free.”
This is our objective: releasing the quality of your personal voice that is deep inside, wanting to come out.
Let us go now to another aspect of the speaking voice: projection. You might assume that in order to reach people you have to raise your volume and strain your voice. That is not the case. Note the difference between your stating, “It’s easy for me to reach people with my voice” by first shouting it, and then by pushing the sound out.
Then, to go to all extremes: sing it, “It’s easy for me to reach people with my voice.”
Whisper it, “It’s easy for me to reach people with my voice.”
Consider all the different ways you can speak the same words.
Now that you’ve done that, direct your intention from the sound of the words to the base of your own spine; speak the same words towards the base of your spine. “It’s easy for me to reach people with my voice.” Notice, how it’s easier for others to hear you when you reach yourself first at the base of your own foundation without having to shout, scream, sing, whisper or strain, to get somewhere else before reaching the depth of you. So towards the base of the spine direct the voice to project out, go deepest inside.
Here’s an exercise you can practice when you are sitting or standing in a quiet moment, anywhere.
Place your left hand over the top of your head so that the fingers reach directly over the right temple; the heal of the hand is pressing against the right temple. On the next exhale, pull the head slowly, so the left ear gently and gradually approaches the left shoulder.
At the same time on the exhale drop your left ear towards your left shoulder, allowing the right shoulder and right elbow to move towards the right hip. Note, you are stretching that area between the right shoulder and the ear. Each time you stretch, by the way, stretch a bit more and each exhale in addition to being longer than the previous one.
Now counter-stretch: your left ear toward the left shoulder, the right shoulder and elbow toward the right hip. Repeat after me: “More room for me between my shoulder and my ear.”
Relax, inhale and then with the next exhale say these words, “More room to me to speak, more room to clearly hear.”
Breathing in, relax the area between the shoulder and the ear, and exhale, stretching a little further, “More room for me between my shoulder and my ear. More room for me to speak my truth and clearly hear.” Or make your own version of that statement, that is, what is true for you.
When you inhale, you relax your neck and shoulders a little and with each exhale stretching a little further for a total of three to five times on each side. I recommend as well, that you begin by stretching the side of the neck and shoulders that is a little easier for you. The second side that is tighter will respond more enthusiastically, more receptively.
While you are stretching the shoulder away from the ear, you might also use the affirmation, “People are eager to hear my natural speaking voice.” Or, “It’s easy for me to be heard.” Make up your own affirmation that works best and is true for you. It’s interesting that the use of such an affirmation here is similar to that of practicing a “mantra,” which is also defined in Wikipedia as a “sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of, “creating transformation.”
Be sure to practice this exercise, as I mentioned, on both sides of the neck and shoulders stretching further with each exhale from three to five counts or repetitions. Then repeat the mantra or affirmation that matches the feeling in your body tissues; in your feelings, in your sounds that also become spoken words. Notice any shifts in your letting go of tension in the neck and the shoulder area. These shifts also continue more easily as you free your speaking voice; the two will begin to work more closely in conjunction together.
When you speak in this way, holding the intentions that “People are eager to hear my natural speaking voice” and, “It’s easy for me to be heard,” the shoulders will begin to naturally relax more and more and more — as you will, too.