Yesterday I presented a workshop entitled “Recovering Vocal Presence after Sexual Trauma” at the Colorado Counseling Association annual conference in Denver. I had a wonderful experience with some very engaged participants who were quite animated about this work I do with Essential Voice Expression, and ready to learn more in my upcoming workshop, “7 Notes to Freedom”.
Many of yesterday’s participants were psychotherapists who work with trauma survivors. We talked about how important it is to orient oneself to a grounded center; to feel own’s one strength and resilience. There is much hurt in this world, and I don’t want to minimize, or shy away, from the gravity and devastating truths my clients share. As I ground and center, I open my field of awareness with compassion and curiosity. And most importantly, I listen.
From this place of grounded openness, I hear and witness many sorrows, voiced and unvoiced. You might think that being with the devastating truths many trauma survivors endure leaves me spent, and despondent about the state of this world. I find, however, that the opposite is true.
When I open to sorrow, I also open to joy. And whether or not this truth is experienced by my client, I know that the possibility is always there. It is simply one of those universal truths that I know deep in my soul: where there is dark, there must also be light. One doesn’t exist without the other.
As I ride the voiced and unvoiced emotional waves with my clients, often a very interesting thing happens. From somewhere, a song appears. A song, a note, a tune, familiar or new, will float into my awareness. This song might just wander around in me for a bit, accompanying me as I work, quietly within. Other times, the song may make its way through my own voice, and I share it with my clients. Sometimes it is a little lullaby, like “Hush Little Baby” – or another soothing “medicine song” to bring healing to the moment.
Other times, I must tell you, the song can be quite irreverent. It can be wild, or challenging. More than once I’ve had Shawn Colvin’s song “Get Out of This House” pop into my ears. It can be silly too, like the “Mahna Mahna Song” – especially when energy is stuck and a little trickster relief is called for! (Enjoy those links!)
In therapy, timing is everything. And listening is critical to assessing the timing. But there are moments… there ARE moments… when a crazy tune, brought into the space of the therapeutic conversation, can break the ice and open possibilities in a way nothing else can.
Musicality, you see, has a quality that takes us beyond our everyday cognition. Musicality is loose, following the flow, riding the energy of the body, spirit, and voice. Musicality flows with sorrow, it flows with anger, it flows with joy; it even flows with the absurd.
Musicality’s favorite instrument is the human voice. The tune. The song. The ditty. The drone. The whisper. The dirge. The aria. The cackle. The voice is where body meets spirit, and both dance with our deepest emotions.
There is nothing quite like it.