Being vocal

One of my close friends called. Her mum’s dying in hospital in US. She hasn’t been able to travel to visit her because of Covid restrictions. When I answered her call, she told me “I just wanted to hear your voice”. So we chatted a bit about nothing much, there being nothing really we could say about the tragedy of her mum’s situation.

I think it’s one of the few regular phone calls I’ve had in months. Without the visual distraction of video, I enjoyed the sound of my friend’s voice too. Focussing just on that, her accent and unique intonation, brought so many beautiful memories to mind of times we spent together through the years.

My friend was hoping to call her mum and talk to her even though she’s in a coma. Perhaps the sound of her daughter’s voice would touch her nonetheless and offer some comfort in her last days? Is there something about voices that goes deep into our memories? Is it an instinct from hearing out mother’s voice while we were in utero?

When I learned mindfulness meditation some years ago now, I used to have to do a daily 45 minute guided practice with a recording of my teacher. Truthfully her voice was a bit squeaky and even a little grating, but I loved it anyway. It became so familiar to me and evoked feelings of comfort and security. I think now my yoga teachers’ voices are similar. When I’m in zoom yoga class I love to listen to them. Like hearing my friend talking, it awakens lots of memories of when we were able to be physically together and all that they have offered me over the years, and the intense experiences I often had in class. I do large parts of my practice with my eyes closed or at least very turned inward so their voices have always been something I paid great attention to.

It amuses me to think that I am like this also for my own students. It was something that was said to me often during teacher training, that the quality of my voice was very reassuring during yoga asana. As a very shy person uncertain about being heard in any medium (anonymous blogger you see!) this was quite striking and unexpected. My current students mention to me quite frequently how they enjoy the sound of my voice and one remarked shyly last week that it is one of the things she comes to class for.

I notice lately my practice includes more poses that relate to the vishuddha cakra (throat cakra). I am suddenly drawn to them, shapes I have never favoured previously. Perhaps I am closer to more fully expressing myself than I have previously been able? Or maybe they’re just physical shapes that feel nice? The mysteries of yoga reveal themselves in time…

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