My personal experience re-programming my speaking voice, inspired me to research and create “Subconscious Voice Repatterning“. My story illustrates the powerful connection between releasing fear and reprogramming speech patterns. If you change the way you speak, you will change yourself and visa versa. My wish is that this article will inspire you to dive deeper into your own experience with breath and voice so that you experience greater freedom of expression. Now I will tell my story. I hope you enjoy it!
In my early 20s I experienced health problems that affected my voice and would forever change my understanding and approach to vocal training.
My immune system had worn itself thin from chronic sinusitis, acid reflux and years of pushing too hard. I got frequent colds that lasted too long. They would typically endure about 2.5 weeks and would inevitably turn into laryngitis, rendering me unable to speak for a whole week.
As a singer this was extremely frustrating! The stretch of time that I would be well was never enough to fully recover my vocal health or physical energy. Needless to say, for about 2 years I was in a chronic state of exhaustion and vocal hoarseness.
Despite the challenges that this created for me, I am now incredibly grateful for this experience because it led me to discover what I am about to share with you.
I did many things to heal and recover from that chapter of my life. And I am happy to report that my health is currently excellent in every way – better than I could have imagined! But all the details involving how I got here are for a different article (maybe even a book). For now I will discuss the part of that journey that involves recovering my voice.
I started by seeking out an Alexander technique teacher named Sally Monroe. She is wonderful! The first thing she told me was that I needed to work on my speaking voice if I was to recover my instrument. It was not what I had expected to hear, but I was willing to do anything.
My desperation and ruthless determination made me a faithful student to the practice of speaking well. I learned from her the “right” way to speak, and committed myself to only speaking that way for the next year. When I didn’t have to be speaking for work I was either quiet, or making sound in a very conscious way! My housemates understood that half the time I was mute.
I mention this because I learned just as much, if not more, about how to speak well, from practicing silence as I did from practicing speaking. There’s a moment just before we speak – a moment so short many of us miss it, where the quality of our breath and force with which we send it into sound determines everything about the tone and health of what follows, When we can relax and breathe low in this moment, everything changes.
Silence taught me to refrain. So often we speak out of an impulse to fill the silence because there is an energy that builds in that space – like an empty vacuum that our imagination occupies with whatever social insecurities or discomforts lurk in our unconscious.
Silence taught me to sit with that discomfort. This allowed me to shift my patterns in that crucial moment – creating more release when the impulse to speak arose. As mentioned above, this moment, the moment of silence and breath, is a large part of what determines the quality and health of the way we use our voices. It is highly connected to our emotional state and visa versa. Physiologically, it determines whether the voice creates more stress chemicals or does the opposite. Speaking from a low breath triggers a relaxation response.
Practicing silence taught me to expand that crucial moment of breath – like suspending time – so that I could consciously take consistent low breaths before speaking. That breath, every time it occurred was a gift to myself – an opportunity to luxuriate, release, and connect inward to my free voice, to myself – no-matter what!
When I committed myself to speaking with healthy technique, it put a plug on draining unconscious energy patterns I had had with speaking – all those words and all that outgoing energy that came from anxiety. This in turn, positively impacted my health.
Silence also was my reason for documenting and reflecting on my experience with extensive journaling and notes. I cracked the code for why I had spoke the way I did – the way that was contributing to my vocal problems.
I found that “unhealthy” speaking technique was directly linked to different flavors of fear, and that I could actually train the experience of fear out of my body by changing the way I spoke. In my case, the fear patterns that got in my way were: people pleasing, anxiety, repressed anger, and not giving myself permission to take up space. I have found that these patterns vary individual-to-individual but have in common that they come from some sort of fear – usually one related to communication and expression.
Conversely, the desire to speak in a healthy way both creates and comes from an impulse/breath of power, confidence, compassion, ease, connection and trust.
I have done yoga religiously for decades, and I absolutely LOVE it! However, learning breath as a speaking practice takes “yoga” and “meditation” to a whole new level. it is the pranayama of communication. It is how we relate to the people and circumstances of our lives.
The impact of changing my speaking was startling! Nothing got in the way of my slow deep breathing in every moment and at the end of the workday rather than feeling exhausted I had energy for the first time in years!! It was the start to a road of better health, a calmer demeanor, more intimacy in my personal life and much more success in my career.
As I changed my speaking patterns I noticed that all around me, people started electing me as a leader. I was asked to give professional speeches, radio interviews, teach classes. It felt as though every where I went people were deeply interested in what I had to say both professionally and personally.
Also, when I started changing my speaking, something in my mind changed. Rather than overthinking and processing my words, I trained myself to speak in a way where everything arose from my body, my breath. All of a sudden my speech became more clear, more present, more direct, more potent, more intimate. Speaking in this new way is an enjoyable creative improvisation – an experience of flow. Allowing my body to lead, I don’t know what will come out till it comes out, and it almost always feels perfect. When I don’t speak from my body (not using “healthy” techniques) I get almost immediate feedback that helps me change course. Times that I go into a fear-based story, that my mind has thought over and rehearsed, my voice will start to feel strained, and I will know to shift. The words and messages that come out when I am breathing low, create an aura of connection around me. They come from releasing control, rather than grabbing for it. The expressions created feel healing and connected to my body. They invite truth, love, play, intelligence.