Sweet Truth of Singing, Chanting, Screaming
It’s the end of August in an unassuming backyard in Portland, Oregon and I’m deep into a long overdue ceremonial sweat lodge. It is the last round of four rounds.
The remainder of the glowing hot rocks are set in place. The door is closed, enwrapped in inky darkness, water is trickled onto the smoldering rocks, smoke flumes up and heat rapidly envelops us. My eyes sting and my nostrils burn.
It becomes hard to breathe, so I rest my forehead on the cool grass at my knees, nestled in child’s pose, breathing in whatever moisture I can discover in the earth.
The leader of the ceremony leads us in traditional Ojibwe (North American tribe) chants. His drum is blasting in a consistent pulse, and his voice bellows even louder, in wails and exclamations. I don’t intellectually understand what he’s singing, but my body, heart, and breath understand. My cells dance and resound within the chants. I sing…
The end of the ceremony is approaching, and we are asked to speak one or two words as a final prayer for our personal condition. These words come to me: “grounded love.”
It is my turn to speak, and the words pour out. At the very instant of voicing these two words, “grounded love”, I feel a distinct wash of soothing energy flood through my kidneys, cooling and grounding my energy into my back body. I melt into myself.
The significant aspect of this experience is that I had to say it…outloud. Those words resounded through my nervous system, firing thoughts from my brain, channeling down into where my body instinctively knew it was needed—my lumbar back and kidneys. (Note, I have a pronounced scoliosis curve at the area of my left kidney).
According to Chinese medicine, the kidneys tend to hold the energy of anger, fire, frustrations; the soothing wash of those potent words grounded my kidney meridians into the Earth. My mental/emotional state shifted, and I totally relaxed, into contentment.
We all have a tremendous capacity to heal and/or shift physical and energetic holding patterns in the body-mind by harnessing our voice—with song, chant, prayer, or even simple talking (with intention of course).
But, the sweet truth is: sometimes there is a grace to this practice of voice empowerment, wherein the voice gifts us with moments of clarity. The voice connects to the body through the endocrine and nervous system in such a way that we experience a profound change—the proverbial “light bulb” switches on. Through the voice, we tap into our inner guidance and deepest wisdom.
We cannot force these small revelations, but when we begin to open the voice, we open the doors to experiencing spontaneous body-mind healing moments such as this.
Here is a simple practice to access inner guidance through opening your voice: And, it doesn’t have to involve a sweat lodge…
- Relax and deepen your breath. Fill the belly on the inhale and let the breath float up into the clavicle bones. On the exhale, let the ribs stay slightly lifted and buoyant, but ease the belly back into the spine.
- In your next exhale, begin to hum a tone, at whatever pitch feels good.
- Gradually allow the hum to open into a vowel sound or maybe a word.
- See if you can allow the words or sound to move through you, without attaching judgment or analysis.
Ever heard of “free form writing?”
Well, this is free form sounding, allowing the unconscious mind to direct us into a place of and receptivity, opening to the lessons our intuitive mind can offer…where we let the sound sing through us.
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Asst. Editor: Edith Lazenby/Ed: Bryonie Wise
Photo: via Guy Mayer on Flickr