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I just had my first ever singing lesson. Why? Why not. Well, I do have reasons. I wanted to challenge myself, to push myself a bit. I wanted to explore my vulnerability a little. I wanted to see if there was another way of expressing myself and creating something. But most of all I wanted to know if I could, one day, stand up infront of another person, or people and sing. Really sing. Not belting-my-heart-out-just-like-Maria-Carey singing, but sing from my heart, from my soul, 100% me.

It was scary. Despite being with a lovely, patient and supportive teacher, it was actually terrifying. I was given breathing exercises and body awareness exercises. It turns out I forgot how to breathe properly. I’m not as in tune with my body as I could be. Work needs to be done there. Interesting…

And I hadn’t even thought of a song to sing, or even what my goal was in going to the lesson. As I was in the moment I thought it through and realised that I was there to meet myself, through my singing voice, something (and someone) I have yet to meet. My singing experience to date? Well, there’s the jumping on pleather couches in Karaoke booths in Soho, draining vodka cokes and doing Celine impressions with my mates… No? OK, how about the singing in the chorus line of my work Christmas plays for a few years? Hiding at the back, blending in, enjoying the buzz, but my voice meshed in with everyone else? No…ok… chanting in yoga? A long pure ahhhhhhh, followed by an ooooooo and then an ummmmm, starting my note after the first person
started and ending it before the last?

Not an epic back catalogue.

After the physical and breathing exercises, it was then time for the notes, confronting my own sound in that living room was a little intense. But then came the song, I had to sing something – what did I want to sing? I hadn’t even thought about it! Panic. Mind went blank. X Factor audition fear creeping in. Breathe in, breathe out. OK, Amazing Grace. REALLY? Where did that come from? OK, I know the lyrics… sort of.

So, I did my best to gather my self-confidence, took a couple breaths and sang. It felt nice. It sounded OK. I wobbled at the end, my cloak of self-doubt wrapping itself tightly back around my shoulders.

My teacher said it was good. I have potential and strength in my voice. Warm pride washes over me. Relief.
I sang a few more times, it didn’t get much easier, but at least I broke the seal. I’d done it before, I knew it was possible.

It’s such a weird thing going for a singing lesson. Especially if you have never done it before. If you’ve spent your whole life believing it’s not something that you are any good at and so aren’t supposed to do. You have this deep crust of emotional baggage which has built up around your soul – and it’s your soul you are trying to access – it’s there that you need to sing from (as my teacher informed me) – and I had to mentally break that crust apart. And that’s a lot to do in one hour on a Tuesday night in April.

I think I opened a crack. A tiny glint got through. Or at least the crust softened a little. And it felt great.

So, an hour later I emerged back out into the cool evening with my notes from my lesson (breathing exercises for the bath, some scales and the mission to find a song that I want to sing from my soul with ahead of my next lesson) tucked in my pocket. As I walked down the hill towards home I hummed a merry tune and let a smile spread across my face. I took the first step, I sang infront of a stranger, and the goal has been set – I’m going to access my soul through singing, so now the next step – I just have to find the song!

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We just had dinner at our local curry house (third night with a broken fridge and we decided it was time to venture out..) and over a Paneer Tikka Masala and a half pint of Kingfisher, a favourite discussion topic popped up. The Fear versus Hunger theory. The idea that, in life, people are either driven by Fear or Greed (or as I prefer to label it, Hunger). I’ve heard this theory in other forms before – people either run towards things, or away from them. You either approach life on the front foot or the back.

I’m definitely a front foot, running towards, hungry (definitely not greedy ;)) kinda gal. I do feel fear, but it doesn’t often keep me in a place, I’m too busy moving to the next thing that interests me. I also don’t like feeling trapped, and Fear often does that, holding people in unwanted jobs, relationships, situations for longer than they should, just because the other options are scary to ponder.

So, why do you stay in your job? What motivates you in our job? Is it because you need money to afford your mortgage and put clothes on your back? Is it because you don’t think you’d be able to work anywhere else? Or even get through a job interview, if you had to? Or is it because you want to make a difference? Make money? Get up on the leaderboard? Learn new things? Achieve more than you can imagine?

Where are you headed in your life? Do you know? Do you care? Are you living a day to day existence or do you have plans? Fun plans? Important plans? Or have you actively chosen to live in the moment and enjoy the world as it unfurls (this, I think is the best plan!).

Fear or Hunger? What drives you? (maybe a little bit of both).

Some people want to get rich or die trying. I hope not. They see being rich as being the answer to everything but I bet they could walk through a day in their fantasy future lives with money and boil it down to thoughts and feelings that they would be able to recreate in their lives right now, without the need for ridiculous amounts of money.

I walk through my fantasy lives.

The view from my favourite Goan beach cafe

I want to own a beach bar in Goa. Why? I like sunshine, I like hanging out with people who have adventures and ideas from around the world, drinking hot tea and tasty snacks, playing chill out music, dancing when the wind blows me. I love bright colours and the carefree hippy atmosphere of swinging in a hammock.

I can hang colourful flags in my living room, burn insense, meet people from around the world online through blogs, invite them into my world when passing through Oxford. I can bake more at home and swap my morning brew to chai. And I can wear more colours and play chill out music and dance like a loon in my flat. I can spend more time outside, enjoying the fresh air and the sun when it comes out!

Peru

Dolphin spotting in Peru

I want to be a marine biologist, diving with whales and dolphins. Why? I love the freedom of open water, and the closeness of nature, I’m fascinated to learn more about the underwater world.

I can learn to scuba dive here in the UK, I can go swimming to meditate; I can read and learn about marine biology online, I can take an OU course.

Everything boils down to simple thoughts and feelings that you can access right now, you could start living elements of your fantasy life today or tomorrow with a little creative though and start to become “rich” without dying trying. Run towards what you want, be on the front foot. Feel the hunger believe in it.

A wise soul

Fear is a powerful thing, and it’s not always bad. We need it to protect ourselves from proverbial tigers in the bushes and that’s where Fear can help. However you don’t have to let it rule your world. If you want to move away from Fear and let Hunger become a louder voice you can start to listen to your belly. What do you hunger for? (and I’m not talking curry here) Don’t limit yourself in your fantasies. Start to break down the elements and work out what fundamental things you can start to introduce into your world now to live those lives. Small, gentle things that will help you forget the fear. And if that doesn’t work, just remember the words of a wise, green creature with a gnarly voice and sprouty hair … “Fear leads to Anger, Anger leads to Hate, Hate leads to Suffering”, let go, move on, and harbour the hunger. Just don’t become greedy 😉

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