Voices Unleashed has historically been a singing circle for women only but as popularity grows there is more and more demand for this in a wide range of settings. Most recently, I was requested to lead a workshop for the men's Warrior group at the Victoria Native Friendship Centre.
After recently attending Gabor Maté's Compassionate Inquiry 2.5 day workshop, it is clear that trauma is an epidemic spread throughout, not only our society and culture, but our entire planet. 350 people attended the workshop and it was viewed through live broadcast to 25 different countries. The issue of trauma needs to be addressed and understood. While trained professional counsellors and care givers aim to provide compassion and empathy to their clients, there are still very few community programs to encourage the exploration and, dare I say, normalization of the subject.
My personal experience while pursuing my own healing from trauma was very isolating. I didn't have a community with whom I felt safe enough to meet my challenges with. My relationships were mostly superficial acquaintances and no longer held importance to my life. To dive deep into the muck that I knew was holding me back from my creativity and my truest self I needed people I could trust. While counselling helped me, I still had a need for support in my daily life, a community I could feel safe enough with to move through my challenges with.
I created Voices Unleashed partly to create that community and partly because I have found very little being offered to address trauma on a body, mind and spirit level. It is my belief, having lived with Myotonic Dystrophy for the last 20 years, that true healing only occurs when all parts of our being are attended to. Awareness of the mind, our thoughts and beliefs, and cellular memory patterns regulate physical activity . Where trauma is present, muscle function becomes impaired, tension and pain prevail and add to the negative emotions we experience. Often the spirit part of the equation is missed entirely as there is so little time to give to ourselves the attention required to heal. We are already too stressed and too exhausted to go to yoga, meditate or relax let alone check in with ourselves and our needs.
Voices Unleashed is a space for body, mind and soul. Beginning with a meditation we first quiet the mental chatter and sink into our intention of this time and place. What are the thoughts in the mind we want to discharge? Whose voice is that of the critic speaking to you, judging you and holding you back? What is the negative belief you have about yourself and you are ready to let go of? What do you want to gain out of learning to free your voice? From here, participants learn about vocal placement, how singing is created from the body, and how the breath is such an essential part of the process. Body movements designed specifically to free up physical trauma are then practiced along with breath work. The process is playful and fun and contributes to the camaraderie and safety within the group. But trauma work is not for the faint of heart. Sometimes it can bring up intense emotions. The group is offered as support. The process is dedicated to a shared creative process of unleashing the voice. From angelic singing to roaring lions, voices are ignited and find volume and power. People find new freedom in their bodies and begin to unhinge the stuck holding patterns they have been living inside of sometimes for decades. It is a purging that occurs on all levels. The final sensation is most often expressed as a new found freedom, the awakening of new possibility, power, vitality and inspiration.
Members of the group have often contacted me afterwards to tell me about the relationship they just ended they previously didn't have the courage to, or having the tough conversation with someone they didn't know how to have. Confidence of self expression is magnified.
While I still maintain a private practice and offer one on one sessions, I so preciously cherish these events and am happy to be in service in this way. I am constantly amazed and humbled by the courage and vulnerability it takes for people to come and allow themselves to reclaim their divine right to be heard, seen and accepted just as they are. It is a sight to behold and bear witness to.