Thursday the 16th I came down with an annoying chest cold. By Friday afternoon (yes – St. Patty’s Day) my voice was already starting to fade. Eventually I spent a week not speaking (known as “vocal rest” to theatre folk).
I’d done 24 hours of silence before – with 22 other people also practicing silence at the same time.
I know other people that have gone away for week-long silent retreats – also in which everyone is practicing silence.
(a week without talking while everyone around me talked up a storm)
was a whole new ballgame…
I’m a verbal processor. I talk out loud in order to process my life.
I talk to connect with other people.
I talk for a living.
I talk in order to fulfill my life purpose.
I could not speak.
It was frustrating. It was emotional. It was debilitating and liberating. I felt isolated even while surrounded by people. I felt lonely even when sitting right next to my boyfriend (who was also sick, yet who’s voice oddly didn’t take the laryngitis hit that mine did). There were times, as I attempted to communicate without words, that I felt utterly invisible. I felt like I did not belong.
This experience, while challenging, was filled with hidden gems – once I expanded my view enough to see them.
There were also moments in which felt myself deeply connected to my partner in a new way. I couldn’t hide the emotional and spiritual journey I was on. My face, my body, my energy, my eyes were all communicating it to him. There can be a different, deeper connection without words. This connection is also right there, underneath words, all the time – if we take the time to access the depth of connection, the intimacy, that’s possible in any moment.
We have been raised to expect the words to do all of the work of human connection and communication. When, initially, language arose out of the need, the want, the desire to enhance a connection that was already present.
It’s always tugged at my heart when I witness someone having trouble speaking – whether from literal laryngitis or the metaphoric variety. It’s why I do what I do. During my week-long inability to speak, I felt the pain first-hand. At first, I felt like I was trying to talk around a golf ball (without really being able to get my voice out). Eventually, I felt simultaneously strangled and suppressed. Silencing ourselves in the moments that matter is just as painful as not being able to speak because of physical laryngitis.
Voice is a precious gift. Please, don’t discount its importance in your daily life. Don’t discard your precious gift. We need you.
We belong. Even when we feel like we don’t. Even in our challenging moments. We belong. There is always, always, someone else who’s been through what we’re going through. There is always, always, someone who can empathize. The definition of suffering is wanting things to be other than what they are. Perhaps, if we can stop resisting and accept the situation, we will see the person who’s right there in front of us, wanting to connect, to hold space, to be with us in our darkest moments.
Take some time to delve deeper into the situations that are difficult in your life. Can you find the hidden gems in them? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please consider sharing them with us all in the Every Voice Matters Facebook group!
With passion & love,
PS – If you’re feeling like you have metaphorical laryngitis and you’re ready to speak soulfully when it counts and manifest abundance and success on your terms, I invite you to join my Immersion Program this Spring.
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*There are only a few spots left and this program is only offered twice a year.