Have you ever gone to a yoga class and discovered a part of your body that has been tight, but you hadn’t realized it? For instance, you may have been walking around with tight hips and not known it until you tried to do Warrior 2 pose. This is a very common experience, and part of the reason is our tendency to avoid not only pain, but discomfort. Even though it may be good for us to utilize certain muscles more, like the hip flexors, the body unconsciously walks in a way that will avoid the pain. In that way, we avoid temporary discomfort but deepen the issue in the longer term. Until we consciously stretch, move, and bring in breath and awareness to those tight areas, the muscles may just keep getting tighter until there’s a bigger problem, like an injury.
Does this remind you of anything? The body is not the only culprit in avoidance. We often avoid emotions that are uncomfortable, and for that reason we avoid facing reality and confronting change. Change is unavoidable and there’s no way to completely avoid pain in life. As Haruki Murakami said, pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. By avoiding discomfort and not facing reality, we miss out on not only the discomforts of life, but also the deeper joys. When we stretch those tight muscles and lean into discomfort, the muscles will be all the more available for us when we want to move and dance for joy!
In your singing practice, it is a bit more complicated. It may be difficult to become conscious of what we’re avoiding as we’re singing, since we must be fully in the moment, committing to an outward flow of energy. But see if you can fully commit in this way while also staying aware of the sensations in the body, and observing without judgment whether there are habits that are no longer serving you. After a short period of vocalizing, take a moment to meditate, asking yourself what it is you might be avoiding when you sing. Breathe deep and practice facing what you are avoiding – is there something that isn’t quite clicking in your body mapping/understanding of your own instrument? Can you admit to yourself the ways in which you have room to grow? Have compassion for yourself and let yourself fully feel any emotions that arise – journaling is a great way of letting these feelings out, or talk with a trusted friend or therapist. Then return to your practice, perhaps using a mirror or make a recording of yourself, and be sure and keep that compassion and curiosity flowing. May you find new layers of awareness as you explore your voice with vulnerability and openness!
Namaste! Reach out to me with any questions, inquiries about classes, or to schedule a lesson: firstname.lastname@example.org