Presence of Body

I was in my voice lesson and my instructor asked me to add a series of movements to the vocal practice I was working on. I could not believe how difficult this was for me. Usually when I feel a physical resistance which matches my emotional resistance, I’m jumping off of something not standing in a safe, supportive space.

Singing and playing small do not go together. At all. I knew when I signed up for voice lessons, I was pushing my comfort zone, it’s why I did it. My fears of imperfection needed me to tug at their edges and it’s not like learning to sing was going to kill or even hurt me, really.

But, this, this response to being present, to taking up space, I did not expect this. The first time it hit, she had asked me to sing “mo” and behave as though I was I was convincing someone of something. Forceful voice, emphatic arm movements. And the feeling, as though I was standing on the edge of a cliff.


Now, I’m sure part of that was a reticence to look silly, but it went beyond that too. Like I was in an actual situation where I needed convince people of something and didn’t have the standing to do so. Who am I to… Only, it was so obviously fake.

Then the moment passed and we went back to vocal drills. Until yesterday when she asked me to spread my arms wide while singing “mo” and letting the sound slide around. I’m not sure that makes sense, but it’s not the important part either. That massive gesture, all that movement while taking up space was like swimming through molasses.

I forced myself to move my arms, but it was an effort of just that, force. And to be honest, if I hadn’t spent so much of the past few years stretching my comfort zone, I’m not sure I would have completed it, that seemingly innocuous movement.

I, of all people, know about the ties between emotion and physicality, but I hadn’t had it pushed in my face like that before. I told her what was happening and it’s something we’re going to work on further.

So now, I’m super curious. Have you had an experience like that before? How did it go for you?

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