Voice as a Tool for Self-Awareness
Our voice is the tool we use to communicate with the world. Many of us have recognized that the words we choose are essential. Additionally, there are probably very few of us that didn’t hear the phrase, “Don’t use that tone with me,” when we were kids. So we understand that words and tone are important. But have you ever thought about the sound of your voice and what it communicates?
Our voice has a distinctive sound. When we call a friend, they usually know who it is right away. If we’ve been mistaken for a parent or sibling we know that some of these vocal qualities can be inherited and are therefore physiological. So, to what degree can we alter the sound of our voice? And why would we want to?
Have you ever heard yourself on a recording and thought, “Oh, wow, I don’t really like the sound of my voice,”? If you relate, try making a recording of yourself and listen to the playback. A low quality device is going to produce a recording that is not entirely accurate or pleasant sounding. But listen past that, if you can, and try to put into words what it is that you don’t like.
Where in your body do you feel your voice resonating? Do you feel it in your face, nose or head? Your throat? Or do you feel the vibration all the way down in your chest; your belly? Is there emotion being conveyed? Do you sound anxious, unsure or insecure? Do you hear contempt or irritation? Is it monotonous or shaky? Does it have a nasal, whiny or high-pitched quality? How does it make you feel to listen to yourself?
As a singer and a speaker, I have been listening to mine and the voices of others with curiosity, for many years. I have used this practice as a tool for self-awareness. I have seen that the place in my body from which I speak is intimately connected to my emotional state and internal self-image. When I practice mindfulness and I am present, calm and confident, the quality of my voice conveys this. When I am distracted, anxious, angry, reactive; when I am feeling insecure and trying to hard to please, my voice betrays all this too.
Listen… what is your voice telling you?
by Angela Inglis, ERYT200, Yogacara Teacher Trainer