Oh my goodness. I just had a weekend that will go down in my own life’s history as truly transformational.
Several weeks ago, my friend, JoAnn, called to invite me to go along with her to the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. She was going to attend a weekend workshop which didn’t really call to me. But what did entice me was the chance to get out in Nature.
Kripalu is situated in the Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts. It’s surrounded by woods with a beautiful lake within walking distance.
Just the thought of breathing clean air and hiking in the woods was enough for me to jump at the opportunity to go. I didn’t care if it was cold, rainy, snowy or windy – I needed to get out of my apartment and away from all of the concrete that surrounds me.
I’ve been to Kripalu many times and always leave there feeling rejuvenated and like I’ve received a dose of something special.
So, my plan was to opt for an R&R (Rest & Relaxation) weekend, instead of attending one of the many workshop offerings. I would hike and rest and meditate and maybe do some yoga.
But that was not to be. Because when I went to the Kripalu website to register, I landed on a page displaying another workshop called “The Natural Singer”. I said to myself, “OMG”.
I had seen this particular workshop advertised a number of times over the past decade at the New York Open Center and at the Omega Institute. Each time I saw it I thought to myself “Oh, I wish I had the nerve to do that!”. But I didn’t.
This time was different. I couldn’t leave the page. It called to me. It shouted at me. It was time to face my fear and find my voice.
I always loved singing in church, back in the day. But I was never in the choir and certainly never sang a solo in my life. I rarely know the words to songs and quite frankly, even if I had a spectacular voice, my introverted self would NEVER have put myself out there.
Still, I couldn’t stop staring at that page. Before I knew it, I had signed up.
What really shocked me, and still puzzles me a bit, is where the fear went. In the weeks leading up to the workshop, I felt equal amounts of nervousness and excitement. But fear? Not so much.
When the workshop actually started, I took note of how I felt in my body and it was just so strange. It was as though someone had surrounded me in a beautiful bubble of calm energy. Where my fear level would have normally been a 10, it was barely a 2.
The name Gabriel kept popping into my head all weekend, and no wonder. After all, “Archangel Gabriel inspires and motivates artists and communicators, helping them to overcome fear and procrastination.” I think she’s responsible for all of the writing ideas that now come flying at me on a daily basis.
I also felt the presence of my friend, Karen, who recently passed on. Had she still been in her physical body I know she would have been wildly cheering me on.
Maybe it was just my own soul deciding that it’s time to face my fears and start living a braver life on Planet Earth while I still have the chance.
Whatever or whoever removed that layer of fear, I am deeply grateful.
When my turn finally came to get up and sing a song in front of about forty people, all that remained of my fear was a shaky voice and sweaty palms. Not too bad. Not a crippling or “I’m going to pass out” kind of fear.
I’d had time to choose my song and went with the first one that popped into my head. It was a lullaby titled “Good Night, Sleep Tight” from the 1959 movie “The Five Pennies”. I was only six years old when I saw that movie in the theater with my parents. It’s one of a few vivid memories I have from that age, but a sweet one, that’s for sure.
I didn’t question the choice, I just went with it. I doubt that anyone in the room recognized the song, but I’d sang it to my children hundreds of times when they were little. Surely, I could remember the words and get through it unscathed.
Claude Stein is a master at helping people let go of fear, find their courage, find their voice. Every single comment he made to everyone in that room was positive. But they weren’t just empty words. He gave constructive encouragement all around.
The workshop attendees ran the gamut from bonafide singers to people whose voice was barely a terrified whisper. I can’t even express how beautiful it was to see the transformations happen before my eyes. Every single incredibly brave person. Lots and lots of tears, not just from the performers, but from the audience, as well.
Everyone was the recipient of thunderous applause, both before and after our performances. Only positive feedback was allowed. One comment I remember was “You have a voice like a bird.” Being the Nature-lover that I am, that was the greatest compliment of all. 🙂
Talk about healing the fifth chakra. In fact, I think that singing, in general, is one of the most powerful kinds of energy healing there is.
So, yes, it’s true.
Sometimes our greatest fears lead us to the sweetest place.
I doubt that I’ll be trying out for a Broadway play anytime soon. Even karaoke still intimidates me – but that one I feel I could definitely conquer. I’m just happy to have found the courage to sing a solo in public.
I’ve always loved music but my life never really reflected that. I had zero musical training in my Catholic schooling and although I wanted to study piano and guitar as a child, I was limited to one extracurricular activity, and art classes always won out.
As an adult, I struggled to learn both piano and guitar. My family and friends will surely remember my “guitar days” in my 50’s when I played the same song over and over and over again.
I don’t care how juvenile my guitar playing was, it brought me great joy. I think maybe it’s time to bring it out of storage and at least, learn how to accompany myself singing the lullaby.
And I’m not sure why all of a sudden in my sixth decade I’m discovering such happiness from what used to create enormous anxiety and fear. Maybe it’s one of the rewards for moving forward rather than staying comfortably stuck in the patterns of the past.
All I know is that today, I can’t seem to wipe the smile off of my face. Of course, why would I want to?
I’d love to hear your stories of fears that you’ve conquered, so please share!