Columbia Heights’ Farmers’ Market/Washington, DC

Scenes from a trip to a farmer’s market in Columbia Heights–an area of Washington, DC

Farmer’s Market food colors and shapes are better than porn as far as I am concerned….

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What do you suppose is in here? Need to find out sometime.

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Clairsentience as a Teaching Tool, Part II

Wow! “Part I” of Clairsentience as a Teaching Tool sparked more interest than I expected, and I am grateful to colleagues who wrote to me privately as well as those on the Somatic Voicework tm: The Lovetri Method Teachers’ forum for lively discussion.

One thing that I need to clarify is that everyone is born with intuitive gifts, but skillful use of them depends upon how open one is to using them and whether or not one has been able to receive mentoring in their development. Empaths and Clairsentience, both in the spectrum of intuitive gifts, are two different things.

Let me state right up front that I think life-long learning in Voice Science, Functional Listening, and other quantitative tools are two cornerstones in becoming a master teacher of singing, (although perhaps these are also Western preoccupations,) but–

–being LEFT-BRAINED and LOGICAL are just two parts of being scientific. “Scientific” has come to mean facts based on quantitative research, but every time science learns more, the view of the facts is shifted to include new information. Sometimes science actually makes an about-face to completely refute itself when more information is uncovered. Science shares the following qualities with Intuition: 1) Openness to possibilities and trial and error to find out what works and what doesn’t. 2) Mindfulness, curiosity and wonder which are essential to observation. 3) The use of journals and notes to keep track of outcomes, questions and possible connections.

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(part of “command central” in my music studio/study)

If you suspect you are an Empath and/or Clairsentient, there are certain skills you need to develop first for yourself if you are to work with others without sacrificing your mental, emotional and physical health over time. If you are not naturally a “grounded” person, the first essential skills are becoming grounded through vitalizing nutrition, exercise and practices such as yoga, meditation and/or prayer. Also, your body may be much more sensitive to noise or toxins in your environment than that of the average person, so take yourself seriously in this regard.

The problem with this way of being in the world is that empaths act like “psychic sponges,” often unskillfully merging with others’ energy fields.  Others leave feeling really good, and the empath is exhausted. Empaths are naturally hard-wired to be healers, but an unskilled healer, especially over time, is of no help to anyone, including themselves!

The thing is, if this is what an empath is accustomed to feeling, he/she doesn’t know any better, so they keep gravitating to people and situations where this cycle can be perpetuated because it is familiar. Where things get REALLY dysfunctional is when feeling this used and depleted is interpretated as being loved or loving.

My own voice teachers who recognized this sensitivity in me tried to help by telling me to toughen up, not leak my energy out, stop being so smart, surround myself with protective egg shapes and light, and a whole host of well-meaning but ultimately unuseful ways to manage myself. At the same time, other musicians, audiences and newspaper reviews from the 1980’s—through the early 2000’s, praised my musicianship, emotional depth and vocal suppleness. Was it possible that the outer successes were because of the way I was made, not in spite of it? Yes, of course…

…but the bottom line is that I always felt split and anxious..always, like I was carrying heavy secrets or hidden illnesses and neurosis that dared not be exposed.

And maybe I was. Everyone else’s and my own.   If you are not an Empath, understanding what this feels like is impossible from your frame of reference.  Of course you can be understanding of other’s pain, but you will not end up carrying it in your own body like it is your own pain.

OK. So let’s say you are an Empath and/or Clairsentient and  have spent the time and effort to learn to become grounded and have even managed to attract people into your life to help you with this task. (My husband of 36 years is as left-brained as they come, still with an acute artistic sense) You also understand that Empath/Clairsentients support others completely with their conscious awareness by massively stretching over to another person and merging with them energetically.

But, really, all that is required to be with someone is to be physically present, listen and show a sympathetic attitude.

*Only unskilled Empath/Clairsentient Teachers are wacky enough to routinely interpret ‘being there for someone’ like this:

1) Unconsciously I will merge with this person’s energy field 30 super-quick times in 10 minutes, lifting energy from her field and depositing it into mine.
2) I will give as much energy to this person as possible…until she tells me she is satisfied.* Which may be never.
3) I will do all this plus show her how to technically develop her singing to freely express through music, teach music history and theory, style and technique, play the keyboard while sight-reading multiple scores, advise her on contracts and auditions and deportment, teach at least three other languages phonetically plus English diction, etc., etc., and if you are a high school student who wants to major in music or theater, I will hold your hand and your parents’ hands through the totally messed up and crazy college search and audition calamity.
4) I will charge her the equivalent rate of a psychiatrist and lawyer and college search coach combined.
5) If only, on number 4.

*paraphrased from Rose Rosetree’s book “Become the Most Important Person in the Room.”

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By routinely “taking on another person’s stuff,” an empath naturally will make others feel better and they are left feeling drained and possibly sick.   A voice teacher who is an empath may find themselves illustrating singing with student tensions and misunderstandings and then find it hard to reconnect to  their own voice. Richard Miller, the great teaching guru who passed away in 2009, said “never, ever sing out of posture,” meaning, never illustrate with anything other than your best singing.

The National Association of Teachers of Singing used to have a list of top ten jobs to destroy your singing voice, and teaching singing was at the top of the list.

In training my gift of Clairsentience, I have received the most help through trial and error, the mentorship of Dr. Roberta Sachs and studying the Somatic Nervous System and alternative health. Becoming a skilled practitioner of “Somatic Voicework tm” The Lovetri Method” has been crucial to integrating my scientific and intuitive self and learning to listen functionally. The atmosphere of collegial learning is one I searched for with colleagues when I founded the Washington Vocal Consortium in 1987-2012. At that time, there were virtually no places for safe learning and experimentation as a singer and teacher of singing. (The National Association of Singing sometimes carries within it an atmosphere of judgement and right and wrong learning, although it is much better than it was a generation ago.)

Empathic gifts, Part III of Clairsentience as a Teaching Tool, coming right up this week,  will discuss some practical ways to strengthen your own consciousness and free yourself of continually merging with others while you are teaching privately or for groups. You will still support that individual or class or rehearsal with 10 times the awareness of most other teachers, but will not deplete your own energy field in giving to others.

 

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Clairsentience as a Teaching Tool, Part I

Clairsentience as a Teaching Tool, Part I

Great Falls, MD

What is Clairsentience?

This is the first in a series of posts about Clairsentience (“clear-feeling”) and it’s role in teaching vocal technique. The academic in me hastens to add that if it weren’t for studying voice science, I might not have developed a coherent and specific language for translating information from my body into something useful for a student of singing. And this is true. But voice science is meant to serve intuition, not the other way around, and I think we’ve put the cart before the horse in contemporary vocal pedagogy. I know many fine voice teachers who understand how the body is supposed to work in the production of sound, but they can’t work with the person in front of them who is not singing in that ideal way.

We have an amazing body of voice science and are continually learning more. Isn’t it time to learn about the information from our own amazing bodies?

Clairsentience is one of the most practical intuitive gifts but left unaware and untrained can be brutal for someone who does not know she or he has it. It is a type of sixth sense which enables one to “feel” or “know” and interpret surrounding feelings and energies. It is also possible to feel things from a distance. Empathy and Clairsentience can be grouped together in the spectrum of intuitive gifts, both of which relate to sensing and feeling the emotions and energies of people, animals, plants or things. Training this type of Knowing requires recognition, acceptance and patience with one’s gifts, and also the kind and wise guidance of others. It is not something that is recognized or trained in our Western culture, although the best teachers often use it, even if they are unaware that that is what they are doing.

I have the ability to feel, in my own body, what is at work physically, emotionally and psychologically in another persons’ speaking or singing voice. I was born with this gift and grew up in a most unusual and incredible family and community of singers, music and singing. So I probably began to feel deeply and merge energetically with others through voice and singing from a very early age. I also tried to protect myself from stuff I couldn’t understand by carrying extra weight as an attempt to pad myself from feelings of invasion.

Training this gift requires self-love and acceptance and wisdom, accrued with time. Untrained, I felt I could read other people at a deep psychological level when, in fact, the information was often tainted because I was mixed up between my own inner journey and that of others. Boundary issues are always a lesson for this kind of Knowing.

At its best, this talent gives me a remarkable amount of information about a person’s needs in their voice lesson, or the needs of a group of people with whom I am working. Years of experience and study enable me to wade through the tsunami of information I receive from my body in a split second and come up with helpful tools for students’ vocal and musical development. At worst, I begin to entrain to the student or group, literally vibrating at their level, which is not good for my own well-being. It is not uncommon for Empath-Clairsentients to have drastic physical and mental health issues until they learn who they are and can train their gifts for their good as well as others.

The next posts in this series will give you more information on traits of an Empath-Clairsentience and how those traits can be used to be an effective teacher of singing.

In the meantime, if you would like to know more, I highly recommend the book “Be the Most Important Person in the Room” by Rose Rosetree. It has some self-tests and practical guidance for those who are learning to use their own empathic gifts.

Finding my voice through finding my voice

IMAG1631It’s been a year and a half since diagnosis of vocal fold paralysis, and I have chronicled the journey towards healing HERE. Progress feels slow, but there are little signs of continued recovery here and there. The latest reassessment by Jeanie Lovetri, the singing voice specialist who developed Somatic Voice Work tm: The Lovetri Method, is that I may be able to sing a simple classical song within another 4-5 months, assuming I continue with my exercises and stay with the other forms of therapy and healing I am using. Nothing is certain, of course, and we are truly forging new ground with this manner of working.

Sometimes I will sit still and just imagine a movie in fast motion, first showing my vocal apparatus struggling and silent and then scrolling through improvements until the function–the way the laryngeal apparatus is working–is oiled and smooth. I imagine feeling happy and centered as I sing, free of all the dysfunction that had been set up vocally over the past 10 years. I know through personal experience how important IMAGINING and VISUALIZING one’s desired outcome is towards achieving a goal. As well as doing the physical work.

New information:

There is a relationship between thyroid function and the function of the voice. They are even located in the same part of the body! I’ve had issues with my thyroid off and on for many years, but it is not a simple case of hypo vs hyper thyroid, and I have never taken medication. Medical doctors had their chance. From 2002-2003 I went to FOUR different endochrinologists who each told my my thyroid was OK after testing. Yea. I was 200 pounds, my hair was thin and falling out, and I had a 4-nodule goiter that ran the width of the thyroid. But sure, I was ok…My voice teacher, Elizabeth Daniels, was positive that some singing issues I had begun to have were thyroid related. We were both stumped.

From 2003-2007 I was able to regulate my thyroid and maintain a healthy weight as I worked closely with a multi-disciplinary alternative health care clinic that a voice student told me about. I worked with kinesiologists, nutritionists, and exercise counselors, taking massive amount of supplements and on a regiment of saliva testing for monitoring endocrine function. It worked, but it was very expensive and very time consuming. Singing was restored somewhat, but the middle register was funky and unreliable.

I drove 45 minutes around the Washington, DC Beltway and back 1-3 times a week for almost 4 years, and finally, after accruing massive debt, decided I had to stop. None of this was covered by insurance and my husband and I had entered into the college years for the kids. We just finished THAT phase of life this past May. (two kids, two college degrees.)

IMAG1597-1-1So, I this past June I decided I had to go back to trying to solve the thyroid puzzle. I started working with another alternative health care clinic where my doctor is an MD as well as an Alternative sort. His testing revealed severe mold growth throughout my system–EW!–which has suppressed the ability of the thyroid produced to be drawn into my cells. I have spent the summer tweaking supplements I am to take to kill the mold off slowly, as well as tweaking diet and upping exercise. My husband spent two weeks before starting a new job, building a drainage system in our back yard AND we are getting a new roof as there was mold detected from water damage.

We will know in another 6 weeks if this protocol is working. In the meantime, I am in touch with my regular medical doctor with lab results and what I am doing and getting his feedback and guidance.

I will be honest with anyone who is reading this who knows my medical history, which includes 8 really nasty abdominal surgeries, three with severe complications. My life has been pretty extreme in this regard. I realize that. No one is more tired of these stories and experiences than me. When I look at what I have managed to accomplish in spite of this history, it is truly Herculean. I am not sure I would have had the tenacity and courage to keep healing from these things if I wasn’t a singer.

And what I have learned has made me an exceptional teacher of singing. I am also working on a book on the subject of generational healing.

Finding my Voice through finding my voice.

(flower photographs taken while on a walk through Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland.)