I just finished reading a spiritual memoir, Red Hot and Holy – A Heretic’s Love Story. I will write more about this book, but for now, I am thinking at the huge difference between the author’s writing voice and speaking voice. In writing, she is irreverent, powerful, raw, naked, strong, awesome, potty-mouthed, strong. Her speaking voice is meek, shy, little, afraid. It barely comes out through the top of her throat and her nose, unlike her writing voice, which comes from the depths of her body.

I read a theater book about voice training a few years back. (Or maybe it was this one.) It explained how so many people, women especially, do not speak in their natural voices. They distort their voices and make them higher pitched, often nasal – very much infantilized. Many strong, great women sound like little girls. I won’t get into the politics of that. They are obvious. I observed that many more women’s voices seem to be distorted here in the U.S. than in Romania. I don’t know what that is about.

Anyway, that book recommends some exercises for helping you find your natural voice. It claims that your natural voice is the one that you use when you utter the sound mmmmmmmm in a speaking, not singing voice. Try it: breathe in, and then: mmmmmmmmmm. They use this as one of many exercises to warm up the voice, which apparently teachers should do, too. (If you use your voice correctly, they claim, you do not feel discomfort in your throat even after speaking for 3 hours.)

I think the sounds of our voices are not only that. I think infantilizing and censoring our real voices is much deeper than the manipulation of the vocal cords. We don’t speak our truths. We don’t speak from our hearts – let alone our bellies, or our (yes) vaginas.

Sera Beak’s awakening (or breakdown/through) was triggered by listening to Marion Woodman speak. Marion Woodman spoke from her belly. She embodied her soul and her voice cam from deep within.

I also know at least one strong, intelligent woman (much smarter than me) whose voice is barely audible. It barely comes through as a very weak stream. Her words and ideas are very smart and deep. Her belief in them isn’t. She speaks but without making sound. I want to get her to roar from her belly. Yes, we’ll do that someday. I notice this in many women from East Asia.

I was once recommended in an Ayurvedic consultation to practice Lion Pose – but instead of a “ha” exhale, to express a roar. This pose energizes the throat and the vocal chords and enables you to access your voice and express it – from the belly. I confess I don’t really practice it. It is awkward, even when I am home alone. But I should get over that.  See below video instructions on how to practice Lion Pose.

Personally, I think/feel my voice comes from my heart. I don’t know that my voice is distorted, but I know there’s some work I need to do there. How do you feel about your voice? Or about this topic in general? Have you noticed anything along those lines in you or the people around you? When do you express your full natural voice? What does it take to do so? Get angry? Drink wine? Laugh out loud?