journey of sacred voice expression

The discovery and cultivation of my Sacred Voice has been an exquisite and beautiful journey I could ever hope to take. It has morphed into an integral aspect of my vocation. As a coach, it is my privilege to lead others on their own, unique telling of this voice journey.

Recently I experienced what some would call a “download” (although I am not fond of this particular expression). I had and felt and knew, in a clear moment, an understanding of the continuum of our experience with our voice. It is called the Journey of Sacred Voice Expression, and it is the experience we have with our Sacred Voice throughout our lifetime.

For me, the Sacred Voice is that personal expression of the divine within: the actual source of your voice. It is the vehicle through which the metaphysical becomes physical, as we emit vibrations sourced from our intentions.

I have written a lot about the joys and potential of the Sacred Voice, as well as the limitations that hinder us from expressing it.

I believe that this paradigm of understanding our voice journey is so helpful, in that we can  know where we fall upon the continuum. By doing so, we have an understanding of where we are, we are heading, and where we are held back.

Indeed, there are hindrances that we encounter along the journey. (Otherwise, what kind of journey would it be?)

Indeed, discovering and healing these tender places within us are integral to help us to discover the value and beauty of our voice. I believe every one of us has a voice that is deep and powerful, strong with purpose and potential, ready to be claimed.

I see and experience the joys struggles firsthand, walking the stepping stones of my own voice journey, as well as seeing them in the experiences of my students.

Signposts Along the Journey

Why do we desire to move forward on our journey? What do we seek? And why do we deny ourselves the very same?

It is partly unconscious. I believe that our vocal limitations are so normalized, and speaking about them feels taboo. It is not common practice to address the deeply-rooted fears we have in using our voice. 

But I believe it is utterly necessary to allow ourselves the release and freedom that comes from healing and letting go of our deepest fears and shame around our voice. Our fears are self-limitations. They are embedded in various ways throughout our lifetime and beyond. 

If we desire to move further along the journey to greater expression of our voice, to discover and manifest its deeper purpose, then we must heal and release our self-limitations.

Here are the signposts along the Journey of Sacred Voice Expression. Each step along the journey is the fulfillment of several key elements. When we accept and allow these aspects, we live into a deeper experience. We move forward along the journey.

1) Heed your Impulse

Our voice is a natural and authentic expression of our Self. You likely have felt that inner drive to sing and make sound. But we can only express ourselves when we feel safe to sing. When we do, we are primed to deepen our relationship with our voice. And further, when we accept and allow that our voice is:

  • Unique
  • Personal
  • Heartcentered

we are able to move into the next phase.

2) Embody your Instrument

Here we learn about the nature of our voice. Not just its physical properties, but its connection and integration with all parts of our self. When we accept and allow that our voice has:

  • Power
  • Vulnerability
  • Radiance

we move into the next phase.

3) Honor Your Sacredness

Your voice is sacred in nature. It is sourced from the divine, and is so much more than your human body and its physical parts. When we accept and allow:

  • Surrender
  • Freedom
  • Peace

we move into the next phase.

4) Express Your Purpose

What happens when we follow the initial impulse to use our voice, allow its authentic expression, marry it to spirit, and surrender our will to that sacredness within us? When we accept and allow our soul-led expression, we discover:

  • Transcendence
  • Union
  • Potential

Next Steps

The Journey is not fixed. Indeed, it is fluid. Our way is informed by our state of being, state of consciousness, mood, personality swings, and our emotional weather. We may be scared to death one day, and the next discover some ecstatic union with our highest self.

The purpose and goal of laying out this pathway is to better understand where we are on our own path. The journey of discovering our voice can sometimes feel confusing, overwhelming, and rudder-less. I hope that this outlay may help us to define our goals with greater clarity, as well as understand where we may be entangled, and how we can move forward.

If we seek to move forward, to taste and experience the sacredness of our voice, we can. This is one kind of roadmap. May it serve you, Dear One, on your journey of discovery.

Hugs,

allison

Allison Mondel is a reformed self-critic turned Transformational Voice Coach. She is the founder of The Sacred Voice Studio, a holistic voice coaching practice. She helps singers transform their relationship with their voice and dramatically improve their singing through a radically simple, heart-centered framework. Allison has taught and performed widely across the United States and Europe, and believes in every person’s innate potential to discover, unlock, and use their brilliant, divine voice.

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journey of sacred voice expression

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trust is a four-letter word
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“with heart and mouth”

“with heart and mouth”

For the past twenty years, I have been studying and singing the music of medieval visionary Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179). Her music and spiritual legacy have been woven into the fabric of my professional life since it began. One of my mountaintop professional moments involved my singing one of Hildegard’s most wildly ecstatic chants on national television for President Obama’s second inaugural prayer service at Washington National Cathedral.

Her music is potent, tapped into a source that is both deep and high. Recently I came across a passage in one of her visions that I wanted to share with you. It struck me so clearly, and is clearly related to the act of singing. She says:

“Praises must be offered unceasingly to the Supernal Creator with heart and mouth…” 

– Hildegard von Bingen from Scivias, Book III, Vision 13

In her vision, Hildegard describes a symphony of heavenly beings that praise the Creator and creation. But I believe, in this quote, she is referrring to us. You and me. Human beings. Music was such a profoundly important aspect of Hildegard’s life, as much as it is for us. And as she channels her vision to us, it is clear that our role, as human music-makers, is to offer praises.

With heart and mouth.

This is elegant and soulful. It resonates with every fiber of my being. I see this as the purpose and function of the Sacred Voice, and its very personal manifestation within our lives. This looks different for each of us.

But let’s be frank. It is woefully easy to become side-tracked. We become so easily distracted!

How can we stay centered on the deeper purpose of our singing?

It is simple, but not easy: we learn how to focus our awareness in order to focus on our purpose. Awareness heightens the senses and calms the thinking mind. It connects us with our instrument, and keeps us focused. It supports our will, when we encounter our fragility.

As I teach in the Studio, we focus our awareness on our heart. The heart is the seat of the Sacred Voice. It is here that we are both connected to our divine source, and here that we experience that longing to praise the very same divinity.

The sacredness of our voice, as I observe and experience and speak of regularly, is easily eclipsed by 1) our distracted minds, and 2) the hurt places within us, covered over by protective emotional armor.

However, that sacredness can be accessed at any time, simply by an awareness practice that instantaneously connects you with your heart center. And your singular, magnificent, deeper purpose.

The heart and mouth are wedded. Your voice is powerful and sacred. I believe our work is not in finding out whether or not our voice is worthy and capable. But rather to allow its innate, divine nature to flourish and flower right here, right now.

Distractions abound. Stay focused, dear One, on your purpose.

Hugs,

allison

Allison Mondel is a reformed self-critic turned Transformational Voice Coach. She is the founder of The Sacred Voice Studio, a holistic voice coaching practice. She helps singers transform their relationship with their voice and dramatically improve their singing through a radically simple, heart-centered framework. Allison has taught and performed widely across the United States and Europe, and believes in every person’s innate potential to discover, unlock, and use their brilliant, divine voice.

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journey of sacred voice expression

The discovery and cultivation of my Sacred Voice has been an exquisite and beautiful journey I could ever hope to take. It has morphed into an integral aspect of my vocation. As a coach, it is my privilege to lead others on their own, unique telling of this voice...

read more
“with heart and mouth”
“with heart and mouth”

For the past twenty years, I have been studying and singing the music of medieval visionary Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179). Her music and spiritual legacy have been woven into the fabric of my professional life since it began. One of my mountaintop professional...

read more
trust is a four-letter word
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If I had a nickel for every time I hesitated before I sang, I would be a gajillionaire. And sheesh, I even know why I do this, and I STILL do this! I am, truly, working on it. And I trust that I am meant to harvest the lessons from this innate hesitation. A balk, a...

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replace strife with wonder

replace strife with wonder

When I was in graduate school, a small but stout music conservatory, I had to take one of the most lethal classes: Graduate Seminar. Required for all grad students, it was a hodge-podge of this and that, overseen by the conservatory’s director. 

I was in there with every manner of student, but it was terribly lonely. I had no solidarity buddies from the Early Music department, and anytime we stepped out of talking about performance (like learning Schenkerian analysis or whatever) I was lost. I am pretty sure I cried.

Except every once in a while, we had a guest speak: Benjamin Zander, a motivational speaker who would blow off all of our grumpy, overwhelmed, self-conscious, conservative conservatory tops. He would say things like, “Sit in the front row of your life!” and I would sit there and think, “yes, I will!” and then look around at the class and wonder, “is this amazing to everyone else, too? What the hell is going on right now? Is it safe to participate with joy and show that this is utterly life-changing?” 

Zander introduced me to the art of The Reframe. I have fairly described myself as a myopic musician. I was not evolved or self-aware enough at that time to consider the potential of this perspective and his excellent advice. But I have never forgotten.

I recall him telling a parable about some Student who kept Messing Up. Over and over and over again, the same bloody mistake: a rut. You know that student, right? It’s you and me. What is our typical response?

I am so stupid! I suck! What’s wrong with me? I am never going to get it! Duh, I should know better! Etc, etc.

Zander suggested a reframe. Rather than, “Oh shit, I did it again, why not… how fascinating?” (I’m pretty sure that is word for word, even after twenty years!)

This was an indelible moment for me. It has shaped my journey of personal growth and completely altered the path of my voice practice. 

Dear One: you are going to make mistakes. You are going to make some clunkers. You are going to look funny. You are going to kick yourself. I’m sorry. I do it, too. But be wise about it. Mistakes are not a character flaw: they are an essential element of our humanity. But let them teach you.

What happens when you reframe your mistakes into valuable lessons?

I know it is much easier to berate yourself, but that will not serve you in any way, whatsoever. So the next time you have to, say, record yourself (which I did the other day: good times!), and you keep seeing or hearing that thing that is bothering you, try to absorb it rather than reject it.

I keep doing that Thing I don’t want to do. How fascinating!

Here is the jewel of understanding: when you bring an unconscious pattern to light, you evolve. You stop making the damn mistake. It is only possible to bring the unconscious to light when we take the timeand have the willingnessto understand our patterns.

Mr. Zander’s appearance those dreary mornings in seminar were potentially more impactful than any musical training I received at school. His ideas gave me an understanding that it is not simply the content of what we offer as musicians, but it is about our wholeness as beings who vessel that content. But we are all simply too blinded by our faults to see the true power and potency of what we do. 

So please, try to gain some perspective. With your singing, at least! 

The next time you make a bloop (which you will), or are disappointed with your performance (which you will), or pull back in fear (which you will), STOP the critique. Assess the situation. Here is my personal reframe of Mr. Zander’s question:

What is really going on here?

I swear it will help. I probably ask myself this question ten times per day. It is honestly harder to ask when I sing, but that, to me, is the most important time.

Because I recognize that my mistakes are borne of my fears. And when I can shed light on my fears (even teensy ones), they are transformed into feedback. Feedback that can help me change my habits and undo those tendencies that irk me the most and hold me back. Feedback that can help me heal.

Try reframing in your practice. Remove the Strife, and replace it with Wonder. It works. You will feel better and sing better. You will show up with greater authenticity and self-regard. You will become that vessel of something that is much greater than we can possibly conceive.

You just have to get out of the way first.

Hugs,

 

allison

Allison Mondel is a reformed self-critic turned Transformational Voice Coach. She is the founder of The Sacred Voice Studio, a holistic voice coaching practice. She helps singers transform their relationship with their voice and dramatically improve their singing through a radically simple, heart-centered framework. Allison has taught and performed widely across the United States and Europe, and believes in every person’s innate potential to discover, unlock, and use their brilliant, divine voice.

you might also like…

journey of sacred voice expression

The discovery and cultivation of my Sacred Voice has been an exquisite and beautiful journey I could ever hope to take. It has morphed into an integral aspect of my vocation. As a coach, it is my privilege to lead others on their own, unique telling of this voice...

read more
“with heart and mouth”
“with heart and mouth”

For the past twenty years, I have been studying and singing the music of medieval visionary Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179). Her music and spiritual legacy have been woven into the fabric of my professional life since it began. One of my mountaintop professional...

read more
trust is a four-letter word
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If I had a nickel for every time I hesitated before I sang, I would be a gajillionaire. And sheesh, I even know why I do this, and I STILL do this! I am, truly, working on it. And I trust that I am meant to harvest the lessons from this innate hesitation. A balk, a...

read more

Listening to desire

Listening to desire

I decided on Valentine’s Day that I would no longer be a soprano. I mean, a “Soprano,” as a title on my resume. Ironic, that this decision should come to me on the Day of Love. I made a decision to let something go that made me feel no love. (I love that!)

I had uncomfortably worn the title for a long time. Indeed, it is something that we all expect and understand in the world of classical music, coming out of conservatory, hitting the pavement, and making a go of a singing career. But what I knew was that it was making me quite unpleasant to be around. It made me cranky and upset and withdrawn and spiky and a liiiiiittle crazy. And also, incited homicidal inner thoughts about my voice.

What I also know is that this is not reflecting my typically peaceful and harmonious state of being and ohmygod what I would never choose to be. Yikes!

I had been growing into my work as a voice coach, developing my ideas and framework around the nature of the Sacred Voice. This continues to unfold at rapid pace and feeds me like no other work ever has. I have a vision to serve others, to connect with my own sacred center. And I desire to be liberated from that ego voice which was ruling the show for sooooo long.

So I can plainly see this soprano gig is not working. About a week prior to my big decision, I had actually started updating my performance website. I had gotten some new slapdash-get-’em headshots (after many years of ashamedly using the same ones) and knew my site needed some TLC. I started to edit the thing, and inadvertently started pulling it all down. I mean, I actually started accidentally deleting pages from the site! I started destroying my own website. (Oh that makes me smile to think of it now!)

My Valentine’s career revelation organically followed this subconscious identity destruction. I realized quite plainly that I could no longer follow this path for my voice. I had other career fish to fry. It’s time to move on.

Ok, let’s do it.

I drew a line in the sand for myself: I will no longer suffer on account of my voice.

I will let this go in order that something much more precious, joyful, and purposeful will come into being.

If my desire is to be free, then dammit, this must be the way towards that goal. Right?

It hurt for about five seconds. Then it didn’t. And now here we are.

Interestingly, I have not touched that site. I had been avoiding it. (It’s allisonmondel.com, if you are curious. It may be down by the time you read this!) For decades I had been scrambling and hustling and longing for others to accept me, to hire me, to approve of my talents, to look at what I have done and say this is impressive!

My self-worth was swept up in the ebb and tide of this external validation. It is absolutely the most normal thing in the world in the field of classical music: singers need to get noticed, they need training, they need street cred, they need to get hired. Mind you, it is wonderful to get hired! But not if it means that I sacrifice my own worth if I am not hired. Which I have done about a million times and it is basically The Worst. My level of Mettle was not sufficient enough to weather the tide.

But that doesn’t mean I’m giving up. And it certainly doesn’t mean that I will stop singing music that provides a wellspring of joy for me, and that exercises my artist muscle.

It is an interesting, unsettling place to be, shedding my old skin and growing into my new. I am not at all sure about where my “voice career” is headed, and I am ok with that. I have settled into a new role: Teaching Artist, which is something that feels aligned and awesome. And I am witnessing the path towards honoring my desire.

It is nothing short of a blessed miracle that when you do honor your desire, your desire turns into reality. I trust this process, I have seen it unfold in my own life many times. I believe that the trickiest parts are 1) determining to follow your desire and 2) being in the process of unfolding and uncertainty.

Everything is so unknown! What am I supposed to do now? Who am I if I am not this? What is the right way?

But I still recommend it. The desire for my own voice is to be free of any obstacles from my ego. My vision is to use my Sacred Voice in service of healing, both for myself, for others, and the planet. This may seem a little broad right now, but the details are filling in.

My desire informs my vision.

It is rather delightful to have both of these elements fulfilled in your career, when you have a second to notice that they are actually there. Because that is what is happening, and has been happening since I committed to myself to feel better. Tricky when you are so used to them not being there?

What I can assure you is that I have never once, since Valentine’s Day, ever criticized my voice.

Now THAT is a pretty sweet gift, indeed.

Hugs,

allison