Though I have always been a musically expressive person, when I ﬁrst heard about the chakras back in 1997, I actually did not believe they were real. The idea of having seven major points along my spine that each governed certain organs in my body, radiating different colors and corresponded to musical notes and sounds, spinning clockwise when in balance seemed a bit strange to me. It was not taught to me in school (as it is to children in India). It seemed irrelevant, so I went on with my life and just thought the man with the rainbow along his spine was some strange “New Age” mumbo-jumbo.
Our western world is focused on teaching us about the external things, such as how to go out and earn this diploma and that job, and get that dream house and vacation. We were taught at a young age that there are levels, and some of us are “better” than others. In school we were judged and we learned to base our inner value on a letter in the alphabet. Eventually, most of us stopped playing those fun artistic games we enjoyed as a child and were encouraged to become part of “the real world” to prove ourselves worthy. Soon the world became a much more serious place and there were expectations and more "important" roles placed on us. We were told to be tough and that it's not always safe to show others how we really feel. As adults, it's no wonder why, when we open our mouthes to express our singing voices (which are directly connected to our feelings and emotions) we feel vulnerable and exposed! Could it possibly be that it has something to do with the fact that we were never taught how to feel safe in our inner world?
When we sing, we’re having to share something from inside of us and bring it into the outer world that judges us and doesn’t seem to care how we really feel. So, where on earth does one practice how to feel safe expressing how we really feel? Acting class? Possibly–but many choose to hide behind their characters. When we sing, because singing is often a sustained pitch, we prolong our vibration and actually send out a more powerful signal that is easier for others to interpret about what's going on in our inner world than if we were speaking. This is why it’s so easy for people to judge singers – when even those judges have no vocal training. When we speak, our words can fool people, but singing is deeply connected to the energy of our soul, and energy never lies. We can feel it. Have you ever heard a singer that seemed like they hit all the right notes and provided a technically sound performance, but you just didn't enjoy it? That's because you felt their insecurity beyond their technique. They weren't enjoying it either. This is why singing is the most vulnerable of all art forms–if one doesn't understand and learn to also practice and master their "inner world" or the mental/emotional part of their instrument.
Your chakras are a way of depicting what your inner-world looks like. What if understanding and practicing with your chakras, (or the mental and emotional parts of you as related to your body), as well as your voice, could help you feel more connected as a person, and in turn, you could sing from an empowered place?
Do you remember, when you were little, likely before you started school? Maybe you'd sing at the top of your lungs and just enjoyed the sound of your voice. Your inner world was free and had no wounds yet. Your chakras were balanced and beaming as you allowed yourself to just be YOU!
WHAT ARE CHAKRAS?
We have chakras all over our body, but most of us stop seeing them after infancy. Chakras are the name we give for the energy, or electrical life force that expresses our internal world. The word chakra means “wheel" or "disc.” Although we have many chakras, I will be sharing with you a brief overview of the seven major chakras and how they relate to singing. When balanced and in alignment, each of these “wheels of light” spin clockwise and are known to radiate different colors. These colors govern the major organs along the spine and help us to understand when were are open and connected or blocked in these specific areas.
feeling emotionally drained after people unloaded on me
feeling very sensitive to other people’s energy
being a complete empath, even while watching movies
not having a solid sense of my personal identity
feeling like no one really understood me
intuitively knowing how other people felt about themselves… but I took it personally
having my voice change depending who I was around
having unresolved deep seated grief and pain surrounding my birth and adoption
feeling like an outcast
knowing I wanted to do something great, but not knowing where to start. (I was overwhelmed with all my gifts and most of the time, felt like I was on the verge of tears if I wasn't laughing.)
My third-eye chakra was surprisingly opened by a Chi-Kung Healer in 1997. That experience in itself could be a novel, as it lasted intensely for three days of me being able to see EVERYTHING in every soul. Since I don't have time to elaborate in this article, this undeniably profound and experience led me to later research more about the chakras and opened my eyes to understanding my inner-world. Learning about chakras helped me heal my deep personal issues which included:
Outwardly, I was in complete denial. I thought I was happy, and that I had a few issues and that I was dealing with them. However, as soon as I was triggered, I would downward spiral and all of my issues would come up. Sometimes singing in front of others triggered my issues! I could hide it fairly well, but it resulted in a very awkward feeling for myself and everyone around me.
My soul ached to heal the world, but in reality, I was the one who needed the healing. Singing was an outlet for me. I had accomplished a lot in my career, but I did not feel 100% safe in my own voice. Deep down I wondered if it was some sort of fluke that I had been so successful as a singer. “Maybe all those people who like my voice are delusional and somehow I found a way to trick them,” I wondered. Yet if anyone said anything negative about my voice, it stung so deeply I couldn’t even handle it. What I know now was that all of these issues were related to my “inner world” (chakras) that got triggered when I sang. The power behind my voice (or lack of) was connected to how I really felt about myself and how I saw the world. In contrast, part of why expressing our voice can feel so good is because it actually helps move energy through our “inner world” and makes it audible in the outer world: a very deep, yet empowering process, if done with a decent set of tools. Sadly, most people don’t have the tools. I didn’t. I actually didn’t see much of a connection with chakras and singing at all before 2007. I had read Louise Hay’s, “You Can Heal Your Life” and knew each of the 7 chakras corresponded to specific psychological components and also vowel sounds, but I had never personally experienced the power of actual vowels in my body. What I had experienced move through my body was attributed to the power of singing in church, where I could feel completely free and express myself through my soul. I didn't connect this to chakras at all nor did I have any reason to, even after my third eye opened.
HOW I DISCOVERED MY CORE VOCAL POWER
In 2007, I experienced something that changed my life forever. Laying alone in the cancer unit of a dark, musty hospital room (yes, they thought I was dying of cancer), after three solid days of darkness, pain, and pure physical, emotional and spiritual hell (we won’t go into detail, but I was very ill), I was in for something I had no idea would eventually empower me. If the intense suffering I'd already endured wasn’t enough, I nearly died from doctors making a major error during a simple endoscopy. I refused the surgery initially because I had a bad feeling about it, but when I became too weak to resist, I gave in. During the procedure, they nicked my bowel and had to open me to repair this, and also bruised my intestines in the process. I was left with 36 staples and an 8 inch scar along my stomach- my core. I weighed a mere 98 lbs at 5 foot 8.5 inches. I had very little muscle function and had to re-learn how to walk, eat, breathe (build back my lung capacity) and pretty much do everything again, including sing.
I was listening to Eckhart Tolle’s, “The Power of Now” and “New Earth” at the time and really wanting to just heal already so I could get back to teaching and earn a living. If there was something I needed to learn, I wanted to learn it. My mother had helped me for one week after leaving the hospital and had to return back home to Canada. Doctors said it'd take 6-8 months to heal. I was all alone.
One day, I was sitting on my meditation couch. I sighed, wondering how I was going to get through this. Then, for whatever reason, I remembered that chakra guy on my wall with all the different vowel sounds along the spine. Even though I didn't really teach it, I thought it was interesting so I had it in my office. Up to this point, I never really taught resonating as part of my system, but for some reason, the “oo” popped out in my mind. I imagined an orange light in my belly, where it hurt, and I said “ooooooo”. Suddenly, the strangest sensation occurred! I instantly felt my little belly vibrate in such a way that it just WOKE UP! While I sang “ooooo”, the little cells in that area felt like they were just shaking like popcorn on a stove, exploding into something new! I don’t really know of another way to describe it, but it was awesome! I could feel my stagnant lower abdomen coming ALIVE AGAIN! Apparently, when we’re sick, our body responds even more dramatically to vibration than when we are well. I suddenly realized that I was not alone and there was a world of cells in my body that were invested in working for me, and were connected to my thoughts and the SOUNDS I made! So I did it again. “Ooooo.” This time it wasn’t as dramatic, but I still felt it. I felt the power of my VOICE within my body. Even though I was very tired, somehow it gave me energy, so I did more. I started experimenting with ascending vowels and sustained vowels, mostly “ooooo” and “oh” and my body just LOVED IT! It wasn’t long before I discovered “mmmmmmm” had a way of buzzing all the way up and down my spine. It was as if I was giving my organs an inner massage. (Through research, I later found out that they have scientifically proven that resonating does indeed massage the inner organs and releases a gas called nitric oxide, which is a natural anti-depressant! Months later, Dr. Oz himself stated this very thing on Oprah!)
This self-healing journey through vocal resonating, amongst other methods which included visualization, meditation, listening to my body with love, and self-care soon became the foundation for my creation of C.O.R.E. Vocal Power® and even led to some of the resonating tracks found in my CORE VOCAL POWER DELUXE BUNDLE! Within 2 weeks of arriving home, I was teaching voice lessons again! It only took three weeks for me to get on a bicycle and ride with my dog Febi! In less than six months I was holding vocal empowerment workshops and filming. Of course I wasn’t feeling 100%, but I knew I would be soon. I listened to my body and honored it. When I was tired, I rested. I remember there were times I was teaching and my staples were still in my stomach and poking out of my belly and it hurt! I would laugh and go “oo” either out loud or silently in my mind, and send that area of my body a healing. I kept thinking optimistically: “If some woman with breast cancer in The Secret laughed her cancer away, I don’t see why I can’t heal a few staples and bruised intestines.” The universe seemed to send the right kinds of helpers while I was still realigning, shifting and healing.
I share my story because it taught me something that can beneﬁt everyone. Before my experience, I did not know how to handle my “inner world.” I was walking around like a wounded child in an adult’s body. When I started to learn about the chakras and how they are just as real as my fingers typing this article, I was able to find a way to heal myself by coming to terms with what I felt inside and loving myself through it, using my voice.
HEALED BY MY VOICE
When we sing, we have to come to terms with what we feel inside, because we’re expressing it. If we’re not “in alignment” then it’s not going to be a positive experience for us. Unlike sports, such as tennis, which involves the coordination of our body connected to a tennis racket hitting a ball (all outward – not as risky), singing requires the coordination of our mind and inner thoughts connected to our feelings sending energy through our vocal folds out into the world. Therefore, if we have any deep seated “issues” they will most certainly be expressed out into the world when we sing on some level, whether we want it to be that way or not. This feels much more risky because it’s connected to our soul, and all the stuff in our subconscious mind.
In order to feel safe as a singer and heal my body, I was able to beneﬁt from practicing these 3 things:
1. My 4x4x8 breathing to clear my mind
2. Setting daily goals that were in alignment with my personal joy and values.
3. Resonating (sustaining notes beginning with “mmm” and then vowels focused on each chakra. I practiced becoming strong in each vowel and energy center (chakra) of my body.
As a vocal coach, I wanted to learn everything about the throat chakra, thinking that would be what I needed, but what I came to discover over time, was that each of the chakras were connected to my voice. A great realization I had after I healed from my operation, was that before, there was something deep within me that felt ignored and wounded, no matter what I affirmed. My soul wanted me to prove to myself that I loved it – more than I loved everything else I spent time on. Sitting quietly and breathing love into my Heart before I did anything else healed this wound for me and helped me create a deeper relationship with myself. This was something no one else could give me, which led me to write what is now known as "Breathe Into Your Power" (Formerly known as Connecting Breath to Soul), and in my opinion, contains the hidden jewels of empowerment. From there, feeding my heart evolved into breathing into the chakra that needed the most attention and letting my “issues” arise for me as I resonated. Once they did, I could face them and let them go. Healing from my operation made me STOP and look after my WHOLE self. Through this, I became more CONFIDENT and EMPOWERED.
CHAKRA AWARENESS FOR SINGERS
Performers undergo a lot of stress. They’re expected to perform sometimes under very extraneous circumstances, and it’s no surprise that the majority of well-known singers end up having nervous breakdowns or getting ill at some point in their career. Our society has failed to teach us how to stop and just center ourselves and gain inner peace. When we do this, we avoid many of the most common illnesses that are related to stress. The following exercises will be of even greater beneﬁt to you if you have awareness about the body’s different energy centers or chakras. Scientists are now discovering what ancient healers knew all along: that the frequencies of each of these centers is significantly correlated to the health and well being of the organs associated with each center. There are 7 main centers in your body–each of them about the size of an orange, that are connected to specific organs. When the energy in all of these centers is balanced, the body feels energized, and healthy. When a center is blocked or depleted over a period of time, the next stage is physical illness. The good news is, you can easily help restore balance in each of your centers and avoid physical illness just by aligning your attention to the appropriate center and breathing using some of the techniques I’m about to describe. Does it sound a little too simple? Try it out and find out for yourself. You’ve got absolutely nothing to lose!
Over the past several years, I’ve had students who practice these techniques regularly report added benefits to singing better, which include: regulating blood pressure, regulating the heart, reduced stress, better sleep, increased alertness, stamina, energy, and clarity.
These exercises are not meant to diagnose or treat any illness. If you have a medical concern, please see your practitioner.
THE ENERGY CENTERS
1. The Root Chakra (base of the spine)
This center governs the reproductive system. When it is balanced, you feel grounded and secure in life and all it has to offer. It is known as your tribal center and related to survival.
Sound: “OH” as in “toe”
2. The Sacral Chakra (Just below the naval)
The second center governs the spleen, adrenals, kidneys, Uterus and Ovaries. It is your creative center and when it is balanced, you feel a ﬂow in your creativity and your emotions feel at peace.
Sound: “OO” as in “sue”
3. The Solar Plexus Chakra (Stomach area)
This center governs the pancreas, stomach, liver and intestines. When it is balanced you feel a mental clarity and secure sense of self. Criticism doesn’t hurt and you own your actions.
Sound: “AY” as in “stay”
4. The Heart Chakra
This center governs the Lungs, Thymus, Lymph, Immune System, and Blood Pressure. When it is balanced you feel a healthy sense of forgiveness and deservingness. There is a healthy ﬂow of love and harmony within.
Sound: “AH” as in “father”
5. The Throat Chakra
This center governs the thyroid, neck, nose, ears, and teeth. When it is balanced, communication and self expression ﬂow with ease and grace.
Sound: “EE” as in “see”
6. The Third Eye Chakra
This energy center governs the pituitary gland, the eyes, and autonomic nervous system. When it is in balance, your intuition is clear, you have given up any addictions and you understand what you have to offer humanity.
Sound: “OHM” – like the monks say!
7. The Crown Chakra
This center governs the pineal gland, and the nervous system. When it is in balance, you see yourself in others and are less likely to judge and react to difﬁcult situations. You are not attached to the outcome of any given circumstance and you are more likely to be of service to those around you.
Sound: “NG” as in “sing” (silence)
Now that I have deﬁned each center, you have an opportunity be more aware of the thoughts, attitudes and beliefs that govern each region of your body. If you feel blocked or tense in a speciﬁc area, breathe into that center. You will be surprised at how the body is quick to respond and heal; for our natural state is wellness, and singing reﬂects our present state. What kind of state would you like to reﬂect in your creativity?
HOW TO CREATE THE HABIT:
Now, whether or not you fully understand the above is irrelevant. If you do my 4x4x8 breathing exercises on a regular basis, you will beneﬁt from them. (Read “BREATHE INTO YOUR POWER” for more information.) I encourage you to do these throughout the day – especially if you are a busy person. The good news is, I’m going to tell you how to get these amazing breaths in without imposing on your busy schedule. Here’s what to do. Keep in mind that a minimum of 4 reps of any exercise takes approximately only 40 seconds!
1. When you wake up in the morning, sit or stand and do 4 reps of any CORE BREATHING exercise
2. On your way to the restroom or while you’re in the restroom – do 4 reps of any exercise.
3. Before eating, do 4 reps of any CORE BREATHING exercise and make a conscious effort not to multi task
while eating, but pay attention to the wonderful taste of your food.
4. Before you drive away in your car, you can tune in and do 4 reps. If you don’t drive, then while you’re walking, waiting for a bus, or on a bus.
5. Before you retire to bed at night. This will also help your mind to slow down and assist you in getting to sleep.
If you practice daily, eventually, breathing with chakra awareness (or inner awareness) will become a natural part of your existence, and you will ﬁnd yourself more often in a state of natural balance and peace. When you resonate (sing), if issues arise, you are able to express them and move through them. If your voice sounds shaky, that’s your chakra trying to balance itself out. Unconditionally love what comes up for you and continue in your empowered singing journey.