The Power of the VoiceWritten by Gavin Humphreys
The voice has the ability to relax, to excite, to carry knowledge, to motivate, to make us smile, to help us connect - and much more.
The pandemic has brought new societal norms to the world. We are working from home. We are not going out to the theater or the pub. We are not traveling. We are watching more streaming services.
We are having less variety of vocal interactions.
Perhaps we find ourselves listening much more to those who are nearest to us, which can be very revealing. Yet, the traditional opportunities to use our voice, or listen to others’ voices, have become much more scarce.
We now need to make a conscious effort - listen, speak up, and find the power of the voice.
Other people’s voices
First think about listening to others’ voices. If you make the most of all the variety of voices that you can hear from one day to the next, this is powerful and strengthening.
Podcasts, radio, & audiobooks
Audio recordings are an amazing way to be entertained and to learn. They are also a way to feel motivated, happy, and connected.
Listening to somebody talk about a topic or read a story helps you to absorb the information better and remember more. It also improves your concentration - if you aren’t used to listening in this way it might be a difficult task at first and a workout for your brain!
Video calls with friends
Meeting up with friends and family is not as easy as it was before the lockdown - but with technology, it’s easier than ever to call your nearest and dearest, wherever they may be.
You might think that this goes in the ‘using your voice’ rather than listening section, but when you talk with friends and family, it is arguably more important to let them talk, and listen to what they have to say.
Feel the human connection.
In guided meditation you focus entirely on an external voice and allow it to take your mind and body on a journey.
Guided meditation takes us into deep relaxation, helps overcome stress, and when done well is a wonderful experience.
Many of us have guided meditation apps on our phones - however, you can take this further, even during these socially distant times. Why not attend a virtual meditation retreat or join a meditation group online?
My first memories of hypnotism are comedy stage shows on TV and cartoon superpowers - such as the magician in Defenders of the Earth and the villain in Thunderbirds!
In actual fact, hypnotism is surprisingly similar to guided meditation. A hypnotist guides your thoughts and helps you delve into the mind.
It might have the goal of encouraging positive thoughts into your subconscious, for example for you to become more relaxed or to stop a destructive habit.
Hypnosis can also be used to take your mind to places such as your childhood or past events in order to talk through and find solutions to issues in the current day.
Be sure to go to a hypnotist that you trust; this is a powerful technique.
The healing power
The relaxing power of the voice has been used for millennia - whether to lull babies to sleep or to calm stressful situations. The voice has a healing power that can take troubles and stresses away, and help you both mentally and physically.
There are specialist sound healers who use the resonance of their voice to try to realign energies in the patient’s body. This might sound very new-age, but many people say it works.
Being aware of marketing
Sometimes we need to listen - but also think and question.
Marketing can control the way we live and how we act. We can be controlled and influenced by the power of the word.
Take a step back from what you hear in adverts and across social media. We are often encouraged to buy things or strive for a certain lifestyle through words that activate ideas, memories, and emotions in our subconscious.
Be sure to always research what you buy. Make sure it is something that will benefit your life, that’s made responsibly, and that it’s a wise investment for the future.
Unquestioningly assimilating political or religious narratives and propaganda is even more dangerous. Be aware that our leaders, and people across social media and television, also use the power of the word every day - sometimes for good, and sometimes not.
Finally, listening to song has great power to change your mood, to motivate, and to heal our woes!
Whatever our favorite genre, words put to music somehow speak to us much more deeply and stay in our minds longer.
The lyrics of a song are often written to speak to us at certain moments in our lives, and they lift us up.
Music has evolved over the past 6000 years - but we are still the same humans who sat around that campfire and listened to each other’s songs and felt our hearts beat faster.
Your own voice
Listening to the voice of others is powerful but arguably using your own voice wisely is even more important.
I just mentioned listening to song, but singing is also a unique way to express yourself. Somehow it can release strong emotions of joy or sadness that are difficult to express in the spoken word.
They say everybody can sing - I must be the exception in that case! Still, when I’m alone, in the shower or walking in the moonlight, I love to sing.
It somehow makes you feel not so alone in the dark.
If you are good at singing, you can also use song to entertain, and celebrate together with those around you.
Reading aloud is not only good for interacting with your kids - in fact, it might be how we are ‘supposed’ to read!
Evidence suggests that if you read aloud (why not start here?) it actually allows you to remember more about a text and understand more fully.
If you are a writer, or even write emails or reports, you will find that reading aloud allows you to feel how things flow and improve the experience for the reader. I read the final draft of all my written texts out loud - and almost always find mistakes or repetitions that I hadn’t noticed before.
Reading aloud is often slower than reading silently, and it can therefore be quite relaxing.
Another benefit is that it will help you with breathing control.
Finally, reading poetry is never the same unless it is read aloud, so why not pick up a book of poems every now and again to pass an evening? This can be entertaining and inspires conversation.
While theater is greatly ‘on hold’ at the moment, once things get back to some normality, how about getting involved in a local theater group?
By getting up on stage, you are improving your vocal skills, your memory, and your confidence. Above all this, you are working closely with the others - listening and reacting to those around you.
In the meantime, why not learn a monologue and perform it to your family or friends? Or even just in the mirror?
Your voice can be a catalyst for a better world, it can be a way for you to find confidence, get a business off the ground, or just a fun outlet to express yourself.
This could be giving an after-dinner speech, doing a stint at a comedy club (once this pandemic dies down!), making a video for YouTube or Instagram, or creating an audio podcast series. They are all great ways to get busy and interact with people.
These are also fantastic experiences to add to your skillset.
Telling stories, whether real or fictional, can be a great way to be part of a group, and to pass on knowledge and heritage. You are giving a gift.
You might want to start giving little speeches whenever anybody has a birthday, or on special occasions, and letting your loved ones know that you care for them. The more you do this, the more natural you will become.
Creating podcasts or vlogs might be for fun or can be speaking up about something that’s important to you, trying to right a wrong. The voice can be so powerful that it can change people’s lives forever.
Talking to oneself
Talking to yourself is a sign of madness - or is it? As you walk around the house, why not talk to yourself? You give your vocal cords a bit of movement, and you might find that you think more clearly.
It can also be helpful if you are learning a new language. By narrating your everyday life, asking yourself questions, and thinking about the past and future, you will find that your vocabulary will grow, and you will become more confident.
It can also help you play over an idea in your head to make a decision.
The power of the voice in meditation can help you focus the mind and find your center. It is a tool that will help you increase your concentration and self-control.
A mantra is a word, or a phrase, that you repeat to yourself, often aloud, during meditation.
By repeating a mantra out loud, whether that’s a traditional Om or something more directed, such as I love myself, I believe in myself, I support myself, your mind will naturally shut out other things that are happening around you.
You are able to focus on a message that will improve your mind power, and potentially your life.
One reason that the Om mantra is so popular is that it resonates. Vibration caused by the voice gives it an extra power.
This humming during meditation has been shown to reduce your heart rate, lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and release endorphins and oxytocin.
And let’s not box meditation in - there are many other ways to focus the mind. Song, prayer, and listening intently to others are also important examples of meditation using the voice.
Talk about the bad things
Finally, getting your problems off your chest and talking to another person about your life can help with stress and anxiety.
The other person might be your partner, a good friend, or perhaps a therapist.
Us men are often reluctant to talk about our stresses and what is getting us down, but we should! Internalizing our problems can make them worse.
Talking about things that are getting you down is cathartic, providing a feeling of relief. It can decrease your stress over time and help you sleep better. Some studies suggest it will even have a positive impact on your health and immune system.
Often once we talk, we gain clarity, and can start off on new paths.
There are groups that exist to unite people who are going through similar situations. This allows us to talk and feel the support of others - not just the famous ‘alcoholics anonymous’ but also for people such as for veterans, folk fighting cancer, and widowers.
Words to the wise
There are many powers that the human voice has that we never even think about. It is a mighty tool in our lives, and we should make the most of it.
The power of the voice can be used for bad as well as good - to lie, to yell, to insult. Try to direct this power for positive ends - and bring yourself (and those around you) up.
So tell stories, motivate, unload your grief, learn, and do all the strength-giving things that your voice lets you do.