Participants' Experiences - 3
Participants relationship with religion
For those who don’t espouse religion and/or have rejected it, GV can offer them the opportunity to (re)claim their spirituality. This process often starts with the recognition that they’ve “come home”. This was the case, for example, in this person’s experience:
“…[a particular song] helped me realise that as a small child, I’d wished I’d died. It would have been the end to all my pain and suffering. I’ve been looking for a way to ‘get back home to the universe’ all my life. I could have chosen extreme sports and finished the job off! Thank God for GV. It enables me to be at home here in the world with my family and friends. Hopefully now I won't have to create any more illnesses in order to ‘come home’.”
Some participants carry cynicism and distrust in relation to organised religion, and even towards anything ‘spiritual’. This may cloud how they perceive their experiences in GV, as indeed it clouded Jill’s own perceptions initially.
A first-time participant described how a song “reminded me of the insincerity I’ve experienced in [organised religion]”
In contrast, a mental health course participant, who had had time to digest her experiences in GV said: “Giving Voice has made me closer to ‘god’. Normally I don’t ‘do’ god!”
For those who have suffered from the attitudes of fellow-adherents, GV can be a welcome refuge:
“GV provided me with a ‘holding space’ – something I realised I’d only rarely experienced through church, and not for a long time”
Some comments from people who are part of a faith community:-
“Following the residential I’m able to connect with my prayers more than I’ve ever done before. And now in the [Sikh] Temple I can actually listen!”
“GV is re-birthing me - healing me alongside and entwined with my Christian faith and daily work, bringing a new joy, peace and creativity …”
“I wouldn’t have thought anything other than what I was doing at church could influence how I feel about church. I am so much more connected and involved, + giving better lessons. People have commented … I’ve always imagined myself as a spiritual person, but through GV I’ve found a way of actually being spiritual (I now realise I hadn’t actually been connecting with my spirituality before). GV is totally to do with my Christianity. I think it’s compatible with spirituality of all kinds, which is one of its incredible strengths”. (ibid)
Two particular songs have been used a lot in promoting peace.
One of them, “The Time Has Come” offers a powerful means to transform negative attitudes and beliefs about the ‘Other’.
Some participants’ experiences:-
“I found this song difficult at first … It took me a while to fully take it in … Since September 2001, I’ve used the song in a variety of contexts:-
In November that year, I was in a place of deep grief, about Dad [who died 5 years ago], and about the world, the attacks on New York and the bombing of Afghanistan. I was numb and in shock from it all, bewildered, angry and overwhelmed. It was about 10pm, and I felt I wouldn’t be able to sleep. Then I got into bed, switched all the lights out, and listened to the tape of this song, which I had just received. It cut through all the pain, anger and … numbness and brought me to a place of peace … I drifted off to sleep and had the most sound, rejuvenating sleep I’ve had since September 11th. I was unusually alert the next day …”
· “… Thanks to the song, I’ve found it easy to keep my attention on finding love, acceptance and respect for myself, during many difficult encounters. Such a difference from my usual ways of being! Sometimes I’ve been so surprised by what it offers me, it just feels miraculous …
I used it during the 2003 war in Iraq … so that I was able to really face the extent of the horror (as far as it was being conveyed by the media) without cutting off or feeling completely overwhelmed and depressed. It really worked …”
… [gradually, I’ve experienced] a deepening of my awareness and acceptance of its meaning. This song is all about how I am ... my own fear and resistance to love ... my own limitations and prejudices ...”
Rachel Healey, Giving Voice Teacher (while she was in training):
“My first experience of GV involved this song. It was truly life- enhancing ... The thought that flashed into my mind in the silence that followed was:
‘love is the only thing that remains behind the paradoxes of life’
The Time has come holds together life's paradoxes of pain and beauty …
“What helped me discover this was the song, the blend of voices, and Jill’s sharing of the song’s history, together with her congruency. By "congruency" I mean her authenticity in everything she said and shared. I am so aware of paradoxes and contradictions in myself and life. I utterly believe love is the only answer, yet living and trusting and believing it as a possibility is another matter so when the thought flashed into my mind of it's "own" accord, it was a profound moment.
[JR’s response included an explanation of why the song came to exist – so that she herself could address the painful paradox described, in a situation where she would otherwise have ended up shirking it: the lack of trust/belief in the possibility/reality of love in its most profound sense, in the context of being roundly confronted with the horror of our inhumanity - past and present. She went on:
“It enabled me to address this, and continues to enable me to do so - to move through many uncomfortable feelings, and many limited/ limiting beliefs, to a state of KNOWING (which perhaps the ‘congruency’ referred to reflects). What propelled me to 'find' (i.e. create) the song was the knowledge that, if I myself couldn't move beyond judgement and all the rest of it, how could I expect anyone else to? And if I couldn't start addressing this, then I had no right to expect or hope that human ‘inhumanity’ could ever stop. Learning to live without negativity is infectious. It can change the world!”
“ … [I’ve discovered that] to sing, with the heart, is to find the love that’s hiding in hatred, the strength that is disguised in the pain and shed the mantle that is shrouding my divine light … Thank You!” residential participant
“The most peaceful I’ve ever felt” (after a 1-hour event, )
During Giving Voice for Peace at a distance
‘Screaming baby daughter … aware of being pulled away but kept bringing myself back to the song (one which I had previously avoided)… After c 15 minutes I started to experience peace., despite what was going on in the other room. Sensation a bit like when I meditate … Lovely. Worry-free!!’ (Member 2011)
[JR: this illustrates to some extent one of the things we know through GIVING VOICE – that an initial negative reaction to a song can ultimately prove to be the precursor of some profound learning]
After Giving Voice for Peace
‘The issue I worked with completely dissolved by the end of the day. It was astonishing! The issue was to do with a particular person, where I was being really judgemental and negative about them (and had been for a long time). I hadn’t been able to do anything about this at all. But the next day, when I saw her, I experienced none of this negativity at all. (Member 2012)
[JR: the facilitation through the song led to this person realising, understanding, and changing … The change came about through the depth of her understanding: this was such that she was able to experience and realise (make real) the change – something which is not possible unless understanding is of sufficient breadth and depth].