Participants' Experiences - 4
Understanding and experience of the Giving Voice Process
“GV is holistic in itself but perhaps more importantly, being truly holistic, it can be integrated into other areas and disciplines - whether medical, spiritual or artistic. It can meet us where we are, and take us to a new vision. … It's not feel-good nonsense: it can be integrated with medical knowledge and is integral to a holistic approach. It's a response to illness and is responsive to it”.
Mary Flatman, Nurse/Counsellor
Participants saw ‘negative’ feelings in a constructive way. For example, one person reported feeling a whole range of positive feelings “at different times and with different songs”, but also experienced “intense grief”. “At first this was all surprising … but these experiences quickly became important and welcome”
“I have had some success singing through some negative feelings”
One person’s diary entry during a course helps describe the process, as well as indicating their understanding of it: “The song feels like huge crashing waves all around. Initially I need to hold on and struggle to avoid drowning. Slowly the waves become supportive and I realise I can swim”
Perhaps paradoxically, although GV involves singing, it isn’t about singing. It’s about connecting with Truth – with Love, with the Whole – through engaging with song. As some young primary school children commented,
“it’s work - nice work”
“It’s also about love”
Following a short session with some of the previously mentioned children, involving 4-part singing, harmoniously, ‘on the wing’ and without prior learning or rehearsal, the children were asked how they managed this.
They decided that co-operation and self-discipline were the reasons, and identified the following equation:
Co-operation + Self-discipline = F U N!
Many of the children mentioned above also demonstrated a capacity to take responsibility for learning how to use GV in their lives. A boy who chose to use song as a resource one night commented:
"it felt really weird"
"in what way?"
"well, I've never woken up like that before"
"well, I felt really good ..."
“I’m just starting to fully experience the meanings within the songs.” [residential participant ]
“(The course provided) proof that when there is a common purpose the sky is NOT the limit...!”
“Now I understand (how to use song to address pain). I know much more of what the process means. Now when songs come, the experience is much deeper, I’m much more conscious of (my role in the process)...it’s not just about vibration. It involves the willingness to experience.” [residential participant]
“[I try it] all the time. It works really well most of the time … I’ve used most of the songs in various situations: very useful/powerful”
“[The learning is] ongoing as I integrate it”
“It requires commitment … and determination to explore all on offer”
“Need to be open and willing to have new experiences and to being an active participant i.e. take up what’s on offer (including when the going gets tough)”
“I had to make a commitment to do the work…I had to learn to trust”
“[I] gained and experienced understanding of being connected with Song.”
“How to find the desire to sing: once addressed I felt lifted and the voice was from within.”
“It really helps to stop and think about song, if only for a few minutes... (they are)useful at bedtime when everything spins in my head…(they) can bring peace and quiet, and so sleep.”
“Once, with a particular song, I found the experience quite disturbing initially – the immenseness, the depth, the power of feelings and how they changed their flavours from cold shivers as though someone ‘walked over my grave’, to tears welling up with the intense feeling of sadness, a smile and little bubbles of joy at the beauty, Stillness were all there. The Stillness went very, very deep. Yet somehow the song also offered comfort to know it was there to support me”
“[I’ve learnt that] the nature of spirituality is that it embraces everything, it involves everything. It is involved in the mind, the body and the emotions, it is not just another component. That is why GV is a spiritual practice and why it is so holistic, because spirituality is holistic if you understand it properly. So GV cannot help but address everything”. Rachel Healey, when in training as a GV teacher
“This way of working feels so Direct and Uncluttered, a ‘Breath of Fresh Air’, an Invitation to Be – Ourselves, with Each other, In The World. The Essence of Enjoyment’
“GV is a ‘Key’ that unlocks and opens doors to the inner self. It breaks through the energy field around you and sets up a resonance within your soul, showing you who you are and what you can do” (written after a ‘performance’ by JR )
“Yet more opening up to my own beauty; more contact with things in me that I don’t need to hold onto any longer; more awareness of my capacity to let go and move on; more fully experiencing being the REAL me. You’re an enabler extraordinaire!"
“GV enables me to connect with the songs - and therefore myself - in a way that is beyond consciousness. They have an enduring quality. They encompass universal facts, sacred laws if you like. Singing them can take me into a state of being without thinking, letting the song emerge from me. I want the sense of connection to other beings that came before me and will follow after me; I want the feeling of my bones having a simple, sacred knowing that will hold me. I want to be me. Regular GV helps me achieve this”.
“I found a sense of community at the residential. It wasn't to do with the particular individuals - most of them I never saw again. It was the most fun I'd had for ages. It now reminds me of someone in a Leeds Giving Voice evening saying at the end of one particularly awesome session: “This is the most fun I’ve ever had singing” (and he has sung regularly, and often, in a number of groups over some years)”.
Talking to Jill some years before she trained to be a GV teacher herself, Rachel Healey said, “The songs live in a part of me and singing new songs through GV has opened a door to that part of me. It’s different from any other singing situation. My trust in the process comes from witnessing your trust in it for yourself. You’re so open about this when you’re running a session: sharing how you use songs, working in the moment, not planning but having the tools to meet every eventuality."
Using Giving Voice in daily life
“GV helps me bounce away hurt and criticism, and put it in a different context. It enables me to have confidence and strength in connection with heartfelt feeling to others and their soul being-ness”
“I use GV as a tool to stay connected. If I stay connected, the real truth is revealed, and my true face is shown to the world”
“I am glowing, I feel beautiful, thank you so much … Initially I did not like the song – now it blows my socks off (telephone call from mental health course participant, having just been inspired to sing a particular song at home on her own – 6 months after course completion
“Thank Heaven and you for helping me sing my way through and out the other side of this ghastly Christmas”
“GV connects me to the creativity of my soul. It connects my heart to others and promotes respectful actions towards them ”
“GV can bring me to a place of peace and centring, from which I engage with life: eg enabling me to have the security and generosity to allow another to be successful, without comparing myself unfavourably, knowing that in truth my own successes and value lies”
“I'm a single parent, which can be hard work and very isolating. When I use GV I can connect with a sense of trust in my own capacities, i can let love in, I can 'own' that I have a significant contribution to make. Through regular GV practice, I can sustain this and carry it into my daily interactions with my son. Rather than responding with anger or inadequacy, I can support him to feel loved and secure - because I'm in touch with those things in me. My relationship with song, through GV, definitely makes me a better mother”
GV helps me to realise how much ‘How I am’ affects my work, my neighbourhood, and the wider world. It’s given me a tool to use to BE the CHANGE. Once, it helped me deal with a noisy neighbour. And he stopped being a problem!” (2009)
I was struggling and confused because of problems in my relationship with my partner, and anxiety about my family. I returned from a GV residential and as I reconnected with my home, I found the desire – and capacity – to ‘turn my experience around’: a new song poured out of me, which enable me to do that. I was able to be much more accepting of my situation and to find love for myself, my partner and my children, and the song was a new resource that supported me and my family [for a long time afterwards] (
“The process is so beautiful and powerful. I love it. I can still forget though, so it’s useful when I go to GV events to be reminded!”
“… [a particular song] has ripped me apart and re-formed me many times. It gives tremendous voice to our most powerful human experiences … It helped me to bury a loved aunt after long, handicapping, and degrading illnesses …”
Some years later, this person was attacked in her own home by two youths with knives. Because of her experience of using GV in many different situations, she was able to harness it to recover from the trauma. “Thank God for Giving Voice”, she told me, “I don’t know what I’d have done without it”.
“GV enables me
to strip away any self-delusion;
to access my true strength – wherein lies what I might otherwise call courage;
to know the true beauty of the Universe,
to play my part with good grace in honouring and fostering that beauty in my daily life, even when feelings of overwhelm or exhaustion or anger or frustration, or all the other things I can so easily feel, threaten to dominate;
to side-step my tendency towards a limited – and limiting – perspective, particularly when I encounter, or believe I encounter, difficulties, so that my actions, including those that impinge on others, have more likelihood of being respectful and peace-promoting. (For example, once I had some neighbours who were very antagonistic towards me; it went on for years and I found it very distressing. Eventually, I started to use GV to find another way. It worked! It was amazing! What had been a large, open, running sore, became a manageable problem that, in time, resolved itself) ...
To become ever more steadfast, ever more integrated, and ever more able to function with integrity, particularly in challenging situations (when my integrity can so easily fly out the window). Integrity to enable my thoughts and actions to be congruent with my beliefs, particularly that I am a peace-loving soul. So, when I pick up the phone and feel wrong-footed, or go to a difficult meeting where I may feel vulnerable, unsupported, frustrated, exploited or undervalued, I can and do use GV, often with amazing results.
Why don’t I do it all the time? I’m working on making sure I do, as it’s not just a powerful way of changing myself and the world, it enables me to access such joy, and a peace that passeth all understanding. There lies the route to a world of peace, it seems to me.”
“How do I experience GV?
As a CATALYST/ENZYME,
CONNECTION WITH Source/Whole, What Is, Each Other
An AGENT that is both UNIFYING and CENTERING,
ENERGISING, RE-VITALISING and REGENERATING.
FLOWING of SOURCE ENERGY, REDUCING AND/OR
REPLACING PAIN or FEAR/ANXIETY.
It’s a JOY and INSPIRATION.
It DEVELOPS C O M M U N I T Y and COMMUNICATION and
FOUNDATION … and MUSICAL AWARENESS
“After some years of doing GV, I’ve realised there’s a formula that represents what it facilitates: the capacity to be rooted, heartfelt, and willing – which all together lead to Joy in Action (what my teachers call ‘Joyful Responsibility’)
ROOTS + HEART + WILL = JOY + ACTION
(same GV Participant)