By Rachel Healey
In this time of the global pandemic, there is a lot of fear and anxiousness around. Fear for ourselves and our loved ones. Fear of the unknown. Fear about whether we’ll be able to cope, and how long for. Understandably, there’s a lot of anger and despair too. This particular article is about feelings of fear and anxiety, and how Giving Voice could help.
Anxiety in the air
When I walk in the park, there’s an atmosphere of anxiousness. Some people are getting too close to each other, and to me. Some are coughing and wheezing. Joggers and cyclists pass by exhaling forcefully. Many people look anxious. Will I catch the virus? Will someone report me for leaving the house twice today?
When I turn on the news, there are the awful latest death figures, and gloomy speculation about how bad the impact of Covid-19 will be, on people, society and the economy. It’s terrifying and devastating.
When I work from home, I’m trying to learn new ways of working, using new technology and new processes. I worry that it’s all too demanding, that I won’t be able to keep up. I’m finding it difficult to learn new things. I think about key workers and front line workers putting themselves at huge risk, and I feel guilty for feeling anxious about my own situation.
There’s often an anxious atmosphere in my home, where I really need peace and rest. My home life is quite simple: I live with one housemate, my child is grown up and left home a few years ago. I think about families home-educating children, caring for babies and toddlers, and wonder how on earth do they manage?
What can I do to address feelings of anxiousness and fear, and create an atmosphere of calm, relaxation and flow in myself and in my home?
Using the Giving Voice Process
Pretty much any song we use in Giving Voice can help address anxious feelings: we don't have to worry about finding exactly the right theme or words. We can even use songs without words.
Engaging with a song using the Giving Voice approach reminds me of a few things, which are good tips for managing feelings of anxiety and worry in any context:
I remember to breathe and to feel physical sensations in my body
I admit to myself that I’m feeling anxious
I’m taking action to do something about it, as best I can
I’m interrupting thoughts that might be recurring or obsessive, and focusing on something else
I’m making time to take care of myself
I’m part of a community of people who practice in this way and have found it helpful
Spending time with a song alone, whether listening to a recording, or singing silently or aloud, is a great way to connect with something deep within ourselves, and feel connected with something bigger than ourselves too. When I do this, I feel my anxiety shrink in proportion. Usually, I can gently bring my attention to other things – feeling nurtured, feeling powerful, feeling that I matter, and feeling calm, for example.
Connecting with a song that I’ve learnt in the context of Giving Voice reminds me that the atmosphere in my home, in my body, and in my mind is within my control. If I attend to what is possible for me – the things I can control – and practice keeping those free of anxiety, it really helps. If I am able to turn my focus away from my anxious feelings, I notice there are plenty of other things there too, which are more helpful. Such as love, joy and calm. Then I can choose to focus on those. I sometimes use the song to feel like I’m pouring water and nutrients on to those helpful things, to make them grow in my home and in my awareness.
Often I have an experience of sacredness. It’s difficult to describe, but it’s about the potential beauty and preciousness of the space within me and around me, if I choose to attend to it.
All this helps me and it helps the wider world too. How I am within myself sets the tone for how I interact with others, even at a social distance. It affects how I perceive non-human things too, and I appreciate the good things more. It has an effect in more subtle ways – it’s like finding a current of hope and helping to direct that, rather than being sucked in to anxiety.
To become more regularly free of feelings of worry and anxiety, and get the most from Giving Voice practice, it’s important to commit to working with a song regularly, ideally daily at the same time each day. To help people do this, we at the National Foundation for Giving Voice have put lots of information and tips on our Facebook page, and there is a Facebook group 'Unlocking the Power of Song' where people who want to work with a song can access recordings and other information, as well as facilitation from Giving Voice teachers.
It’s important to add that if you have longstanding mental health difficulties, Giving Voice is not intended to play the same role as therapy or medical help. It can be used alongside, so you could talk to your therapist or mental health professional about that, and you or they can be in touch with us to get more information.
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