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  • Bringing rest into my day

    Hi Caroline here I had a bit of a shock a couple of weeks ago - a positive Covid-19 test! Luckily I only had VERY mild symptoms. However in the context of rising cases and death tolls, I knew I had to take this seriously. My usual modus operandi is to power through illness: I am inclined to ignore it and just get on with life regardless – my friends call me robust. The potential impact of Covid required me to behave differently, not least because I needed to self isolate. My colleagues Jill and Rachel had been editing the chapter about Jill's Have a lovely Restful Day song, and during an online meeting Jill shared it with me. I don't think I had heard it before; it has certainly hadn't made an impact. But boy I needed it now. Rest is so underrated in our speedy, speedy world. Both Jill and Rachel have needed to learn about rest to support their health issues, but in many ways this was new ground for me. For most of the 10 days of my self-isolation, I connected with this song. Sometimes out loud, sometimes silently in my heart. Our Facebook Group (see below) gives some guidance about how to do this – it’s not something that most people are familiar with, and I certainly wasn’t when I first came across Giving Voice. Connecting like this really helped me to rest and be restful, to rest my heart, mind and body so that I could heal in the best possible way. It was a lifeline and a major support. I have the song singing in my heart as I write this – as I move back out into this strange lockdown world. My relationship with the song is different now. As I get back to my ‘to do’ list, it’s supporting me to be restful ‘in action’, helping me reveal my authentic self as I engage with the world again. Interested in Giving Voice and how song can be used to survive and grow in these challenging times? Why not join our Unlocking the Power of Song Facebook group, where you will find resources to engage with, which are designed for people to work with on their own. Each session takes 20-30 minutes. Various recordings are available there, together with guidance on how to use them, among other material you can read. If you listen to a recording, do make sure you follow the guidance – it’s designed to help us unlock the power of these songs, and gain benefit from what they offer. – just like I did. We plan that the 'Have a lovely restful day', will be added to the resources of the group in the next few weeks.

  • Singing together when we’re alone - how Giving Voice is different from a choir

    By Rachel Healey In this article I look at aspects of how Giving Voice differs from singing in a choir, even a virtual choir. Giving Voice is a personal resource for exploring our relationship with song and with ourselves, developing inner harmony and connectedness, as well as offering an experience of taking part in something universal and eternal, whenever and wherever we do it. Recently I took part in a virtual choir online – shout out to Becky Owen and her PopUp Choirs! Everyone except the leader had their sound turned off, due to problems with latency. But it was lovely seeing everyone and getting the feeling of singing together. Becky is so skilled, she made it seem easy. It was really fun and joyful, and we sang 2 songs in 3-part harmony. There was a sense of community, belonging, and feeling resourced. There are a lot of wonderful initiatives happening to keep people connected and taking part in singing together, as well as people sharing songs and tutorials. Before the coronavirus pandemic put a stop to social gatherings, we offered real-life Giving Voice groups. In the sessions we aimed to teach people how they can connect with songs on their own, away from the group, and grow through that very personal process. The ongoing groups were there for people to share and celebrate their discoveries, get support and input, as well as enjoy singing and being together. Giving Voice has always been offered to people remotely, as some of our participants are people who are isolated at home due to long-term illness, people who can’t drive or travel long distances, or people who have caring responsibilities. We offered individual sessions, and also group sessions, where some people or everyone took part from wherever they were, in the context of their own lives, being in touch with the group facilitator by phone. Initially we used cassette tapes for distance participants! Then CDs and emails, and more recently, personalised web links. Jill’s forthcoming book: “Unlocking the Power of Song – A Companion for Challenging Times” is intended to help people learn how to use the Giving Voice Process on their own in the context of their lives. We recently started sharing extracts in our new Facebook group. I have used Giving Voice in my own life for over 20 years, with ongoing support from Jill. Now it has become a daily practice, in a way that meditation and other practices are for some people. In fact the Giving Voice Process is perhaps closer to meditation than singing in a choir. There are many types of meditation, including singing meditation. Many aspects of GV could be termed meditational or mindful, since it involves focus for example, and being present. And as with some forms of meditation, it facilitates growth in awareness. Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of mindfulness, describes it as an adventure, involving “Paying attention in a particular way — on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally”. He described his original approach of “ethically-practised mindfulness” as "a radical act of love”. We feel the same could be said of Giving Voice. Yet it’s still different. One way is that the songs themselves can be like companions, and our relationship with them can have many facets. And the power of music is inherent in Giving Voice. As Jill herself says, "I used to get so much from singing with other people, I would never have believed what was possible on my own. It was only out of necessity that I discovered more than I could have possibly imagined: not only could I have the most all-consuming experiences when it was ‘just’ me and ‘just’ the song. Often the most profound experiences occurred when I wasn’t even singing aloud at all. This was an astonishing discovery for me. And over the years, many others have discovered this too – through this extraordinary phenomenon that I call the Giving Voice Process." Initially I was surprised that using the Giving VoiceProcess on my own gave me an experience of singing together. I reached a deep knowing that I’m interconnected with other humans and beings on this planet and in the whole universe. That might mean something to you – whether it’s about physics or biology, atoms and particles, or something you think of as divinity or “energy”. I discovered that it’s possible to experience myself as part of all-that-there-is. It’s awesome and it offers me an experience of connection at any time, in any context – and the more I do it, the easier it is to find it. The Giving Voice Process also offers an experience of harmony. It does this by teaching us to open to an experience of harmony within ourselves - at home with ourselves. Depending on how and where we are, that can feel easy or challenging. But again, the more we do it, the more accessible that experience becomes. Developing and singing from a place of greater harmony within ourselves facilitates an experience of greater harmony in our singing – whether we are physically alone, or in the same physical space as other singers. All my life I’ve loved singing, and have tried lots of approaches, styles, groups and choirs. It was when I first did Giving Voice that I had an experience of coming home. It also felt like joining in with something eternal. I sometimes say in my group sessions, the songs are singing all the time, we just join in for a while. The Giving Voice Process teaches us to have a relationship with song that goes beyond our individual experience, that we can still have on our own. It’s really fulfilling and exciting, comforting, and filled with peace and joy. I recommend it! Want to know more? Head over to our Facebook page or explore our website and our other blog articles. If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, please give us a like, and leave your comments below

  • Using Giving Voice to address feelings of fear and anxiety

    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. If you’ve found this article interesting, please give us a like and a comment, and visit our Facebook page or website to find out more.

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  • How We Work | National Foundation for Giving Voice

    HOW WE WORK Rachel, Caroline and Jill facilitate Giving Voice in a number of ways. This may involve groups large or small, and/or 1-1 sessions, and/or individual or group sessions at a distance. Since the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, they have also begun to experiment with online ways of working. Jill supervises both Rachel and Caroline, and all three share peer support, and their love – both for each other and for the work. Giving Voice sessions come, broadly, under four categories: Introductory sessions – where insight can be gained into what’s involved in unlocking the power of song, Courses or Advanced GV groups – for those, such as Foundation Members, who wish to harness its potential, events for specific groups eg Cancer Help Centres, Religious or Spiritually-based groups; Residencies – eg at a Cumbrian primary school, and Purposeful communal events - eg for festivals, ‘Giving Voice for Peace and/or to raise money eg for refugees from war, for Tree Aid etc; Sometimes the distinction between categories is blurred, but all have an emphasis on joy and growth. Recently sessions have been offered in response to the global climate crisis entitled Building the World We Want. Contexts where Giving Voice has been introduced include educational or local authority settings, local and national mental health organisations, the NHS, cancer help centres, women’s centres, spiritual and alternative health settings; arts organisations, local, national and international conferences, community, voluntary and/or campaigning groups, and a range of festivals. Events Giving Voice Events Giving Voice for Peace Book launch and Celebration ​ A SPECIAL INVITATION to ANYONE WHO’S DONE GIVING VOICE BEFORE to celebrate and preview ​ UNLOCKING THE POWER OF SONG – A COMPANION FOR CHALLENGING TIMES by Jill Rakusen on Sunday 17th October 2021 in Thorner, Leeds and via Zoom Giving Voice for Peace (GV 4P) is for people who not only desire peace – in our lives and in the world – but who also wish to develop (greater) skill in finding and promoting it, to strengthen the capacity to resist its opposite, and who are open to learning how song can support and teach us in this regard. ​ GV 4P can enable us to address complex feelings about world events, and the overall world situation; and to grow harmony and compassion – within ourselves and in the world. It can take us beyond 'personal development’, as the focus becomes the whole, and the part that the whole needs us to play. ​ Events are usually held on Third Thursday of the Month Find out more Responding to Covid-19 Members and Membership We've been hard at work revamping our online presence to make it helpful for you during the challenges we’re all facing. ​ We’ve launched a new Blog Unlocking the Power of Song which will explore how being isolated can, if anything, enable us to unlock the power of song even more productively than in a group and a couple of Facebook groups ​ Unlocking the Power of Song Facebook group coming soon from our Facebook page where we will be sharing some recordings of songs that we are finding particularly helpful during these challenging times. We will be releasing some material from our forthcoming book: Unlocking the Power of Song: a companion for challenging times here so you can make use of it now, and Giving Voice for Peace Facebook group, where those who are committed to promoting peace using Giving Voice can get share and get support FOUNDATION MEMBERSHIP You can be a member of the Foundation for £58 (£40 concessions) for 12 months. ​ Members are people who want to support the Foundation's aims and principles , and contribute to its development ​ Members get: Discounts at most Giving Voice events Support in your individual ongoing process, including a specially created unique phrase special mailings special emailings members-only Foundation days, 3 annually, free to members ​ ​ ​ ​

  • Giving Voice | National Foundation for Giving Voice

    Welcome Giving Voice is a profound approach to song that was developed by Jill Rakusen when isolated through illness. While it can be explored in a group facilitated by an accredited Giving Voice teacher, perhaps its most exciting aspect is what can happen when we explore how to ‘unlock’ the power of a song on our own. And it’s particularly useful when challenged – as the whole world has been since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s about building our relationship with a song, so that it becomes our companion, our support, and above all our teacher. And although it’s done on our own, the practice (called the Giving Voice Process) leads us towards a profound sense of interconnectedness. ​ Giving Voice has always been offered remotely, so we at the Foundation have a lot of experience doing this. We very much hope it can be of use to you at this time – whether stuck at home for example, or looking after people in high-risk situations … on top of all the other issues that you might be facing. We’ve created material especially for now: this includes recordings of a number of songs which have been found to be particularly helpful when times are hard, together with guidance about how to begin to unlock their power. All this material, including extracts from our forthcoming book Unlocking the Power of Song: a Companion for Challenging Times , will be mainly be released via Facebook . ​ If you explore any of this material, do contact us to let us know how you get on, or if you would like some input. And do consider sharing any valuable experiences that this extraordinary process may lead to: over the years, many people have benefited from such sharing. ​ Find out more on our News page See what we have been doing on Facebook Read our new Blog Unlocking the Power of Song Don't forget to join our Mailing list ​ By the way, please don't confuse us with any of the following organisations: Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists - Giving Voice Campaign , or their Leeds and Sheffield branches which run a Giving Voice Choir and a Giving Voices Choir and have Facebook pages called Leeds/Sheffield Giving Voice.

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