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- Impact on daily life
An important aspect of the Giving Voice Process (GV) is how we can draw on it in daily life – regardless of how 'musical' or 'unmusical' we believe we are. And we don't need anyone else – not even a recording – to enable this to happen. Below are some examples of people's experiences following a short course where they learnt the basics of how to do this. NB our book provides step-by-step guidance on these basics, as well as more advanced aspects of the process (please see Unlocking the Power of Song – a Companion for Challenging Times; it's carefully designed for the general reader, and requires no expertise or experience around music or singing). After Learning the Basics “I feel so lucky … The benefit has been unbelievable. I’ve been given a goldmine!" (Sandra after the course had ended) “I’ve learnt skills I’ve never learnt anywhere else that I can use in my life.” “I’ve been surprised by my capacity to learn and grow from my experiences [including] in everyday life.” “I used GV to go through and beyond, when a crisis threw me into panic and despair.” “I feel I have got my life back.” “I can’t imagine life without [GV]. It’s a challenge, an inspiration, a way through to the ‘real’, ‘deep’, ‘true’ part of me, and a source of connection to others.” “I gained in many ways. [After three years], I’ve regained … connection. It was like breathing in fresh, clean air. I would like to express my utmost gratitude … it was of paramount importance to opening doors for the rest of my life.” “I definitely feel much better about myself as a whole. I’m sure it’s connected with the course – there’s nothing else I’ve been doing that could have had this effect.” “Through GV some pain released and then I slipped into a deep stillness like a healing sleep. This profound experience left me refreshed, lighter.” “I have learnt to let go of fearful habits and replaced them with habits that help me move forward ... I have found GV helps me to (access) painful feelings and helped me to express myself ... and nurture myself ... the songs enable me to feel more powerful.” I feel more able to cope with all my difficulties (which remain the same).” “I’ve tried to stop smoking before and it hasn’t worked … I really feel that [GV] helped me succeed. [Using GV] during cravings meant I actually enjoyed having them and beating them!” Elly (over six weeks after the end of the course she was still happily free of smoking) Here's an additional sense of the breadth and depth participants have experienced, eg in relation to: increased capacity (“I can cope with my hearing loss") increased self-valuing activity (“I’ve started to nurture myself!") increased creativity of various kinds, (“my creative block’s been blown away!") help with sleep (“GV is particularly helpful before sleeping") preparation for a job interview (she got the job!) weight loss (I no longer feel the anxiety that led me to eat inappropriately") “I could feel GV helping to heal me inside. I respect myself more and the course has given me a good reason to want to stop smoking.” “I have successfully used song to calm myself when agitated or upset ... I've sung myself through some very upsetting times.” “I woke up feeling really good. I’ve never done that before.” (Kieran, aged 10) “Since the course I have felt more ‘peaceful’, and although there are negative thoughts they are not as often. Peace is coming slowly, along with accepting myself … I still have a drink (I drank through boredom), but a lot later in the evening.” “Now I try to find other ways of alleviating stress rather than drinking or smoking.” Observations whilst attending one of our courses “The pain was transformed into joy laughter, lightness, confidence." "In the first part of the session, I found the answer to a problem that I’d virtually abandoned trying to solve … Thank you! I felt so high about it, I didn’t really pay attention to the rest of the session." “I feel more joyful and very nourished in a way that nothing else does for me!” I am generally more confident and happy … (My) self-respect is growing daily.” “My tiredness becomes manageable.” (someone who lives with chronic tiredness) “I've experienced peace when feeling quite stressed/depressed. And I've been able to transform anger and fear into “patience/self-acceptance.” ”[I've been using GV] regularly at home to allow time and space for myself – surprisingly my small children respected that (they don’t usually leave me alone!)” Effects may continue long after an event “[It] was lighthearted and fun and yet deep and moving, energizing and yet tiring, thought-provoking and at times confusing but yet clear and so incredibly easy, peaceful and yet stirring ... like feeling a breath of fresh air whilst experiencing and enjoying a warm whirlwind ... being and feeling ALIVE. I’m still riding high and glowing inside - and it’s weeks afterwards!” Residential participant as quoted in Positive Health Magazine “I would like to extend my gratitude and appreciation … my father’s experience touched our hearts, my experience blessed us all. I can’t thank you enough.” (the writer's father had previously attended a residential; his experience led the writer herself to attend a subsequent one.) “ I really enjoyed the day but it did take me a while to recover! I shifted some deep stuff so obviously had some repercussions. I'm now exhausted but in a positive way.” “I have to say that [the next day] I have actually felt ‘different’. I can’t put my finger on it quite, but I like the feeling!” Meanwhile, after attending a GV residential weekend, Patricia effortlessly stopped smoking. Three years later she was still not smoking. She'd been getting through 40 cigarettes a day. Patricia's experience is described further in Unlocking the Power of Song – a Companion for Challenging Times. See also Sandra's Story; Justine's Story; Some abuse survivors' stories; Physical effects; Handling disability at home or at work; Rest.
- GV's effects on relationships and attitudes to others
Here some participants share about how GV has impacted on their relationships and attitudes to others, and how some have harnessed one particular song – The Time Has Come (No. 14 in our book) – to effect change in this respect. “I have changed and developed my outlook of how I see other people and their circumstances.” “I’m more loving and accepting of myself – and therefore of others … I have no self-consciousness about relating to anybody any more, even young terminally-ill people [in the hospice where I volunteer] which I found difficult before.” Alison “Feelings of overwhelm and being put upon change very quickly … (if) I access the song within my heart.” “I feel more able to stand firm in the face of criticism.” “I found a sense of ease, trust, intimacy and authenticity with others which I’m still experiencing.” (a week after an hour’s introduction to GV)" “It’s helped me to be more at ease with people.” "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!” "I've already smiled at more people than usual!" (participant commenting near the beginning of a remote learning day. Through attending the day they reported feeling “more connected and less alone”. “GV helps my relationship with myself and others – for example to be aware of deeply-felt feelings, but not always to take action from them – rather to be aware and just accept them. It helps me relate better to all life forms, heightening my observation of them. It enables me to experience the powerful support of the universe.” “I have felt LOVE in abundance which has dominated my whole experience. I will end up writing an essay so I will summarise key words and hopefully people will understand … Contentment Courage Clarity Beauty Compassion Passion" * It’s a song by Osibisa and can be found on the album Woyaya Other examples, together with how people have unlocked the power of a song in order to effect change – and how you could too – can be found in our book.
- GV – Some professionals’ comments
Of the many professionals that Jill has worked with, some have made a point of sharing their experiences as professionals. Malgorzata, for instance, writes as a mental health services manager. She requested that Jill run a celebratory event for survivors of domestic violence – "Jill facilitated all the audience to sing together, and to many survivors this was a reaffirming experience, enabling them to reach the core of their existence, and providing them with renewed belief in the value of peace, harmony, joy and freedom. GV is unique in its potential to facilitate integration, harmony and respect in our often overburdened and stressed communities, schools, organisations and family lives. It can enable us to transform and translate a negative state of existence into a positive, wholistic and harmonious state … It can enable us to transcend difficult circumstances into life and energy-releasing co-existence, which is essential for any community progress, change, transformation and growth”. Mary, a Nurse/counsellor, having engaged in GV for quite a while wanted to share how she saw it in relation to health care as well as other contexts – “GV has to be part of Primary Health Care - for me it is - in my heart it's like coming home. It is not feel-good nonsense: it can be integrated with medical knowledge and is integral to an holistic approach. It's a response to illness and is responsive to it. It's 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.” Tony, a therapist, writes after learning to draw on GV internally when working with clients – “It’s useful in so many ways. It’s a transformative tool … I work with a lot of severely traumatised people, and I have v little time with them. GV has been really helping. I’ve noticed how even in just 10 minutes with a client, a huge amount could be achieved. I realise I've been trusting that through my intention, something can come out of the chaos. One client started laughing, and went out smiling. A first!” NB Tony doesn’t teach GV to clients – to do that he would need considerable training (for Rachel and Caroline, for instance, it involved approx three years). If you are interested in learning more, do contact the Foundation. Meanwhile, Ilona, a nurse/therapist whose work involved palliative care, writes – “I have found that those in most need (including the bereaved and the dying) have found amazing peace and acceptance through listening and absorbing the tape [now a CD ] Thank you.” And Tracy, a mental health nurse and trainer, speaks personally as well as professionally – "I just want to say thank you again … I am so happy to have taken so much away with me ... I may not have understood how this approach fully fits into my journey at first but I think I do now ... I also feel I want to comment at the inclusiveness that features strongly in your work ... I am a Mental Health Nurse and I also train people in person-centred working and looking differently at disability and I see you do this so wonderfully whilst promoting respect and dignity.” Here a range of other professionals comment on their personal experience of GV with Jill – “I find it impossible to describe just how much you’ve helped me … and I learned such a lot just being in the group/experiencing your way of leading it.” Psychotherapist “I enjoyed myself immensely – got the peace and the exhilaration I hoped for. I began to find a new voice.” Musician “Words fail me. I’m so delighted with what I’ve discovered.” Teacher “Thank you from my heart. This weekend was fantastic and you brought a lot more than I’d expected … Everything we did was utterly appropriate. I’ll be feeding off this weekend for yonks and yonks.” Photographer “A new dimension!” Therapist “I feel I have truly turned a corner. Outside my (very restricted and restricting) comfort zone, life no longer seems a wasteland coloured by my feelings of self-consciousness and self-hate. I have simply let go of many attitudes that were making my life miserable. And I am sure this is only the start.” Music teacher “I felt I moved a long way ...” Dance teacher "Very enlightening" Sikh Spiritual Healer “I work in a healing centre and have experienced many workshops – Jill’s was completely transformative. It is without doubt the highlight of my time here.” Therapist “A gorgeous day-long massage!” Head Teacher “I feel a doorway to my heart has opened a little more.” Trainer “I’d like to celebrate the part GV played in my internal evolution. Part of my voice has been silent and repressed, and I realise I can claim it. The actual allowing myself to go to a VOICE WORKSHOP was a BIG step – and you were the person I needed to find there ... You’re a shifter of Jinxes!” Therapist "GV is the involvement of every aspect of myself – body, soul, now and ‘other’." Christine, Artist “I feel I have ‘found’ my voice and have much more confidence about singing. Awareness also of the links between sound, posture, relaxation and breathing and spiritual connectedness.” Therapist
- Promoting Peace with GV
While many songs used in Giving Voice (GV) promote peace, two particular ones have been used a lot for this purpose. And they have formed the bedrock of Giving Voice for Peace.* "A Song about Finding Peace" This was the first song Jill had ever created. It has been shared widely over many years, in a variety of contexts. She describes it as offering the opportunity to experience peace. Diane, for instance, a childhood trauma survivor, reports – “Listening, I have the strangest sensation of watching something on the surface yet being aware of a stillness underneath at the same time. It makes me feel very settled inside, peace and contentment spread through me ... I feel everything is OK, there is no need to worry about anything. It gives me a really lovely good feeling. Thank you very much." "It helped my dearest friend die in peace” Netta, referring to Jill's studio recording “Tonight I spent time with the ‘old man’. I felt a terrific sense of sadness ... and then deep peace.” Hannah "I need this song as I struggle/emerge into this new phase of being. I need to sing it too.” Janet, childhood abuse survivor “At first it seemed so simple and as the verses flowed on, subtle layers of meaning overlaid each other like lacy wings, and I found the cumulative effect magical and evocative. Each verse reminded me of experiences from my own life”. Nuala, trained singer “The Time Has Come” Also by Jill, this song offers a powerful means to transform negative attitudes and beliefs about the ‘Other’. Rachel wrote the following as she was training as a GV Teacher – “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 ...” Lynne's first experience with 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 its 'own' accord, it was a profound moment." In her response to Lynne, Jill shared why the song came to exist – which was 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!” Giving Voice for Peace* Here two participants describe the impact of engaging in GV for Peace. Both did so 'at a distance': "The issue I worked with completely dissolved. 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." Meg Comment from Jill: the facilitation through the song led to Meg 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 – i.e. make real – the change: something which is not possible unless understanding is of sufficient breadth and depth. "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!!" Deirdre Deirdre's experience illustrates to some extent one of the things we know through GV – that an initial negative reaction to a song can ultimately prove to be the precursor of some profound learning. More about this is revealed in our book, Unlocking the Power of Song: a Companion for Challenging Times, together with additional information about the songs mentioned, insight into how people have unlocked their power, and guidance on how you can do this too. * Giving Voice for Peace currently takes place on the third Thursday of every month
- GV, spirituality and religion
GV's potential for universal appeal Many people have revealed how GV offers a profound experience, regardless of religious or spiritual conviction. Each person tends to draw on GV to a level they're comfortable with; often people are surprised at the depth to which it takes them. GV participants alienated from religion and spirituality “GV is the only thing that connects with my soul and my being.” Judith “I felt at one with the Universe.” (following a day event) anon GV can provide a refuge for those of us who feel challenged by aspects of religion or its interpretation; likewise if we carry some cynicism or distrust of organised religion, or its adherents, or indeed towards anything ‘spiritual’. For a short while this may sometimes cloud how we perceive our experiences with GV (as indeed was the case for Jill to some extent). However, our perceptions can quickly change. Sandra, found, for example: “GV has made me closer to ‘god’. Normally I don’t ‘do’ god!”* GV was enabling Sandra to claim, or reclaim, her spirituality. Others have found this too. For example – “I used to find lots of ‘spiritual’ stuff difficult, but GV helped me address my needs in a ‘wholesome’ and inclusive way.” “Deep sacredness is hard for me to experience … [yet] I felt this deeply.” “GV provided me with a ‘holding space’ – something I realised I’d only rarely experienced through church, and not for a long time.” This kind of experience often starts with the recognition that we’ve “come home”. This was the case, for example, for Robina – “…[the 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’.”** Participants who follow a religion We may find GV deepens our relationship with a religion we follow – “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!” Danni “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”. Deirdre “GV is re-birthing me – healing me alongside and entwined with my Christian faith and daily work, bringing a new joy, peace and creativity …” Abbie "It's like reading my holy book [the Quran], except when I do that I feel sleepy. With Giving Voice it makes me feel refreshed.” Rehana GV’s role in strengthening or clarifying our convictions While GV can help us gain greater clarity and depth of awareness, it can do much more than that. Engaged with regularly, it can help us increasingly expand our awareness – of our interconnectedness with all nature, for instance. In this way, it has the potential to inform and enhance our entire lives, including our political activities – eg through engaging in GV for Peace and Building the world we want, or exploring ‘Applied Giving Voice’ and ‘Beyond Personal Empowerment’ as described in our book. “That song is so special to me. After singing it I wrote the following affirmation from my heart: ‘My life is now ruled by love, not by power or by might of others. Love that is within my soul – both for me and radiating from me. I am letting go of all need to control or be controlled. I am letting go with love.’ The song also brought healing and resolving love to an issue I’d been struggling with.’” Denny "For the first half of my life I was always searching for Truth. This seemed the most important thing: my truth, others’ truth, truth in the world at large. Some time in my mid-forties, I experienced a change. I found myself more interested in love, and in kindness. Love is the new foundation for the second half of my life. This is my intention and my commitment. Truth is still needed, not as an end in itself, only in service to love. GV is helping me to consolidate that and live by it." Rachel -------- Please also see Justine's, Sandra's and Abuse Survivors' blogposts – as well as our book – for more about the depth and breadth of GV’s potential. * Sandra had attended a GV course and was exploring how to unlock the power of a song on her own. Our book offers a step-by-step guide on how to do this. See also courses and events. ** Robina too had attended a course that focused on exploring GV in daily life. For more about this please our above-mentioned book.
- Some participants' poetic contributions
1. Anna, an award-winning poet, wrote this poem in response to experiencing Jill's song The Time Has Come (Song No. 14 in Unlocking the Power of Song: A Companion for Challenging Times; the song is also on our 'Peace' recording) Giving Voice or, Sound - Health for Peace Tonight I trudge from a barren place me to myself alone sounds dumb until, deeply-focussed Your voice intones an old old song: Now is the time To sing of love Listening voices rise, responsive each to each falling they melt above – below each into each as we expand the dehydrated air until, between us resonates this structure of pitched sounds: an intangible texture, our transport unbounded awestruck We’re now beyond known bounds — Later we note: each intentional ear composes our harmonised we For in joining together and giving voice in concert we recreate, are always this song: Now IS the time To sing song of love … Shantih shantih shantiiih © Anna Taylor, March 2006 2. Carolyn was inspired to write a Haiku in response to her experience with the same song – Sing a song of love Spread the sound through space To reach the silence Carolyn Cable 3. Carolyn was drawn to create another haiku – in response to engaging with Jill's Being Chant (No. 6 in Unlocking the Power of Song – a Companion for Challenging Times.) The ever changing moon Seen behind a misty cloud Yet turns tides by being Carolyn Cable 4. Gytau wrote this after a attending a GV group with Jill –
- Our relationship with music – GV's impact
“It’s made me think differently about music.” Colm Many of us have a relationship with music, and song, that separates us from it – as listeners, spectators, even performers or composers. GV can enable us to bring it into our lives (into ourselves), often in profound ways – Sandra, for instance, didn’t ‘do’ music. Then, after engaging in the GV Process, something happened – “My experience has altered my perception of music/song. I now often choose to listen to music, not just listening to it but can hear it, see it and feel it deep within. The most astounding discovery is its healing capacity ... It has opened my heart and mind to allow song to seep osmotically in and work its magical qualities.” Having also begun to open doors to herself – and the world – through GV, Janet was blown away by the music of Schubert and Beethoven for the first time – “I LOVED it ... It’s incredible: I can really FEEL the energy of the pieces touching me, as if I’ve suddenly become alive … I’ve been SO deprived but didn’t know it. Now I want to FEAST on this music ... Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. I realise how far I’ve come ... “ Such music had not appealed to Janet before, and never touched her. Meanwhile Jack, whose musical tastes were ‘classical’ – including Schubert and Beethoven – started to open up to other forms of music too – “I have recently realised that I can ‘allow myself’ to like various old ‘pop’ songs …” See Sandra's story following traumatic bereavement and Some abuse survivors' stories and for more about Sandra's and Janet’s stories respectively. See also Our relationship with singing – GV's impact. Meanwhile the book reveals how they – and others – have drawn on the GV Process to effect change, and how you can too – whether you sing or not.
- Our relationship with singing – GV's impact
“GV singing is never commonplace, never ordinary.” Christine “Singing has always been important to me. Now I’ve realised just how important” Kevin "The pain dissolved – I sang it out! And I don’t even ‘do’ music! The peace and joy I can now access is unbelievable …” Briony “'The singer must become the song' - I’ve known this a long time but only just come together in my head!” "I’ve joined a choir which I don’t think I would have done without your course. I’m really enjoying it. There is a lot to learn. Thank you for helping me to find my voice." “[The day] helped me to sing again. Not just a ‘Winnie the Pooh’ type of hum but a ‘full-bodied, full-gutted voice from the belly and bowls sing’ that feels like it’s the real me.” Alan SOME SELF-IDENTIFIED NON-SINGERS SPEAK Many report no longer feeling fearful about connecting with song through their voices: ”I wasn’t able to 'sing' for most of my 50+ years, but I attended a couple of GV sessions, and the experience unblocked something. It was very powerful. Now I sing in a choir. Years later I revisited Jill’s tape [now CD] and felt its profound beauty once again.” Tam Some report not just 'finding my voice', but becoming aware of its beauty too – "The day actually really helped me find my voice. Ever since I was abused as a child I always found it hard to say the unsayable and to stop myself from gagging or from being sick whenever I thought about myself, my fears and my abuse. I discovered that I have a beautiful voice and that people really could enjoy it. To literally find my voice gave me a new string to my healing that I didn’t know existed." Ally Others report discovering that they can, after all, sing in tune – ”Something happened … clarity, purity around singing a note … it was effortless, spontaneous. An experience that will never leave, that I could find a note effortlessly and truly, not trying … I realised I'd never fully sung, because I feared being judged.* Now I can let go of that fear and sing with an open heart and throat, connected to song … all doubts, judgements and uncertainties leave me. I can relax and know I am in tune …" Estelle "A real high was matching the note on Saturday night without thinking." Denise Some months later, after exploring GV on her own, Denise made an even more extraordinary discovery – "I'd awoken feeling fragile. and gone back to bed with a cup of tea. Then I suddenly found myself singing; except it wasn’t me! The voice was clear, rich and strong. My vocal range was narrow - much less than an octave - but the melody soared up and down over at least 2 octaves, with variation on the words ‘let it be’, over and over again. It was so beautiful and apt, and so simple. It was totally effortless and went on for nearly an hour. Then it stopped as suddenly as it had begun. My throat was in no way dry, sore or tired! (Often it gets tired very quickly, even through speaking for a short time)." On another occasion, she wrote – “Singing with full attention enables me to listen with full attention – if I allow it – and that leads me back to myself and all the treasures I’m discovering, including being able to sing myself! The singing is so profound, it needs me to be fully there.” Finally, Fiona, who at times may still say "I can't really sing", is clear that she definitely can ”when there is a need”. Many otherwise inhibited parents are intimately in touch with this need as they soothe a fractious baby or small child with a lullaby. As revealed in our book, we can learn to do this for ourselves too – and much else. * In all likelihood, Estelle felt this because she had experienced being judged when singing as a child – such a common experience for so many of us. SOME SELF-IDENTIFIED SINGERS SPEAK Others, who have had no particular difficulties with vocalising, remark on the profound difference GV makes to their singing generally – even after a short time. Some who attend church, for instance, have said they now get much more from singing in that context. Ginny noticed how her growing relationship with singing through engagement in GV has enabled her to grow in other ways – “I’m noticing/experiencing new ways of being in a singing capacity, and noticing very acutely how it’s affecting how I experience the outside world. I’m much more mindful with others. Finding something difficult, not knowing how to tackle it, instead of rushing ahead I’m sitting with the not knowing/chaos and waiting … There are many many examples of experiences I have of these kinds which hold up as a mirror the possibility of being like this in the outside world. I feel I’m working slowly and steadily and I like this slowness and steadiness.” Rachel echoes Ginny’s comment – “I love singing. I’ve sung all my life. It’s heaven to use that as a vehicle for personal growth. Fantastic.” Meanwhile, Iris began to realise through GV how much more engaged she could be when she sang in other contexts – “Looking back, I realise that before, on the whole, I wasn't engaged when singing. I remember someone pointing this out to me in a recording studio". Meg, who’s sung in choirs for years, reports similar discoveries, and more – “I’m beginning to get a sense of song within myself, of embracing it fully. It becomes like a remedy. And I’ve been singing out in a way I’ve never felt free enough to do before.” Finally, Jay, who had sung regularly in a number of groups for years, remarked about their encounter with GV – “This is the most fun I’ve ever had singing!’ THE HOLISTIC IMPACT OF GV Denise, above, hints at the holistic nature of what GV offers, and more of her experiences – and those of others – can be found in our book. People who've been told they couldn't sing, like Denise and Estelle above, often write movingly of their discoveries through GV.** Janet, a childhood abuse survivor, kept a journal after starting her explorations with Jill – “I wanted to find my true voice ... It was a challenge to join a group because I had no confidence … Learning to sing and discovering our true voice are not, I realised, the same thing. Getting in touch with our true voice has a spiritual dimension that simply learning to sing can lack. Jill’s role was that of facilitator of self-discovery rather than that of singing teacher … I connected to joys and sorrows within me that singing in the shower hadn’t helped me reach. I was able to share these within the group and found a deep sense of healing ... Every session gave me something to grow from. [It] was very gentle yet very powerful ... I’m no longer afraid of being heard. I have a much kinder, less critical and more respectful attitude to my voice (indeed to all of me). I can now use my voice as a way of loving myself and for the first time in my life I am aware of having a sound dimension. Having been given the time, space and facilitation to get in touch with my true voice has helped me discover a chest full of previously hidden treasures ... I’d never have believed that getting in touch with my voice could have had so many good side effects ... I’ve taken what was available through our work and I’ve used it to alter my feelings. I’ve drunk from the water you took me to. And continue to drink!" Janet (writing, she said, with tears of tears of gratitude and joy) [Janet's sister told her that whenever, as children, they tried to sing, their mother would be scathing – "and in a nasty voice, with scowling face, she’d say things like: 'Who told you that you could sing?' 'What makes you think you’re good enough to sing?' 'Shut your mouth, you’re useless.' 'Don’t bother trying to sing, because you don’t know how' etc. etc."] Al found that a mere ten minutes of GV had an impact on how he felt about his speaking voice – "I must say that our rather brief interaction had a profound and deeply inspiring effect and I have become ever more determined to speak with my own voice.” After hearing and engaging with Jill's 'Old Man' song – A Song about Finding Peace (on our CD and No. 1 in the book) – Mavis wrote: "[I have] a very particular place in my heart for your wonderful Old Man ... walking, singing, living, dying in peace. I suspect he will help me along my way. But my deepest need of him is for the joy of the sound and awareness of Being itself." Meanwhile, Evelyn wrote the following in beautiful calligraphy after attending a GV weekend – “To sing with heart is to find the love that’s hiding in hatred, that strength that is disguised in the pain and shed the mantle that is shrouding my divine light. " Often we find that these sorts of things happen when we start to deeply connect with our desire to sing. Section Three in the book offers a step-by-step guide if you want to explore this. As Grace shares in the book – “After I found the desire, the voice came from deep within" ** Ironically, having got to know Denise's GV process, Jill realised that far from having a ‘poor ear’, she in fact had a particularly sensitive one – so sensitive that Denise could hear harmonics that most other people can’t. So when the music teacher at school played a note on the piano and told her to sing it, Denise’s response was, ‘which one?’ Her teacher's uncomprehending response left Denise unable to sing for decades. The damage of being even gently ridiculed or told while at school to pretend to sing can be profound too – although in Jill's experience, people often laugh this off when initially talking with her about it. See also blogpost on professionals' comments
- Justine's Story - Creativity, Understanding and Spirituality
An artist who had stopped painting, Justine wrote to Jill after attending some regular group sessions for a few months: “I wanted to write to say how much I value your work … Over the last few months I think it has prompted me to acknowledge and ‘give voice’, privately, to emotions I have been sitting on for some time … and I am gradually feeling a deep sense of release. More than that, something is happening at a deeper, soul level which I think is to do with trust in the universal order of things and I am feeling that I am indeed a part of the ‘whole’. For me this is very freeing and has both released me from a sense ofisolation/separateness and also ‘connected’ me again with the world and, spiritually, beyond. I feel I can now begin to tap my own inner creativity once more. I can now walk more joyously alone and ‘see’ beautiful colour and light and am gathering paints and boards and brushes together to express this outer connecting and inner journeying. I hope this, in some sense, expresses my gratitude for your deep understanding that the journey one needs to take towards healing is indeed, uniquely one’s own. I am currently working on a series of abstract paintings in which I am trying to express this concept and through which I am coming to understand things better. So - the colours I sought to ‘hear’ in the early weeks are now taking form and I’m beginning to ‘taste the notes’! Things are fusing somehow and I want to be able to paint senses, feelings, thoughts, ideas. I don’t want this to make sense as it’s very exploratory at the moment and I feel I’m on the edge of some new and important (for me) understanding of something …”
- GV and physical problems
"[GV] gives power and strength when physically I am ill and spent” Arlene “GV was a fantastic resource for me to use during labour” Val Many with physical health problems have claimed physical as well as psychological benefits (eg see Munyard et al 2002; Cloverleaf et al 2002; Rakusen 2000). Conditions where physical benefits have been claimed by participants include the following – Untreatable back pain M.E. Other severe pain or incapacity M.S. Blood Pressure “When I come to the GV group my back pain disappears. Nothing else cures it!” Dan Writing after a GV day, Dan continued, “I have been able to swim, pain free, three times this week. This is incredible, as I have been unable to swim for months because of my back pain. Thanks!” After another day, he wrote, “I felt I had been opened inside and given a generous oiling all over.” Dan had long-standing severe back pain for many years, and said he had ‘tried everything’ – allopathy, osteopathy, chiropractic, physiotherapy, acupuncture, etc etc. Despite being told that the pain relief was not being given to him, but that it was something he was doing, and that he could develop awareness of what it was, so that he could do it without the facilitation of the teacher (JR), he tended to laugh disbelievingly. He steadfastly resisted choosing to learn to do it for himself, knowing full well the absurdity of his apparent choice. M.E. Jill herself developed GV whilst living with Post-viral fatigue syndrome, a form of M.E. Her book offers insight into how she has used song – often in silence when lying in bed – whilst living with disability. One of the many people who has learnt to do this too is Becca – "Living with chronic illness is s***. Living with chronic illness with GV in my life is a lot less s***. At times it can even be fun and enjoyable. Long periods of being confined to bed can be difficult to endure, but lying in bed with a song in my heart can be a complete delight and I can’t wait to do it again. It can bring me deep peace and I can even feel grateful for the enforced rest. GV helps me manage the M.E., and gives me ways to deal with stress and overcome the worry and resentment arising from it, that in turn would make my condition worse. It helps me feel part of the human race and that I have something to give, even though I am so ill and disabled at times.” M.S. At the end of a GV event, Andi found it remarkable that her ability to walk and stand had improved. She believed that something about her engagement in the GV Process had helped her. Other severe pain or incapacity Barbara, who has severe, long-standing osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia, reported an extraordinary development after exploring GV at home with one particular song – “The constant pain eased! This is the first time I’ve had [relief] like this. Gardening, I’ve been surprised how less bad my back’s been. And I’m standing taller because I’m less hunched up with pain, and it’s since my experience with this song! It means I keep hitting my head on the kitchen cupboards – the first time ever (I’ve had them 15 years!)” Arlene, whose pain and overall health challenges are constant and severely debilitating, wrote one day – “I sang, and meditated, my way out of a thicket of intense chronic pain for the past 2 months (sometimes I can hardly walk now – despite treatments and self-help). The experience of transcending, if for a while, all this excruciating and boring CRAP rekindles a flicker and also of hope. Without that there’s nothing much to work with. Big thank you … and deep peace. Two years later she wrote – "I was so close to despair (awful bus journey, so much pain, so much noise). I couldn’t bear it. Then ‘May the Doors of my House’ appeared [Song No. 16 in the book. Thank God for GV!” Meanwhile, after engaging with a GV recording during one of our remote learning events, Audrey remarked, ”When I started to sing, it made me cry. Tears of joy and recognition – as if I'd found a way. Joy at singing with someone else. Joy at singing wholeheartedly. It's resonating in my whole body – my feet are vibrating. It's a release of creativity – this is wonderful for me because I'm so limited by physical weakness in using my arms – I can’t do things like drawing, painting, or writing. I get really irritated. Today I feel I've really worked. I've really enjoyed it." Jeannie, who had an incurable, life-threatening auto-immune liver disease took powerful medicatio,n to keep her liver function under control. She lived on a constant tightrope between the dangers of the disease and the dangers of the drug. She also had a background of abuse, and recognised that she abused herself by “not giving myself time to do things I know will help me, and trying to do too much”. And while she recognised she had the power to affect how she felt – eg through meditation, dancing, singing – she wasn't doing any of this, and was feeling very low. She joined a short GV course, only managing two sessions in person because of her illness. However, she managed daily ‘homework’, sometimes involving GV recordings, and used the opportunities available for occasional facilitation from Jill . During the course she reported being "more energised, empowered and joyful – all unusual”. After the course she decided to continue with her daily GV practice at home, knowing that she could build on what she had gained. “I don’t intend to stop, because I enjoy the experience”, she said. Two months later, Jeannie reports – “A lot of negative feelings have been transformed ... My emotions are more stable, my self-respect has improved, I value myself more and I feel more confident in general ” “This course has helped me cope better with [my] illness ... If I feel depressed, I soon feel better [with GV].” Eight months later, Jeannie is still using GV, and is dancing and meditating again – "Now I’m stronger, happier, more peaceful, have more energy, and get more out of life. GV has certainly helped me a lot”. Jeannie’s story is described more fully in Jill's article in the journal Positive Health. Blood pressure Denise is convinced that being able to halve her blood pressure tablets is connected with using GV in her daily life – “There must be a connection with GV, since a lot of my b/p has been through stress, and I’ve been using GV to alleviate this.” All those quoted above, and many others, had learnt how to 'unlock the power of song' through a short course. Our book is designed to help others learn to do this too – providing step-by-step guidance, and much more besides. See also Handling disability at home and at work, Impact on daily life
- Deirdre's story - after the death of a baby
"My life has always involved loading myself with jobs when I’m feeling down. This, inevitably, leads to me feeling more overwhelmed with life and unable to get to the bottom of my problems. Problems had always been there to be covered up, and life had thrown up the huge problem of having a still-born baby. This enormous emotional upheaval required serious replacement and I was working part-time as a carer as well as having three children, and looking after a lady with learning difficulties. My husband had gone on a self destruct emotionally, and I felt it was my role to support him, as well as to try and hold the family together. With this plethora of emotional baggage, I met Jill – to apparently care for her. What actually happened was astonishing … New insights I started attending one of her regular Giving Voice groups. Initially I was terrified. I was also aware that this could be something that could change my life. Although I enjoyed the first evening, it took several sessions before I realised how vital this was to me. It led me to look at myself in a way that I never had before. I started to accept that I was using work as a shield to prevent me from feeling pain and hurt. But what I was actually doing was preventing myself from feeling any better. In accepting all of these things I had to make the decision to change. This was a much harder thing to accomplish. It meant I would have to change the person I had been for so long ... I was not sure how I would do this, or what the consequences would be, but I did know that I had to own myself and take responsibility for how my actions affected those around me. I had always thought that, by doing things for others I was helping them, but Giving Voice made me realise that I was actually disabling them. New developments I started to sing around the house - songs I'd learned through GV, old pop songs, church songs - singing either for the fun of it, or to really connect. I realised that I had no idea what my taste in music was any more. I had completely lost touch with what made me happy, and what made me me. Singing GV songs made me connect with a part of myself that I had forgotten existed. I allowed myself to grieve for our lost daughter, I allowed myself to grieve for what might have been, but also I was able to be joyful for the small impact she had made on me. My religious faith and beliefs were reinforced and I felt a sweet joy come back into my life. “It was tough, but enjoyable; heartrending at times, but always a very positive experience. I did it with support from Jill and others in GV, as well as from my family. Now I’ve learned how to use music (particularly singing) in a positive, uplifting way in my life. I am also much more confident outgoing and prepared to take responsibility for myself, including my actions as well as my emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. I even sang in a trio at church, which is something I’ve never done before."
- Jack's story - the impact of monthly group GV sessions - over a 5-year period
These monthly sessions led Jack to experience himself in freeing and unfamiliar ways; they also led to a heightened sense of awareness, including about connectedness, responsibility, play, and service. He shared thus – How do you describe an experience that is always different, and that has an impact on so many levels? What follows barely scratches the surface. I LOVE IT. At one level, the Giving Voice (GV) process involves singing, but more than that, it involves letting go, of thought and judgements and any emotions that are stirred up by the song. The more that this letting go can be achieved, the greater and deeper the experience, the greater the healing, and the deeper the integration. The monthly sessions are important opportunities to re-connect to my body, emotions, and soul. The process comforts my intellect and helps develop trust. My continued involvement also provides an opportunity to explore how I might re-create the experience away from the group, and how to avoid sabotaging such efforts. To feel part of a group session - integral to it and of equal importance to anyone else - and to feel connected to the other members of the group is a feeling I rarely had the privilege to experience. To feel that way with people I have no other contact with and, in some cases, would not wish to have, is also important as an example of what is possible in the wider world - to feel connected, even to strangers. To never again feel alone in this world. And to hear 20 voices, each singing their own thing, coming together in beautiful harmonies, gives me hope for the possibility that mankind may, one day, learn to live in harmony ... To be singing with passion and intensity, but quietly and together - sometimes it just feels so beautiful I could almost cry for the joy of the experience. Improvised singing And I delight in the totally improvised singing: many voices, each adding their own unique contribution. It can be such a surprise, as none of us has any idea what the others will add to the song … It's easy to think of it as almost magical. Sometimes I just love to ‘play’ ... following my sense of where the song should go, seeing if the group will follow me, or whether it has a momentum that will draw me back. Sometimes I feel like maintaining a constant rhythm around which everyone else can ‘play’ if they wish. On one occasion, I ‘picked’ a rhythm out of the sustained sound. It was almost as if I heard its absence. Jill picked up on this and introduced a counter rhythm. The rest of the group followed Jill and were encouraged into smaller groups doing different things. I just continued with my own rhythm. Perhaps unnoticed. And yet I felt an integral and important part. I do not know what influence I had, but when I felt that the rhythm should speed up, it did. And when I felt it should fade to completion, it did that too. So was I leading, or was I just in tune with it? It does not matter”. On another profound evening, I listened to Jill singing ‘I am gentle with myself’ [on Jill's CD, and No. 9 in the book], and then, as the others gradually joined in, I enjoyed the growing texture and depth of the piece. Eventually I felt the desire to add my voice: I'd felt that there was a gap – a space for me to fill – that invited me to join in, just because it was there. And so I added my voice to increase the depth and texture of the whole. On another occasion, as the improvisation developed, I felt I was providing the central rhythm that was holding everything together. Effectively the central reference point that held and maintained the rhythm. (I am not saying that this is true - only that this was my experience.) My experience of the improvising in GV led me to a combination of: responsibility and the need to hold the rhythm, even when it felt like a struggle, commitment to provide this service to the group, and honour about being ‘allowed' this role. I am struck by how this compares with the rest of my life where I seem to resent and rebel against such roles. I feel strong, consistent gratitude to Jill, Rachel and Caroline for the generous caring skill with which they have treated me and taught me."