Today’s blog post is about overcoming fear. I have been forced to face a fear that I have had for as long as I can remember, singing in public. I don’t know where this came from, I think it may have developed when I was a young teenager making a tape of myself singing and realising it did not sound good. Since then I have never sung, not when I am by myself or even when drunk at a karaoke bar (this is the true measure of hating singing!). I did not get any pleasure from signing as all I could focus on was how bad my voice sounded which is such a shame because I see other people getting such pleasure out of it even when they aren’t pitch perfect.
How does all this relate to a Yoga Teacher Training? Well, two weeks ago we were advised that we would be leading the morning meditation, chanting and pranayama classes in groups of 3. We were to split the elements up between ourselves. I went into a sudden panic, the thought of everyone hearing my voice was rather overwhelming and I didn’t think I would manage to do it, I envisioned no sound coming out of my mouth at all. it would have been very easy for me to having taken all the pranayama exercises and let someone else do the mantras but I didn’t, I knew that it was now or never and if I didn’t do it I wouldn’t be able to lead a chant in my own yoga classes. When I first started yoga I hated the mantras, mainly because a) the fear of signing and b) because I didn’t really know what the words were so felt silly humming something random along with the teacher. If you ever go to a yoga class and feel like this don’t worry, it is the vibration of the sound that does the magic so just join in the best you can. Even being in the room with the vibrations will do you good.
I took 3 of the matras and at this point I didn’t even know how to pronounce most of the words. Here is an example, along with the translation:
Om Sahanaa vavatu
Saha veeryam karavaavahai
Tejasvinaa vadheeta mastu
Maa vid vishaavahai
Om Shaanti shaanti shaanti hi
Together may we be protected (both the teacher and the disciple),
Together may we be nourished,
Together may we work with great energy,
May our journey together be brilliant and effective
May there be no bad feelings between us.
Om, peace, peace, peace.
Luckily our group had two weeks to practice, some people only had two days. As the time passed I felt more comfortable with the chants, I was also eased into it as firstly we had to do a mantra on a 1-1 basis, then in front of 2 other people and I realised my voice wasn’t as bad as I had built it up to be. As the other groups had their turns it was obvious that the group was very supportive and there was no judgement. I think we forget that in life people generally do not want us to fail (whatever failure means I was taught in NLP that there’s no such thing as failure, only feedback).
So today was the day and I felt surprisingly calm, probably helped by the fact we did it at 6.45am so my conscious brain hadn’t had that much time to kick in and think about it too much. We were meant to project our voice and despite having a microphone I was told to chant louder, I was concentrating on this so much that I mis-sang/chanted a word but just smiled and carried on. Everything is a learning experience and just because things may not necessarily go as you had hoped, you are your biggest critic and no one else will remember if you make mistakes. I’m very happy I did it and although you probably won’t see me on next years X Factor auditions, I hope I feel comfortable chanting in my yoga classes (don’t let that put you off coming).
The moral of the story is that when fear is faced head on, it is never as bad as we build it up to be so don’t let it be the reason for not doing something important to you.