-Listening to another human being is the most precious gift you can offer, and the most powerful tool we have for change and growth as individuals, families and communities

-Being heard by another human being is among the most precious gifts we can receive: a deeply healing experience that can change a life

-Silence shared with another is among the deepest, most ancient medicine; and Silence is the seed of a miracle that allows us to be in the deepest support possible of another human being in pain, without acting to fade or hide or fix that pain. When in doubt about how to be a friend, we can be silent and offer the profound love song of our silence.

-Sound offers expression where words fail.

-Silence offers expression where sound fails.

-When I sing/sound/speak I am telling my story, and as a living being it is my birthright to share my story. My story is important—and necessary—to share

-Silence brings awareness to the dynamics of daily communication, and awareness leads to evolution and innovation

-Sound is the expression of love, fear, shame, grief, rage, joy, conflict and delight. Without these emotions and experiences there is no music, no art

-Sound is also—along with its friend, silence–the double-threshold to the music that is deeper and older than the music of all conflict

-Certain patterns of music (e.g. mantras, rhythms, the scale Sa-Re-Ga, musical modes) have been given to us—or are waiting to be discovered—to attune and entrain our physical systems in an ongoing process of healing and becoming

-Music transforms all emotion, all experience, into a love song that can fuel our lives

-Listening to music [any genre] can help me to hear my story as told by another and reminds me: even if I am lonely, I am not alone

-Sounding gives me the opportunity to acknowledge, integrate, and express my own shadow safely, without harming myself. or another

-Sounding authentically in a safe environment—be it a group or my bathroom shower—creates a habit of self-awareness and expression, which can become a habit of authentic self-expression in daily communication, which can become a habit of acting and living from the centre and source of my being

-Is there anything that resonates more deeply in our very cells than a deep belly laugh, the sound of a child’s giggle, the keening of honest grief, or a primal scream of rage or fear?

Add your own . . .



Human Beings Tell Stories

When I am exhausted, when I’ve run into something I don’t know how to handle, when I’m sad or frustrated, there are two things that help me: telling my story, and walking in beauty for a while. Often, the two go hand-in-hand.

Storytelling has been in my life for literally as long as I can remember. I consider myself fortunate that, in addition to reading my favorite storybooks, my Dad also told actual, off-book-out-of-his-head bedtime stories.

Many of them were along the lines of “things me and my brothers used to do on Grandma’s farm that you should never do because they’re really dangerous.” And some of them were giggle-inducing spoofs on popular fairytales, like “The Three Little Pigs and the Welcome Wagon Wolf Who Lived in the Middle of the Desert.”

(I’ll leave that to your imagination.)

Storytelling has been a part of human life for as long as we can remember. Since we first had sing-song musical communication and language, since we could draw on the wall of a cave. It is a primal, human impulse.

Over and over, from my English Lit degree to my current work as a voice coach, I have had opportunity to appreciate the value of storytelling: to honour our humanity, to entertain, to connect with our tribe, and to facilitate individual healing or group evolution. One of the first things I do in my work with a new voice student is invite her to tell me her voice story.

When I practiced foot reflexology many years ago, I was consistently amazed at how—about ten minutes into a session—just about every client would start pouring out their stories: vignettes about the minutiae of daily life; or huge archetypal or ancestral tales that they’d been carrying with them for decades. The combo of physiological input and the space of trust they felt with an empathic, skilled listener seemed to open the floodgates. Even now, I can’t say for sure how many were actually coming for the foot massage, and how many were there to simply be witnessed. It’s a humbling thought.

The innate capacity to tell our stories is how we share our joy, it is how we live in the midst of the crisis without imploding, it is how we solve problems and move forward after heartbreak.

New School: The Myth of ‘Sharing’ in Social Media

Today we have more outlets for sharing our stories than ever before: my blog could be read in China, or Antarctica, or outer space. But posting cautiously-curated snippets about our lives or weird-factoid memes is not the same as sharing our stories. Hitting the “Like” or “Heart this” button can make a mockery of witnessing another’s story with honour.

It is a truism that what we have gained in the ability to instantly update our network on our status, we have lost in our experience of being truly seen and heard.

That said, I’ve noticed a curious thing: when I post a vulnerable piece my personal story; or when I take a few minutes to shape my perspective on current events into a narrative of momentary beauty, I get instant and enthusiastic engagement. And when I offer a thoughtful comment on someone else’s post that communicates, “I hear you,” instead of reflexively hitting “Like,” real dialogue often happens, and I feel the connection buzzing down the airwaves.

Old School: Circle the Fire With Our Tribe

Whatever the modern media options, I feel in myself that primal need to share words and songs around the metaphorical fire with my tribe. To be in the same place, at the same time, and just. . . .be there. It’s not about learning something new, it’s not about ‘doing,’ it’s simply about following what feels like an impulse coded in my DNA. It feels like going home.

And here’s the lovely thing. When I follow the impulse home, when I tell my story in words, grunts, cries, songs and dance around that metaphorical (or real!) fire—and those energies drop into the container of what I call resonant listening—they are transmuted. Whatever the subject matter—however bright and joyful, however wounded and dark—that witnessed story becomes transformed into a thing of beauty in the world.

By sharing our stories in this way, we give each other the gift of walking in beauty for a few moments. Each teller of tales becomes an artist, each human life, a work of art.

If you too are feeling the call, I hope you will join me at the upcoming event in the Calgary, Canada area.

And, I know it isn’t always possible to share with our tribe around the fire, in the old way. Here are some other possibilities to bring your innate storytelling ability into a place of conscious practice in your life.


Some Ways to Tell Your Story

In writing

-Write it in a journal. Or on some random pieces of paper. Eventually, you may want to have a ritual around it—ripping & recycling, burning, or perhaps turning it into a more polished piece to share with friends and typing it up beautifully.

-If things like grammar and vocabulary are buggin’ ya, Let it go. Write stream-of-consciousness words, write poetry snippets, get out your crayons and draw it or (if you’re like me) scribble odd things on the page.

Speak it out to one person

-Share with a friend, and then reciprocate and listen while they share. I highly recommend a practice like Heart Listening so that you can offer each other a container of compassionate listening. No interrupting, no problem-solving, no judgment, no commentary, no “me too.” Safe space, silence, resonant listening.

Without Words

-Sound it Out. Use your voice in a practice like Free Singing. You can do this at home on your own, or with a friend or two.

-Dance It. Find a song that is a favourite or that seems to match the energy of the moment and dance it out.

Bonus Material: Video Yourself

-If you don’t have the opportunity to speak to a friend, try video-ing yourself using your computer or smart phone camera. Tell the story as many times as you need to, in order to feel complete. In my experience, the camera acts as a sort of witness. You can even have fun with costume and set. Change the room up, change your clothes, put on special make-up or do your hair in a way you’ve never tried before.

Some Suggestions for Practice

If you are Speaking or Writing and not sure where to start, here are some key elements to include:

WHAT happened (events as you see them),

WHO was involved,

HOW you felt/feel about it (using your senses, your emotions),

WHY do all these elements form a story in your mind (what is the connection, the through line, how is the character “you” developing in this narrative)

WHERE are you in that story right now (are you at the end or somewhere in the middle, do you need further input or feedback to complete)

If you are Dancing or Free Singing, Some Suggestions

Craft Your Safe Container

Give some thought to how you will feel safe telling your story. Maybe you need to keep it private, sing it to yourself. If you are dancing, maybe you need to have some props on hand or move furniture out of the way. If you are sharing words or sounds with another person, try a practice like Heart Listening.

Begin with the Energy or the Feeling

Now, begin with the energy of the story. Feel your feet on the ground, pay attention to your breath, feel the emotion and locate where you feel that energy in your body. Don’t try to give it words or shape. Let your body and your voice do that.

As always, I am curious to hear how it goes. You can share your feedback, here.




Seven-Petalled Lotus Mantra

February 19, 2015



The “Seven-Petalled Lotus Mantra” activates and helps bring awareness to the major nerve centres/areas of consciousness in the body. It can help warm up the voice before singing or speaking, and is a useful check-in for what is happening in your body today. It can be deeply restful and calming as you move slowly through it, and if you pick up the pace gradually, it can become more energizing.

Note: The basis for this practice are the 7 seed sounds listed above.  I learned to combine these sounds with mudra & movement as described below, with the help of my teacher Chloe Goochild of The Naked Voice, and a member of her core team, Masashi Minegawa.


-Find a home note that is comfortable and sing the entire piece all on that single tone, rising slightly (only a tone) on the “So” of So-Hum. But don’t worry about the tune! Focus on the seed sounds themselves, how they taste and feel in your mouth, how they resonate in your body. Give the vowels roundness and some forward movement in your mouth, let your lips close to resonate on the “m’s” at the end of each sound.  Start slowly, luxuriating in each sound.

-Sound one seed syllable for each chakra or area of awareness. Lam-Root (in front of pubic bone); Vam-Second/Sacral (between pubic bone and belly button); Ram-Solar Plexus (above belly button); Yum-Heart; Hum-Throat; Om-3rd Eye (between eyebrows); So-Hum-Crown (swirls of hair at top of your head)

-Add Movement: Begin with one hand behind the other, at the pubic bone. As you sound, leave one hand in front of the pubic bone to keep you grounded, and bring the other up to each area of awareness (chakra) in a smooth, gliding, travelling motion, until you get to the Crown sound, the So-Hum.  Don’t bounce from spot to spot with your hand, just draw a steady line of energy, and notice your awareness travelling up through the chakras as you sound.

-At the So-Hum, extend your arm all the way up with palm facing the sky, then silently bring the hand back down the body through the entire line of energy to close the cycle, and start again. Note: only sing the 7 seed sounds on the way up through the chakras, then close the cycle down with a simple movement of the hand back down the body, and silence.

-Rest for a moment.  After you silently close the cycle, both hands are now lightly held, one behind the other, in front of the pubic bone. Rest, then start again.


-You can do this seated or standing, on it’s own or before/after another movement or energy or vocal practice.

-As you move through the areas of awareness in the practice, the goal is not to change or fix or otherwise alter what is there, simply to bring awareness in conjunction with your sounding.

-As with many of these practices, it is helpful to have a drone track playing in the background to create a more comfortable container for sound.  Chloe Goodchild’s “Eternal A” is a good one, from the store at  You can also simply search “tanpura drones” on youtube, in various musical keys.

***The entire exercise is also on Chloe Goodchild’s instructional CD’s. See***


This is another practice inspired by my work with Chloë Goodchild of The Naked Voice, as well as David Smukler of Canada’s Voice Intensive. I can’t say enough about this practice or the principles it embodies. It has saved relationships and made an actor out of me even though I have no technical training. It is how I make music in a group setting. It is the heart of how I listen when I work with clients one-to-one and in Circle.

Call on this practice anytime you need to slow down communications, before it accelerates or gets ugly, to get to the core of what is asking to be expressed. Use this anytime you need everyone to fully express so that you can discover fresh information and creative solutions. Do this with a stranger and I almost guarantee you’ll start to fall in love.


Partner up with a friend to speak and to listen. One of you simply witnesses while the other speaks for a set period of time on a particular topic. Sometimes I choose “What I love about my voice” as the topic. Often it is simply “How are you, right now?” There are other useful questions under the “Extras,” below. 2-5 minutes is often enough, and you can set a timer if you prefer.

Reverse roles and do it again. So that both of you have a turn as Listener and Speaker.

CRUCIAL: There is to be no commentary, no questions, no “right or wrong,” no judgment, no wild gestures, simply silence and a chance for you to speak and be heard. Be ruthless with yourself about this. Resist the urge to anything but engaged silence when you are the Listener.

Next step, repeat all of the above but instead of words, communicate from and with your heart, in silence. You each take a turn as above, communicating the same themes or answering the same question, but without words, gestures, or sounds. Imagine communicating the information from your heart as the Speaker, and receiving the information in your heart as the Listener.

Gratitude. When you are complete with both parts of the exercise, the spoken and the silent, each taking a turn, thank your partner. A simple bow or eye contact will do.

Share (optional). If you want, you may gently share your own experiences with the exercise, a simple observation of “how that was for me”—but do refrain from commenting on your partner’s sharing, from analyzing, or making right or wrong.

Notice. As you share, note how it was to communicate with words, how it was to communicate with silence. Where are you most comfortable? What felt efficient or easy?  What felt silly or unwieldy? There is no right or wrong, it’s simply useful awareness to have. Words and silence serve us differently in different contexts.


-You can modify this practice to use in a educational or corporate context, in your relationship with a partner or friend or co-worker. In those situations, the other party may or may not be committed to practicing together, but you can still call on the essential principles on your own. You can:

-Ask questions like, “Who are you?” “What do you need?” “How do you feel?” “How do you experience this situation?” “How are you right now?” And then LISTEN without prejudice, judgment or interruption. Just wait. Hear. Trust that you can hear their words and be OK, no matter what. Trust that a response will arrive at just the right moment, with the appropriate words. Know that if it doesn’t, perhaps silence is enough. Know that if it doesn’t and things get messy, that too can take you through to the other side. But your chances are about 1000% percent better if you listen from your heart.

-Especially with family members and partners, especially with them. Enough said.***

-A more general approach, ask yourself: Where in your life can I use less words? Where would silence be enough? How can I create moments or spaces for others to be heard? How can I create moments or spaces for myself to be heard?

In my voice coaching practice, I utilize this way of  listening as a pillar of how I work.  Find out more about my style of voice coaching, here.



***the caveat I offer here is if you are in any relationship in which you are in physical or emotional danger.  In that case, leave the room or the building, get yourself somewhere safe, and do not attempt to communicate with someone who is demonstrating irrational or frightening behaviours. In voice work and in life, safety comes first.



No doubt about it, the OM is epic. We know the OM from the beginning and ending of Sanskrit mantras, from multiple meditative practices, and even from a few giggle-worthy youtube videos sending up new age spirituality and yoga. From the snarky to the sublime, the OM is the topic of modern research and the simple seed sound of ancient medicine.

OM is thought to be the sound of all creation, and indeed if you break it down, it contains many sounds in the One, a myriad of sound frequencies in a single seed syllable.

The benefits of the OM are best understood in the experience of practice. Here’s a simple practice inspired by one of my beloved teachers, Chloë Goodchild. It reflects the idea of the OM as multiple sound frequencies in one,  i.e. carrying three distinctly sounded parts or aspects, the AUM sounded as roughly, “AHHH-OHHH-MMMM.”


3 Main Sounds. This practice is simply the smooth blending of the sounds Ah-Oh-Mm, on a single breath. Rather than “Ohm,” “AH-OH-MM”.

(If you’re big into pronunciation, here are a few extra notes: I break it down in this exercise so you get all of the parts, but in reality the “Ah” and the “Oh” are part of one vowel sound, blended together smoothly:  what we call a dipthong in English pronunciation. The “ah” is like the ‘a’ in “law,” and the “oh” has a bit of the ‘u’ from “put”)

Release the Sound, rather than “make” sound. Remember, whenever we sound, sing or chant, it is simply a case of releasing the sound on breath. Don’t worry about getting the tone or volume or resonance just right, don’t think about “making” sound so much as simply intending to release sound on the out-breath. As always, there are no wrong notes!

Here it is:

Begin. Imagine an angel or guide or other gentle spirit friend kissing your back, right behind your heart. Feel that, AHHH.

AHHH. Start on the sound “Ahhh,” imagining it coming alive in the back of your mouth.

(NOTE: do not let the sound drop way down into your throat. This will make the vowel sound rather flat and low-energy, and can even cause vocal strain.)

OHHH. Move into the “Ohhh,” imagining the sound now moving forward towards the centre of your mouth. It’s like the whole mouth cavity is a sphere rounding to create a rich, round sound. Again, it sounds more like the “u” in put.

Mmm. On the “Mmm,” the sound moves forward. Simply close your lips to complete on the “Mmm” and sound until your breath is complete. The inside of your mouth is still rounded as in the “Oh,” you are simply closing your lips to creating the humming sound of the “Mmm.”  Some writers suggest that the “Mmm” should be equal in the length to the vowel sound.  Try it, see what you think.

Repeat. Repeat for as long as you have time. Even 5 minutes can be really supportive. Even 1 minute.

Leave Silence. Experiment with sounding for a few moments, then taking a break for silence.  Leave some silence at the beginning and especially the end of your practice.



-Put on a drone soundtrack in the background to help create the container for your sounding. Chloë Goodchild’s “In A” is a good one, available at Or search “tanpura drone” on youtube.

-Sruti boxes, harmoniums or a synth pad setting on a keyboard also can create a drone

-Practice with a friend. Even two people together can up the energy of the practice. I’ve had wonderful calming energizing experiences sounding AUM on a phone conference line with a few people scattered around the world.

-Once you get the hang of the practice, start noticing where you feel the resonance of each sound in your body, your face and head.


The benefits of sounding OM (AUM) are many: please let me know what you experience, and if you want more you can check out the workshop, here.