Emerging From The Dark: Embracing stillness and confronting our fear of being heard

 

December 23, 2014

As the Sun begins to slowly return to us in the Northern Hemisphere, we move out of a time of darkness into light.  One feminine principle I’ve been working with a lot lately is that of profound stillness and deep inner listening.  This is another form of *receiving, but more focused on our internal process than what we practice in SSOL around being onstage.  It is quiet, open, spacious and empty.  It is about creating space for that-which-desires-to-be expressed to arise without actively seeking to understand it or to know what it will be before it has arisen within us.  This for me has been a HUGE practice and breakthrough around how I create and how I experience being heard and sharing my truth in the world. 

I am a do-er, an A-type go-getter.  Right now, my body is teaching me a huge lesson that the doing energy, for me – and I suspect for many of us - cannot be sustained on its own.  We must learn to honor stillness as much – if not more – than we honor doing.  For without silence, there is no sound.  Vibration and song are born from stillness.  If we skip over taking time for stillness, the act of doing and our creative process in general will be much harder and much more aggressive.

CONNECTED TO THIS PRINCIPLE OF STILLNESS AND RECEPTIVITY, IS HAVING THE COURAGE TO BE HEARD.  

I know I write and speak on this subject a lot, but I feel it is SO important to our ability to access our true voice and express it in the world!

WE ALL DESIRE TO BE HEARD. 

I don’t care who you are, what your truth is, what you do for a living, if you are a musician or not, what gender, body type, sexual orientation, ethnicity ect you are.  Human beings desire connection and we desire to be heard and understood.  For those of us who are musicians, singers, speakers, writers, artists and teachers this need to be heard can be even greater because it goes beyond our personal relationships and daily interactions.  Sometimes, we feel this longing to express or create, but we don’t necessarily notice it is tied to our longing to be heard.  There is something to be said for creating simply for creations sake, but, as human beings who long for connection, our desire to create is deeply connected to our desire to share our creations and have them be received.  If we think we don’t care about sharing what we create, chances are we are experience some type of deep fear of being heard and understood.  As musicians, and especially as WOMEN musicians, I believe we feel this push-pull around being heard even more deeply than most.  Which is why it is so important to create stillness in our lives, and learn to embrace the feminine principle of being receptive and vulnerable as a true strength we can rely upon.

WHAT WE DON’T OFTEN RECOGNIZE, IS THAT WE SABOTAGE OUR EXPERIENCE OF BEING HEARD. 

Just as much as we long to be heard, we fear being heard.  Why?  That is for you to personally inquire into, and honestly it doesn’t really matter why we do it.  The fact is: we sabotage being heard all the time.  Perhaps we fear being vulnerable; perhaps we feel that we or what we have to express is not worthy.  Perhaps we feel that if we are truly heard we will have to step up and deliver in a big way that scares us like crazy!  Because, oh my gosh… if I am heard today, what if I mess up and express the wrong thing tomorrow.  What if people hear me and it’s really really good and then the next time they are expecting so much and I blow it!  I think what most causes us to fear being heard, it is this expectation of sustaining our worthiness, and continuing to express and be received over time.

PERSONALLY, I AM MOST AFRAID OF NOT BEING PERFECT ENOUGH, OF NOT BEING WORTHY, AND THAT PERHAPS IT IS SELFISH TO WANT TO BE HEARD IN THE FIRST PLACE.

What if people show up to hear me, and what I have to say/sing is not worthy of their time and listening? Then, I’ll be even more alone.  Better to cause my own failure by setting up situations or expressing myself in a way that automatically has people not hear me, than fail because of something beyond my control, which is much more vulnerable and scary. 

HOW DOES OUR FEAR OF BEING HEARD CAUSE US TO SHUT DOWN? 

The first way we sabotage ourselves is simply by not sharing, not putting ourselves out there, not speaking up in conversations, not booking the gig ect. We stop seeking opportunities to be heard. And then we get upset when people don’t hear us.  So we have to first become willing to be heard.  Truly, authentically and unapologetically willing.  How do we become willing?  By being still and connecting to our longing to be heard until it becomes powerful enough that it overtakes our fear and we can courageously begin to *receive others. In that space, we can own our stage* and step into a space of authentic sharing and expression.

Easier said than done? Yes, and it is also easy when we discover the right tools.  (One pathway being  *SSOL's receiving practice).

HERE’S WHERE IT BECOMES TRICKY:

How many of you, right now can name at least one person in your life who no matter what, seams to not hear what you have to say?  Either they interrupt you, or they completely misunderstand you and you find yourself either fighting for verbal space or giving up and staying quiet.

IT IS MUCH EASIER TO BLAME OTHERS FOR NOT HEARING US, THEN TO OWN THAT WE ARE SABOTAGING OUR ABILITY TO BE HEARD. 

When we show up to express ourselves, if there is at all a hidden hope that we will not be heard, others will pick up on that.  Often when we are not heard, the people we blame are doing exactly what we’ve asked them to do energetically.  Our fear of expressing the wrong thing or simply of NOT being heard, causes us to shut down, create an energetic block between ourselves and others so that it is almost impossible for them to hear us.  The receiving practice* cuts through this block.  But we have to be truly willing to be heard, or the vulnerability of receiving others into our creative space will be too much to handle.  When we embrace our desire to be heard and allow others in, that vulnerability can become beautiful and a true strength.

If we were really HEARD, we could no longer hide and would no longer have an excuse for staying small.  We would have to get as big as we truly are.  And that takes tremendous courage.  So the first step in being heard, is confronting where you are really terrified of being heard, and where you personally create opportunities over and over again where other's don’t hear you - either because you don't express yourself, or you express yourself while having the thought (hidden or conscious) "I hope they don't hear me," or simply "I'm not good enough to be heard."  If you are truly longing to express something deep within you, and you really feel that you are not heard, it is important to do the work to uncover where YOU are responsible for others not hearing you. 

WHERE DO YOU HIDE? 

WHAT ARE YOU MOST AFRAID WILL HAPPEN IF PEOPLE REALLY HEARD YOU? 

Becoming willing to be heard starts with being willing to confront our shadow, our deepest darkest secrets of how we DON’T, actually, thank-you-very-much, want to be heard.  If you are not willing to do this work it will be very hard to move forward in expressing yourself and feeling that that expression is received.  I promise you, if you constantly think to yourself “they’re not listening.  No one hears me,” there is probably somewhere deep down where you actually don’t want to be heard.  Trust me, I’ve been there!  For years I struggled with this!

Embracing our fear of being heard, and developing courage to be heard is tremendously powerful.  Being vulnerable is being open, fragile, soft and at the same time incredibly strong and commanding of the space. When you choose to be heard and to be vulnerable, you command the space, you channel the power of your presence.  There is no longer anything to protect or defend against.  Nothing can harm you because you’ve taken utter responsibility for everything in the space – your fear, your desire to express, your vulnerability, and all the other people in the room with you.  You become ready and willing to receive the attention of other's listening to you.  When you step into being heard, no one can mess with you, because in doing so, you HAVE become completely aligned with your truth, your power, your wiliness to express in the face of your fear.  When you choose to take up that kind of space and allow others in, you become all powerful and no matter what you share, it will be incredible.  When you stop denying your power, it is impossible to fail.

 Remember: Anytime you create a block of separation between yourself and others you don't allow music to do what it does naturally – connect people. When you become willing to be vulnerable and heard, when you step up to receive and to share, the music will do the rest.

WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH STILLNESS? 

Stillness is the space where we can begin to inquire into our most light-filled selves, and our darkest shadow selves. When we are still and go within, we can begin to acknowledge our fear, accept it, forgive it and move forward.  Stillness is where we discover what wants to be expressed. Stillness is where we step into our willingness to be heard.  Remember, silence is the birth place of all sound. Stillness is the birth-place of being heard.

THE PRACTICE OF RECEIVING IS LEARNING TO STAY WITH THAT UNCOMFORTABLE VULNERABILITY, AND IN THAT SPACE OF POISE AND COURAGE THE PATHWAY TO EXPRESSING OUR TRUE VOICE UNFOLDS WITH GRACE AND EASE.

AS WE EMERGE OUT OF THE DARKEST DAY OF THE YEAR, I INVITE YOU TO STEP INTO YOUR LIGHT, CONFRONT YOUR FEAR OF BEING HEARD NOT WITH FEAR AND AGGRESSION, BUT WITH LOVING ACKNOWLEDGMENT. 

In a state of stillness, become willing to let go of any way you self-sabotage your desire to be heard.  It may take some time to BE IN THE DARK and stay with the uncomfortable realization that you keep others from truly hearing you.  I invite you to release and forgive any relationships or places where you don’t feel fully understood and heard.  And, using the receiving practice* and the practice of being still, allow others to witness you just as you are, and just as you long to be witnessed.

Blessings and Love,

Emma

 * To learn the receiving practice, come to a SSOL Introductory Workshop in your area.  Email Emma at emma@emmasong.com with a request to come to your area and teach this practice, or let her know your interest in receiving an online version of this teaching as it becomes available

The Feminine Way to End War

I'm sitting at the entrance to sacred Kotel wall in Jerusalem. Our radical feminist rabbi is telling us about how, until recently, women were not allowed to carry holly objects or even pray at the wall and she reminds us in the orthodox community women are not permitted to sing in front of men.

I can't seem to control my grief.  It feels old, ancient, not even mine.  It is so painful to know how much women's voices are still not honored and valued.  We are told, even on this day to cover our shoulders and where long dresses while the men in our group remain in their hiking clothing.  We enter the women’s entrance to the kotel, which is about 1/2 the size of the mens.  I notice that male workers are allowed to be here, but doubt they would let a female worker on the men's side.  The wall is powerful, I can feel ancient feminine wisdom here.  I participate in what feels like a radical show of civil disobedience (but is probably not as we aren't arrested or anything) and burst into song.  I sing wide open, yet feel scared to sing "too loudly,” something I haven't felt in years. My song is a prayer, a grieving cry for all the women past and current who do not know the power of their voices, and if they do have been forced to soften and hide them.  I am convinced this is a huge cause of war.

I have already learned to dread the sound of any siren.  I jump at the police siren, I stop my breath for a moment to listen more quickly when something bangs in the apartment above me.  I came to Israel to claim my jewish identity and begin to heal old wounds around being Jewish - most of them tied up in the loosing and hiding of feminine mystical traditions and the disempowerment of women.  But now, Jews all over the world are being thrown into old fear patterns about survival.  When will we get it:  Hate for hate, violence for violence, revenge for revenge will never cause peace.  I have been quiet confused and conflicted about the current Gaza-Israel conflict.  But I do know this: I want peace, and I want all humans to know that we are one.

When the streets are loud I feel safe, when quiet I wonder what we are waiting for. Perhaps I am being paranoid.  One moment the war feels miles away, nothing to do with me; the next, close and utterly personal.  I have been on a journey to claim my Jewish identity at a time of great pain and great harm.  It is confusing and conflicting.  I hear about anti-semitic acts in Western Europe and the US just days after visiting the holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.  Monday August 4th was Tisha b'av, the jewish fast day to grieve in honor of all the suffering of the jews.  Is it ironic that this is the day they finally pull troops out of gaza?  And I think I get it, I get why Israel is this way: We, jews, are caring in our bones this fear - this knowledge that not so long ago, someone was able to organize a huge force to extinguish all jews.  Still, how can our past be an excuse for causing great harm to others? I can't help being aware of all the genocide in the world as I write this, and my heart bleeds for all people.  There are so many issues at work here, too much to go into now, too much I am still conflicted about.  But I do know that for me, claiming my jewish identity and standing for peace is a step towards healing the ancient wounds that we are still carrying, passed down for generations.  Only then can we honor our oneness with others and stop causing harm.

The question I keep coming back to is this:  Does this conflict have anything to do with the continued oppression of women in both the arab and jewish world?  I can't help but feel they are connected.   A line of hopi prophesy comes to mind:  “Only when women return their blood to the earth, will men cease to shed blood.” I like to interpret this as “only when the feminine is empowered, will war end.”

 

I have sang together with groups of jews gathered in prayer. I have met with musician peace makers who, over the years, have gathered Palestinians and Jews together to make music even as riots raged around their song circles in Jerusalem. I have watched a youth Palestinian - Israeli choir share their beautiful voices with a mixed audience, gathering in song for healing and comfort.

Even more so then ever, it is time for each of us to claim the power of our individual voice.

So let this be a message for you:  whenever you question the validity of what you have to offer, or you don't share yourself fully, remember that only your unique voice will ring out clear and true about the things that matter most for you to speak.  Being a performer is a privilege and a power.  When we unapologetically share our truth, we wield great power to inspire and to influence.  How we use that power determine everything. I will use it to connect people and create peace.  I make music to end war on the planet and have the feminine become known and empowered in each of us.

You, my darling SSOL sisters and my music fans, are my army for peace.  When we empower women's voices in song, we can heal the planet.  I've seen it upfront, for real on this trip.  I've seen the difference between a political argument and a group dancing and singing on Shabbat, praying through song for peace for all.  This is the feminine way of prayer, of peace, of negotiation.

 

The question remains, how can we be more free?  What does freedom mean?  As a jew, as a Palestinian, a human being.  Freedom cannot happen for us when it causes others to be less free.  Freedom is peace, freedom is our souls recognition of itself in another's eyes.   When I see myself, I see the woman who is a musician, a coach, a healer, a teacher.  I also know the woman who carries deep longing, in the pit of her stomach, in her womb, in her vagina.  What longing?  Somedays, I know what it about.  It is a longing or wholeness, for feeling complete, for feeling one with others, for knowing exactly what my life is for.  It is a longing that shares the same space within me as grief.  The two collide in my womb, age old suffering rising up to cause tears, todays suffering just beyond my finger tips.  The planes fly over.  We hear the bombs but know it is still too far away to touch us.  What if we could feel the distinct flavor of war in our mouths even at this distance? What if my pain was yours and yours mine.  Because, in reality it is. Were you to experience an end of suffering, so I would as well. It is only suffering that causes violence.  Suffering is fear.  Suffering is an unquenchable thirst for security and power.  Suffering is the sewage in the street and no running water.  Suffering is your child dead at school.  Suffering is your best friend killed serving his mandatory 3 years in the army. Suffering is the pain your lineage has known.  Suffering is thinking we are right. Suffering is thinking we are different.  The end of suffering is simple: love.  Love that pervades all space and swells up within us so big that it cannot be contained within the narrow walls of who looks like you, shares your religion, has a claim to your land, comes from your same lineage of suffering.  May you, friend, love beyond all boundaries and know yourself as the most powerful force of peace in the world.

 

I cannot do this alone.  I need you.  We need an army of peacemakers.  But, I hope to inspire you, to help you understand you are not alone and your voice matters.  If you are inspired, touched, moved, grateful for my music and words, I would love to have your support to keep making music, in the name of peace and feminine empowerment.  I have a huge vision to help heal the planet through performance, through the gathering of song circles, and through the work of SSOL.  Please consider supporting me, by becoming a Patron of my music and vision at www.patreon.com/emmasong.  Or, join the army of feminine peace makers by becoming a SSOL sister!  Workshops and community events, plus a new membership program coming soon!

Do you know a woman who you think belongs to SSOL?  A woman who has a voice and just needs some feminine support to have her voice impact the world?  Is she questioning the validity of her voice, or feeling conflicted, confused, resigned or doubtful about how to take her next step of expression? Please connect us and have her join us! Maybe this woman is you!

You mean the world to me.  Never forget how beautiful and powerful you are.

Blessings,

Emma