By Cari Cole
Here at Cari Cole Voice & Music, we honor the voice and shout out every day about how much our voices matter. Indeed. And our voices matter, in many ways, in how we sing, speak and communicate, and most times, it matters more than we think. Because through our voices, we inspire and help the world. Yes. More of that, please.
But no matter how vocally or emotionally healthy you are or try to keep up with being, the claws of stress and tension often grab ahold of the vocal instrument and clam it up, shut it down and close you up for business. And it happens all too often just before a gig, when tensions run high, or on tour when you need it the most. When you’re a professional, losing your voice, or having vocal issues, is the last thing you need.
The voice is an instrument inside your body and therefore is greatly affected by how you care for it and you ;). What you eat, your mindset, and how you deal with stress. In our topsy turvy world, stress runs through most of us the moment we wake up in the morning, grab that cup o’ Joe (or green tea ;)) and rush here, rush there, rush everywhere.
And your voice, which are tiny little muscles and tissues inside your body, feel the effects of that. And then, at the least convenient times, you’ve got a tense, tight voice that is having problems maintaining a good sound, or it punks out, and closes down for business. For singers, losing your voice, or a voice that’s running on fumes is the kiss of death. Canceled rehearsals, recordings, concerts — it’s downright embarrassing and totally inconvenient, especially when you have to refund those concert ticket dollars to disheartened fans.
It may start with a mysterious vocal tightness, tension or hoarseness. Or, it may show up like a constriction in your throat that gives you trouble singing, and no matter how many vocal exercises you do, it just won’t open up. Something is off, but you’re not sure how to fix it. You’re not sick, and you’re not tired. Wth?
Maybe it’s stress? Most likely. Stress along with negative stressful thinking will actually create tension at the vocal folds and greatly contribute to fatigue and vocal problems. The minute you get angry you feel like your throat is constricting, even choking. Our thoughts have a hold over our bodies, and stress is not something you always know you have. It lodges deep, deep down in our subconscious. It might be a worry, a dread, an anger or sadness. Maybe about your own safety in the world, or about life circumstances that you cannot control. You can brush it off during the day, but underneath there is a sense of fear, dis-ease, or even impending doom. Or you’re struggling with deep-seated childhood issues or PTSD from abuse or trauma. When that happens, those stresses build up like plaque in arteries, literally choking you, your voice and your self-expression.
In Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, they would say your fifth chakra is stopped up, shut down or low in energy. A chakra is thought to be an energy point or node in the subtle body. Chakras are believed to be part of the subtle body, not the physical body, and as such, are the meeting points of the subtle (non-physical) energy channels called Nadi.
The throat chakra is the voice of the body. It is also a pressure valve that allows the energy from the other chakras to be expressed. If it is out of balance or blocked it can affect the health of the other chakras, and certainly, your voice. When it is in balance we can express what we think and what we feel easily. We can communicate our ideas, beliefs, and emotions. We can sing with ease and freedom.
When the throat chakra is in balance and open, we can bring our personal truth out into the world. When the throat chakra is out of balance the physical symptoms may include sore throats, tight jaws, stiff neck, and headaches. When it is out of balance, you also might find yourself habitually lying, feeling fear and doubt about the intentions of others, or find yourself stammering or at a loss for words. You will likely have feelings of being isolated and misunderstood. You may well have symptoms of other chakras being out of balance. This is caused by the throat chakra blocking the energy flow from the other centers.
I had times in my life when no matter how much I vocalized and meditated, my throat was just blocked. It was all emotional, and I didn’t have access to freeing it up. It took a lot of therapy (vocal and psychological) and healing treatments (deep massage, vocal lasers, Rolfing) and mostly, starting to freely express myself, stop stuffing my real emotions and be truthful with myself (and learn to trust myself – this was huge!!!) It’s a journey for sure. But knowing that sometimes there are are other forces at work upon you (your own conscience and psychological outlook), it helps to stop beating yourself up about it. And helps you get the help and treatment you need to set you back on course sooner.
Here are my Top 7 Tips To Open Up Your Throat Chakra and Sing Your Heart Out Again!
1. Slow Down.
Slow down and give yourself a break. For real. Walks, naps, epsom salt baths, movies, meditate, read a book, hammocks, good-for-you stuff to help you rel-a-a-a-ax until you feel better. Musicians work overtime and they worry a lot. It’s natural when you have a lot on your plate and it’s challenging to make a living in music. Just one day off, works wonders.
2. Express What You Unconsciously Stuff Down.
It doesn’t help when you hold everything inside. When you try to “handle” everything, or not be a burden to anyone. Or maybe it makes you uncomfortable to be vulnerable. But when you’re blocked up, it isn’t going to get better by swallowing it. Matter of fact, it will get worse. At these times, your mind, body and your throat is actually screaming for relief. You have to find ways to release the pressure, to vent a little. Maybe share your thoughts with a close friend or journal a bit. Or if you’ve been holding stuff back from someone who needs to hear about it, maybe you need to write them a letter or speak to them? If talking to them will only make things worse, then talk out loud like you’re talking to them (in a quiet. private place ;)). When you talk out loud you release energy you’ve been holding out of your body, and you’ll feel a release. Then the next time you find yourself holding back, don’t. Say what’s on your mind in a thoughtful way. You can say anything to anyone if you do it thoughtfully. You’ve got this. Don’t be a victim of the right to your own voice.
3. Journal Writing, Therapy & Meditation.
When you’ve got a lot of stuff to deal with, it’s easy to push it down. It’s a natural protective mechanism in our psyches to numb out, or push down what is “too much.” The best way to uncork or “free up” your throat, is to write in a journal every day for just 5 minutes. Say what’s really on your mind. Be honest. Make sure your journal is only for you to read. Maybe get one with a lock/key. It’s a place where you can be unfiltered and get to the stuff that’s under the surface. Share your wants, needs, frustration, even rage or deep sadness.
Therapy is also a great way to free up your expression. Seeing a psychologist that you connect with can be very useful, someone to talk to. Talking helps to alleviate the burdens that constrict our self-expression. I have had a long personal journey with my therapist of 30 years. It helps to deal with the day to day and the PTSD from early childhood trauma that I have had to deal with.
Meditation is another place I have looked for help. I practice Transcendental Meditation for 2 years now, and I wish I started a long time ago. It is the most clinically studied meditation and the practice for me has had the strongest, noticeable results over any other meditation I’ve ever practiced. It is particularly helpful for PTSD sufferers. I highly recommend it, it has transformed my life by significantly reducing stress and lightening my spirit. I can actually say that it has made me much happier ;). #priceless.
4. Yoga & Massage.
Yoga is the best medicine for, well, everything. Mind, body and spirit. It soothes the beast of life, releases pressure, physical and emotional, that builds up and causes tension. Go to yoga class or grab some free yoga classes on Youtube and get some serious down dog. Twice a week minimum. And then go grab a hot stone or deep tissue massage. Heck get a few. Get those knots out of your shoulders and neck, you’ll need the help, and it will help free you up over the long term. Get a massage twice a month if you’re pretty tense, or once a month for maintenance. I just did a treatment called the Atlas Evolution, that got rid of all of my tension. Life-changing. Highly recommended. www.atlasevolution.
5. Blue Light, Lasers & the Latest in Energy Medicine.
Sitting under a blue light is thought to relax you and help relieve stress. A spa here in New York (the Spa Castle) has a color therapy room where you sit in cubicles of chakra colors. The blue light cubicle is my favorite ;). Also a newer technology to the natural medicine market is “energy medicine”. My favorite Chinese doc (in LA), Dr Luke Cua uses a energy medicine light called the Nano Herbs Light, which treats over 700 illnesses – just about anything. You can blast your throat with it. Comes with glass viles of organic herbal tinctures (different ones for different issues) that the light shines through to your skin or troubled area. Sit in front of one for as little as 3 minutes and you’ll feel warm and tingly – and a heck of a lot looser. You can find him (and his light) at www.newvita.com. Tell him I sent you. He’ll be happy to hear that! If you’re in NY, check out a similar light called the Halo Ultra Blue Light and find a practitioner. In New York, we recommend Ritu at HaloMultiverse.com or Amy Cutter www.amycutter.com, who works with lasers. Tell them we sent you and you’ll most likely get a discount ;).
6. Blue Crystal Stones.
Crystals and stones have magnetic and healing properties. They have been used for centuries to heal physical, emotional and spiritual issues. Blue crystal energy will unblock and balance the throat chakra. The dark shades of blue have the power of truth. Lighter shades have the power of flexibility relaxation and balance. Try a blue crystal-like Azurite. Azurite resonates not only with the third-eye chakra but also with the throat chakra, it is believed to hurry the healing of throat problems. Wearing an azurite pendant will spike your energy level while your immune system will be considerably strengthened. You can wear it as jewelry or place one on your throat and meditate while you chant OM. Sound therapy is most important in unblocking the throat chakra. Any crystal healing of the throat should be accompanied by soothing, melodic music for maximum effectiveness.
Azurite carries healing properties for the central nervous system as well. The gemstone helps blood circulation, as well as the regeneration of cells. A stone of life and grounding memories, azurite is believed to help with relieving early Alzheimer’s symptoms as well as soothing other neurodegenerative diseases. Azurite is also used in detoxification therapies, to support the liver and kidneys, as well as other internal organs vital for this process.
7. Write a Song.
The kind that is therapeutic. Something you’ve really needed to say. Get it out. Tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Music is medicine. Make it yours.
Happy Healing! You’ve sooooooo got this.