Singing is woven into our humanity–voice can be considered our first instrument, the music and melodies of our primal being. In traditional cultures, whether historical or present day, there are songs for all activities–from sowing seeds to harvesting, from birthing to dying. Frequently these songs were and are sung together, an act of belonging, attuning, and finding the rhythm in our lives. These rhythms and vibrations connect us to each other, each singer following the beat, finding melody, singing the words, collectively the sum becoming greater than the parts. Community singing creates a unity based on harmony, not sameness. The music is richer and fuller because of each voice’s unique contribution. A natural metaphor for the world we work to build.
Singing has been and still often is an act that has supported people in finding wholeness. One place we often suppress our full expression of self is in our voice–the ways we don’t speak up or out, that we are told or learn to be quiet. One pathway to healing this silencing is through singing together–being vulnerable, releasing fear, liberating ourselves from the belief that only some voices deserve to be heard. Like dance, group singing is an invitation to release the idea of song only for performance. Instead we come together to express who we are, how we feel, letting our emotions move through us.
Somatically, humming and singing stimulate the vagus nerve, activating the parasympathetic nervous system (the part that soothes and calms us). Through singing we are also intimately connected to our breath, to its rhythm, how we have to learn to breathe in order to have the ability to sustain a note. Singing, in fact, teaches us how to breathe better, more deeply, which oxygenates our blood and increases circulation. Singing together also releases oxytocin and reduces cortisol, promoting a sense of well-being and connection.
In addition to the physical benefits and the liberation possible from singing with other humans, the act of singing can heighten our sense of the song of the world around us. We may notice more clearly the birdsong in the morning and evening and wonder at wisdom being shared by these consummate singers. We know that there are ways to record the vibrations of plants and fungi, the songs of whales, the frequencies of the cosmos. Perhaps as we sing together we briefly sense our own tiny part in the universe’s song. To sing together is to be alive, breathing, attuned, in dynamic resonance with each other and all that is around us. In the most magical of moments, when we are able to release our voices and our fears, the song is the vessel for medicine both physical and spiritual. Perhaps in those moments “the song sings us.”
Woven welcomes you to join us as we host Ahlay Blakely for Healing at the Roots
group singing & rhythm. And if you can’t join us then, we invite you to sing wherever and whenever you are moved to: in the shower, in the car, through your tears, in your joy. Your voice is powerful and your song is waiting to be sung.