Get the Edge…with Vocal Energy!!

IMG_5500

Photo taken from Pinterest because let’s be honest it’s hilarious, and if we stretch, we could all use a little more inner child in our vocal energy.

Hello Friends!!

On the cusp of spring turning into summer we find ourselves at another time that’s often full of transitions. For some it’s graduations and the beginning of careers, for others it’s internships and summer jobs, still others are preparing to absorb and develop that new talent. Projects are picking up, people are moving in new directions. There may be presentations, interviews, auditions, and teleconferences to contend with. In the spirit of all this, including the feelings of renewal and energy that the spring and summer bring, we wanted to plant the intention to find ways of imbuing your voice with that responsive and present energy. It can make all the difference.

In our work, which encompasses the vocal demands mentioned above, there is a sadness (and often a frustration) around the cut off potential of a de-energized voice. Not to say we both haven’t been there. It’s a terrible feeling when you’re in a tense environment with your throat feeling strangled and catching on words with cracks in the voice. Often this is imagined on a large scale with presentations and performances in front of a big audience. Today we ask you to consider the more intimate moments, like interviews, important phone calls, and team presentations. In these situations the unity of energized communication with the information being conveyed is invaluable, and done consistently, may provide a whole new range of opportunities.

To be clear, we don’t advocate skimming substance and expecting to get by on glibness. Know your stuff and do your prep work! From observation though, there are too many occasions where people’s nervousness interferes with their vocal energy and there’s a flatness that strips the vibrancy of their content. Sometimes there’s over compensation instead, but the de-energizing tendency is more common across the wider range of vocal pressure situations.

You deserve to embody your full energy and engagement in an important situation and your voice can be an invaluable asset in conveying that! So here are a few simple suggestions to remind you of this power before an important occasion.

-If you’re walking anywhere leading up to your occasion it is great to start by connecting breath with movement. I like to count ten steps on an inhale and then ten on an exhale. This will encourage sustained, supportive breath while you speak.

-Find somewhere private (bathrooms work pretty well) and take a few yawns with sound, an easy “ah” sound works well. Try to slide from the top of your voice down and from the bottom up.

-When you’re speaking see if it’s helpful to imagine your thoughts as beams of light (I like to picture mine as a nice golden beam). Send those beams to the person, or people, you’re talking to and imagine you need to sustain the energy of your message so that the beam can illuminate their face. The idea behind the metaphor is to maintain vocal energy all the way through each and every thought.

-Choose excitement over ennui. As a general observation, there can be a tendency to downplay knowledge, experience, and ideas in an attempt to “play it cool” or not convey emotion or not appear affected by the stakes of the situation. We are not advocating moving yourself to tears while discussing your skills, accomplishments, and insights, but be careful of the effects the ennui attitude can have on your voice. It can make you sound unenthusiastic and disinterested. And the concept of mirroring tells us that this can affect the people you’re interacting with. If you send messages of energetic enthusiasm people may well reciprocate that and recall energy and enthusiasm while thinking about YOU.

-Consider clothing. On important occasions we usually want to look our best, which is great. It’s helpful to bear in mind that when communication is a factor there may be a few helpful considerations: 1. Can you breathe comfortably? Wearing a super streamlined, restrictive piece of clothing may impact your ability to breathe and make sustaining vocal energy more of a challenge. Ideally opt for something that won’t overly restrictive. Especially around your shoulders, abdomen, lower belly, and hips.
2. Can you stand/walk/get a connection with the ground? Whether what you’re doing involves sitting, standing or more movement, consider your footwear. If you’re super comfortable in high heels that’s great, wear the pair you feel most grounded and powerful in. If you’re not a heels person, maybe stick with that instinct. Where heels aren’t involved avoid shoes that pinch and squeeze. Impeding your ability to connect with solid ground is another way to literally (and metaphorically) throw yourself off balance. 3. Just a little positive energy tip, wear at least one thing that makes you feel fantastic. Whether it’s a clothing item, accessory, something no one will see, or a spritz of perfume, give yourself that secret extra boost.

Hopefully these vocal energy tips have given you some good food for thought. Let us know if you have anything to add or any feedback. We wish all the best to those celebrating milestones themselves or supporting the milestones of friends, family and loved ones.

Take Good Care,

Lindsay and Christine

How do you communicate when you don’t speak the language?

IMG_0246
Dessau, Germany

Every year for the past four years, my Easter has looked like this: my partner and I head to Germany, where he is from, and spend a few days visiting family and friends. We see beautiful countryside, visit castles, get fresh air, eat a lot of bread, meat and cheese and drink a lot of beer. Here’s the catch: I don’t speak German. And several members of his family (most notably his mother and father) don’t speak English. And while other friends and family do speak English, naturally (and understandably) they would prefer to speak German.

As a voice and communication coach whose job it is to analyze and play with language, being in Germany and being often unable to communicate is always a humbling experience. While it has definitely been hard, I also believe it’s one of the most important experiences of my life. Language and conversation is my most precious way of connecting to people— you learn a lot about yourself when your language, or your typical means of connection, is taken away from you.

So what to do when you find yourself in a situation where you don’t know the language? How can you communicate? You may not choose to spend your life with a partner whose first language is different than yours, but we will hopefully all get the experience to visit and/or work in other countries and cultures, so let’s consider some useful communication tools when your first language is stripped away from you:

Learn the language!: Ok, this may seem obvious, but if you are going to visit or work in another culture, take steps to learn the language. Depending on how much you are going to be immersed in the new culture, this can seem overwhelming at first. For the first couple of years with my partner, I was so overwhelmed by the idea of learning German that I avoided it completely, because I felt like I had to become fluent immediately. Now I am a lot more realistic with my goals. There are many ways of flexibly learning a new language on your own timescale for a reasonable price. I have worked with Rosetta Stone, which is an excellent computer resource, and for the last couple of years I have made a commitment of practicing German on an app called Duolingo for five minutes every day. That doesn’t seem like much, but it’s the consistency that matters. The last few times I’ve been in Germany I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I’ve been able to understand and speak, and it has meant so much to those around me that I have made this effort.

Breathe with the vulnerability: Not knowing or feeling comfortable in a language can feel extremely vulnerable, especially when you are the only person in the room who is in that situation or when you are in a new country where you need to get around and don’t know your surroundings. It’s helpful to keep breathing and feel grounded in the space you’re in. Whenever you start to feel vulnerable or lost, feel where your feet are touching the floor, or if you are sitting, be aware of where your sit bones are supporting you in the chair. Put a hand on your belly and feel how it moves towards your hand when you breathe in and away from your hand when you breathe out. These actions will help you ground and keep you from panicking. They will also make it easier for you to listen when you are trying to grab hold of a language you don’t totally understand.

Be aware of your body language: When you don’t have access to verbal communication, body language becomes even more important. For my first few trips to Germany, when I didn’t know German at all, I had no idea how to interact in group conversations. Do I look at the person talking and act like I am listening when he/she knows I have no idea what’s being said? I found myself nodding my head when people were talking (a habit I have in my own culture that I am trying to be aware of— we often nod to signal we are listening but it’s something I try to be mindful of, because it signals agreement when that’s not always how I feel), and then feeling ridiculous because I was nodding at people when they knew I had no idea what they were talking about! So what to do? If you are in a group conversation, use your body in a way that looks engaged and like you are listening, even if you don’t understand. It will help you pick up new words if you are trying to learn the language, and it will make those around you realize you are making the effort to learn. Everyone likes when you make an effort to learn something about them, including their language. You can even turn it into a game for yourself. Watch how they use their bodies in communication. Notice if you are naturally mirroring them, or try mirroring them and see what that feels like. This helps you stay active and engaged. If you totally break eye contact or stop listening, it gives the impression of boredom— perhaps not an impression you want to leave when you are visiting another culture.

Intercultural communication is an increasingly necessary skill in this ever-globalizing world. While many people do speak English, it’s not fair to always expect them to do so, especially when you are in their culture. So if you find yourself, whether for professional or personal reasons, in a different culture where the first language isn’t English, hopefully these tips will be helpful to you!

Do you have any other thoughts about how to communicate when language is taken away? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Take good care,

Christine

Voicing the Inner Voice; Gratitude

img_2031
My safe space. Where’s yours? 

Hey Y’all,

Happy Thanksgiving Week! Because of all the craziness going on in the world, we thought this would be a good time to tune in to your inner voice. Since it’s Thanksgiving, we’re practicing voicing the mantra ‘I’m grateful’. Put on something comfy, find your safe space, and tune in.

Take good care,

Christine and Lindsay

 

PSA: Free Voice Coaching for Activists

img_4763

Last week was the first week we didn’t post since we started this blog on March 8th, 2016. We have no excuse, other than that as two American citizens, we were deeply concerned by the results of the presidential elections last week. Without going too deeply into politics, we were saddened that a candidate who seems to be interested in marginalizing or silencing voices, particularly voices from populations that differ from his own, won the day. And at the same time, we felt it was important to acknowledge the voices of the people who did vote for him– that perhaps we had failed to hear these voices before the election– their concerns, fears, trials, tribulations and general motivations for voting for this kind of change.

Anyway, we spent most of the week feeling speechless, and a lot of the week hiding and imbibing the delicious cocktails you see above, or just straight whiskey. (Some of you may not know this, but Lindsay is a genius at concocting cocktails. This one was a rosemary and cinnamon Old Fashioned.) Feeling speechless is always a humbling experience, particularly when one is a voice coach! But if you can breathe with that speechlessness, it can provide an interesting moment to think, feel and listen.

In our reflective time away, we have had an idea. We want to use our skills as voice coaches to ensure that, in this new world, some voices, particularly those of the under-priviledged, minorities, women, and those who identify as LGBTQ+, aren’t lost. Therefore, if you are an activist giving a speech on behalf of one of these groups, or for one of these groups, or as a member of one of these groups, then we have an offer for you. We would like to offer you 1 free hour of voice and public speaking coaching to help you with your speech– in person or via Skype (so you don’t have to be local to London). In this era of constant communication, we seem to have difficulty hearing each other and communicating with each other respectfully, particularly when we have differing opinions. We would like to help you get your message across effectively and build a rapport with your audience– for FREE.

If this is something that you think remotely relates to you, or that you are interested in, please contact us. You can email us at bespoke.comcontact@gmail.com or comment below. And if you know of anyone that you think would benefit from this, please help us spread the word. We are committed to living in a world where every voice is heard. Let’s start with yours!

ps. By the way, the list of groups doesn’t have to end with the ones mentioned above. If you are an activist who is promoting inclusion, love and care in any way, and you would like public speaking help, please contact us.

pps. This offer will never end.

Create Your Consistency!

linds-pic

Hello Friends!

So, here we are just past mid-October. The weather for many of us is crisper, perhaps there’s some beautiful foliage for you to enjoy. There is also, for many of us, a shift into the next gear of work or school as we begin the ramping up of things to accomplish before the semester (“term” for my Brits shaking their heads) or financial year ends. We confront project deadlines, late nights, and the stress that impacts us as a result. And that can mean certain things fall by the wayside. Like your attentiveness to an individual communication/voice/mindfulness practice for example. We are taking this head-on and offering some ideas to keep you engaged rather than exhausted before things really swirl into the chaos officially known as the “holiday season.”

We’re going to be very upfront here… some of you may be in full-time drama school training programs, or part-time, or something else in between. For the great spectrum of professional people out there, it may be that you take communications courses or see a coach privately or maybe you are doing entirely your own variation of unguided engagements around this kind of work, it’s all good. But you better be making a conscious effort to engage with the process in your mind/body. Most people in our line of work will tell you how frustrating it can feel when we see the people we work with expecting our contact time to simply “fix” whatever it is they want to address or that somehow by showing up and going through the motions they will be “trained”through attending classes. There’s much more to it than that, and it depends on the work you’re willing to do. As with anything in life, but particularly when it comes to communication skills. Why? HABITS.

Our habits dictate many aspects of our lives and our communication behaviors such as posture, accent, vocal patterns, gesture…you name it, it’s involved and been forming through all stages of your life. In order to increase flexibility and use of communication skills habits must be identified and replaced with habits that encourage adaptivity and awareness. Coaches and teachers are invaluable for helping this process along and guiding us through set backs and breakthroughs, but ultimately long-term progress comes back to our willingness to engage, question, and notice. Especially when we’re busy. There are so many insights that might be missed because we feel the need to constantly plough ahead instead of examining what’s happening through our experiences. That’s why we’re proposing a dedication to creating consistency by finding ways to engage with your communication skill-building work solo.

These are our suggestions:

Be Realistic: Identify a few key skills you feel confident working on individually. Write down the exercises you know to be helpful so you don’t have to scramble. Don’t set crazy time expectations. Even 5 minutes can help you on your way when consistently and thoughtfully used.

Ask For Support: Ask coaches and teachers what they recommend in terms of solo work that will help you work toward your goals. Trust us, they’ll love it.

Plan Ahead: Notice where setting time aside will be possible, it doesn’t always have to be the same. Pencil in pockets of time and do your best to stick to them.

Create Rituals: Enjoy having a candle lit during evening practice? Go for it. Have a favorite bench in the park where you can practice mindfulness in peace? Get yourself there. Find ways to create space and occasion for your practices

Talk About It: Tell your loved ones (or you know, housemates) about what you’re doing whether just casually or in a full blown detailed conversation. Either way you will be engaging your own thought process around your goals and letting them know you shouldn’t be disturbed while practicing.

Get Creative: Don’t be afraid to go off on tangents. Research and experiment, keep yourself curious so that the process isn’t a chore. Keep it spicy!

Hopefully these suggestions provide some food for thought. We truly believe communication skills goals can be achieved wherever you’re coming from, especially when you feel connected to and present with your own process. Let us know how it goes and what you think!

Take Good Care,

Lindsay and Christine

Voice on the Road: Vocal Care Tips for Intrepid Travelers

IMG_2701

We are finally getting some flashes of summertime weather over here in the UK, and Lindsay and I are soaking up as much as we can. Summer is my favorite season in England— the days are long and if you’re lucky it gets warm but not too hot, so it’s perfect for day-long outdoor escapades. But my favorite part about summer is taking the time to travel. Lindsay and I both have some exciting trips coming up, so we thought we’d do a series on how to take care of your voice when you’re on the road. Here are some quick tips for good vocal care while traveling: 

  • Stay Hydrated. This one is important all the time, but especially if you’re traveling on planes, where the altitude and dry recycled plane air can really dry out the vocal folds. Choose water over sugary drinks or tea/coffee. Alcohol is always dehydrating but is especially so on planes. So if you decide to imbibe, make sure you also drink plenty of water. 
  • Take care of your body. To take care of the voice, you have to start by taking care of the body. Traveling, particularly when it involves sitting for long hours at a time, can be hard on the body. It can cause extraneous tension and pain as well as swelling, none of which is great for having the loose, free alignment you need to produce clear, healthy sound. So once you arrive, make sure you take some time to stretch your body, even if just for 5 minutes. (We have some lovely body sequences in the Voice For Beginners section you could use as a guide). It’s also a good idea to take care of your body while you’re in transit, particularly if it’s a long journey. Yoga with Adriene (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHTcr7F1QiY) has an excellent airplane sequence which you can do while sitting in a chair. No one will even know you’re stretching— it’s amazing! I did this sequence several times the last time I flew back to the States, and it made a huge difference not only in how I felt on the day of travel, but in how quickly my body recovered from the travel in the days that followed. 
  • Find 5 minutes a day to do a brief Vocal Warm up/check-in: It can be hard to find time when you’re traveling to warm up your voice, but doing something brief each day will keep you in the zone and keep your voice strong and healthy while you’re traveling. I tend to stick with things I can do while I get ready for my day, like a lot of humming up and down my range and making fricative sounds while checking in with support. (Check out some of our voice warm ups if you’re not sure what I’m talking about!) I do these while I’m showering, dressing, getting my hair ready, etc, just to check in and warm things up a bit. It means I don’t totally get out of the habit of warming up my voice, and my voice feels better while I’m on vacation. 

Do you have any other tips to maintain a healthy voice and vocal routine while traveling? We would love to hear them. Until then, happy and safe travels! 

Take good care,

Christine

Restore Yourself! Restorative warm-up and cool-down…

IMG_4092

Hello friends!

A lot is happening in the world at the moment. Britain is leaving the EU, Trump is running for president— it can all get a little much sometimes! If you are feeling a bit weighed down by the world’s events, and at the same time find that you are having to communicate with others a lot, then this is a great restorative practice for you.

This week’s practice is designed to be either a warm up or a cool-down. It’s a voice and body practice that will be beneficial if you’re feeling physically and/or vocally tired, but still have work to do.  It will get the voice and body released and then flexible, with a focus on physical release, breath and gentle sound. We certainly felt restored after making it. Let us know what you think!

take good care,

Christine and Lindsay

At Home with Breath, Body, and Voice

IMG_3986Photo from the amazing boardwalk murals in Asbury Park, NJ.

Hello Friends!

The last few weeks Christine and I have been traveling, we’ve actually both gone to visit our families in the States. I’ve returned to London now and I’ve been thinking about the idea of home, and beyond that what it means to be at home in a metaphorical way. At home in the voice and in the body.

Being in my childhood home was so comforting, especially with my family and friends around me. I notice sometimes that my voice feels louder there, although now I get teased for using British expressions. In the midst of all that comfort though, I missed my life and home in London too. Since returning I’ve been thinking of all the ways I carry my original home with me, my accent and various attitudes and beliefs, my love of diners. Of course while I was there I couldn’t help but contemplate the traces of my more recent home. Especially in the airport/subway where I longed for the passive aggressive civilization and efficiency of British queuing attitudes. This new blend of my sense of authenticity is interesting to me, at times it feels odd but overall I’ve grown to enjoy it. On the plane back to London I watched Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s film Sisters, which I have to say really did make me laugh. At one of the more poignant (cheesy) moments Amy Poehler’s love interest shares this pearl of wisdom: “Home isn’t a place, it’s a feeling.” It’s not exactly a fresh concept but given my recent travels it resonated. Then I started thinking about it in relation to Christine’s post last week.

For me a lot of voicework is about coming home to ourselves, not, as Christine so eloquently discussed, trying to meet aesthetic standards that we may feel no connection to. We come home to our bodies to find support, in breath, posture, thought and our voice. Sometimes home is elusive and shifting or surprises us with its presence, but the feeling is clear.

After a long journey or stressful day I like to take some time to come home. This is a simple exercise that can be done on its own or at the end of a yoga sequence, however you’d like to try it. There’s no audio so you can go over the instructions and make them your own.

  • Find a place you can rest comfortably on your back. Get a mat, towel, or whatever will make you comfortable and place it down. You may also want a cushion or two for under your knees or the back of your head.
  • Create some ambiance, whether that’s lighting a favorite candle, selecting the right music or getting a cool cloth with a drop of an essential oil to place wherever you need it. Do something to make the space particular to you.
  • Take time to become comfortable on your back. If you need cushions or other props, grab them. Move between supine and semi-supine to establish what feels best for your body today. Go through a few gentle stretches to get comfortable.
  • Allow yourself to find stillness in the body and focus on the movement of the breath. Don’t worry about controlling it, but be aware of how it’s moving through your body.
  • Notice where your thoughts are going and try not to judge them. Without judgement, allow yourself to think about anything you associate with home in each passing moment. Return to this anchor as often as you wish to.
  • Stay on your back as long as is comfortable. When you decide to get up, ease yourself there. Take some gentle stretches on the floor and mindfully return to standing. Note anything interesting that occurred and carry on with your day.

I hope you enjoy this. As always please feel free to send us your thoughts and questions.

Take Good Care,

Lindsay

What is Voice Work About?

IMG_6857

“There is no index of character so sure as the voice.” — Benjamin Disraeli

A lot of times when students approach us about wanting to work on their voices, it’s because they don’t like the sound of their voice. And that’s fair. We as a society have aesthetics surrounding what kind of voices we like to hear just as much as we do about body shape, facial features, hair style, etc.

Because of these aesthetics, many people think that our role as voice coaches, whether we work with actors or with professionals in other contexts, is to help people cultivate a beautiful voice. But that is actually no so much what I am interested in.

As a voice coach, I’m much more interested in exploring: is your voice connected to what you’re saying? Connected to your message? In the same way that you would want your body language to match your message. Whether that message is a pitch to client, or  you’re playing a character and speaking somebody else’s words, or whether you’re talking with friends at a pub. I find this to be a much more constructive way to work with people on their voices than by aiming to help them find a ‘beautiful’ voice. For one thing, if the voice is connected to the message, then it’s more likely that the sound is being produced in a healthy way. That connection is physical as well as vocal, because your voice is created by muscular actions that happen in your body. Vocal connection means that your breath support muscles are working efficiently, sending up just the right amount of air through your vocal folds. Healthier breathing means more of your body can resonate as you speak—- so when your voice is connected to your message, you are allowing your message to literally resonate within you.

There is good news for those of you who would like to improve the sound of your voice: aiming for a healthy, connected sound does objectively improve the sound of your voice to others. But that improvement will come from a more authentic place—- it will come from you simply expressing yourself, as opposed to you trying to sound a specific way.

Can you think of moments in your life where you’ve been truly physically and vocally connected to what you were saying? Where your body language and voice were unified with  your thoughts and intentions? How did that feel? When were those moments? We would love to hear about them– please feel free to send us an email or share in the comments below. Your stories could be great inspiration for others!

Take good care,

Christine

 

 

Training the (Inner) Voice

IMG_3772

In our work as voice and communication skills coaches, Lindsay and I generally work with students on ‘delivery’. That is, how the message (whether that be a play, a story, or a presentation) is being delivered physically and vocally. Key questions we consider are: how can students find open body language? How can they find healthy, full voices that are connected to their message? We spend a lot of time looking at external communication as a means for expressing the internal life of the communicator clearly and engagingly.

So you may be asking yourself why we’ve spent so much time in the last few written blog posts talking less about external communication and more about the inner voice— specifically through the lens of exploring ‘mantras’, or affirmative statements— either through simply thinking them internally or speaking them out loud (and proud!). Well, here’s why: the more I work with students on elements of their external communication, like body language and voice, the more I realize how much the habits we develop around the way use our voices and bodies to communicate have to do with how we talk to ourselves— or the ‘inner’ voice. So while the body, voice and inner voice can be worked on separately, they are intricately connected and sometimes it is worth considering them more holistically.

We are not psychologists and we don’t claim to be. Our work on the inner voice is not about psychological catharsis or healing (although if that is a byproduct— great!). Rather, our work is about acknowledging that the inner voice is a powerful tool for communication. If we ignore our inner voice, it makes it difficult to connect physically and vocally to our message— because we don’t actually know what we think or feel about it! But as with anything else, the inner voice can get into unhealthy habits in terms of how it communicates with us, which can have an impact on our physical and vocal communication. It’s hard to have open body language and speak loud enough for people to hear you when your inner voice is telling you you aren’t worthy of being heard, or you don’t deserve to be in the room.

So we here at BeSpoke Communication humbly believe that if you’re really serious about working on your voice and body language in communication, part of that journey will at some point be benefitted by training your inner voice, or working on your self-talk. Personally, I have found adopting daily, weekly or monthly mantras an excellent way of beginning to train my own (quite unruly, rebellious, obsessive and sometimes rude) inner voice. I started really getting serious about this process back in January during the 30 Day Yoga Challenge we’ve mentioned several times. Similar to training the spoken voice, I’m finding that training the inner voice takes discipline and practice, but it’s worth the time in terms of the rewards it brings.  Here is a story about a discovery I made while  working actively to train my inner voice that has strengthened my confidence in my communication.

On Day 30 of the 30 Day Yoga Challenge, the task was to choose your own mantra. I picked ‘I choose to enjoy.’ I had struggled with getting into the mantras for the first 15 days, but half-way through, I really started to get into it. In fact, it was after the afore-mentioned breakthrough in our blog post about presence that I began to realize the powerful benefits that can come from taking some control over my self-talk. So by the time I got to Day 30 and I was asked to pick my own mantra, I was ready to go! I choose to enjoy!!

There was a big surprise about how the video was structured on Day 30, which I won’t ruin for those of you who want to do the challenge, but at the time I didn’t enjoy the surprise. At all. In fact, I found it deeply unsettling. I kept trying to keep up with the practice in the video, really not liking what was happening, with my inner voice slowly sinking into a negative diatribe about how ironic it was that I had chosen the mantra ‘I choose to enjoy’ on a day when I was so not enjoying myself. At some point, I moved into a Runner’s stretch. The opening in my hip allowed my breath to open and my inner voice suddenly said clearly: ‘This practice is difficult but I am enjoying this moment.’

That was my way into my mantra. I might not enjoy the surprise, or that day’s practice overall, but I could commit to finding moments within it that I did enjoy. Having the mantra helped me actively look for those moments, rather than totally shutting down or turning negative— which would have had a real impact on my ability to move, open up, and breathe. The experience I was having with the yoga practice, instead of turning negative, suddenly became a positive challenge: where could I look for moments of enjoyment, even in an experience I was finding difficult?

What if we all approached life this way, not just yoga? More specifically, what if we approached our communication in this way? So many of us find speaking in public (whether as ourselves or as a character) a difficult experience. I have found that training my inner-voice with mantras has helped me cultivate a habit of more positive self-talk in general, but also in communication contexts. This has benefited my external communication—- because my body is more willing to open up and I’m more willing to breathe deeply and send my voice to others when I’m speaking–directly because of the more positive way I’m talking and and relating to myself. Even if that moment of communication is difficult.

What do you think? Does this all sound too new-age-y to you? Or have you been doing this for years? Mantras are just one way into self-talk. Have you found another way that works for you? We would love to hear about it.

Christine