Transcript from a meeting with James Eaton on 19 November, 2016
I used to sing in a certain way: using a lot of tension in my jaw, in my tongue, and my larynx was quite tight and high. Then I met an amazing singing coach, who was very useful at making me notice all these different muscle groups that I was using that had got nothing to do with singing! They’re compensatory muscles that are completely unnecessary, that have somehow got involved in the act of singing, that actually make you sing less well.
So working with someone like that is about letting go of those muscles, and just singing with all that’s actually necessary. But that process is extraordinary. It’s exactly in a sense what we’re doing here.
First of all, you need to recognise what’s happening. And it may be that you’ve been singing in a certain way for so many years, this was true for me, that you don’t even recognise what’s happening. And then, you start to notice.
So that’s what we’re doing: noticing; noticing what’s really going on: “Oh yes! Oh yes! Oh yes!”
Then in the noticing, using the muscles analogy, they start to soften. And then there’s a fear that comes up. Because now you’re in unfamiliar territory: “When I sing I always sing like this. And now I’m singing and I’m not doing that. Who knows what’s going to happen!” And, yeah, maybe the voice flips. It flips and flips and flips all over the place and you think, “Oh Christ if people could hear me now they’d think I can’t sing for toffee!” But you carry on, and you carry on, and you start getting used to not using those compensatory muscles.
And then, amazingly, you start to realise something else has come in that you’re clinging to now. There’s a different muscle, or something that you weren’t using before that now you’ve clinged on to. Because it’s a new holding. It’s a new place of safety. So these are the ideas we cling to. New ideas, ‘spiritual’ ideas that come in. And now we can hold on to those: “no-one here, nothing to get”. And people will go to meetings like this one and they’ll challenge people like me when they say things that seem to contradict the thing that they’ve learned and feel safe with. So what we’re doing there is we’ve started to let go of the old way, but we’ve grabbed hold of a new idea. For safety. For security.
So then you start to see through that. And then, you start to sing without any of these extraneous, compensatory muscles. And you start to REALLY sing! And, it’s a nice analogy: your range broadens. You sing higher and lower. You can sing for longer without fatigue. It’s a beautiful analogy.
That’s exactly what we’re doing here. It’s a process. And if you find yourself gripping on to any kind of belief, or anything that feels rigid and inflexible, that’s what you’re doing: you’re looking for safety.
So, there’s the courageousness again: coming into that place, that open place where there’s nothing to hold.
But that’s the wonder of it! Wow!