Speak Your Truth: Throat Chakra Care

Last week I attended a symposium and was pleased to see that there was a segment when a mindfulness coach was to introduce mindfulness techniques to the room. There were probably 150 people in the room, seated at round tables. They had been sitting for two hours already. The speaker was to use a microphone and a PowerPoint.

It was hardly the ideal setting for an exploration of mindfulness exercises.

The speaker — the CEO and founder of a personal development company — spent her half hour with the group coaching like she was in an infomercial. She spoke as though she didn’t have a microphone — that is to say, she shouted. Into the microphone.

I recognized her voice as my own, as that of so many people I love and respect. It is the voice of a person whose adrenaline is maxed out and who doesn’t notice the need to stop, to breathe, to regroup. It is the voice of a person whose moment is mindless, not mindful.

In our culture, this voice is also the one people use in motivational speeches or talk shows: it is culturally read as confident, engaged, probably funny, likely relevant. As a high school teacher, I had so many incidents of getting to that place of practically yelling without noticing. For me, it is a result of having a plan and facing roadblocks — someone interrupts my third sentence in a row, the Smart Board develops a mind of its own, my flow is otherwise jeopardized. I know, in my head, that these are opportunities to stop and part with the plan, asking myself, “What is useful — for me, for the rest of the people in the room — right now?” In the course of a 40-minute lesson, however, my training was more “can’t stop don’t stop” than mindful. I would have a class where we got to the intended end; I would walk out with my students’ feedback and work product for me to assess; I would feel good: on top of it, successful. Back at my desk, in the first moments alone after a two or three-hour stretch, a colleague would approach me, I would respond, and WOAH! My voice would blow me out of the water. One of my first steps away from the classroom was to begin to investigate alternatives to that adrenaline-driven voice. (It is through that practice that I realized I was in the wrong environment for my own health: when my supervisor critiqued my delivery as “too calm” because the students would be bored, I am happy to have had the perspective to know that it wasn’t my level of calm that needed adjustment.)

As a talker and a verbal processor, I use my voice as a signal of how I’m doing during the day. I still have moments where I come home from a particularly “engaging” or taxing day and hear my voice — too loud, strained, really fast words: I sound angry or scared. My adrenaline is audible. It’s leaking through my throat chakra out into shared space. If I can notice it, I can take the chance to breathe and to give some love and attention to my throat chakra.

Vishuddha, the fifth chakra, is the chakra of expression. It houses our physical voice as well as our metaphorical voice. It is as much about listening as it is about speaking. We are often advised to support the throat chakra when we are nervous to present in front of an audience or to have a conversation that makes us anxious, like confronting someone or asking someone out. Giving love to the throat chakra is a key to honoring your truth and nurturing love in your interactions.

One of my favorite ways to support my throat chakra is to sing or hum with abandon. I turn on some favorite [uplifting, not hateful] music and belt it out. Often I do this while dancing, but sometimes I sit still, too. Alternately, you can find a quiet space (your bed? the shower?) and find a comfortable position where your spine can be aligned (shoulders in line with hips). Begin humming or aaah-ing or using the syllable hum to whatever notes come out. Maybe it’s a diddy you recognize, maybe it’s brand new to this world. Give yourself at least three minutes of this personal, individualized therapy today.

If you want more individualized ideas, please contact me at brooklynwholehealth.org.