Speak Up!

“Say what you mean, and mean what you say. I do.”

-Caterpillar, Alice in Wonderland

When was the last time you yelled?

I don’t mean the last time you raised your voice in an argument, or shouted “go team” at a Civil War reenactment; I mean really, truly, honest to whatever-god-you-believe-in, full release, orgasmically yelled?

Probably not too recently. In fact, the very idea is enough to trigger anxiety in some people. (“Who would hear me? What would people think? Would the police come knocking down my door? What if they thought I was—*gasp*—weird?”)

And you know what else? Most people can’t do it. Even if you parachuted them into the middle of a desert, hundreds of miles away from any other “civilized” human, and promised them water, food and a jeep chauffeured by Henry Rollins if they just, for once in their lives, yelled like they meant it—they could not.

We all carry the consequences of our upbringing into the most wild of wildernesses. For most of us, that means we speak quietly, politely, and carry loads of tension in our necks, jaws, and throats to make sure we never make any of those sounds that got us into such trouble as children. We choke ourselves off, afraid of what we might say, afraid of making a mistake, of incurring the wrath of our caretakers—who are now long gone, but still haunt our psyches in the form of the deep, chronic tension they left behind.

Now before you start formulating arguments against the desirability of a culture in which people yell at each other all the time, I should be clear that that’s not what I’m suggesting. The problem isn’t that we’re not yelling, it’s that we can’t. And what that means, fundamentally, is that our self expression is restricted—and that means a lot more than keeping our voices down.

We’re afraid of being impolite, of saying the wrong thing, of what the “other person” might think about what we say. Our chronic muscular tensions seats a Greek chorus of self-doubt and second guessing.

So we limit ourselves. We think about what we say before we say it. We run it by the chorus and ask, “Is this safe? Would you be upset? Does this sound stupid?” And in the process, we restrict our self-expression to what we think is safe, culturally and socially acceptable, and put our true convictions, our true creativity, our deep, organic authenticity in a cage.

To break out of that cage, you need to dissolve the muscle tension where it lives. Without that opening, nothing else can happen. But with that opening, anything can happen.

In the video accompanying this post, I provide a few simple but powerful techniques to get that process started NOW.

The expressions of the “voice”—singing, speaking, writing, any type of self-expression—represent the only means you have of building a bridge between who you are inside to how the world outside sees you. It’s your responsibility to build that bridge, to allow yourself to be authentically expressive, without fear and apprehension about what others might think.

We’ll be going into more detail on the neck, throat, and jaw–how to detense them, and how that detensing relates to sex, anxiety, and enlightenment–in our upcoming student’s choice course.(Course no longer available.)

Until then, say what you mean, and mean what you say. I do.

-Riley