Rock Yourself Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 14

Listen and Allow

20 min - Practice


Sadie shares her experience of coming into her unique and true voice. She and Thorald share a conversation about listening before Thorald leads us in one last exercise--a game of awareness--to start to be the witness to our thoughts and allow our whole selves to shine and just be.
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(waves crashing) How do you feel today? Well, you know, after yesterday and we did everything, I felt really open during the day, I got a lot of powerful feedback from people who just, like, on the crew who were here, coming up to me saying, "Wow, that sounded amazing". Just the kind of thing I guess I wanted to hear but was trying to sing so much that it was like, "Oh, it's good, it was pretty". You know, like, so I got that kind of feedback without even needing it or wanting it or trying to get it but just to sit in myself and be me. It was really relaxing, it was really just freeing, is the best word I have for it.

And I went to sleep last night and I realized there has been a complete removal of the stress and anxiety I had around sharing my voice on that level, you know? Like, my voice, not the yoga words, not the sequences I'm choosing for class, which is kind of a smokescreen. So I can get up in front of 10,000 people, I could, you know, 100,000 people and teach yoga, no problem. Right. But to sing a simple Om...

Right. And let it be me, that's another layer. And I feel like I really, I broke through that yesterday. Right. And I feel super relaxed.

Fantastic. Yeah. We wanted to talk about listening as an action, as an experience. And you've had a lot of experience with leading a lot of people, and what I've found with listening is that the more we listen, the more we sense what's happening around us, the more we know what it is we want to say and what we want to sound. And we'll bring it back to that awareness game.

We've played some of those games together so far, of just using our awareness to feel what's going on. And before we know what we want to voice, we first need to have the courage to let all the automatics all the thoughts, feelings, sensations, and emotions that come up telling us we can and can't and what we should sound like, what we should say, what would be a, what would make us look good. You know, all of these normal, human things. And in my experience, with my self, I realized that so much of what was taking me out of the moment in my expression was listening to that first layer of automatic thoughts, feelings, sensations, and emotions. And I spent a lot of time creating the space to clear the space rather than let all of those automatics be.

And part of starting with that allows us to listen in a whole new way. So I wanted to talk about that with you. What's your experience of when you're nervous or when you go to voice yourself, what comes up, what's the first automatic stuff that comes up? Well, always, and I mean, I think that we, especially as yoga teachers, because that's what I predominantly do, and as people of course, but I know in the yoga space, I tend to second guess myself, and I hear a lot of other teachers say the same thing. Like, "Is this the thing I really wanna say" or "Oh, you couldn't possibly do that right now, "they're not going to like that, "or they came here for this", you know, so I can really get easily caught up in listening to that first, loud voice of fear, I guess, and resistance, instead of what else am I going to listen to?

When I'm at my best, though, I was just thinking about this, I am in a deep space of listening and I'm just sharing freely what's coming up out of my mouth, it's like I'm translating that me-ness that I'm just hearing. How often do you feel like you can just naturally be there, for you to just speak what it is that you want to say? How often do you find that natural, awesome expressive place on your own? It depends on in what arena, I mean if I'm in a yoga class, now I'm very practiced at that, I'm very comfortable with that, so I can slip in pretty easily. Not right at first, you know, always I come in, "Hey Wisconsin, who are you?

"I don't know most of you, but let's do this". And it's always that awkwardness of the voices going "Oh, they're not gonna like it" or "They're not talking, they hate you", the stuff. But there I can drop into it. In relationships with other people, the closer they get the harder it gets to speak my truth, but then, the more important. And in singing, that's the last frontier for me.

Absolutely. You know, I've practiced yoga teaching more than the intimacy of truth in relationship, practiced that more than the singing, so yesterday for me was like full-on edgy. And you did fantastic. Thank you. I was trying to keep up.

It's so beautiful. Some of your lines. I was singing kind of high. You know, let's be honest. Well what I've found is, we are all the same.

We all have thoughts, we all have feelings, we all have sensations, we all have emotions. And throughout a long period of my life, I just lived in the reaction of those thoughts, feelings, sensations, and emotions. And often I didn't even know I was living in them. I was really spending most of my energy trying to clear them, so that I could then create freely and one day feel awesome. And we, unfortunately we reinforce them the more we play with that automatic canvas, that's what I call it.

I always looked at it as this big canvas, and we each have this canvas. If this is our canvas to paint on, at the same time before or during or after we have all of these automatic paints that get painted on this canvas. And we each have a brain, we each have that part of our brain that wants to survive. It's an old, ancient part of the brain that wants to meddle and make sure you're okay at all times, whether or not it's doing a great job, it doesn't really know the difference. And I look at those as automatic paints.

So you go up to this canvas and you go "Okay, I really want to be daring here" and you go to do it and it's like, suddenly there's paint happening here, "Can I?" you know, "Will I look good?" "I've never done this before," "That person's looking at me strange." You know, like, all of this, you know, "Mom told me I can't sing when I was ten," then like, you know, "Someone looked at me weird "when I opened my mouth in third grade." And if you went and found this person in third grade and said, "Hey, all my life I haven't spoken up "because this one time you laughed," they'd be like, "Oh, really? I'm so sorry, "like, what, I don't have any..." "I don't even remember it." "I was nine." You know, like, and we have these automatic paint sets, regardless of the work that we do as individuals to, like, find healing of those, you know, to become the humans we are, regardless of that, we always have automatic paints. And what I've found is the gateway to getting up, to really listening and really being active and being in our lives is to first and foremost be okay with those automatic paints. Now, I wish someone told me that years ago, cause I drove myself completely nuts. And the line I used is you let it be. And we can play some games doing that.

So this is how simple we can do this, right, with our game of awareness. We can just be up to letting things come up. And a great word here is to be the witness. Let's do it together. So just sitting however you are, I just want you to be comfortable, and we're going to close our eyes this time, but also you're more than welcome to keep your eyes open.

And again, I want you to find that middle center of your brain. I want you to find that armchair or captain's chair in the middle center of your brain. Steve is what you named yours. Mine is unfortunately Nancy. (laugh) And I want you to take a deep, relaxed seat.

And I want you to come home into your body, no matter what, no matter what automatic colors say don't, come back into your body. You do have that free will to sort of step back into the body as you are right now. And I just want you to start becoming aware of your breath, allowing the breath to rise into the belly and fall, bellybutton to spine, just enjoying that beautiful gift that the breath is. And I want you to watch with your awareness, watch what it feels like to be able to breathe. At the same time, from Steve, from your middle center of your brain, I want you to just be the witness of that breath.

And also I want you to be the witness of all thoughts, all feelings, all sensations, all emotions, no matter if they are quote unquote "good" or "bad," fearful, doubtful, excited. I want you to watch them all impartially, to be truly okay with whatever is naturally and automatically coming up. Another way to say it is, there's nothing to adjust. And I want you to experience all of those thoughts, feelings, and sensations that come up automatically like you're watching a movie. Like you're lying down, looking up at the sky, and watching clouds pass over you.

There's nothing to touch, there's nothing to adjust, there's nothing to move. And as we're experiencing all of this automatic colors, I want you to see them on your canvas, I want you to see them being automatically painted and I want you to, regardless of those thoughts, feelings, sensations, and emotions, pick up your paintbrush. And it's right here when we have to courage to let all of those automatics be, that instead of clearing the canvas, instead of erasing what is automatically being painted, we're just going to paint anyway. We're going to paint over whatever is already on the canvas, yes. And we're going to paint regardless.

And this is where listening really comes up, because to really paint what it is that you want, you have to listen to what it is that you want to paint. And just as powerfully, what you want and what you don't want are just as awesome. You can paint anything you want. You can say, you can sound, you can move in any way you want, that you want to. Now I do this all the time, I do this before I play, this is where I sing from.

I spend as much time as possible sounding and expressing from a place that is me actively in my wants and what it is that I don't want to say is just as important, and I move toward expressing that from that place. And that's an action that's not a reaction. It's so important, I think, for people, and maybe everyone, but especially people who are in this yoga language who are on the yoga path, because we're really big on doing the work. You know, we feel an uncomfortable sensation and we'll say, "Let it go." Let it go, which to me is a real resistance. It's still a reaction.

Or we'll say, you know, "Tap it out," or we'll have something to do about it to help dissolve it so that we can get to center, so that we could do this, but I find it's easier into that place if you let it be. There you go. And that's why I work with him so much, because I don't want to waste time. I'm not saying never do work or never, you know, target those areas that you're in real challenge. At some point, though, it's wonderful to let the canvas itself become those malleable, moving, automatic brushstrokes and you're just doing your thing on top anyway.

Absolutely, and there's a handful of things. One, yeah, there is things to heal and we each find that out the more we let all the first survival brain instincts to make sure everything's okay. Once we let that be, we actually really get to the core of what needs healing and what needs, you know, new life, new blood, new, you know, the new adventure is revealed when you go beyond that and you step in and you listen. And I experienced that real time when all I was was a reaction to all of my thoughts, feelings, sensations, and emotions, and it was a rabbit hole for me. And, if anything, my pursuit was to heal at all costs from the automatic canvas, which was something's wrong with me and I've got to fix it.

When we go beyond that first layer, we arrive at, "What do I want, "and what do I need to be up to "to be that fully expressed being." And everything follows suit from there. And when I went through what I did with obsessive compulsive disorder, as I came out the other side behaviorally, I realized that I had this beautiful opportunity to see where everyone around me was being limited by their own automatic canvas, their own automatic survival brain. I had had an opportunity to see how far down the way of survival brain I had gone, and it gave me insight into how I could bring that into me voicing and expressing myself and how everyone could. So that's really how I ended up coming into the work that I do. And that's so powerful.

I mean I hope that you can see what a shift that might be in your life as it has been in mine and I know in yours to not just take up all your time wasting time from, if you're gonna do the work, do your life's work, do the work of passion enjoying being yourself and expressing yourself, not just getting stuck in trying to do all of these techniques to just get rid of the automatic, because you won't. It's like meditating. We sit there for hours and hours and hours and they're like, "Get rid of the thoughts, erase the thoughts, "stop your thoughts." That actually drove me insane. It will. Some hyper critic brains...

It's impossible, this is what we say, it's not possible, and so that's what you learn in meditation, first and foremost. You don't stop the thoughts, you allow the thoughts. And then you do your work anyway, your real deep work, the work of center. And I think what you're saying here is something a lot of people have misinterpreted to be "I'm gonna be here, resisting for a lifetime," and never getting to that other layer. And that's something that I don't want any of us to do anymore.

Right in the middle once we go beyond that first layer, where we allow ourselves to just let it be and we step through those shadows in the doorway, what I find is that, when freed to dare to shock, to dare to voice, to dare to try that thing you've always wanted to do, if you can find that courage to go beyond those fears, thoughts, sensations, and emotions, don't touch them, and get up to what it is you want, as hard as that sounds, and as simple as that sounds, we suddenly find ourselves like kindergartners, like children again, being free, being in action, and being up to things. And our favorite people in our lives are people that naturally tend toward being like this. They have had many successes, but they've had probably many more failures. They've had great days, they've had bad days, and they just get back on the horse and they go, "Whatever, I'm gonna keep going, "I'm not going to listen to those fears and doubts "and I'm going to, beyond that, I'm going to change nothing "of that instinctual animal fear brain "and I'm going to get up to being child-like with action, "child-like with expression," and just being themselves, and it's just, it boils down to that simplicity. Are you in your body, are you listening, are you daring, and what is it that you're up to that represents you alive right now, right here?

That could be postures, that could be song, that could be a beautiful conversation, that could be singing your ass off and it all, it's all just our expression of being alive. Yeah. It's so powerful. This is what we teach in yoga. And even in the postures I see students gripping so hard on these physical asanas, or not trying and just kind of being like, "Oh, it's so challenging, I'm just out," right? So there's passivity, or hyperactivity, and somewhere in the middle is that dance, really.

You were talking a lot at breakfast about the middle place and how so often we're going polar in life and yoga, gripping too hard or never doing any of the work and so finding your own balance is really, really important, I think. Coming back to that place where, yes, you're doing, but in service of the being. You're being, in service of the doing, it's all dancing together and nothings locking you out of being in full expression, you know? So easy to get stuck all along the way. What is it that you'd love to be up to right now?

Right now, in this moment? Yeah. That's all we've got. What do you want to say? What do you want to express that you haven't quite yet, if anything? Now, in this...

I feel like I'm here, you know? I'm breathing. The minute you said attention in the very first part of this talk, I started breathing into my belly. It's just really interesting. Where does attention take us, you know? So right now I want to get up to listening deeper because we can all practice things and they can lead us to or away from center.

We can all listen to things but what are you listening to, and what are you following, right? So I'd like to, really, right now just breathe more and not worry about my vino belly from last night and let y'all see it and just be, I mean usually I'm like this if you watch a lot of my videos, I'm like "Animasi, welcome to yoga." I'm very, you know, I've been like this since we started. I'm up to being like this. Rubbing it for good luck. (laughter) I like that.

I've got one too. The Buddha belly. The pinot, pinot. I'm feeling pretty fat and happy right now.


Hester M
1 person likes this.
I absolutely loved this and all the videos leading up to and after this. I struggle to find and express my voice to the point that it affects my health and spirit. This helps so much. I plan to do it over and over. It brought me to a meditative and relaxed state in such a fun - if not embarrassing way. I did it alone at home so I could be unrestrained. Just wait till I do it with kids or husband in the house. They will think I am crazy. So be it!
Kate M
1 person likes this.
Love the exercise Thorald lead us in... I've struggled lots with worrying about what my voice sounds like when singing in front of a group. And that tightens everything up. This is so therapeutic. And freeing.

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