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Our voice - the most powerful sound on the planet
by Manuela Rohr
At a time when good girls were quiet, it was hard for my tree climbing spirit to soar and be seen. I was lucky my dad understood this deep seated urge to be free. He shared that hunger to move with me.
Shhh...d into silence I didn't know how to be or sit still.
Sports in school saved me from suffocating. Here the universe provided an outlet for me. The freedom I craved was satisfied by the speed. The faster I ran the deeper my dads love grew, was a powerful extra bonus. On the sports fields, he broke the rules for me. I was cheering at the top of my lungs, blossoming because I was seen.
Outside of sport, my voice was crushed. Behave! was the rule I obeyed. The daily reminder ...to never start a sentence with an I... was paralyzing. Nobody taught me what place on the planet I belonged.
My dad was tough, often choleric but cared a great deal about speaking his truth. But he hurt our feelings and lost his temper too quick in our day to day life.
Why he was silent and wanted to blend in outside of the sports world? I couldn't understand.
I didn’t know about the other layers of silence my family was hiding under until I was older.
All was different with my mother.
She was gentle and polite, never rough. She didn’t care much about sports but was happy for my victories. I didn’t understand why she never spoke up. I saw her swallow her words often and sometimes cry. I copied that from her when it was dangerous to be around my dad.
Unfortunately, she also fueled my fear of him: “Wait until your dad comes home,” poured panic in my bones. My mother used this thread often to stop my wildness.
And the evening would come and with it the spanking.
I chewed hard on those tears, the humiliation at the dinner table. My hero failed me. My mother and older siblings were afraid, they looked the other way. I buried my voice deep down with the food on my plate that got stuck in my narrowing throat.
I didn’t understand this mix of emotion. This love one day and punishment the next. Being loud now and silent in an hour.
Much later I started to understand this puzzle. When I finally peeled away the layers of why speaking up in certain circumstances was hard for me.
After World War Two my parents were part of the expulsion of ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia. Their ancestors had lived there for many generations. Forced out, they had to leave everything they knew and owned behind.
They met in a refugee camp in Germany. From there they migrated to designated villages to find work. Local people despised them.The village I grew up in was hostile to us.
I didn't have words for this as a child but when I learned about my roots it explained many of my childhood whys. It finally helped me understand the silence I saw in my parents that were so foreign to me. It was their way to survive. With their silence they were grinding that skill into our being:
Be nice. Be quiet. It’s the only way to belong.
I am not a quiet person. I am not shy. The voice I had as a girl grew stronger with the years. It's now a powerful tool which serves me well as a Yoga Teacher.
I learn about myself on my mat every day. Living and speaking my truth is the corner stone of my life. The goddess within aches to stand tall in my worthiness. I do not want to be a copy of anything. I am committed to healing where I am holding myself back.
Yet deep engraved into my make up lay the roots to why I was silent when the risk of not being liked was in the air. It explained why certain people loved me until they found out about my parent's history. I married into a family where this trait kept me from speaking my truth. I faked the good girl for almost thirty years.
Until my daughter shook my world. She will not let anybody off the hook who speaks down to her because she has extra challenges. I saw her unapologetic speak her truth to them. This tugged at my heart.
The wild, compassionate warrior woman I am needed to show up everywhere.
I had to uncover more of my whys. Open the wound deep inside where my stories survived. The hidden words had to pass the silence and come out. My inner voice grew loud and was begging me to act. And I did.
My Yoga practice helps me uncover the blocks I have buried in my throat. It is the most powerful tool I can share. How we speak relies on the flow of our breath. Our throat chakra* holds this truth for us.
Unspoken words get stuck in our throat. Sabotaging our voice, adding layers of fear to the silence.
My breath now is the hero I can go to when speaking is tough and the good girl wants to come back.
Today, my roots do not define how I speak my truth anymore.
My deep hunger to be true to myself does.
Our gifts and stories are powerful. Uncovering and sharing them with the world is not optional anymore. As warrior women, we carry the responsibility to be brave in our hearts. We must use our courage to stand up strong, clear what is holding us back and teach each other to not be quiet. Our voices can only be heard when shared. They are the most powerful sound on the planet.
*energy center in the body
Manuela Rohr is a BDY/EYU Yoga Teacher and C-IYAT Yoga Therapist