“Whenever you find yourself doubting how far you can go, just remember how far you have come. Remember everything you have faced, all the battles you have won, and all the fears you have overcome.” -Unknown
Doubt lives like little Erlkönig on my shoulder. It softly whispers into my ear that I am not good enough, prepared enough, strong enough, or simply put, that I am not enough. It taunts me with every note I make. It coaxes me into making mistakes. It heckles when I open my mouth to sing. For too long, I allowed this crippling self-doubt to turn me into a knotted ball of tension. I fought my natural instincts and second-guessed myself constantly. I gave in to its jeering and left many a lesson and rehearsal in a fit of tears while that doubt just smiled and congratulated himself.
As the years went by and my yoga practice grew, I began to cultivate another inner voice. One that cheers me on, offers kind guidance, and soothes my fears and worries. Slowly, the strength and size of that doubt began to diminish. I started to trust in my own ability to adapt. I began to listen to my body and recognize my strengths as well as my limitations. I looked back on how far I had already come and what I had gone through to get to this moment.
One of the most life-altering things I have learned from my yoga practice is that there is no competition; and, when there is no competition, there is no doubt. There is no need to “improve” your physical practice on a daily basis. You meet yourself on the mat exactly as you are. Whether you are tight or sore or tired or frazzled or energetic does not matter. What matters is that you recognize how you are feeling in that moment. There is no need to be better than yesterday. You simply accept yourself for where you are today without judgment or criticism.
This idea of acceptance was a revelation for me. The singing voice changes from hour to hour. Some days we want nothing more than to let the voice soar. On others, the voice is groggy and lethargic and it just doesn’t want to phonate properly. Sometimes allergies or the lingering affects of a cold wreck havoc on our beloved cords. Yet, once in awhile, we wake up feeling already vocally warm and ready to sing. The voice is one of the most difficult instruments to master because of the fact that it is always changing related to the chemistry, energy, and physicality of the body. But, if we begin to accept the voice for how it is feeling and what it can accomplish at any given moment, we can start to respect the process and the instrument so much more. We begin to recognize our small daily successes and let that replace the overbearing doubt. So, accept your voice for what it is and grow from there. Say goodbye to that little Erlkönig and say hello to a more positive spin on your own vocal self-worth.
#yogagivesbackchallenge day 27. I have always doubted my ability to put my leg behind my head. I’d see photos of yogis creating this amazing posture and I’d think to myself “there is no way that is ever going to happen to me.” And yet, I find myself slowly working my way closer. As my muscles begin to release their tight bonds of tension, my body is learning to free itself and find more fluidity. While I still may never get my foot behind my head, I’ve realized that we should not doubt our ability to succeed at a goal before we even try. All we can do is keep moving forward and maybe give our toes a little kiss of gratitude along the way.