Four years ago, when my work with Minds On Fire really picked up momentum, I realized that I needed a new way of speaking my truth in the world, and I turned to Naaz Hosseini to help me. I call her a voice coach, but she is so much more than that because she really approaches her work from a holistic perspective. Before we even open our mouths to speak, for example, she has clients really get into their bodies and create a supportive environment within and without. I present a loose overview of the material in her free e-book, Speak From Your Heart. These tips are great for pulling out whenever you need to speak your truth, in a meeting, over a meal, in conversation, or before an audience.
FIND YOUR GROUND
This is best done standing, but even if you are sitting, find all the points of contact you have to the ground and feel yourself connected and supported by the Earth. Know that whatever happens, you are on stable ground. This is your foundation.
FIND YOUR BREATH
Make sure you are breathing in deep into your belly. On the inhale, breathe in support, and on the exhale, breathe out all the negative thoughts and feelings that don’t serve you. Once you feel steady with that, begin to inhale inspiration, and breathe out whatever quality it is you wish to embody for your audience (e.g., truth, love, joy, inspiration, etc.).
MOVE A MUSCLE, CHANGE A THOUGHT
Similarly to Amy Cuddy’s famous TED talk, Naaz believes in the power of movement to interrupt negative thoughts and set a different mood. If you find yourself on a hamster wheel of fear, doubt, anxiety, anger, frustration, etc., shift that energy! This can be as dramatic or subtle as you need it to be.
Feel into your body for where you are holding tightness and introduce breath and movement into it. The intention is to reset our energy. All of us already do this subconsciously (such as when we want to wake ourselves up during a long meeting), and so this is just bringing awareness to the process.
Notice, for example, how you feel with a neutral expression on your face. How do you feel on all levels? (Do a PEMS check.)
Then lift your chest, throw your head back, and grin. Do another PEMS check. What’s changed for you?
Now bring a frown into your face and do yet another PEMS check. Notice how you feel.
CLAIM YOUR INTERNAL SPACE
Naaz reminds us that our bodies are three-dimensional. Use the breath to enlarge that space within so you can feel strong and supported by your core.
HEIGHT: Imagine a strong on the top of your head (not your chin–you don’t want to tilt your head back). Now with your inhale, feel that string pulling you upward and lengthening your spine. Remember your spine has two natural curves in your upper and lower back, so respect them and don’t try to stand rigidly as if you were in the military.
WIDTH: Imagine two strings attached to the outside of each shoulder. With an inhale feel those pulling your shoulders outward. Try to bring your breath into your armpits. Feel the space this creates between your shoulders.
DEPTH: Place a hand on your heart and feel how your inhale pushes gently against your palm. Now imagine the hand of one of your ancestors on your back, directly in line with your heart and your hand. Breathe into that hand on your back just as you breathed into your hand on your heart. Feel the depth between both hands.
Now bring all three dimensions together in your next few breaths and notice how your expansive core makes you feel.
VISUALIZE YOUR SAFE PLACE
Turn inward and imagine a place that feels safe and inspiring to you. This could be an actual physical location, or one that exists in your imagination. Go with the first thing that comes to mind.
Begin by noticing what is around you. Notice all the beautiful details in this environment. Notice the colors and textures of everything in this scene. Notice how these sights make you feel on all levels.
Then start to bring sound into the picture. Notice what you can hear. Are there birds chirping? Do you hear water trickling? Is the wind whispering through the leaves? Again, notice how you feel.
Next bring in the sense of smell. What is the predominant smell in this scene? Is it of earth? The sea? Flowers? Fresh cut grass? Pine needles? What else can you pick out beneath this smell? How do these fragrances make you feel?
Next we bring touch into our meditation. Go ahead and interact with the scenery around you. What can you touch and hold and play with? Make this as vivid as possible, and notice how it all makes you feel.
Lastly, if there is any way you can bring taste into the picture, do so. Maybe there is fresh fruit in your safe place. Maybe you can take a drink of water. Feel and taste that in your mouth and throat. How does it make you feel?
This is your safe place. You can envision yourself to this safe place no matter where you are physically, and because we’ve gone through this visualization with such care and detail, with practice, you will also be able to tap into the feeling of being in this place instantaneously.
CREATE A SAFE AUDIENCE
Who is the person you feel most safe with, who always listens deeply and non-judgmentally to whatever you have to say? In that person’s absence, you can imagine him/her as your audience whether you are rehearsing a speech, warming up for an interview, or are actually doing the real thing in public.
SPEAK FROM YOUR HEART
We have practiced so many ways of dropping into the heart that I won’t go over all of them here.I encourage you to keep practicing dropping from the head to the heart until it starts feeling like a habit.
Hope you’ve enjoyed these tips and put the ones that resonate with you to good use!