Everyone can sing, but not all are gifted and skilled singers. As Filipinos, we are satisfied with how videoke (video karaoke) can amplify our voices as we sing to our heart’s content, while having fun reading the lyrics of songs flashing on the screen. In our private moments the bathroom is a great place to sing and we don’t even mind the neighbors if they seem to be disturbed by our singing. Echoes bounce against the tiles and walls, which help us enough to sound good.
But this culture of singing does not stop here. The media has catapulted a series of contests to find the next famous diva. This is the common aspiration of most Filipino singers. For this reason, they have endured long queues of thousands of other aspirants to audition, trying their luck to grab their dream of fame and fortune. A number of businesses mushroomed all over the nation to offer courses in voice coaching and stage performance, along with honing of other musical talents and skills. So the standard of singing became something out of bounds. You have to be the glittering star on the centerstage with an unbelievable power to pull the highest note so you can be called a singer.
For some years my friend Yeyette has been deeply inspired by a new definition of singing outside the limelight. In her early years of singing, she found this gift not in a voice training or singing on stage but in a religious event, which later helped her to come up with spiritual insight. I first witnessed this when, instead of saying grace, she sang a prayer song in a lunch we had in Bali. In the workshop she just launched yesterday, she calls this unique experience Spirit Singing.
Spirit Singing is not a typical singing. Neither is it a particular voice technique nor a religious chanting. In Spirit Singing, all concepts of singing are dissolved. There is no need for a technique to master or a need for a perfect pitch and rhythm. There is no goal or outcome to achieve in singing. It does not matter whether one has a singing voice or not. This is a challenge to let go the idea that one must sing the perfect way, or fear that one might get out of tune. All these things are unimportant, as far as Spirit Singing is concerned. In Yeyette’s words, Spirit Singing is not to sing any song, but to literally allow the inner song to sing from you.
It was not me who sang but the spirit of Love that is always in me.
In the workshop yesterday, we were given quite sometime to ground ourselves, paying a meditative attention to our presence and letting the voice of our spirit sing the song coming from our deep selves. When I heard others sang their inner songs, I naturally heard the sound “ah“, the primordial sound of the Universe. While waiting for my turn, I asked myself “Should I sing like them? Should I sing the same sound” I tried planning a bit before my turn, thinking that I could eventually sing what others had sung. But as I sang, a different sound came out, which sounded like “aung” or a reverberating gong. It was so natural and powerful that I felt the freedom of singing without being judged or criticized. During the second batch, which was held in the late afternoon, I joined again the workshop and participated with a different group of participants. While waiting again for my turn, I was expecting to sing the sound “aung”, but instead, the “ah” came out. So my experience affirmed this kaleidoscopic quality of Spirit Singing: the song never repeats itself. In other words, the song comes out differently and beautifully, but one can feel its unique music only at the moment of singing.
Yeyette reiterates a crucial fact that Spirit Singing cannot be taught. Her role is to guide others to tap this singing potential outside the boundaries of contemporary singing by getting within an inner awareness of our capacity to sing. Like me, those who now spirit sing have begun to unleash the blocks of the spirit that prevented them from singing. Participants, especially those who have singing talents and careers, attested an almost unanimous experience: they have felt the freedom and beauty of their own inner voices. In that sense, Spirit Singing has given them a very simple tool that can heal their internal and external wounds, remember their true essence, and let go of all judgments to free their true, singing selves.
In our dinner after the workshop, Yeyette and other friends asked me to “sing” the grace. We were swept by surprise when my inner voice sang a profound prayer of gratitude. It was a remarkable testament of how I learned Spirit Singing. It was not me who sang but the spirit of Love that is always in me. That spirit of Love is our beingness, our presence, and our appreciation that we free the song of the spirit in our hearts. Now, my fondness for singing has grown to a larger perspective. I am not a good singer by common standards and this is not anymore a problem. The spirit within does not look for any perfection, only a certain choice to allow its voice within us to sing. And when the spirit sings, it only sings the inner song that awakens us to Love.
Spirit Singing workshop conducted by Yeyette San Luis was held yesterday, July 2, 2011. We will post future updates for the next workshop schedules on this Facebook page