Recently I attended a “Naked Voice” retreat in beautiful south Wales. Despite the provocative title, it was a fully clothed event.
The Naked Voice practice, as created by Chloe Goodchild, is not about being a ‘good’ singer. Its purpose is to move you from a grounding of deep, non-judgemental listening, to using the voice – spoken or sung – as the mouthpiece of the authentic self. In Chloe's words:
“The Naked Voice is your original voice, fully-embodied, naturally-expressed, and free of self-consciousness. It is your authentic sound, as unique as your DNA or fingerprint...This program provides the vibrational building blocks to allow your true voice to come forth and be heard, perhaps for the first time since infancy...Uncovering your naked voice is about overcoming fear, awakening compassion, instilling peace of mind, and ultimately accessing who you truly are.”
I can sum up my experience in three words: Terrifying, liberating, transformational. If it this sounds like your cup of tea then definitely check it out for yourself (click here.) But as challenged and changed as I indeed was, what really grabbed me was the concept of “psychological nudity,” for it begs the question, what causes us to “cover up” our authentic selves in the first place?
Well one thing led to another, as it does, until I found myself in the Garden of Eden. We all know the tale of the innocent and quite nude couple named Adam and Eve - the first man and woman that God created. They lived in naked bliss until Eve was tempted by the Devil to break the rules and taste the apple from the Tree of Knowledge (a.k.a. forbidden fruit.) The punishment for doing so was severe: They were kicked out of the garden and made to wear fig leaves.
Of course one can take this story literally (excellent for condemning all women for their connection to the “original sin”), but I think its true power is revealed when considered thus: Adam and Eve were not actual people, but metaphorical representatives of our unfettered, unadulterated nature – the perfect balance of yin (Eve) and yang (Adam). And perhaps being “in paradise” is akin to being like children, uncomplicated by “knowledge,” and who view the world through fresh, innocent eyes.
Just watch a toddler. They express themselves fluidly and without self-consciousness – from joy to rage and everything in between. Singing is not a problem for them, and they will happily run around in the buff because it feels so nice. But then, inevitably, mom and dad tell them they must put their clothes on (and for God’s sake, don’t touch yourself “there!”) because it’s indecent. They must not be too noisy (bad), too quiet (weird), too happy (unrealistic), too sad (indulgent), too angry (embarrassing) or too honest (ungrateful). In other words, they learn to tame their natural impulses and feel SHAME, which, in my estimation, is just another form of fig leaf. And that, my friends, is what getting expelled from paradise is all about.
For many of us, much of our adult life is devoted to getting back to the garden - to reclaim what was lost and reunite our inner Adam and Eve. Thankfully, there are many, many different maps for the journey - the Naked Voice is just one.
Maybe this story is just the encouragement you need to begin stripping off? I dare you. And trust me, you need only feel the sun on your bare skin (or sing your name to a large group of strangers!) to know, instinctively, that being naked is what life is all about.