My Vipassana

I am medically intuitive. I am often spot-on, too. Except when I am not; then I am really off (like now).

I walked into the ENT (easy way of saying Otolaryngologist) three weeks ago after two months of sounding like a discordant mix of Demi Moore, Rod Stewart and Steven Tyler after a messy late night. Yes, not in a good way. I explained to the doc that I think I have a soy allergy, maybe corn and had indulged too much recently…it was so nice of him not to laugh out loud at me.

Twenty minutes, an illuminated wire-y scope down my throat and $450 later, I walked out with the diagnosis of vocal cord nodules and a script for speech therapy. Yes, that thing that Celine Dion and Adele had. I now know these things.

Weeks before my diagnosis, I struggled to speak at a packed screening of Warrior One. I didn’t know at the time that I was further damaging my voice every time I spoke. I didn’t even know what nodules were, but I knew my body was telling me something. I had been feeling frustrated for almost two months by my rougher than raspy voice, feeling even self conscious at times…then my friend spoke words that touched me and actually nudged me out of my little rut. Following the screening she posted:

I flew all night last night, yet I’m unable to settle into sleep after a full-house viewing of Warrior One, my friend Jill‘s inspiring documentary about training, mentoring and leading eleven at-risk girls on a journey of empowerment, self-discovery and self-reliance. One of my favorite lines from the film, “We aren’t born warriors, we grow into warriors.” Seriously: it is never too late. I got to meet some of the girls from last year’s expedition as well as the girls who are currently training. This is exciting stuff, and the electricity in the room was palpable. These girls are learning through example not only how to trust themselves and others, but also that when they are themselves empowered they can, in return empower others. Boom. Amazing. Badass. ‪#‎bethechange.

Jill joked a few times that she usually doesn’t need a microphone, but she’s been traveling a lot and talking about the film and she’s lost her voice. She hasn’t really lost her voice at all, and somehow as it’s become quieter she’s being heard even more, which is pure magic. But, the best part? The voice she’s giving to the 22 rad young women I saw tonight.

Ok, so just reading that again gives me chills! “She hasn’t really lost her voice at all…”

Thank you, Jaime, for helping me get out of my own way, to let me appreciate that creating the path for others is enough.

This period of recovery is painstakingly slow for me. I am not answering my phone (I feel rude). I stay home and quiet most days (I feel lonely). I am not leading, guiding and mentoring my team like I normally would (I feel like I am letting them down).

I am also gaining insight.

Yes. It’s hard.

But I am slowing down. I am listening more and practicing gratitude for everything I do have and all that is working.

While I have intentionally entered periods of Noble Silence, or Vipassana practice, intentional vows of no speaking for the purpose of insight meditation, I have never been silenced in the way I am now.

I have to admit, I have been working extra hard the past couple months to slow down, nurture myself and be kind to myself while I figure this out. It has been an adjustment. There have been days I have been down as I turn away new clients and have had to sub my yoga classes for at least six weeks. Some moments I hear progress in my voice, only to wake up sounding worse then the day before.

I practice my own mantras on a daily basis.

I am enough.
I have enough.
I do enough.

This too will pass.

Everything happens for a reason.

This one is really speaking (pun intended) to me lately.

Before you speak…
T – is it True?
H – is it Helpful?
I – is it Inspiring?
N – is it Necessary?
K – is it Kind?

I like it so much, that I have taped it all over the house!

When I first got the diagnosis, I cried to my friend, mentor and favorite yogi, Debi Grilo. As I wailed to her, what is the Universe telling me as I launch my speaking career? She stopped my little pity party promptly and said, the Universe isn’t telling you anything. You have an injury, you need to rest, heal and move forward. Don’t make it more than it is.

She was taking a stand for me, not allowing me to wallow and create a dramatic story about what is simply an injury on my vocal cords. She got all of my yoga classes covered for the next six weeks and reminded me how powerful and nurturing it is to be a part of a community. I will add, several hours later she did write me (she’s a therapist, too, after all)…not giving too much meaning, just thought from a psycho-manifestion perspective, where in your life do you feel you have lost your voice?

And there it was.

…more opportunity for growth.

Usually when one selects Noble Silence as a form of mindfulness or meditation practice they have unwittingly signed up for a spiritual or wellness weekend and Vipassana is part of the menu of experiences, or they go in knowingly and are a practitioner of regular silent practice.

The times I’ve participated in Noble Silence have been segments of retreats (and admittedly a challenge for me)…and one time, one time, I actually initiated a silent practice for hours while hiking the grandest trail of all, the Napali Coast in Hawaii with my friend, Suzanne. #nowordsneededthere

But this current period of silence bestowed upon me, has thrown me for a loop and I am still in the journey of the lessons.

I often choose to write my articles when I have a neat little package to present to the reader that offers some great lesson or resolve, but this one…can’t say my lessons are anywhere near complete but here are a few from this period of little to no talking in the past 2.5 months.

5 Things I’ve Learned from my Silence.

That I get by with a (little more than a) little help from my friends.
Economical, efficient use of my words is something I’ll continue beyond this ailment.
I will no longer raise my voice at my children again, for any reason.
Tenacity is more important than talent and luck.
A smile is worth more than a thousand words.
Although I miss teaching my Paddleboard yoga classes and Bala Vinyasa Yoga classes, I have handed the baton over to some incredible teachers and have had the opportunity to be a student in those classes, with my mentees…it’s beautiful watching others shine.

Could my soul-sister-friend Jaime be right?

That as my voice quiets, I am actually being heard more, through the voices of those I aim to inspire and empower. As I scale back, they can step forward and take a more prominent role…hmmm, I’m liking this.

I am liking this a lot…

In loving-kindness,

Jill Wheeler

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