I loved to sing as a young boy and at age 12 was already a member of the senior choir at our Lutheran church in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. All of the religions of the world bless song as a marvelous gift of God. Dina Soresi Winter has poetically written:
"It is important that we sing. . . . Singing frees the soul, makes it flexible, and helps it soar and expand. Singing lets the sun in – gives warmth to our lives and wings to our spirit. Those who sing know this."
The throat serves as the passageway between the heart and the head. When fear, anxiety, or negativity affect this body part, the energy flow between the head and the heart is blocked. The spiritual act of singing unclogs the throat and allows free passage of the emotions. We've learned this from traditional Chinese medicine.
Many years ago I was told by a Jewish mystic, healer, and imagery teacher to go home and do more singing. I realized when she gave me this assignment that I had for many years not been singing enough. I used to listen to tapes with headphones and sing or hum along (much to the amusement of my companions). But even that practice had dropped off. Now I am recommitting to taking time to sing. I've begun listening to monastic chanting and kirtan; once again loud humming can be heard coming out of my office.
My throat is home to my voice-box. When I preached in churches, parishioners used to tell me they sometimes disagreed with what I said but at least they could hear me. Near the end of her life, my 102-year-old mother asked me to recite the Lord's Prayer for her every night over the telephone. She told me how proud she was of my strong voice.
But here in New York City, it is another story. People at stores constantly ask me to repeat my order or to speak up. I remember my father complaining when he was 90-years old that the worst thing about aging is the loss of your voice and the lack of respect that is given you by younger people.
In books about health and healing, I have learned about the throat as the fifth chakra and communication center. An imbalance in this emotional spot can lead to arrogance, excessive talking, lying, manipulation of others or timidity. A healthy throat chakra leads to an honest and fruitful expression of oneself.
Where does that leave me at this point in my life? More singing and a more firm resolve to speak up and speak out. And for a spiritual practice, I can use this one from Edward Hays from his Prayer Notes to a Friend:
"The Koran says that God is closer than the vein in your neck. What a beautiful invitation to pray. In fact, it suggests a new way to pray. Begin by placing your first and second fingers on your throat's jugular vein. Linger there as your feel the vigorous throbbing of life within you. Praying with your fingers on your jugular vein can be a sensual affirmation that God is not distant or remote but is pulsating within you. . . . Besides being an excellent preface to any prayer, this tactile throat prayer gesture is useful whenever you are in need of God's presence."