Hi, I’m Karuna, I’m the founder and executive director of Mind Oasis and my guest with me today on Meditation Happy Hour, Tea, Talk and Truth with Karuna is my friend and colleague, Melissa Grogan. Melissa, how are you?
I’m very well, thank you. How are you?
Good. Melissa, where in the world are you?
I am in Austin, Texas.
Awesome. We love Austin, Texas. So I always like to start out my podcast pretty much the same. And just ask about your day. What has your day looked like so far?
Well, so far, I have done simple things, I snuggled with my puppy, I cleaned my dishes, I walked my puppy. It’s very simple. I went to the grocery store, you know, the lovely and mundane.
Lovely. And is your puppy really a puppy or is he or she had a dog?
You really is a puppy. But he’s he’s on the border. He’s on the edge. He’s just eleven and a half months.
I have a three year old puppy and I think she’s still on the cusp as well.
Oh, right. Right. That happens
For sure. For sure. So tell me a little bit about you. You are going to be teaching on Mind Oasis, and we’ll get to all that fun stuff. But why don’t you just tell us a little bit about your life and what you do and you can take that in any direction you like.
Ok, sure. Well, I feel very blessed in that my, when I want to describe my life, I tend to want to describe the career that I chose because because I chose well, I think meaning that I really enjoy it. So I teach vocal empowerment and I’m also a meditation teacher. Well, what I mean is I also have a certification in meditation and I also have certification, yoga and somatic experiencing and several things like that. So I combine all of those together really in this way that is meant to help people be able to express authentically. And and part of that is also being able to hear, to interrelate, whether it’s in large groups and small groups. And and the thing that I love the most about this is that I started out in the the academic field. I taught at a university for many years, and I was well supported to do what it is that I felt that I needed to do in order to be able to help the students. It was a theatre department and what I found myself continually drawn towards was the therapeutic aspects, right? And mindfulness is all voice work and somatic awareness. All of this is all over it. So as I continue to really delve into studying that and practicing that and and teaching that, I, I actually resigned with my tenured position and said, you can have that lovely of security. I’m going to go off on my own because I want to explore this. How this can help the larger population, how this is really very needed. And a huge… this takes on various hats. And part of that is therapeutic, working alongside therapists often. It can be also maybe it’s recovering from trauma, maybe it’s somewhere on the spectrum of autism. Perhaps it’s just simply being able to be better at business presentations, that kind of thing. And a big part of this that I continually weave in, is that we have to come back to the same principles that we need to come back to in our meditation, right? And this is the through line. And and I love that I am able to create the space for what I feel is really helpful, a helpful practice. And there are people that are interested and that it resonates with them and they find me. And so it’s a delightful life I’ve created… that, that we get to play together in that way. And I’m really learning and growing with my clients.
And just tell me again, the specific… what you call your practice is it vocal coach?
That would be an appropriate way to say it. And, you know, I’m going to tell you that I resisted that phrase for a long time because it means different things. And when I was in academia, what I thought it meant was that it meant that I sat in the back of a theatre and went, hmm, I need you to speak louder. And I was like, I don’t like that, right? But as I as I am an entrepreneur and working on my own, what I’m realizing is it is like it’s much like, you could say it’s kind of like a life coach, right? It’s a way of coaching you into, OK, I’m going to see I see, I hear and see this issue. And this is how we need to get around it. And we can do this in a logical circuit and we can do this in an abstract circuit.
So, Melissa, then what kind of clients you work with? I mean, I’m curious, like, are you working with people? I have my mother in law or my ex mother in law. She has a very soft voice. And and then I know people who just when they have confrontation, they just completely freeze up like they don’t have access to their voice. And then you mentioned, of course, that you came from a tenured theatre sort of position. So I’m just curious, like out and about in the world, who are you working with?
It’s well, people find me and the people that find me if they haven’t been referred to me by a therapist or a friend, and so the friend might be an actor because I do sometimes work with actors…they tend to be that are in some area of their business, they’re wanting to improve and the reason why they like.. because I ask this question every time I have an initial consultation, you had a lot of websites you look at why did you choose mine? They are people that really gravitated towards that they get that this is about a transformation that’s going to be deeply personal. There’s something; some choice that they made of how to relate, how to show up, how much of themselves to share. That choice that worked for a while, it just isn’t working anymore. And so how can they make a different choice? And this is one of the reasons, actually, it’s the biggest reason why I continue to get certified in so many different things, because that choice they made has a lot of different aspects to it. And each person is going to be unique and what aspects showed up and each person is going to be unique in which aspects are the way in to the transformation. So the people that are working with me are people that want real transformation in a deep way. Yeah.
And through their voice
And through their voice. So voice means not just the sound that you hear me saying right now, but it also means identity. So to say I have a voice in this world means I have an identity that takes up space and that is meant to be here, right? That we are a light that is not a coincidence. And so we have our culture, our family perhaps, our selves. Something has, for most of us, our lifestyle has gotten in the way of us being able to to connect to that and to know how to interrelate. Honestly, I know I keep bringing that word up, but it’s an issue. I want to bring this work into schools. I want to bring it into the political spectrum. I would love to work with prisoners. I would love to work with all populations. I think this is honestly something that culturally we need. And what I love is that I’m seeing people more and more recognizing that they do know that voice is this piece that they that they’re missing, that they don’t know how to access. But when we come into this world as babies, the majority of us do have access to that. Some don’t as babies, but the majority of us do. And something happened along the way to get in the way of that. The beautiful thing is that it can be taught to get us back to it. We can remember how to get back to it. There is scientific, testable, measurable procedure that we can take. That includes, again, these very logical stream of exercises and also very abstract as well that can help us to find that embodiment again.
Mm hmm. And would you say you’re returning back to your identity or are you are you tapping into the ability to express your identity?
I mean, I think it could be both, and it probably is both, because even when you said that something that came up was we…it’s important that we know that we have the choice whether we want to express it out loud or not. It doesn’t necessarily have to be simply by embodying it. Being able to sit in the truth of it can be enough to shift a meeting and an interaction. So I also want to impress home how important listening is in voice, it’s something that it could be easy to overlook. I think a lot of people do, especially in the corporate world. You know, because I work with a lot of people in the corporate world, that listening is overlooked. And the thing is, is that the direction that we’re headed, that the world is headed, people want to be spoken to and with as humans. We want our politicians to speak to us as humans that relate to us on a present level. We want our businesses to be creative and collaborative. This is why architecture suddenly they thought, well, we’ll just take away all the walls and then they realized that that was a little bit much. We need someone. So but this is what they were looking for, right? How can we…how can we work together? And I really feel like this voice piece of the puzzle, voice meaning more than just, you know, how I sound, but how I collaborate is a big piece of the puzzle. How I collaborate with myself and others.
Boy, do we need that right now. We always needed it, but goodness. So, Melissa, you’re appearing on Mind Oasis, actually next week. We’re very excited. And you’re you’re going to be doing just a little introductory workshop. We call them our free minis, and it’s called The Dance of Sound and Silence. Can you talk a little bit about what you’ll be presenting and what folks can expect?
Yes, so this is in my own practice and in whenever I’m teaching more under the heading of meditation, always, honestly, I feel like I’m teaching the same thing. But whenever that looks more like meditation, what I have become really deeply interested in is this power that sound has that the the the yogis have known about for so long and. And carries to power that all of us possess inside, that we’ve become disconnected with and this is what in this use of mantra. This is where it’s going to. To connect us to that deep nothingness, this deep consciousness that goes beyond our superficial understanding of who we are and all of it can be experienced on a very deep level through simply sitting in the realization of sound and silence as they dance together. And what I mean by that is, um, this is one of my favorite quotes by one of my very favorite teachers, “Voice is an action. It has no location in the body until it is being made”. And so a lot of the work that we do together is about changing perception. So where I perceive my voice is how I’m going to experience my voice. Honestly, a little bit of a side note, but not much, I really feel this is why most people don’t like the way they sound when they’re recorded, because they’re not perceiving it as an active being, a companion that’s with them all the time. And when we can become very sensitive to the dance of sound and silence, a lot happens. One, we can self soothe. It’s very restorative. Another, we begin to understand quite intimately the power that is in our voice and the power, the possibility of potential that is in silence. That silence is not nothing. It has a rich life to it. And so now when we begin to speak and mantra like we can do mantra in a deep meditative state, that we can really begin to sense the power that we have in our word. And I’ll tell you, this will be really good for us to reconnect with because we’re bandying about, throwing about words all the time and not really giving consideration to the power that we have in those words. So when we can reconnect to that, it’s useful for ourselves and it’s useful for our community and the future in a very deep way.
I love that. Before we met up, I went for a cross-country ski and we just got, I don’t know, maybe six inches of snow last night. And what’s so, to me, so cool about cross-country skiing in particular, especially with fresh snow, is that it creates this chamber of silence when you get deep in the woods. And apart from maybe a little movement of birds and squirrels today, there wasn’t any wind even. So, it was like it was almost loud in its silence.
Exactly. Exactly right. So this is so fun to play with. I mean, really, it’s fun and we need to let it be playful and enjoyful on a metaphysical level. And it goes into the micro, into the application of daily life as well. So it is esoteric. Everything that I do is esoteric in nature. I take the Western approach, I’m sorry, rather, the eastern approach to to Western practices. And it’s incredibly fulfilling for for anyone that wants to participate on the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual side.
And then a little bit later in the year in in April, which is fast approaching, you’re going to be offering a six week series. And that’s called Vocal Metamorphosis. And I’m sure it encompasses something similar to what you can experience in the mini workshop. But do you want to talk a little bit more about the deep dive that you’re offering?
Yes, well, I. I do. And I want to say that I actually talked a bit about that and whatever I was talking about with the the exploration with the power of sound as it comes into meditation. But what we will be doing is we will be looking at learning a bit more about the physiology behind the voice, so the breath as it applies to voice work. We’ll talk a little bit about how that is different, but not better or worse than how it differs from yogic breath. We’ll be looking at the physical anatomy, like the techniques of how one would support their voice techniques in order to be able to feel grounded and what that means. And send your sound with a sense of, when I say power, I mean, you are involved in it; I don’t mean very loud. I mean, you’re involved in it. Your voice is involved. And then we’ll also be exploring techniques that will help us to reconnect to the relationship of not just sound, but word. And so how our intention, right? I mean, there’s a lot of science behind it, and I always include the science, so that you can understand exactly what it is that you’re doing, helps you deepen the experience of then putting that into everyday communication. And I, tend to give a lot of material in my classes and they’re they’re not…
Well, of course, you’re a tenured professor! How can you resist! All you people? The emails I get from you folks, I love them. They’re like 20 feet long. They’re the best
That’s exactly right!. So, I will be uploading a lot of resources to continue on. And that’s the idea, is that these are meant to be little nuggets of things that you don’t have to worry about completing in six weeks, but you could carry on forever and ever, because this really is a passion to me for me. And I feel like I just I want people to have whatever they want out of it, you know? So the metamorphosis will feel like…one of my favorite quotes from a client was, “I feel like I just heard my voice for the first time”.
Mm hmm. Mm hmm. So something that you’ve said a couple of times, everything you’ve said is fascinating, by the way, I’m totally intrigued by the idea of voice and identity and silence and sound. I love it. But something you said a couple of times is that it’s around the power of the words that you choose. And so for me, it’s like I’m thinking through, like the mindfulness of the words we use and and I’m a.. I think I’m an in between-y, meaning I’m not a super quiet person, but I also am not a person who’s so nervous that I talk nonstop. I think I’m kind of in between. My husband might disagree, but I’m kind of curious about that because. We’re…I don’t know if you can even answer this question, but as I’m thinking about, like, how do we choose our words? Where is the access point for the words that come out?
Well, there’s two answers that I want to… That is..there’s a lot of answers to that question that you just said. And there’s two of them that I want to talk about. One is. And I don’t mean this over simplistically, they come from the mind, and so then the question is, what is the state of the mind? What’s the perspective of of the mind? So gurus have said, if I ask “who am I”? the answer will always come back into the place of the heart. But the mind doesn’t always remember that. So that’s the first answer I wanted to say. So the words…you can tell a lot about what a person is thinking or a lot about a person by the words that they choose, about what their perspective is, about how they chose to word something. The second thing I want to say is that physiologically, where does that come about? There’s a section of the brain that is just over the temples. And honestly, you know, because you came to speak to my meditation group whenever I was recovering from a double concussion. And so during that time, I came to understand a lot about the brain. And part of that is that we can say there’s certain segments that the functions happen in the brain. But apart from sensory and motor, really, they happen in all different areas. But still, there’s this section called Broca’s region of the Brain. Broca’s region is responsible for taking an image that we have. That’s how language starts. We don’t start off with a language. We start off with an image or a need, a desire. And then that gets sent to Broca’s region. Broca’s region is where that image gets translated into a language, into words. And every time that happens, there is an intake of breath. Now, the word inspiration means two things at the same time. It means to mentally create a new thought, and it means the intake of breath. So this is why the study of breath is at the center. One of the reasons why it’s at the center of voice work. The more that we can free where our breath can go and let our body choose where that happens, the more that we are calling on our deep consciousness so we literally can speak from the soul. But it takes a lot of faith. And a lot of courage. And courage, again, comes from the heart.
Amazing. Melissa, what’s your truth? We go through Tea, which today I have coffee. What do you have going on? Anything? Water, tea?
I have water.
OK, perfect. So it’s Tea, Talk and Truth with Karuna. We definitely talked, thank goodness. Since it is all about the voice and inspiration, and things like that, right? That would be really weird. So what is your truth?
My truth is pure consciousness.
So I want to point out once again that on Mind Oasis; Mindoasis.org, that Melissa has two offerings and one of them you can join for free and it’s on the 30th of March at 6;30pm Central. It’s called The Dance of Sound and Silence. And obviously Melissa’s amazing and intriguing, and it’s going to be a rad time. It’s just a half hour. I have no idea how you’re going to do that. I kind of want to, like, listen to you for the next six hours, so I don’t know. Good luck with those 30 minutes, kid. And then the transformation…
Thank you. Vocal Metamorphosis starts on the 13th of April and it’s a seventy five minute class and it’s in the evenings on Tuesdays and you can find all of that at Mindoasis.org and we have a tab that’s called “Learn” and you’ll see Melissa’s gorgeous face and you can sign up for both of them there. Melissa, thank you so much for being my guest today.
Thank you very much for asking.
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