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Use a Different Language

What is your favorite children’s book or song?


This week, Johanna David-Tramantano, Ph.D. in linguistics and host of Leveraging Literacy podcast asked me that question.


What came to mind immediately were two memories:


The first: I was in my early forties. I sang The Itsy-Bitsy Spider for a class called The Natural Singer at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. The course was for people who had never sung before in front of other people or who were afraid to sing. I took my mom, who was the target audience for this class.


The second: I was twenty-two-ish. I was crying in the back of an empty theater after a performance of a Shakespearean tragedy that was performed entirely in Japanese. I don't speak Japanese.


In both cases, one language was spoken and one was heard with the ears, but another language was also communicated.


In the singing class, nearly everyone who sang either cried or expressed exuberance, and everyone else felt a a version of their grief, their relief and/or their joy. At the show, well, I can only say that whatever happened that night left me with the courage to audition to train with that company.


In both cases, something was communicated beyond what the ear could hear. That is the power of transformative language.


Transformative language is the kind of communication that we aspire for in artmaking. It's the kind of language that evokes connection, recognition or awakening.


We say that language that is felt in that way "resonates" because the impact is felt on an energetic or cellular level.


Transformative language awakens us to the subtleties of truth inside of language and also beyond it.


What resonates with us is different for everyone.


When something resonates with us, we sense unique subtleties, we recall certain memories, we awaken to our possibilities, we feel a responsibility to the truth in our hearts, we connect with our desire.


Neuroscience educator and communication practitioner, Sara Peyton, talks about "resonant language" as language that originates from the right hemisphere of the brain responsible for the circuitry that we attribute to creativity.


To fire up that resonant circuitry we can use tools like humor, body sensations, expressing our feelings and needs, metaphor, using swear words, poetry and visual language or speaking directly from our experience.


When something resonates with us, it is because we FEEL truth.


When we feel resonance with a painting or a dance or a piece of music or a story, we recognize something of ourself that feels intimate and vulnerable.


Resonance can feel thrilling and also a little bit risky.


We can play with transformative language in order to create this kind of self-connection and connection to others.


Creating or noticing resonance only needs the seed of desire in you for connection.


What has resonated with you lately? What were the circumstances that created that feeling? What exactly resonated with you? Did it feel thrilling, intimate, risky?


Try to unpack those moments, if you will. The more you pay attention to what resonates with you, the more you'll learn of your own unique language for transformation.


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