Shin Ae, Sound Evangelist

I have been trying to write this blog post dedicated to my beautiful and brilliant friend Shin Ae for almost two weeks now. This is as far as it's gotten so I am letting go of all the other things I wanted to express and publishing it.  What I really want to share here is my love for the beautiful strong radiant and joyful being that she was and gratitude for our deep connection.

Shin Ae, August 2015- Oncology Retreat, Exeter, RI

Shin Ae, August 2015- Oncology Retreat, Exeter, RI

Last night [May 8 at the time of this writing] my friend Lynn and I celebrated the life and memory of our very dear friend Shin Ae who passed away on April 22, after a 2 1/2 year struggle with metastatic breast cancer. We both met her as a patient and quickly came to know her as a dear friend. She did not take her diagnosis lying down. She was a ninja warrior and activist to the very end. This picture was taken almost a year after her diagnosis, at which time she had been given 9 months which she enthusiastically refused to accept- which I'm sure has a great deal to do with why she was able to stay with us for as long as she did.

In February I came to her house to have a visit with her and give her a sound healing treatment. She was a metal worker, a welder, and she loved instruments made of metal- Himalayan singing bowls, gongs and tuning forks- so I brought them all. I set up the gong in her living room, laid bowls on her spine and played them which always gave her great relief and played the tuning forks for her to help re-balance her nervous system.

She was getting ready to head out to California for the Wisdom Conference and told me that she was hoping to get me out there to do a Sound Journey. She had just come back from walking the fashion runway in New York for NY Fashion Week and although she was not feeling well and was fairly weak she powered through it with her indomitable spirit. She told me that day that she was a "sound healing evangelist" because the sound healing had helped her so much in her process for relieving pain and restoring peace when it was most needed. Although I do what I do because I know it is effective it is always another miracle to me when I actually witness the relief that people get from this modality.

I always felt honored and grateful both to work with Shin Ae as a patient and also to connect with her on such a deep level. And I know that's not about me- it was a gift that Shin Ae had, to be able to enter into the space where another human being was coming from, no matter their background, their source point or their operating procedure. She could step in and connect in a way that superceded the mundane and went straight to the heart of things. That was Shin Ae, no bullshit, all heart and a brilliant mind and a gift to all who knew her.

Musical Prayer

Tonight I did a short sound journey at the World Citizens Cafe in Framingham honoring Earth Day and offering musical prayer to Mother Earth. It was one of those events where I was asked to do it knowing I would be giving a five to ten minute sound offering and traveling an hour and a half to do so and knowing all the while that I wouldn't be making any money but that it would be well worth my while in every way. And so it was.

I only brought a handful of instruments with me but I chose instruments from as many parts of the world that I could. On their Facebook page the description for the World Citizens Cafe is as follows: "A place to relax and share our multicultural heritage. Discover the cultural differences that distinguish us and the commonalities that bind us. Stories from worldwide cultures, music,
tastes of international foods, lively conversation and of laughter ! Free and open to all." So, my guiding thoughts were to choose instruments that were global and the intentionality of a healing prayer for the Mother. I brought four Tibetan singing bowls, a Paiste gong made in Switzerland, a wind gong made in China, a condor feather flute made by a Peruvian shaman, an antique transverse flute made in London, a Native American flute, an instrumental tamboura made in India, a clay pot flute made by me, a rattle given to me by a Canadian shaman (which I think was made in the Amazon), a crystal bowl made in the United States and a didgeridoo from Australia. 

It was such a lovely evening... a beautiful group of people, and everyone seemed to love the sound journey. It was wonderful to see how deep and how far people were able to travel with the sound in spite of it being so short. I am reminded that time really has no bearing on the experience because the effect of sound is instantaneous and transcendent.

Loving Life!

I have had a very full 24 hours and am feeling somewhat exhilarated! Yesterday I spent a few precious hours with my very dear friend Sharon with whom I have shared so many wonderful musical moments and memories, as well as all the heartfelt talks, tears and laughter that make a friendship meaningful and true.

This morning I had a really great meeting with my therapist. We had a long talk about fear as I have been very much aware of the physical dynamics of it running through my body in the last week- noticing the places where it comes up and my relationship to it.

Then, earlier this evening, I had the great fortune of giving a Healing Sound Journey to a group of wonderful ladies who all do yoga together in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. It was in a martial arts studio which is always an interesting vibe, but it was great and the space was transformed with all of the instruments, many mirrors and a zillion little flameless candles that the yoga teacher had brought! They loved it. It was all very new to pretty much all of them and many of them had profound experiences.

There are always interesting discoveries for me in the process of a sound journey. Tonight it was the discovery of the relationship between two bowls right at the end of the sound journey- a crystal bowl and a Tibetan bowl. When I played them together there was a binaural beat that occurred- that was not unusual in itself- but the sound of it was unlike any I had ever heard before. At first I didn't recognize that it was coming from the bowl because it was so deep and so subtle- this very quiet deep pulse that actually sounded like some sort of an engine or something! After a few times though I could distinctly hear that it occurred every time I hit the Tibetan bowl after playing one particular crystal bowl. I ended the sound journey with those two tones. I recorded the whole sound journey so it will be really interesting to play it back and see if the recorder (my iPhone!) picked it up the beat frequency between the two instruments.

So, tonight I am feeling happy and grateful and am wearing a big smile on my face!

Healing Sound Journeys- How They Came To Be

Sound Journey in an old church in Cape Cod, MA

This Friday (day after tomorrow) I am doing a Healing Sound Journey at a martial arts studio in Woonsocket. (For more information click here.)  I have connected with a woman who teaches yoga there- Lisa Votta- and shares all kinds of holistic, inspiring and educational things that I am interested in on her Twitter page! AND she found ME via Google, which makes me happy, and there is a group of yoga students there who are excited about my coming up there to teach a sound journey. I am definitely looking forward to this event!

As I am thinking about the sound journey, I thought it might be fun to share a little bit about the Healing Sound Journeys and post some pictures from sound journeys past. 

Genie's Hookah Lounge, Newport, RI

In 1995 I began teaching sound healing workshops and found it to be most helpful for people to experience the effect of various instruments first, before discussing their effect. One could talk forever about how Himalayan singing bowls balance the right and left hemispheres of the brain and entrain the brain waves to a theta range, inducing a natural and effortless state of meditation (sahaj dhyan) but that will never give you the experience. I began opening my workshops with a short meditation on the various instruments that I had begun collecting- flutes, a small gong, a Tibetan bowl, a drum, rainstick, didgeridoo, an instrumental tamboura, a shaker- a very humble collection of instruments! I also used my voice, doing toning, overtone chanting and mantras.

High Rise, Rochester, VT

The meditation usually lasted about 15 minutes. The responses from participants were typically that they lost all sense of time and place, and that it was too short- an interesting dichotomy! As time went on, I began collecting more instruments and also realized that the effects of this short meditation were often profound so I began to extend the time. I offered a 6-week meditation called Sound Journeys, realizing that the participants were literally traveling on the sound frequencies and that each instrument had its own powerful effect and that they were all dramatically different.  So one week I would use a singing bowl, another week the didgeridoo, another week my voice, and so on. This was an amazing period of exploration and learning for me as well as those who attended.

Private home, Ridgefield, CT

As time went by the sound journeys began to develop a life of their own. People were having spontaneous healings- they took people much deeper than a meditation, with no effort at all on their part. All they had to do was lie down and the sound did the rest! Participants would come back with all kinds of stories of places they had been, colors they saw, loved ones who visited with them, physical healing, and sometimes an ability afterward to meditate on their own when before they'd had great difficulty.They spontaneously began to integrate the background sounds in their environment as a tool for meditation- in other words, the sound journey actually transformed the way they listened, heard and related to sound.

The sound journeys became Healing Sound Journeys. When I met my partner of 14 years, Henry Steffes, a musician who immediately saw the benefits of sound as a healing tool, we began doing Healing Sound Journeys together. We traveled around the United States and Canada, performing them in yoga studios, meditation centers and private homes. In 2005 I opened a sound healing center in St. Petersburg, FL and for the next 7 years I did a sound journey there every Monday night as well as in many other studios in the area and in other parts of the country as well.

(Tibetan bowl healing demo) Los Gatos, CA

In 2012, I moved back up to Rhode Island and have been offering Healing Sound Journeys in yoga studios and private homes up here as well as in Europe, with the occasional trip to Florida and California thrown in there as well.

For the past 3 years I have been recording all my sound journeys but unfortunately do not yet know how to upload them onto my blog- so sorry! I know that a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case a sound byte would be worth a thousand pictures but we'll have to wait on that and go with the pictures for now. Or you can come to one of my Healing Sound Journeys!

Saltana Salt Cave, Ridgefield, CT

Zettmar Studio, Newport, RI

Zettmar Studio, Newport, RI

Sound Journey Concert w/ Laraaji Naradananda, Temple of the Living God, St. Pete, FL

Sound Body Wholistic Health Center, St. Petersburg, FL

Women's Well, Portsmouth, RI

Sound Journey with orbs! Villari's Martial Arts Studio, Middletown, RI

Yoga Center of Newburyport, MA

Yoga Center of Newburyport, MA

Private home, Ridgefield, CT

First Unity Church With Alex Grey, St. Petersburg, FL

First Unity Church, St. Petersburg, FL

The Longhouse, Gulfport, FL- w/ Henry Steffes, Jr

Private home, Clearwater, FL

Recording Studio, St. Pete, FL w/ Henry Steffes, Jr

Healing Touch Wellness Center, Land O' Lakes, FL

Yoga Center of Newburyport, MA

Bright light after a Healing Sound Journey in Ridgefield, CT!

Diverging Directions (All Roads Lead Home)

My mind is going a few different directions with what to write about tonight and I am also very focused on changing my blogging and sleeping pattern so my plan is to keep it short tonight.

One: Still enjoying the energy of the gathering of sweet friends here last week.

Two: My brother came by my house last night and gave me a beautiful new guitar that plays so sweetly. I feel like we have been friends forever and she is inspiring me to play better and try new things that I have never done before.
Three: Yesterday I wrote up the outline for my weekend workshop in Holland that I will be teaching on May 8-9. The course is Sound Healing for Balance and Joy. The realization for me was the same tools that will first serve by restoring balance are also the tools that will bring you joy- not the tools themselves but the effect of their use.

Sound Healing for Balance and Joy
A Two-Day Workshop utilizing Vocal Expression, Singing Bowls, and Tuning Forks

Sound Healing for Balance
Chakra Tones
Body Tuners (C & G Tuning forks)
Brain Tuners
Singing bowls

Sound Healing for Joy
Chakra Tones
Overtone singing
Body Tuners/Brain Tuners
Singing Bowls

The same tools that are used to bring balance and harmony to the nervous system and the mind-body-spirit can also elevate us to states of great joy. The first task is to clear away the clutter and excess chatter. Sound has the capacity to sidestep our left-brain linear thought processes and allow us to drop fully into the present without fear, projection or anxiety. Once we have arrived, we are in a place to access the fullness of our being.

This is a fully experiential workshop. We will immerse ourselves in sound, produced from within and without. What you will take from this are simple, accessible, powerful tools that can assist you in managing physical, mental and emotional pain so that you can tap into the true potential of your being.

“The opposite of love is fear, but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite.”
Holland- 2012

Solar Cells and Singing Bowls

This makes such perfect sense.

Buddhist singing bowls could inspire highly efficient solar cells

September 14, 2014
Dr Niraj Lal says that the way Buddhist singing bowls interact with light mimics the way t...
Dr Niraj Lal says that the way Buddhist singing bowls interact with light mimics the way they capture sound
While the unique shape of Buddhist singing bowls is vital to the creation of their signature sound, a researcher from Australia National University (ANU) has used their design as the inspiration for a new breed of solar cells. In completing his PhD at the University of Cambridge, Dr Niraj Lal found that just as the bowls cause sound to resonate, miniaturized versions can be made to interact with light in much the same way, inspiring solar cells better able to capture sunlight.
Previous research has established that light behaves differently when working at the nanoscale. Downsizing his bowl-inspired cells to this level, Lal, now working at ANU, was able to demonstrate a device with the ability to capture significantly more light and convert it to electricity.
"Current standard solar panels lose a large amount of light-energy as it hits the surface, making the panels’ generation of electricity inefficient," says Niraj. "But if the cells are singing bowl-shaped, then the light bounces around inside the cell for longer."
Niraj calls this process "plasmonic resonance"" and says his nanobowls perform at four times the efficiency of flat solar cells in the lab, which when made from single materials such as silicon have an efficiency of 25 percent.
Improvements have been made on flat, single structure solar cells by way of tandem devices that stack a number of cells on top of each other. With the cells made from different materials, each with their own light absorption properties, the device is able to catch a wider range of the solar spectrum, enhancing its overall efficiency.
We saw the value of this approach earlier this year, when researchers produced a multi-material, four-junction, four-terminal stacked solar cell that achieved efficiencies of 43.9 percent.
Niraj and his team are now exploring ways that the nanobowl design can be incorporated into these tandem structures. "If we can make a solar cell that ‘sees’ more colors and keeps the right light in the right layers, then we could increase efficiency even further," he says.
The team's research was published in the IEEE Journal of Photonics.
Source: Australia National University via Science in Public

Report on Dreamtime Sounds

Two years ago I taught a class on healing with Himalayan metal singing bowls to a group of women in Sarasota, FL via Skype. At the end of the class they asked me if I could make a recording of the bowls specifically for helping one to go to sleep. I made the recording right away but then didn't know how to actually put it on a CD so I have never done anything with it. Tonight I finally figured out! Really, it was easy- I just had to do it, as it turned out. I am listening to it right now on my good stereo. Up until tonight I had only ever heard it on the computer!

That was about three minutes into the track. After that paragraph I had to go lie down on the floor as I could no longer focus on writing. I disappeared into the sounds. My breathing got very still, as it does in deep meditation. Images came into my mind as in a dream but I don't remember what any of them were.

I had forgotten. I hadn't listened to it in about a year. When I first made it I played it numerous times before going to sleep and I had to conclude that it must work because I never heard the whole thing. Tomorrow I will call a sound tech in Providence and see if he can clean up a few ambient sounds which were caused by me moving around the bowls when I was recording it. Then I can call my friend Nadia and tell her that I will have their CD ready soon!

More steps in the right direction...

Bells of Mindfulness

Sister Dang Nhiem with her beautiful teachings of the bells and the breath has been in my mind all day.  The teaching is simple and beautiful. There is nothing I can add to it.

I did the above drawing in a workshop after we had done a vocal meditation on the chakra tones. I was playing a singing bowl at the same time and this was how I felt at the end of the meditation. It was a revelation about the balance of energy.

Healing With Himalayan Singing Bowls

Today as I was looking through photos for my new flyer I began studying pictures of sound healing sessions I have done with Himalayan metal singing bowls. It is quite an experience working in this way with the bowls. All the bowls I use and sell are antique bowls, 200 to 400 years old.  What I discovered very early on is that bowls seem to have an "intelligence".  When I go to set them up around the body they seem to "tell me" first of all which ones want to be played and also where to place them. I have come to think of this as different "layouts" in much the same way as a tarot card reader does different layouts with the cards, depending on the situation. I have never done two sessions with the bowls laid out in the same way. And as you can see from the above video and from the pictures below, sometimes in the course of a session as things begin to clear the bowls then need to be moved around to move on to the next step in harmonizing the energies.

One woman I worked with wanted help in dealing with jet lag as she flew across the coutnry every week for her job. In the beginning of the session the bowls were placed very close around the physical body. As the energies began to clear the bowls moved further and further out (with my assistance!) until they took the shape of the giant angel wings around her body.
Sometimes many bowls are placed around the body- sometimes only a few. Because I sell the bowls, I have access to quite a few but one bowl can be very powerful. The truth is you can do a very effective session with only one bowl if you know how to play it properly. There is technique and subtlety to the approach, and if you listen to the bowl it will guide you.

 Good bowls, particularly the older ones, produce at least two to three audible tones at one time and many more subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) harmonics. Depending on the striker- or as Sister Dang Nhiem calls them "inviters", for we are inviting the sound of the bowl- you can coax many different sounds out of the bowl. The intervals between the tones of one bowl (the number of spaces between the notes) are the interval of a fifth, which has the effect of balancing the right and left hemispheres of the brain. When this occurs the most natural response is to effortlessly enter into a state of meditation. Thus by the nature of their sound the bowls set up a perfect environment for healing because the entire nervous system almost instantly shifts into a state of deep relaxation.
Perhaps you are listening to the opening video while you are reading this. When you are done reading I suggest you go back and start the video over and just listen. Don't bother about watching it- it's really not that interesting other than watching as the bowls begin to be moved around! But the audio is surprisingly good given the camera I recorded it with and you can hear the pulsing of the tones at times which entrain the brainwaves to an alpha or theta state, slowing everything down. Just sit and close your eyes, or keep them open- whatever feels right for you, and observe what happens for you as you listen to the tones. Don't bother trying to relax- you won't have to try! There is a physiological response that is occurring automatically and activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which is in charge of the relaxation response.

 Once you drop into this deep state change can happen on a very deep level. The key is always intention. Get clear about what you want- what you want to let go of, what you would like to integrate more fully. You simply clear the path so you can see where you want to go and then let go and allow. The transformation happens very naturally. Sound is beautiful in the way that it flows much like water. It will go just where it's needed, feeding and nourishing all those spaces that are in need of healing.

Jeff Bridges- The Sleeping Tapes

Okay, so apparently if you watched the Superbowl you would have seen this- but I am not a sports fan (nor am I politically correct) so I didn't see it until last night. I happen to enjoy food much more than sports so I was watching "Chopped" last night when, during a commercial break, Jeff Bridges comes across the screen playing a Himalayan singing bowl and "Omming" some very lucky couple to sleep! And the words came across the screen What??? I RUN to my computer and jump on the website!

Seriously... Jeff Bridges has made a pretty amazing album called "The Sleeping Tapes"- just what they are. This is my huge excitement right now. A mainstream superhip DUDE lulling people to sleep with his bowl and his deep OMMM.... Go Jeff! If I had watched the Superbowl I guarantee you that seeing that commercial would have been the most exciting 51 seconds of the whole thing! (In my world Himalayan singing bowls are the Superbowls!)

Here is a video of him talking about making the album and the very cool web building site Squarespace. (I've used it before- it's great.) It is a seriously cool video- you should definitely take the two minutes to watch it.
I downloaded the album last night and didn't hear the whole thing. You know what that means!

I love Jeff Bridges, I love sound healing, I love sounds, and I really love sleeping and dreaming- it's probably my most favorite thing of all! In fact I just signed up for a workshop on sound and dreaming with John Beaulieu and Silvia Nakkach, so this could not have been more synchronistic in my book.

What I am super excited about though is that this little 51 second video reached millions of people! Sound is so powerful and important and non-invasive and can be such an enjoyable healing modality. Right now I reach about 80 people a day on my blog. I'm thinking that's a lot! This year 114.4 million people watched the Superbowl. Jeff Bridges, you are definitely The Dude!

Oh by the way- all sales of the album go to No Kid Hungry. Here's to The Dude!

Sympathetic Resonance

This morning I walked into my sound healing room to open the curtains and noticed my flute lying on one of the tables. I picked it up and played it for just a minute or two and was about to put it back when an extraordinary sound caught my attention. I could hear a very faint resonance of tones in the room. I blew a few notes on the flute again and stopped. Same thing...a barely audible harmony of sounds. I tried it again- where were these beautiful mysterious tones coming from?

I walked over to the circle of crystal and Tibetan bowls and played again. Ah yes, there it was! The tones of the flute were causing the other instruments that had the same frequencies to vibrate in sympathetic resonance. It was extraordinary, ethereal- and astonishing to me that in so many years of working with these instruments I had never heard such an enormous response from one instrument to another! So subtle and so beautiful.
I sat down in the circle of bowls and continued playing, sometimes pausing after one or two notes, sometimes playing a whole phrase. I sat and played, mesmerized by the tones that came forth, for probably close to an hour- me playing my flute and the bowls answering. Several times in the course of the day I went back in there and did it again. I wish had a recording device that would pick up such subtle tones- I definitely would have recorded it!

Over the years in my workshops I have shared many examples of sympathetic resonance as it is a key component in sound healing. Often when I am teaching and I have a gong next to me, my voice hits a certain tone that causes the gong to resonate. It is actually loud enough to distract me sometimes but it is also a great example of how one particular tone will cause another object (it doesn't have to be a musical instrument) to resonate if the tone is the same as said object's resonant frequency.

In its application to sound healing, knowing that all aspects of our physical body, our emotions and our thoughts have specific frequencies, we can effectively release trauma from the body by using this principle of sympathetic resonance.

In life we can simply observe and enjoy the interplay of tone and harmony as a subtle vibratory experience (sometimes not so subtle!) when we feel a resonance or connection to another. It could be the way a song makes us feel, or a tree, or a flower or the presence of another person.  On the flip side when we get triggered and are upset, anxious or in pain, then we have the opportunity to explore what can help us to shift our energy back to a state of calm or homeostasis. Again it could be a song, a tree, a particular healing modality, the presence of another person, the remembrance of our breath- any myriad of possibilities because everything is vibration. 

As it says in the Vedas, "Nada brahma." The world is sound.

11.30.10 Wholistic Hearing

I used to hear with my ears. Now I often seem to experience "hearing" with my whole body. I spend so much of my time working with so many forms of sound- tuning forks, acoustic instruments, crystal and Himalayan singing bowls and listening to and experiencing the vibrotactile effect of music as part of my treatments. I have always had an extreme sensitivity to sound and for many years as I have immersed myself in the field of sound healing, I have developed a tremendous curiosity about the evolution of hearing from an essential tool for survival to a sense which can transport us to realms of ecstasy.

In the last several years however I have also become aware of a new level of experiencing sound within my own body, especially peripherally. It seems to be a reactivation of this ancient instinctual awareness of sound. A door opens into the room, I hear a voice breaking through the every day ambient sounds, at night lying in bed I hear the rustle of a possum or raccoon outside and my whole body reacts. It feels as though the entire surface of my body- my skin, my pores, the fine hairs on the surface of my skin- instantly respond to these unexpected sounds.

I watch body signals and am extremely attentive to my clients response to sound and music during sound healing sessions- is it too loud? Too quiet? Is it time for a different instrument? Is the air conditioning too loud? Is the singing bowl harmonious with the music? The bass too strong? I am in a constant state of meditation and on another level on constant alert while giving a session- a very interesting balance. Often it is just an inner knowing that tells me it's time to make a change in the music or place my hand on their solar plexus.

In this moment as I am examining this process I am thinking that it is the attention to my intuition that has led me to a greater sensitivity within myself to the sounds around me. It is interesting and also sometimes disturbing to be so acutely sensitive. The gift is that it allows for a tremendous sensitivity to facilitating the healing process, allowing the body to gently finds its way back to balance through all the subtle changes that can occur during a sound healing session.