Attune to the vibrations of creativity. Release your imagination. Invite healing through the transformative rhythms of nature. Sound therapy is the most amazing tool for both wellbeing and health and the really exciting thing is that we’ve barely even scratched the surface of how powerful this incredibly ancient, yet totally modern practice is.
Last week, a few of the St. Eval team were lucky enough to visit an immersive sound therapy session held by Jane, owner of Cornwall based Silence & Noise. Jane blends both deeply traditional and fiercely contemporary methods from the sonic and yogic universe, weaving elemental grooves, cosmic inspiration and a good sprinkle of shamanic and sacred ceremony into her sound explorations and ritual workshops.
In this week’s blog, learn about Jane’s journey in discovering sound meditation and the powers of sound therapy. Jane firmly believes that the modern soul seeking movement WILL save the world, because she is living proof that what happens on the mat is truly just the beginning of what can be achieved beyond it…
My journey with sound
"I first encountered sound meditation back in London in the mid-noughties when, as a stressed-out fashion executive, I was searching all kinds of different meditations and methods to help myself feel less anxious and burned out. I’d never heard of a gong bath before and honestly I’m not really sure how or where I connected with that first fortuitous encounter, but I found myself in an empty, draughty garage somewhere in Shoreditch (before it was the epicentre of cool) lying on the floor and listening to someone banging what appeared to be giant cymbals. I had no idea what to expect - 2007 or so was still a long time before the wellbeing boom that we are now so familiar with, and although I’d already explored hypnotherapy, mindfulness, all sorts of different yoga retreats and trainings as well as acupuncture and CBT, this gong bath idea seemed pretty out there even to me. How could white noise be relaxing!?
The truth is, you don’t really hear anything. Sound is to be FELT and experienced as much as it is to be heard, and sound therapy is much more about vibrations and how they rebalance the body. After a few minutes in the sound, your brainwaves slow down significantly and your conscious mind switches off, including all your physical senses. The awareness of ‘hearing’ becomes disconnected and despite the huge waves of sound being created by the gongs - you are still, silent at the centre of the sound, free from the constant flood of external messaging and inner voices that can drive us all to distraction.
I can’t tell you where I or my mind went that first evening - many people find that they can’t - but it did completely change my life. In that gong bath environment, I discovered that I was able to completely disconnect from my burned out, frayed-at-the-edges conscious mind. I was calm, still, blissful relaxed, and able to rest at last. It was the silver bullet I’d been looking for, a chance to get quiet enough that I could start to determine and action the positive life changes that I wanted to make.
That first gong bath affected me so profoundly that I started attending sessions as much as I could - I sought out the early practitioners who were setting up shop in different parts of London and would travel any number of tube zones to meet them (unheard of for me at that time!) I started reading, researching and adding sound into my own yoga practice and teachings through mantra, chant and singing bowls. I learnt about binaural beats, vibro-acoustics and how sound and its practice is really all about quantum physics. I was learning to find silence in the noise around me, and it felt incredible.
In 2015 I was diagnosed with a brain tumour. As the consultant explained to me that my particular condition was called an ‘acoustic neuroma’, something to do with synchronicity or destiny clicked in my mind. My tumour was completely entwined with sound! Learning to live with it was going to be a journey into the depths of the inner ear as I explored new ways to hear through vibration, learned about the science of sound and it’s ability to dissolve blockages and matter, and about how sounds can be used as deeply effective remedial treatment both medically and holistically.
Around 10 years after I experienced that first gong bath the time came for me to leave London and in my life in fashion behind. I signed up for a gong practitioner training course with the wonderful Sheila Whittaker who is based in Devon and is one of the world’s leading authorities on gong therapy. I packed up my house, my business, my life and my cats move to Cornwall, and now I’m lucky to say that I’m a full-time sound and vibrational therapy practitioner.
What does a gong bath do to my body & mind?
I describe the gong bath as a space for journeying, for personal exploration. Being in the soundspace allows you an opportunity to disconnect from the conscious chattering mind, from your to do lists, your projects, worries and fears - all the stuff that keeps you awake at night, distracted from your life and stopping you from resting or being present. The sound space is a place where all of that can be released and the body shifted into a state of deep rest. This can look like a meditation, more of an out of body journey or just an extremely deep state of calm.
One of the best things about a sound bath is that it’s totally non-cognitive - all you have to do is lie down and relax (and setting an intention really helps too as it directs the subconscious mind). This makes it a really great tool for anyone who finds talking therapies or articulating their stress or anxiety a challenge. I often recommend it as a great place to begin a healing journey, especially where more traditional approaches haven’t worked. Sound allows us to unlock our bodies and minds at such a deep level.
Some people find that they completely leave their body during the sound session, they may visualise images, see kaleidoscopic colours and maybe even hear messages or other sounds. Sometimes people feel like they have just been asleep, almost like an induced trance or coma state, and come back feeling very rested with no visions at all. Either of these is fine as everyone’s journey is totally unique.
The science part...
All matter is sound: everything in existence is literally made of vibrations at different frequencies. There’s lots of physics to explain how sound therapy works, but the simplest way is to describe the Law of Entrainment. It states that when a high vibration meets a lower one, it draws the lower one up to vibrate in harmony with itself. In practice, when sounds from the gongs enter our bodies they seek out blockages - this might be a muscle strain, general anxiety or unease, emotional tension, or something more tangible like kidney stones (which sound is already used to treat in modern medical settings). The higher vibrations dissolve the blockages, bringing those lower vibrations into harmony with themselves - creating a more peaceful and unified state. This is like putting yin and yang into practice, creating balance in the physical, mental and emotional body. It’s what we seek to do in reiki, massage, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, in fact in most holistic and healing remedies, all dealings with the endocrine and lymphatic systems, and so much more. We are simply creating balance, encouraging the body into a state of natural flow, where it is not being overly driven by one aspect of its being. For most of us this means dialling down the left brain (our analytical, logical thinking side) and empowering our right brain - intuition, instinct and creativity.
How my sessions work, and what makes them unique
I found sound through a meandering exploration of yoga, eastern philosophy, western astrology, and neuroscience - and I love to share sound therapy as part of a wider experience that draws on a mix of these experiences. ‘Soundscapes’ blend various different practices, such as astrology, reiki, tarot, crystal therapy and aromatherapy into the session, and I always make sure that I give plenty of time to the hard science of sound. The way I see it is that everyone can benefit so much from vibri-acoustics, it’s important to offer different access points to help people feel comfortable in giving it a try for the first time.
The frequencies of the universe have a lot of synchronicity with many different healing therapies and philosophies, so there are many portals to be explored!
Sound is already used in modern medicine in scanning, breaking up blockages like kidney stones, and in treating Parkinson’s and some other neurological conditions. Having experience high frequency radiation myself, I’d say that a lot of what we rely on in medical settings has a holistic equivalent well worth exploring. There are many of us who believe that sound is the future of medicine - non-invasive, non-cognitive and actually enjoyable as well as offering a host of additional benefits. Sound has been used in science, architecture and medicine for many thousands of years, and documented by civilisations almost as far back as we have history. So isn’t it time we brought sound into the future?"
We hope you have been inspired and enlightened to the incredible world of sound therapy. You can learn more about Jane's sessions here.
We'd love to hear your experiences with meditation, mindfulness and sound therapy, share your experiences with us on social @stevalcandles, or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.