The Spirit of SOUND


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Sound is powerful. It can both simulate and calm the body and psyche. That’s why bands play fight songs at football games and mothers sing lullabies to children. Recent research in the field of vibrational medicine suggests that certain sounds can help support relaxation, reduce stress and even promote healing.

One of the most creative and restorative ways to experience the power of sound is sound bath meditation. Part musical performance, part meditation, sound baths are played with gongs, Tibet- an and Himalayan singing bowls, crystal bowls, bio- sonic tuning forks, chimes and topped off with chant- ing. You lay on a yoga mat in savasana (corpse pose) and let the waves of sound wash over you. The sounds and their vibrations help you slow your breathing, heart rate and brain waves, making it easier to experience a deeper meditation.

Sound healer Marni Suu Reynolds conducts weekly sound bath meditations at the historic Na Kupuna Makamae Center in Kaka‘ako. She is an ordained spiritual healer, certified mindfulness teacher and certified Kundalini and Hatha yoga teacher.

“Sound bath meditation calms our over-stimulated nervous system and balances the subtle body where our life force—Qi, Chi or prana—exists,” she says. “This helps heal depression, anxiety, chronic pain and insomnia, deepens meditation and sparks creativity. Think of it like a sonic massage for the mind. The sounds wash over the ‘thinking mind’ and allow the neutral mind to appear, and that’s where the healing begins.”

She explains, “Sound baths help facilitate a shift in your brainwave state. Through sound and frequency it’s possible, and very easy, to downshift our normal beta state (waking conscious- ness) to alpha (relaxed consciousness), with the majority of people able to reach theta (meditative state). This experience is helpful for anyone who wants to give themselves a moment of relaxation or gain the benefits from meditation, but has not yet learned how to access on their own.”

A sound bath meditation begins with settling down—you are guided through gentle yoga poses and pranayama (breathing exercises) on your yoga mat. Then you tuck yourself in with a pillow and blanket and simply focus on your breath and the many sounds you hear and their vibrations your feel as Reynolds moves around the room. Relax, be open to the experience, and that’s all there is to it—on the surface. After the final “om”, you may notice that you feel calm, energized or both. Perhaps you gained clarity and insight about an issue or situation during the meditation. It’s all personal, but you will notice a room full of smiles as you roll up your yoga mat.

“Sound baths are a way to learn more about yourself, to experience conscious- ness with intention in a room full of strangers, and emerge a new person,” Reynolds says. “ You make a deep connection to yourself, to others and hopefully to the world.”

The concept of sound affecting the health of the mind and body is not new. Chanting and reciting mantras have been part of Hindu spirituality and the healing power of yoga for thousands of years. More specifically, many of the sound bath instruments are ancient. Now considered sonic frequency technologies, Tibetans have been using bowls and gongs for more than 2,000 years.

Whether metal or quartz crystal, a singing bowl sings when you run a felt-tipped mallet around its edge. Along with rhythms produced by striking the edge of the bowl, the vibrations and tones can produce a deep sense of calm and wellbeing. Originally used to tune musical instruments to the proper pitch, the vibrations of biosonic tuning forks direct energy to specific parts of the body. Their good vibes can support re- laxation, balance your nervous system and increase your energy.

These ancient traditions are experiencing a modern-day renaissance and Reynolds believes that Hawaii is the ideal setting. “If you want to experience a modern-day sound healing that has been practiced for thousands of years, you don’t have to go far.”

Reynolds offers a variety of ways to experience sound healing: weekly yoga and sound healing classes at Na Kupuna Makamae Center in Kaka’ako, one-on- one energy healing and sound sessions, and group sessions for events. She also holds workshops, retreats and immersions that incorporate sound bath meditation.

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