A quote today from the wise Meister Eckhart,a German philosopher from the 13th century. I first came to hear of him from the poet John O’Donohue who savoured Eckhart’s work.
For my birthday this year, I asked my husband for a crystal singing bowl. You can see me playing it in the photo above. More and more research has been showing the physical and emotional benefits of healing through sound. Benefits can include reduction in stress, better focus, reduction in pain, and so much more. We can experience the benefits in an indirect way when we attend church or a concert or we can seek out specific types of sound to accelerate healing in targeted areas of our life with a sound healing practitioner.
I hope this article helps you reflect on where sound has been healing for you in your life and gives you ideas to explore sound healing in a deeper way.
Sound Healing With A Group
When I was a kid, I went to church twice every Sunday. A lot of my experience at church was boring as a child. There was always a congregational prayer listed as an item on the agenda for the service. Before I knew what the word congregational meant, I thought it meant long and boring. As an adult of course I can appreciate that it was a prayer for individuals in our congregation, but as I kid I did not. So where am I going with this? What I want to highlight is that amidst the boring parts, the thing I loved the most about church was the music and singing. My favourite memory was every Christmas when the congregation sang the song Glory to God with the organ and the piano. It always moved me to tears when I heard the passion and heart from a group of 200 people. The congregation sang it in English or in Dutch. Here is one version below.
Singing with a large group of people can be a very healing experience for both adults and children, especially with a song that everyone loves. If I were to guess, I would hypothesize that when we sing a song with a large group, our chakras open and our connection strengthens to eachother, the divine, and the earth. Just think of a concert you went to and the feelings evoked as thousands of people sang the lyrics to a song. The first concerts that come to mind for me are with Sarah McLachlan singing Your love is better than Chocolate or the band Radiohead singing Karma Police. I have never seen Coldplay live, but I think it would be a lot of fun to do so. Here’s their hit Paradise at a concert in Paris.
Sound Healing At Home
Beyond listening to great music in our homes, there are things we can listen to in an intentional way to improve mood, decrease stress, decrease pain and vibrationally lift us up as we heal emotional wounds. Have you ever been in a room and even though no one is in there, you can just feel ickiness or an unfinished argument in the air? Sound can be used to clear a space.
Binaural Beats are when two slightly different frequencies of sound are played into each ear creating another sound in your brain. So you put on your earbuds and a different frequency is sent to each ear. Research has been showing it can improve anxiety, balance mood, decrease pain and more. Here’s an article that includes the science behind binaural beats and 9 different ways they have been helpful for people.
Where Can I Find Binaural Beats?
It’s easy to listen to binaural beats for free. Simply go to Youtube and search for it and you will find a plethora of options. Spotify also has binaural beats available in its catalogue and I’m guessing Apple Music would have it too.
Acoustic Brain Research
Tom Kenyon is a psychotherapist and healer (among many other things) who has scientifically studied the impact of sound on healing. Over the years he was a psychotherapist he’d start to encompass sound into some of his sessions. He started to study the healing benefits of sound. Here is a post to learn more about science of sound healing in general. Similar to binaural beats, research is showing benefits of reduction of stress, improving relaxation and focus and so much more.
Where Can I Find Tom Kenyon’s Music
You can either get a cd or download his music from Tom Kenyon’s store.
I was lucky to meet Callie Whitworth at the Barbara Brennan School of Healing. Every year our school had an evening of artistic performances. Callie always sang, and I wasn’t the only one wowed during our last year when she found something deep inside her and went to where her music wanted to take her. I’ve tried playing binaural beats & Tom Kenyon’s music to my kids and by far their favourite is Callie’s voice.
Where Can I Find Callie Whitworth’s Music
To listen to a sample of Callie’s music or buy her cd Vibrations in the Wind, you can visit her website Dreamtime Medicine.
Sound Healing Sessions With A Practitioner
Once you’ve started to explore sound healing, it can be a wonderful experience to see a practitioner who devotes an hour to personalize sound healing to your needs. Once you open this box, you will find that there any many different types of sound healers available in your geographic area. Here’s a few to get you started.
Located on Bloor Street West, my friend Lianne has expanded her Reiki practice to include sessions that include the use of tuning forks. Different tuning forks are used at different points and chakras on the body. Tuning forks combined with Reiki? Sign me up. You can find her at LianneGraham.com.
So Texas is large, but if you’re close to San Antonio, you can find Callie Whitworth and her beautiful studio. Callie combines Brennan Energy Healing with the sound of her voice. I was lucky enough to receive a session this past spring that left me wishing I lived closer. You can find her at DreamtimeMedicine.com.
For my European friends, if you want an option that’s closer to you, I’d encourage you to try a sound healing with my friend John Reilly in Dublin, Ireland. John is also a graduate of the Barbara Brennan School of Healing. He always brought his set of Tibetan singing bowls to each week in Florida and gave sound healings to individuals and groups. He places the bowls at different points and chakras on the body to create an incredibly healing experience. You can find out more about John at OpenSourceHealer.com.
Yoga & Sound Healing at De La Sol Yoga Studios
If you practice yoga, an easy way to experience the benefits of sound can be a session at De La Sol Yoga Studios in Hamilton. Peter Monos leads the group in a gentle Yin Yoga while playing his Tibetan Singing Bowls. I always leave each session feeling both relaxed and re-energized. You can find out the class schedule at De La Sol Yoga Studios.
Sound & Spirituality
Sound can also be used to help us on our spiritual journey using the methods above or in many other ways. In my next blog post I will share about some of my experiences with sound & spirituality from journeying to Nepal to experiencing a group event with Tom Kenyon this past October.
What types of experience with sound healing have been healing for you? I’d love to hear about what you enjoy the most.
As Madonna sang, “Music, makes the people come together”…
My experience at the Barbara Brennan School of Healing(BBSH) helped me rediscover my love for dance. I haven’t taken any dance classes, but I still like to move. During my university years I enjoyed dancing with my friends at a club or bar. At BBSH, during each school week we had a morning dance class and one evening where we danced at the end of the week. No alcohol, no substance use – just dancing.
The morning dance class was similar to ecstatic dance. Ecstatic dance is pretty much dancing in whatever way the music inspires you to move. I’ve been missing that dance class, so i’ve reached out locally to start a similar group one morning a month. Once it’s official, I share more about the details. While creating some playlists, I came across 2 songs that I wanted to share with you to add some light to your day. These delicate, heart-felt songs embody the element of air. I couldn’t help but feel a little more lightness to my step after listening to them.
Song 1: Can’t Help Falling Love by Kinna Grannis
Have you seen Crazy Rich Asians? If you have you may have been just as haunted as I was by Kina Grannis’ cover of Can’t Help Falling In Love
Song 2: Girl by SYML
Thank you Spotify for leading me to this song.
Hope you find some space to dance today. Until next time.
I recently binge-watched Queer Eye on Netflix. This show brings five gay men who try to improve the lives and confidence of straight men by giving them makeovers and advice. I think I cried while watching 80% of the episodes. I don’t think I’m seen so many straight men cry so openly on television. These five men open their hearts and with fierce compassion help men who are often depressed or in a period of self-loathing shift and make big changes in a very short time-frame.
Why am I sharing this? The show decides to visit men who often hit wounds in the lives of the fab five. In Season 1 Episode Dega Don’t the men are told they will be helping a white, Trump loving policeman. All of them are a little wary of this, but especially Karamo Brown, an African-American man whose son is afraid to get his driver’s license because of his fear of policemen. The conversation between Karamo and the policeman is amazing to watch. I read a post about the show that Karamo and the policeman have become friends and watched the episode together over the phone when it originally aired. Fake news? Maybe, but after watching the episode that seemed believable.
We often tend to spend time with people who share a similar political and religious lens. We don’t often have a reality tv-show to put us in uncomfortable situations, but with the Holidays near people often spend more time with their families. Families are full of individuals with opposing beliefs. We often try to shame another person into seeing our view point, or try to convince them with facts. Guess what – neither of those will work.
I recently brought one of my sons to get some of his vaccinations. I have consistently declined the chicken-pox vaccine, but I was speaking to a resident who had a note to try to give me the facts to see if that would convince me. We had an excellent conversation in which I told her that I have found myself in my life with professionals who are 100% in favour of vaccines and other professionals who are 100% against vaccines. If I look at my family and my friend group, they have all made different choices as well. I told her that I appreciated that it was her role to try and convince me to get the chicken pox vaccine, because she was medical doctor. I also told her that I decided to give vaccines because I was more fearful of serious illnesses and I want my kids to be able to travel to different countries. My decision about the chicken pox vaccine is not entirely rational, it’s more emotional and about my own feeling of stuckness. I told her that in my experience people make their decision about vaccines by what they fear more – serious illness or mistrust in the medical community.
My blue-sky fantasy is that there would be more dialogue between the medical profession and health practitioners such as naturopathic doctors and chiropractors who often oppose vaccines. While realizing this unlikely to happen any time soon, it would be of great benefit to have these controversial conversations to build bridges and open dialogue about this difficult topic. I wonder whether this would help many of us make a more informed and less emotional decision about vaccines.
The rest of this article, I wrote a year ago about how to have civil conversations. I give you some strategies you can start using now to help you build bridges with those you love or those you have to spend time with (e.g. colleagues or clients) who have opposing view points.
So – did you vote for Brexit? What do you think of Trump? Are you pro-life or pro-choice? Vaccine or anti-vaccine? Belief in a God or not at all? What do you think of Trudeau or Doug Ford?
I don’t know about you, but it seems like there are multiple sources of emotionally charged topics that are causing conflict and rifts between friends and families. Sometimes it feels like the safest thing to do is to find that group of people who share our views and stay in the safety of that bubble.
We can choose to do that to some degree, but if you want to spend time with friends & family who might not see the world from your perspective, that can make it much more challenging.
- Avoid all conflictual topics
Try to pass the holidays without touching on hot topics. Sometimes this is the easiest and best option – no judgment.
- Avoid all friends and family that disagree with your viewpoint
- Try to convince everyone of your viewpoint
Isn’t this the one you wish would work? I certainly do. Often, we think that reason and logic are needed for persuasion. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to work with hot topics. Incredibly, research has shown that you can’t use reason alone with issues around morality (listen to the Jonathan Haidt podcast listed below to learn more). If you’re a family who loves a good argument or debate – carry on. But be curious if this is true for all parties involved and whether this debate brings you closer or further apart.
- Discuss conflictual topics with those you love in a less argumentative way
This is by far the most challenging option, but if you want to do this, find some courage, and read on.
If you’ve read a few of my blogs, you might see this as a theme. Whenever conflict arises, this is where we go first.
What are your sensitive areas? Where do your emotions get heated up? What are your assumptions and biases about the “other side?” What is something you don’t “get” about the other side?
Next – Why do you want to connect more with your family, friends, or others? How do your personal values give you reason to connect with people who have different opinions? Is it to have more peace in a relationship, community, country, or world? If you don’t want to connect with people who think differently, why don’t you?
Here is an example of applying this to politics.
I found it incredibly helpful to listen to the interview, “The Psychology of Self-Righteousness” with Social Psychologist Jonathan Haidt and Krista Tippett. Jonathan Haidt explores reasons to be compassionate and potentially even grateful for those liberal or conservative minded people in your family.
Jonathan identifies as a strong liberal/democrat and talks about his journey from hating republicans or those with a conservative viewpoint to understanding their views, having compassion for them, and using some conservative morals in his own life. He is a social psychologist and talks about how his research influenced his journey. He also talks about how reason will not work in debating issues of morality.
- Liberal and Conservatives share two values Fairness and Compassion
- Conservatives also have the values of Loyalty, Authority, and Sanctity
- Liberals value diversity and variety more and Conservatives value structure and order more – both are important
- A country with only Liberal or Conservative values will fail – both are needed
Create a Safe Place to have The Conversation
No one likes to be ambushed. Consider your environment. If you have a way to talk about the heated issue one-to-one, that is always best. It is better to do it in a safe space where neither of you feel like you will be attacked, shamed or blamed. Have one person who is pro-choice in a group of people who are pro-life? That’s not the place. Have one person who voted from Trump in a group of people who voted for Hilary? Maybe somewhere different.
But what about family dinners? What if you’re in public and the conversation just happens?
Safety also comes with your intention and words
- Have you done your own self-reflection? Or do you have an agenda?
- Do you really want to hear the other person’s point of view or not? Be Honest.
If we’ve done our own self-reflection this can help us ground and stay centered during those surprise conversations.
Ask Curious Questions
Brené Brown’s new book, Braving The Wilderness is great for digging deeper into how to have those potentially divisive conversations with family. She explores how to have deeper connecting conversations with those we’re struggling to get along with. She also talks about how to address it when a person is overtly racist, sexist etc.
Want a little bit more detail on what this could look like? Read Brené Brown’s interview with Dr. Michelle Buck in the chapter four “People are Hard to Hate Close Up. Move In.”
Brené recommends trying these 3 steps:
a) Really listen to hear what the multiple layers of reasons are for this person’s point of view. Is it a moral or a value that is leading them to have an opinion so different than yours?
b) If you start to get into a conversation about the past (who said and did what), try to shift it to the present or look to what the person wants for the future. What do they envision your country looking like for future generations?
c) When you want to make a counter argument, see if you can say, “Tell me more” instead.
It will take some groundwork for you before you can have a conversation about a topic that is very important to you.
- You can have these conversations with a wish to share your point of view, but you must be able to go into it without expecting that you will get to.
- Jonathan Haidt talks about how it can be helpful to start a conversation by complimenting a few things that the other side has gotten right in the past
- Or if that’s too hard, with a few things that your side has gotten wrong historically.
The Art of Asking Meaningful Questions
I remember earlier this year being introduced to Krista Tippett on the Tim Ferriss podcast. Her own podcasts are often about connecting people across lines. In the podcast Calming Philosophies for Chaotic Times, she talks about deeper questions that help us connect with one another and be less separate.
- “Answer this question through the story of your life” (apply to all heated topics e.g. voting for Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump”
- Give your opinions through your experience, not just to give an opinion
If you want to hear more, you can start listening at 1:22:42 during the podcast.
Set Boundaries Where Needed
Brené Brown also wrote the chapter about how to speak truth to bull-shit (BS). She describes the nature of BS and how to approach to with others. These tips are also good if you are the one being ambushed by others points of view. Her main tips are:
- Approach it with generosity, by not assuming that the person is being malicious or acting out of hate. If you’re ambushed, you can approach with generosity by being calm and curious. Why do they want your opinion to change?
- Be civil by owning our “stuff” and having curious conversations. We can be civil while disagreeing or stating our boundaries. Civil isn’t the same as “nice”. Civil is firm and grounded. Notice your body language – are you open or defensive?
Brené doesn’t encourage passivity when she speaks of being civil or being generous. She talks of courage and disagreeing with grace. I liked the quote she shared from Elie Wiesel, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
Speaking truth to bullshit is very difficult when emotions are high. The chapter is well-worth a read as she goes into more detail about how to approach this with people in our lives.
The Cheat Sheet
- Self-reflection first
- Create a safe space to connect with a person
- Ask curious questions
- Set boundaries where needed
A Funny Story
I will share that after writing all of this, I shared it with my husband. We then proceeded to have an argument about something extremely stupid (whether or not to buy a black Friday deal) and not even in the realm of big issues. Later, we couldn’t help but laugh at the irony. Those thoughts of, “If I can’t even do this with something trivial, how can I do this with bigger issues!” can be blocks to trying it with bigger issues. Upon reflection, we jumped to step 4 without doing steps 1-3.
The Gift of Wisdom and Kindness this Holiday Season
It is a gift to be kind to others and also ourselves. Remember to be compassionate with yourself if you try and fail dramatically. Be compassionate if you notice a time you could have tried to have a civil conversation and didn’t. Find courage and then try it another time.
Emotions can get in the way of connecting in a difficult conversation. Sometimes we can be ready to have a conversation and the other person is not. Sometimes it’s the other way around. Start small by picking a topic that’s less heated and work your way to the more difficult topics. Finally, speak your opinions from your experiences: “I experienced this, which is why I think this”.
Good luck and Happy Holidays!
Stay tuned – interested in how of all of this relates to energy healing and energy fields? I’ll be writing more on this topic in a future blog.
This blog post was originally published on December 19, 2017. It has been updated with current content.
“Gentleness is stronger than severity,
water is stronger than rock,
love is stronger than force”
from Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha
I have been an on again-off again meditator for years. I have always envied those individuals that have made meditation a regular habit in their lives. When I met my husband, he would meditate daily for 30-minutes to an hour every morning and evening. He would invite me to join him, but at the time I thought it looked pretty boring to sit silently for that long. He too goes through periods of meditating and not meditating.
Over the years I would read about people such as Ram Dass, Yogananda, or Michael Singer who had mystical and transformative experiences meditating, and I thought, “Well of course if you’re having that type of “wow/life-changing” experience, you would continue to meditate”. Or I would think, “Of course if you’ve chosen the spiritual vocation as your life path, these transformative experiences would happen”. And then at the same time I would read about stories of people who meditated for years and never had that “wow” experience while meditating.
So, if I can’t get a Guarantee of that “Wow Factor”, Why Meditate?
So, without having the “wow” factor goal in mind, I wondered why meditation would be so highly recommended for individuals.
Physical, mental, and emotional benefits
Calmness, focus, centeredness, happiness, better health, and self-love are all benefits of meditation. It seems that as each year goes by, more and more research demonstrates the healing benefits of mindfulness or meditation for more and more things. Pain, mental illness, stress, and burnout is just a few of the things it can help with. Just google “research meditation” or “research mindfulness” and you’ll notice a plethora of information at your fingertips.
When I taught Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) to teens and adults, mindfulness was a key component to this therapy. The main benefit of mindfulness in DBT is to help a person pause and connect with their thoughts & emotions and how they are using this information to interact with the world. Many other types of psychotherapy involving mindfulness have been created too, with the most famous probably being Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) created by Jon-Kabat Zinn. In other psychotherapies, the word mindfulness is never mentioned, but it is used in practice to help a person connect to their emotions and bring awareness to thoughts.
If you’re on a spiritual path, meditation seems a key part in going deeper into one’s spiritual journey whether it be with a religion or a more general spiritual path. Meditation allows a person to connect beyond themselves to something on a much grander scale – God, the universe, specific religious individuals such as Jesus or Buddha, and more.
Where Do I Start (or restart)?
- Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book Wherever You Go, There You Are, was one of the books that inspired me to start meditation. It’s an easy read with short chapters. This book is especially helpful if you’re interested in the Physical, Mental, & Emotional benefits. If you’re a person who is interested in being mindful but doesn’t want to sit quietly in meditation, this book provides many other options. You can do anything mindfully. Really.
- Want a book that also captures the spiritual benefits? Michael A. Singer’s The Untethered Soul is succinct and you can tell from the depth and simplicity of this book that he is a seasoned meditator.
There are a lot of guided meditations available on YouTube, it can be a matter of trying a few to find your favourites.
- Tara Brach is my favourite person to listen to for a guided meditation. I love her voice and her variety of meditations. You can find many selections on her website or on YouTube.
There are many apps related to mindfulness and meditation. After not meditating for many months, I tried the 14-day trial with Headspace. This was a great way to hear if I liked the person’s voice for guided meditation and try out some of their meditations. When flying on Air Canada earlier this year I found some of their meditations available on the online entertainment system.
After the 14-day trial I decided to buy a subscription for a year (They offer a great discount after you’ve completed the trial). I really appreciate the options to have a 1 minute or a 30-minute meditation. Also my screen can be dark and it can keep playing (unlike YouTube). Some days I’m happy if I meditated for 1 minute. Other days I want to meditate for a longer time. They also have great packages for different topics such as sleep, restlessness, worry and more.
If you notice in your life that it feels busy, even a few minutes of meditation a day can provide benefits of restoration and calm. Often between sessions with clients a take a few minutes to connect to myself and shift my energy from the past client to the next one.
I don’t use the word mindfulness in most of my sessions, but often I’m helping clients to connect with themselves in a deeper way to find the solutions that they seek. Many of us like to spend time in our minds, and while we would benefit from connecting with our bodies or our emotions, we are often not practiced at doing so. We are often on the move.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you found something to inspire you to start or restart your journey with meditation!
 Meditation is a form of mindfulness. There are many ways to be mindful without meditating, but meditation is a popular method of mindfulness.