Several years ago, my husband and I attended a conference. We were looking forward to the morning meditation which included crystal bowls.
As the person began playing, my husband could see my body contracting. He leaned over and whispered, “Do you need to leave?” I said, “Yes,” so I did.
The next morning, someone else was scheduled to play crystal bowls for the morning meditation. Before it began, my husband asked if I wanted to leave. I said, “No. I’ll stay and see how it feels.” As soon as this person began playing, every cell in my body opened with a resounding “Yes!” This was a totally different crystal bowl experience. Why?
Not All Sound Events Are Healing for Everyone
With so many opportunities to experience sound healing sessions, crystal bowls, gong baths and other modalities using sound and music, I wanted to share my experience and acknowledge that not all of these types of events are healing and comfortable for everyone.
To more fully explain the difference between the two crystal bowl experiences described above, it’s helpful to understand a fundamental concept of resonance called sympathetic vibration. A common demonstration is using two tuning forks of the same frequency. When one is struck, it begins to vibrate; then the other one is placed next to it and starts to vibrate. This demonstrates how when two objects of the same frequency come into close proximity to each other they create a resonant system, they begin to sing together through sympathetic vibration.
As a musician, I visualize sound and music as a highway, bringing that which is within us out into the world. With crystal bowls, the tones travel right into the body like a laser. With music, there are more elements such as melody, timbre, harmony, and rhythm which weaves a blanket of frequencies that more gently envelops the body. From my perspective, both sound and music carry information and energy from within the practitioner or musician, to the listeners. As Stephen Halpern wrote so eloquently in his book, Sound Health – The Music and Sounds that Make Us Whole, “Sound is a carrier wave of consciousness.”
What was the difference between my two crystal bowl experiences?
I feel the first person had a very specific intention before they began. There’s nothing wrong with intention but it doesn’t create a clear highway. When practitioners and musicians play with a specific intention, we are anticipating a specific outcome, and are often subconsciously attached to that outcome as the energy of our intention moves through our sound or music. This energy, often unconscious, sympathetically resonates within the listener. For example, if I’m in a space where someone is playing a crystal bowl and their intention is to open my root chakra, I’m going to feel that energy and say, “No, thank you.” That’s called forced resonance; an energetic force trying to move me out of my resonant frequency. It’s very subtle and many people feel it without realizing what they’re feeling.
Alternatively, I feel the second person did not have a specific intention and simply allowed the highest frequency of energy to move through them and through their sound. This was the frequency I felt within me; this was the frequency sympathetically resonating within me and it felt safe, loving, comforting, and supportive.
It’s OK to get up and leave.
When a practitioner thinks they are going to heal us, or thinks they are going to open a specific chakra because they’re playing a specific bowl frequency, that can feel uncomfortable for some people and they may not know why. I’m sharing my experiences and insights to affirm, “It’s OK if you’re at a sound healing event, and it doesn’t feel comfortable, to get up and leave.” Trust yourself; trust what your body is telling you.
Some people may say, “If you feel that resistance, then you need to address it, let it open, and move through it.” Maybe they’re right and maybe they’re wrong. Maybe some of us are so sensitive that we can feel the practitioner’s intentions or repressed emotions moving through their sound.
What I suggest to my friends and colleagues’ is don’t fall for all the marketing. People are jumping on the sound healing bandwagon and it’s our responsibility to use discernment, to trust ourselves, and to trust what our body is telling us.
It’s OK to leave a space that’s supposed to be healing and comforting if it’s not for you. That’s what I call a loving conscious self-care choice.
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