Sound Healing – SHUT UP!

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Hello, my name is Dawn and I…

‘…realise I may be sounding unkind, but in a two-hour class that was meant to cleanse my aura I was surprised to be sat in front of someone who had such an unpleasant one’.

As I walked up the stairs into the Hare Krishna temple I was promptly ushered into a long thin room by a shoeless, blond, male nymph with a soft voice and  a clipboard. ‘The Sound Healing class is in here’ he said. I grabbed myself a cushion and sat down on the floor.

I sat opposite, if slightly to the right of a woman who I assumed to be the teacher. She had her back to the wall and was sitting with her crossed legged. Every now and then she would try to pull them into Lotus position but she couldn’t hold it, they kept slipping back. She tried to make this look deliberate, it clearly wasn’t.

She was short and plump with long black hair that she had tied into low hanging pigtails. Around her neck was a Hawaiian Lei, and she didn’t have shoes or socks. I had been in the room for about four minutes before she bothered to look up. Until then she had been concentrating on repeatedly rearranging a selection of props that were laid out in front of her. Amongst these were a collection of feathers, some crystals, a bell, three or four pestle and mortars (I later discovered these were ‘sound bowls) and a maraca.

When she did look up her expression and manner was unwelcoming. There was an attitude about her, and an edge of rudeness that made her calm disposition unconvincing. At one point she waved a royal hand at the nymph and said ‘Can you pass me my water now’ – her water was about one foot in front of her. I think I audibly growled.

I don’t mean to be cruel, but in a two-hour class that was meant to cleanse my aura I was surprised to be sat in front of someone who had such an unpleasant one.  She wasn’t engaging with us at all. She was exactly how I imagine Matt Lucas would portray a Sound Healing teacher – I hope that helps you with an image.

Our Goddess wasn’t alone. To her right was a tall skinny guy with heavy dreadlocks and a didgeridoo, and to her left was a tall woman with blonde curly hair and a large brass gong. The lady with the gong seemed nice, and the guy with the dreadlocks seemed to be the stereotypical hippy. He introduced himself and explained a little about the class. The Goddess turned and snapped ‘I was JUST about to say that!’ He seemed unfazed. My reasons for not to liking her were confirmed.

I was enthusiastic about Sound Healing as I had a ‘Sounds of the Jungle’ CD as teenager. I always had to hide it from my older sister for fear of being teased, but I loved it because of how it was able to distract me from my thoughts. I deal with stress very badly, finding it almost impossible to shut off and relax, I was genuinely hoping this class might help me.

The first thing that our Goddess told us to do was to pass a wooden spoon with a piece of fluff on the end of it around and say who we were and why we were there. There were two very funky looking girls who were both stylists and said they suffered from stress. There were two men, one was short and around 32, he worked in education and needed to feel calmer about his relationships. The other was about forty with long hair, a moustache and worked in his community as an event organizer.

There was also a tall, statuesque women who had brought her five-year-old daughter with her. She taught soccer and was also a yoga instructor, she cuddled her daughter continuously. They were very sweet. The remainder of the group consisted of a Marketing exec, a PR girl, a waitress and a student.

After the introductions it was time to have our auras purified. We stood up, closed our eyes and held our arms out to the side with palms up. The three instructors made their way around the room cleansing our auras one by one. It went something like this – the guy with the dreads blew his didgeridoo into our faces while the gong lady shook a maraca and the Goddess smacked us with a bunch of feathers. As you can imagine, the temptation to grab the feathers and smack her back was overwhelming.

We then turned to north, east, south and west and invited all four points into us. I wasn’t quite sure what was going on here. The Goddess was reading out some prose and chose to read it do in the style of a Shakespearean witch. Her voice was everything but relaxing.

After this we lay down and the guy with the dreads took us through a lovely meditation. There were blue skies and calming seas and the gong was vibrating softly and a few bells were chiming. It did everything it was supposed to do and I wish it had gone on for the whole two hours. For a moment there, all my troubles had gone.

But not for long.

The next visualization was lead by the Goddess and her chilling and disquieting voice.  As I lay back she guided our minds to walk up a ladder to another dimension. When at the top we would see who we were in another life, we were to introduce ourselves and make friends with that person. The problem here was that I don’t believe in previous lives or the after life, so instead of creating a character I visualized myself as a child – I thought this would work just as well.  All was going fine until she told us to lay that person on their death bed and see them surrounded by those they loved and then to let them die. Suddenly I was on my imaginary deathbed holding my boyfriends hand while my sister wept in the corner and I was dying!

It was horrible.

We then had to do it again. In the end I died five times, each as traumatic as the last as I imagined the people I loved crying over my dead body. By the time it was over I was an emotional wreck and really could have then done with someone smacking me with a bunch of feathers to get me over it.

Luckily all that came next was fifteen minutes of pure gonging. This gave me the chance to get myself together and relax again. My thoughts had now turned to food, as for some reason I associate gongs with dinner bells (?) and roast chicken was a fine distraction from my own demise.

By the end I was uninspired and hadn’t gained much from the experience at all. This upset me. I go to these things because I like the idea of becoming enlightened. I might not be hugely spiritual, believe in God or own any crystals apart from a stunning set of Champagne glasses, but I am open to the idea of something penetrating me and improving my life, as the way I deal with stress has got to change. On this occasion however, my $25 would have been better spent on another ‘Sounds of the Jungle’ CD and a plate of roast chicken.


GONG BATH & SACRED SOUND HEALING CIRCLE Class is held monthly at The Bakti Centre, 1st Avenue, NYC.