Where does peace come from? This is is a pretty abstract question. Perhaps you can say "peace come from within" or "peace is silence" or "peace is letting go." Okay, sure. Simple to say. Hard to practice right? How exactly can we get to that deep level state of flow?
A few Sundays ago, my ears stumbled upon a Sound Bath at Dolores Park. I heard noise before I saw anything. Like a cobra hypnotized by an Indian Snake Charmer with his flute, I walked downhill towards a very subtly loud yet still noise.
And then I saw it. A group of people laying on the grass with 2 huge gongs encircling them.
I tentatively approached closer to the circle. The two leaders of the Sound Bath- whom I would later meet (Guy and Simona)- gave me wide inviting smiles to join in. Guy handed me a lavender-scented eye mask and I plopped my tired body right next to someone on the floor.
As I lay still in savasana (relaxation pose), I was told to close my eyes, and focus on my breath as wave after wave of sound washed over me. Coming out of this deep meditative practice, I awoke to a heightened sense of calm and release. What I thought was 5 minutes, was actually close to an hour. This was the deepest sleep I've had from 5 weeks of couch-surfing. My body was obviously trying to tell me something.
Two days later, I'm meeting with Simona, the Director of Sound Meditation SF at her recommended spot, Kava Lounge. She introduces me to Kava tea and I begin to feel my energy easily resonate with hers throughout the interview.
We discuss the 5 Values behind Sound Meditation SF and how it meshes well with the practice itself- how surrendering to deep meditative states can bring about clarity and promote a sense of well being and peace. Feeling the high effects of Kava paired with the context of everything discussed, I began to see how the powerful impact of sound and energy can interrelate with the mind-body experience.
August 2 @ Kava Lounge
T: What is the mission of Sound Meditation SF?
S: Our mission is to spread peace and compassion and give people access to deep states of meditation.
T: What are the Core 5 Values of Sound Meditation SF?
- Compassion- Having compassion for ourselves, recognizing we are human and we make mistakes. For me, compassion is a vibration.
- Commitment- Commitment to health and wellness. Valuing that commitment. Taking care. Putting in the effort and the time. On our end- it's about commitment to a great experience. We strive to make a Sound Bath as epic as possible.
- Integrity- Doing what you say you'll do. Communicating as authentically as you can and saying how it is.
- Growth - Growth and expansion. We want to share this with as many people as possible
- Joy- What matters is everyone is having fun.
T: What is the relation between compassion and meditation?
S: It is a resonance. It’s not merely having the thought, “oh I empathize with that person.” It’s feeling that feeling. And what it feels like for me is an opening or expansion of the heart, it almost feels like a stretching quality. It soothes. When you’re in the space of compassion, it’s a very healing energy. It can take any situation and show you how it could be better.
Your mind gets in dead ends all the time. If you get out of the mind, and you step into compassion, into your heart, then the answers flow forward. Meditation for me is the practice of quieting your mind so you can listen to the heart.
The heart has its own music and information to share but its very soft, so you have to make yourself very silent to hear it. You have to quiet your thoughts in order to feel it.
The sound knocks your thoughts out of your mind. It clears the clutter. Imagine the sound is washing your mind and it brings you to a soothed state.
T: What is it about Sound that makes it a transformative meditation practice worthy to commit to?
S: Sound meditation is a practice. It’s something you do regularly. It’s about putting in the time and effort towards something. That’s what commitment to health and wellness is; it’s about taking the time to nourish yourself.
The truth is meditation is really hard; there’s a long process to get to there. It’s good to be committed to a practice and it’s good to put in effort and cultivate patience- but I want my grandmother to experience meditation as well. So the Sound really does the work for you so to speak. Its like the gateway drug to meditation.
T: Haha, I love that. "The gateway drug to meditation." And I totally agree, it's hard for me to sit still and get my body and mind on the same page to meditate. So, can you describe the actual practice?
S: It’s an extended savasana. You go into a deep trancelike state of meditation for about an hour and 15 minutes. It’s just like any meditation, you can come in and out of it. We encourage people to take deep breaths, inhale and exhale. Like any meditation, there will be thoughts, emotions, and sensations that come up- take a deep breath, inhale and exhale. It’s a practice of observing what comes up. “Omg I really care about these things.” It’s about seeing what’s hanging out in the back of your mind.
The instruments that create the most powerful resonance are the Paiste gongs. Although gongs have ancient Eastern origins, our gongs are made in Germany. They are 38” inches— two are tuned to the frequency of the earth and the other is tuned to the frequency of the sun. We’ll have a 60” gong to share with our community soon!
We also use Crystal Singing Bowls and Tibetan singing bowls. The crystal bowls are made from silica sand, which is pure quartz, and spun like glass— a more modern process. The Tibetan singing bowls (or Himalayan bowls) have a fascinating, mysterious history— they are thought to originate in Tibet pre-Buddhism. We also use shamanic drums, Native American flutes, ocean drums, rain sticks, Koshi chimes, Tingshe chimes and more in our productions. Recently, we’ve been inviting Didgeridoo, Hang drum players and more as special guests!
T: How do you see integrity work in this practice?
S: Integrity is being as accurate as possible in what you are thinking and believing. It’s about being true to your values and core. It’s about cultivating the relationship of trust in which your words have meaning. Integrity is being true to ourselves and true to our word. For Sound Meditation SF, the sounds that these instruments are much more articulate than we are. They have the power to bring you closer to who you really are, closer to the heart, and a joyful life, closer to clarity.
T: How do you plan on growth and expanding SM to as many people as possible?
S: It’s important that everything we do is sustainable.
- Expand the event model- going to New York to expand spaces. Really growing the community.
- Open up a meditation studio in SF first and follow up with a set of studios wherever people meditate.
- Rocking retreats- The Deep Dive retreat which is going to be Sound Meditation and Scuba Diving
T: What are some benefits to Sound Meditation that you see for yourself and other people in the community?
S: We see Sound Meditation as offering true sanctuary. We want to create safe spaces where you can get a break from your thoughts, and drop into your heart.
T: How does Sound Meditation bring you joy and how do you feel it can bring joy to the world?
S: Sound Meditation brings me joy because I’m living my life on purpose. I get to be directing this beautiful thing that is so meaningful for me and something I can share to others. I wake up every morning feeling thankful that I can share this project!
Thank you Simona for your time and your lovely spirit!
There is definitely more I personally want to explore when it comes to meditation and connecting mind-body-soul on a holistic and harmonic level. I'm sure others would benefit from that as well.
Imagine the energy pooling from a whole space of people entering and coming out of a deep meditative state brought solely about by sound.
What would come up for you?
For more information....
Visit Sound Meditation SF on their website here
Check out their Facebook for upcoming events here
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