We explore the rising trend of sound healing meditation in our search for mental and physical nirvana.
Across the shores, nestled in the idyllic uplands of Bali’s Ubud, Janice Chan readies a selection of 30 instruments for a class at Serendipity Sounds, the holistic sound-meditation studio specialising in immersive small-group meditations and private sound-healing therapies that she founded last year.
Raised in Hong Kong and the United States, Chan’s voyage to the Indonesian town known for its terraced rice paddies and ancient holy sites was a matter of self-discovery. “My true self – that’s what I was looking for,” says Chan, who prior to relocating spent almost two decades in Singapore as a senior director at Starwood Hotels and Resorts. The thrilling, harried pace of big-city life was something she was accustomed to and, in a way, escaping from.
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“Our current society has trained us to be distracted. Having all these electronic devices around us, it’s really hard for us to sit cross-legged, close our eyes, and shut our thoughts out,” says Chan. “Our thoughts cause most of our stress. I’m a thinker; sound meditation has helped train my monkey mind to not think as much and find another focus. Slowly and quite magically, you forget about your thoughts.”
Thoughts, Chan explains, are one of the major catalysts for bodily discomfort, whether they’re beliefs that have sunk deep into our consciousness or trauma that hasn’t been processed. “Chinese medicine has always believed that illness is a holistic wellness issue,” she says. “What has been happening in your life that has amounted to this point where it has become a pain? Our body is born in harmony; only after experiencing disharmony does it manifest into aches and diseases. The word disease comes from dis-ease – we are not at ease.”
In her greenery-enveloped studio, which offers popular weekly sound-meditation classes accompanied by artisanal treats such as pure ceremonial Peruvian cacao to enrich the five senses, Chan draws on the powers of natural, acoustic instruments to activate different elements and rebalance energies so that the “body, cells, and atoms” are returned to their most harmonic. Think chimes and bells for the “higher-level chakras”; gongs and frame drums for “reconnecting with the Earth”; and her own voice for singing mantras, chanting, and humming (“It releases a lot of nitric oxide, which is very good for blood health”) as she invites students to join in.
Explains Chan, “Our bodies are extremely powerful, and the body can regenerate as long as it’s vibrating in harmony. Once a sound puts someone in a very relaxed, calm state, their own immune and endocrine systems start working. The sound is what helps bring us to this beautiful dimension.”