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Sound Meditations (in NYC) to Heal from Trauma

How can Sound Meditations help heal from Trauma?

I have gone to many sound meditations in NYC over the past year. I will never forget the day of my first sound meditation in Manhattan, at Yoga Spa, a yoga studio in the city, in September of 2022. The days and week after, I felt so much lighter than when I first walked into the studio room.

So what actually is a sound meditation? What does it entail? Sound Meditations throughout NYC offer a powerful way to sit in stillness, to begin to regulate our nervous system and mind. It usually lasts 1.5 to 2.5 hours, depending on the practitioner. It is usually led by 1 or 2 sound facilitators / practitioners. It usually has 5 main parts. 

  1. The Talk- a description of how the sound meditation will be conducted, describing its parts.
  2. Breathwork- some breathwork to begin the session and open up your body and mind to be in a more meditative state (for example, holotropic breathwork) for a couple minutes
  3. Vocal Toning- the practitioners will guide participants through humming and making a collective, communal sound in the space, a sound that doesn’t have to sound like anything or be anything—therein lies the beauty, that it can just be no matter what it is.
  4. Sound- the major part of the meditation during which the practitioner(s) will play various instruments, such as Tibetan bowls, wind chimes, gongs etc. 
  5. The Share- there usually is an opportunity for those who participated to share their feelings of the sound. 

There are many different sound meditation teachers in NYC, and many offer their services at a variety of businesses, most of the time yoga studios. It can affect people differently, and even the same person differently the different times during which they do it.

For me personally, no sound meditation has ever felt the same as another. Some principles hold through all of them though, principles that have allowed for my body and mind to heal. These principles are the community that makes up the sound meditation. You can feel the breathwork in the room, hear others’ breath, hear your neighbors’ humming and join in with them, listen to the instruments together, and you can share together. As humans, evolutionarily speaking, we have often lived in tribes, stronger together than apart. Yet in this world, individualistic in its aims and in its economy oftentimes, both for better and worse, it has been hard for me at least to find such primal ways of expressing myself in a space in which I feel held, safe, and supported, both by the participants who are showing up with their own intentions—whether it be to heal, to reset, to learn—and by the facilitators.

I have described here how meditation has been an ongoing practice for me that has evolved for me throughout my life. Sound meditations offer yet another way for me to meditate, this time in community and in a safe space, guided by facilitators. This is deeply healing for me. They have done wonders for me every time I have gone and underwent them, no matter what I learn from them. 

How do they go for me? I have posted the thoughts I had after my first sound meditation here. As a summary though, sometimes I will feel certain emotions, other times memories will come up. Throughout all of it though, I feel deep love and acceptance; deep love for the universe, for the good and for the bad, for being alive and for being able to experience all of life without labeling it. Deep love and acceptance for my sensations, my thoughts, the messages that my body, my mind, are using to communicate to me, rather than avoiding them or running away from them. Deep love for nature, for all living things, for my happiness and my sadness—not labeling any of it as bad, just all of them ways of experiencing what it means to be human.

Perhaps I will never escape the effects of my trauma. And yet, I heal. I continue to heal, and in healing myself, I heal others. And in healing others, I can heal myself. Now, with the tools that I have, I can not only live with my trauma, but I can thrive with it, perhaps even in some ways thrive in some ways because of it, because of the lessons it has imparted me—regardless of the imprints it may have had on the my nervous system that still does mean I am triggered by certain things or that there are some things that are harder for me than others. And I want as many people as possible to be able to heal from their trauma and become the version of themselves that they want to be. To have the tools to do so. And sound meditations were and continue one of the amazing tools that I have had to heal from trauma.

Posted: 05-07-2023