There it is again. That fear. That unnecessary feeling of anxiety as I await a brand new experience.
I found myself sitting outside of a small office space—“Kundalini – Sound and Healing Therapy – www.divineloveshower.org” – for my first ever sound healing.
On our mission to learn more about the singing bowls, Jordan came across this place. He had arranged our appointments two days ago. I had never been and he wanted me to experience it.
We sat there on the cold concrete steps of this outdoor mall, reminiscent of the ones at home, waiting outside Kundalini. Across from the space was a restaurant called Mahabir’s Café. Outside a large white board read: “Free Speedy WiFi!” This place was definitely created to appease the Western travelers. I glanced in the windows and saw at least three Apple logos glowing from the laptops of a few tables. Behind them, white tourists in their North Face jackets with their lattes. Most likely on Facebook.
It made me question this therapy. Sure, the man performing it is Nepalese–a supposed master of sound healing who practices based on ancient Himalayan practices–but the fact that it was surrounded by the stores that it was, in this Western-style outdoor mall, made me wonder. Will this be legit?
Was part of me excited? Definitely.
I’d first really gotten into meditation and truly felt its benefits and powers for the first time here in Nepal, a combined effort of learning by Jordan’s example and my yoga instructor’s teachings.
It has really come to my rescue as I’ve experienced my personal lows of this trip. It’s left me feeling empowered, at peace. Sane. And according to Jordan, the singing bowls make entering that place even easier.
“All you have to do is lay there.”
Good. I can do that.
Soon enough, a middle-aged man with a long, dark beard and mustache, wearing a white turban and all-white clothing, ascended the stairs. A European-looking girl trailed behind him, bundled up in a scarf and jacket, with various layers of local clothing I see at all the shops: the loose, long sleeved top, the Nepali-style pants, flowy at the top and fitted at the ankles. Parachute pants, some call them at home.
There was a knot in my stomach by this point, but I attempted to dismiss it by greeting the healer, Chaitanyashree, and the Swiss student, Joilene, with closed hands and a warm “Namaste.”
After we removed our shoes, they led us inside. Immediately, the nostalgic aroma of incense filled my nostrils. I took a seat at a small stool in front of the main desk, which took up most of the tiny reception area.
I looked around the walls – mandala artwork adorned the main wall, and to the sides, photos of Chaitanyashree performing his therapy. In one of them, a woman lay smiling as Chaitanyashree hovered over her head, focused, his hands resting softly on her cheeks.
The knot in my stomach reminded me again of its presence.
What if I don’t do it right?
What if there’s something I’m supposed to know before I go in that I don’t?
What if I wake up, violently sobbing?
Or worse, angry – screaming, throwing pillows across the room? I know it sounds crazy, but I’ve read from Osho that different people react differently after meditation, and that you should not suppress whatever feelings you may have. An example he gave was that if one were to react with anger and violence, with the need to act out on it—perhaps take a knife to a pillow or two—he/she should do so.
What if my reaction is something crazy like that, something that freaks everyone out? I believe in the power of meditation, and if the singing bowls really have that kind of power, one that can take you into other dimensions, it had to be a possibility.
The knot then took on its own heartbeat.
As I worked to untie it with deep inhales and exhales, I fidgeted with my rings, moving them from finger to finger. I reapplied my lip balm excessively. Jordan’s words echoed in my mind again as reassurance: “All you have to do is lay there.”
“Ok, we’re ready for you. Go ahead inside,” Joilene whispered to me from the entrance of the meditation room.
I nodded, and approached the room. I pushed back curtains made of the rudraksha seeds, my heartbeats picking up in pace against my wishes as I entered the dark room lit only by candles, the aroma of incense even stronger.
“Hi, what is your name?” Chaitanyashree’s deep, calming voice inquired softly. He was seated at a chair, and motioned for me to sit at the other.
The elongated moments of silence between my answers and his questions made me want to feel uncomfortable, but I fought to find comfort in it as I kept my eyes firmly in his direction and instructed my hands not to fiddle, to be still.
Before we began, he sat me down and explained to me the therapy and its purpose.
First, the science.
Our own bodies are made up of 65% water. Because water molecules are so malleable, allowing it to change shape and form so easily, we are extremely physically receptive to the vibrations of sound – just as the most subtle of motions creates ripples in the pond. It is able to literally change us from the inside, stimulate us, balance us.
This reminded me of one of my first meetings with Jordan back in the States, one of the early planning meetings soon after I had made my final decision to join him on this trip.
He explained to me the schedule he would be on, the schedule he lives by, being the phases of the moon. As spiritual as I have found adult-Jordan to be, I have also always known him to be the type of person interested in hard facts, proof. That was the 14-year-old, biology lab partner-Jordan I first met. But I found that that aspect has remained a constant in my now 26-year-old travel partner.
He pointed out that the moon, as has been scientifically proven and can be seen with our own eyes, has the power to impact water with its strong gravitational pull. It is evident in the changing tides, in the waves of the ocean.
We are made up of 65% water, within our bodies, our brains. It makes sense that a particular phase of the moon, at different degrees of gravitational force, can put our brains in different states. Some phases allow for high levels of creativity and flow, while others result in a stage of dormancy, making it difficult to be productive.
When Chaitanyashree finished explaining, I agreed with an enthusiastic head nod. OK, the physical science absolutely makes sense.
Then he explained to me the spiritual elements.
Beyond the physical body: the mind, the soul.
“This will not only be a journey of the body, but a journey of the soul,” he explained.
In my first yoga class with Krishna, he explained to me what the soul was. The body is the car, the soul is the driver. You may start with one car, drive it until it wears down and dies, and then you drive a new car. You take on a new vehicle, a new exterior. But the driver, the soul, remains the same. It continues its journey. Our soul has lived in past bodies, currently resides in this body, will inhabit other bodies after this one.
Perhaps I wouldn’t have believed in it all to the extent that I do had I not met Krishna, but again, as Chaitanyashree finished his explanation, I displayed my acknowledgement with just as fervent a head nod.
Once this was all established, I was asked to lie down and get comfortable. He confirmed with me that this was my first sound healing, as Jordan had told him, and I verified. He said that people usually find that the first time is the best, as you are more receptive due to the lack of expectations based on previous experiences. He said to try, above all else, to do nothing.
Krishna would tell me the same when he first taught me to meditate. And he conceded that it isn’t always easy. In fact, it’s the hardest thing to do. When meditating, and furthermore, with yoga, the objective is to unify all your five bodies in the task at hand:
Breathing, being present.
But Krishna said that just as in a group project with five individuals, there is always that one person who seems to stray, who is unable to stay focused. That body among the five is the mind body.
The mind body is like a monkey, he explained. It runs around crazily, jumping about thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Controlling this monkey as it runs amuck in our minds is hard for anyone to do.
Boy, did he realize who he was talking to.
Controlling my thoughts—my overanalyzations, my fears, my wonders, my questions, my doubts, my insecurities—this constant chatter that clouds my mind on a nonstop-basis, has always been a pitfall of mine. It’s this chatter that makes myself my own worst enemy.
“Just don’t think about it—play.” From five years old to 20, I think every single coach on every single sports team I have ever played on has said it to me at one point or another.
“Baby, it’s all in your head,” my dad would always say to me every time I ran to him with a problem, even now that I’m an adult.
“It’s all in your head.”
“You’re too in your own head.”
I’ve been hearing these things for as long as I could remember. So now that I am absolutely aware of it, I fully accept the criticism.
But I have come to find that in conceding so habitually to fault, at times, even prematurely–in bracing myself for the impact of criticism to be (in my own mind,) inevitably thrown my way, I have created another weakness.
I allow people to be unjustifiably critical of me. I am unjustifiably critical of myself.
I am a huge contradiction, in so many ways.
My mother always said I need to think before I speak. I have hurt the ones I love most with my sharp tongue, I have regretted spewing venom after the fact.
But many times I don’t speak my truth, don’t say how I feel. Often I am too nice, too considerate, too accommodating. And people walk all over me for it…
I love with all my heart, I give too much. I’ve been burned, many times, but continue to award others the benefit of the doubt, perhaps undeservingly.
I’m guarded, skeptical. Scared…
I’m both, I’m all of these things. I go crazy debating on which feeling to trust. I am constantly attempting to find a happy medium, an appropriate balance.
“Try to do nothing, think nothing,” repeated Chaitanyashree. “But if thoughts creep in, let them. Don’t fight anything. Just be. Trying to do anything will just create blockages.”
Another nod. I understood. I just hoped the little monkey bouncing around my brain got the same message.
I laid down and closed my eyes.
All I can really remember, now after the fact… all I can really express into words, are a few different parts. In the same way that you wake up from a night’s sleep filled with dreams, reeling to remember, wondering how you’ve let it slip:
A distant sound. In reality, and what it had started out as: a song from his meditation CD turned down very low.
What it felt like, as my body and mind calmed:
I was in the middle of body of water. Calm waters, with faint ripples passing through, surrounding me as my boat swayed gently. It was dim, dark, lit by a soft glow that felt like candlelight. The soft music was coming from far, far away, beyond the horizon. It was inviting, steadily growing louder as I approached. A woman’s voice hummed soothingly, like that of a mother rocking her baby to sleep.
Then the sounds. The vibrations. Massaging my legs, my hands, my arms. Deep in my belly. Reverberating in the heart.
Warmth on my forehead, calming—I could feel the wrinkles disappear as I grew more and more relaxed without conscious effort, as if the warmth were melting them away.
Then being jolted out of it, as if the calm of a dream was being interrupted abruptly by reality.
A point where my breaths grew rapid, where I felt like I couldn’t catch them… My stomach and chest moving in violent heaves.
Slow, steady reassurance. Pacifying warmth. Comfort and tenderness.
Being alone. Walking barefoot in the sand, standing before the ocean.
Being in the middle of a wide open desert. Cracks and divets covering the dry earth, beneath my bare feet and naked body. Above, a grand, loud, earthshaking thunderstorm. Me, standing alone, beneath it. Grey skies. I greeted it with my head tilted back, eyes closed. A calm smile on my face.
Tears—I could feel them fall down my face. Bad feelings, bad thoughts, bad energies, escaping my body with them.
The lightness of my body. The feeling of leaving, floating above it and away for a dream, losing myself in the transition. Losing myself even moreso in the journey beyond.
A slow descendence. Regaining feeling, as if my entire body was awakening from a deep sleep. A heavy body, one I could barely lift, even just a finger.
Before I knew it, it was over. And holy shit.
Chaitanyashree gave me my chakra reading.
First, he kept repeating what beautiful energies I have, how I was extremely receptive to all the sound.
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.
So much positivity, so many beautiful’s, to the point that I wondered if this was the typical spiel he gave to everyone. But as he continued, the truths, the self-realizations that he uncovered, brought me to (even more) tears:
A beautiful, open crown chakra. This is related to self-knowledge and spiritual awareness. Inspirational, kind, humanitarian, slef-sacrificing, visionary, creative.
A very strong third eye, which relates to self-responsibility. Being responsible to oneself to follow the soul’s path and trusting one’s own intuitions. The ability to see things from a higher viewpoint, rather than being dictated by the satisfaction of the ego or material comfort.
Greatest weakness: the throat.
Relating to self-expression: the ability to communicate one’s needs and requirements, the spirit of truth and purpose.
Which leads to the beautiful, but flawed, heart:
A large, extremely loving and open heart. Related to understanding, self-control, adaptability. Sympathy, compassion, generosity. Humble, romantic, nature-loving. The ability to give and take unconditionally.
But because of the blockage in the throat, it is hindering the heart from expanding to its full potential. A beautiful heart, but with not enough room to thrive.
A very weak solar plexus, situated below the ribs, also hindering the heart. This is associated with self worth. How we feel about others and how others perceive us. The area of the personality, ego and intellect, affecting confidence. Whether from trauma from this life or the last, there is much doubt, fear, and insecurity living here.
(The tears welled up in my eyes.)
A slightly weak sacral shakra, located in the lower abdomen. Related to self respect. The area which connects us to our senses and helps to remove inhibitions and make us self-assured, independent and social. Another contribution to the limitation of the heart.
A solid, strong base shakra, at the base of the spine. This relates to self awareness, security, courage, strength of will. The ability to stay grounded—area of survival and stability and place on this earth. Connection to the physical body.
You are very emotional. You have a lot of negative thoughts and feelings pent up inside as a result of negative experiences that you need to be purified of, that you need to let go of.
Overall, pure and loving energies he said, but definitely with areas to work on.
Meditate in the sun. Drink more water.
And the last thing he said sent the tears flowing freely:
Be careful with your heart. It is so large, open, and loving, that people will try to take advantage of it. People will use it to their advantage, they have. Surround yourself with beautiful people who will appreciate it, love it, and flow with it.
Through tears and sobs, I quietly, enthusiastically, nodded.