Experiencing Sound Healing with Sophia Kosma
There is an exciting wellness revolution that is taking place with more and more people showing interest in new ways of going about their lives. For example, people are eating more organic food (and less processed food, which is filled with additives and GMOs), they are becoming more aware of the environment by taking measures to take better care of it, and they are also embracing more alternative ways of healing to look after their mind and body. While there are many modalities when it comes to healing, such as yoga, meditation and Traditional Chinese Medicine, sound is one that is gaining momentum and has lately caught my attention.
We wrote to you about sound therapy a few months back in the article, “Sound Therapy- The Future Healing Modality From Our Ancestors,” as an alternative healing method used to improve ones emotional and physical wellbeing. In fact, the ancient art of sound therapy is becoming a popular practice for those seeking to improve their health and relieve stress. Luckily, I had the chance to experience a session with The Wellness Project’s very own Sophia Kosma, who is a seasoned and innovative sound therapist.
Born to a Greek mother and a Canadian father of English/Irish descent, Sophia is originally from Canada but currently resides in Lebanon. “ I am very attracted to Mediterranean life, and I fell in love with the country and people,” says Sophia on her decision to move to this part of the Middle East. Sophia studied sound healing in Montreal after finding an incredible teacher, yet she was first inspired by a sound healer and teacher she met back in 2005. This encounter made a huge impression on her as she explains, “I could not believe where the sounds transported me. It blew my mind and touched me on all levels.” While studying the practice with a powerful teacher named Sarah , she discovered that sound, instruments, voice and music have always been used in various shamanic, indigenous cultures for thousands of years, as a powerful tool to heal and create a sense of connection and community. In fact, sound has been with every culture for thousands of years; wherever there is a celebration, ritual or rites of passage, sound (music) is the medium that is always present in all cultures. “For me it felt like I was connecting to my ancestors and I could travel somewhere easily and immediately. Those sensory experiences cannot really be explained, but it did connect me to my heart and touched me on an emotional and physical level,” explains Sophia.
Sophia also admits that sound healing is a costly method, not only to study the craft but also the materials one needs to invest in. The commonly used Tibetan singing bowls start at around $60 and can be as much as $500 USD each and a gong can cost between $500 to $1200 USD or more. You need to have at least seven bowls to start off with and then you begin to add other tools of choice like tuning forks, crystal bowls and various other sound instruments in order to deliver a comprehensive sound healing session. “I am constantly purchasing more material to work with. At the same time, I feel like a permanent student, continuously studying and developing my skills in expansive ways,” explains Sophia. “The good part is that you are forever learning and growing. There really is never a dull moment. I blend various modalities together in a private session, which is something I love. I am also always developing and using my intuition just like a muscle. It grows deeper and stronger by the day and really is the most powerful tool. Learning how to trust it is essential to the process.”
Sound healing is still nascent in Lebanon but Sophia is discovering that it has been growing in recent years. “Within the yoga communities you now have many individuals who chant mantras and gather for kirtan, and some hold sound meditations that combine singing with bowls. It’s a field that is rapidly growing by the day, however you still have to introduce it to your audience and discuss the benefits of it. It is an experimental thing, so no matter how much you discuss it someone would never understand it unless they actually experience it.” Her clients vary she tells me and they come from all walks of life. “Some may be going through a personal transformation or maybe going through a career shift. But they generally are very engaged in their own personal growth as a result of some crises that became a catalyst for change. They come to shift their own frequency and find that these sounds have a profound healing effect.”
I must admit I knew next to nothing about sound healing before I had a session with Sophia. And let me tell you what a treat it was! Before I walk you through my truly wonderful and utterly relaxing experience, I will tell you a little bit about the science behind it and the tools and method she uses to create her own unique blend of modalities in her sound therapy work.
Sophia begins by explaining to me that sound, much like music, has an affinity with people and allows us to be transported to another place, like going to a memory or even conjuring up new images in our mind. That immediately made sense to me as listening to music has that effect on me. I’m sure you’ve experienced that feeling of exhilaration when hearing your favorite song at a concert and even getting goosebumps! So, sound therapy goes even further as it involves specific instruments that emit vibrations and frequencies, which have a deep penetrating effect on the receiver. Responding to vibrations in our body is even explained by science. “The sound waves from the instruments create entrainment, which can let us shift to the deeper Alpha, Theta and Delta meditative state, “ explains Sophia. “This is what Buddhist monks do – going into Theta states. If you get into the Delta, which is a state of sleep, major healing takes place.”
So the foundation of sound healing produces entrainment. But what does that mean exactly? Entrainment is defined as “a method of synchronizing our brainwaves, which fluctuate, by producing a stable, solid frequency that our brains adjust to and then match.”
There are actually a number of ways to administer sound healing therapy and a variety of tools can be used (such as the few I mentioned earlier). For my session, Sophia used a suspended gong, a handheld gong, Tibetan singing (metal) bowls, a crystal bowl, tuning forks, rattles, a tingsha (small cymbals used in prayer and rituals by Tibetan Buddhist monks) and crystals. She also used essential oils for aromatherapy and for a gentle head massage at the end of her session.
At the start of the session, Sophia had a chat with me to better understand what I was feeling, so if I had any stress or physical pain she could specifically address it in the therapy. After this exchange, I was asked to lie down on the floor with two pillows comfortably set under my head and knees. In this sleeping position, I shut my eyes and tried to relax while my trusted sound healer began the treatment.
She started by checking my chakras by using a pendulum that hung down about two inches above my stomach. This allowed her to find out what is balanced and what is not in alignment in my body. Here is a useful introductory guide on chakras if you want to understand what they are.
Sophia explained that very often people have blocked chakras in their throat or other areas in their body, which leads to many ailments, such as not being able to express oneself emotionally or mentally. More on this can also be read here.
After the chakra reading, she gave me a brief explanation to what she found, which then allowed her to tailor the sound treatment to match my profile and needs. After this exchange, I lay on my back and closed my eyes again. Suddenly, the sounds came pouring in, slowly but purposely, moving from a deep baritone gong to softer sounds of varying types. Some sounds came across as dolphins calling one another, others were like powerful waves crashing, the tapping of bamboo sticks or the sound of rainfall. The sounds were pure single notes and felt otherworldly. Each sound seemed to also penetrate through every cell of my body as I concentrated on each new tone or resonance. It felt intense, as though my entire body was engulfed by pure sound in a really soothing way. At one point I felt pressure on the palms of my hands, thighs and chest, as the Tibetan bowls where placed on various parts of my body where they would remain for some time. Crystals were also placed on my forehead and on my jugular notch in the middle area between the collarbones. I would focus on each breath, inhaling and exhaling slowly, as though all my worries, pains and aches were exiting my body with each attempt. I was also asked to repeat a mantra, something along the lines of “I am worthy as I am, I am strong…”. Then, as I exhaled I was asked to make a sound with one syllable, which is known as toning. One was a long “aaaaah” that I repeated several times. All of this began to feel extremely relaxing and intense in equal measure.
I was completely bathed in a sensory treat that at one point culminated in a strong emotion for me, which came out as a roaring cascading bout of laughter. Of course, I could not explain it. I just felt it! After I stopped laughing I felt relief, and a feeling of serenity came over me. Perhaps, this was my way to release stress and bottled up feelings through this healing session. As Sophia explained it later to me:
“The sound variations and changing frequencies of the different instruments penetrate and release elements in the body. Stored memories may surface, such as pain, trauma or even ecstatic states. The vibrations may release and shift energy on a cellular level or within the subtle bodies, bringing the body back into harmony and alignment.”
There was also gentle squeezing of hands and feet, which somewhat gave me a sense of reassurance and comfort during the treatment. At the end of the session a soothing head massage followed focusing on the various pressure points on my head and face. Sophia also used a lovely aromatic essential oil for the massage. I must say the session seemed to go by in a flash. I was told it took 90 minutes long! Where did the time go, I wondered? When it ended, I stood up slowly and made my way to the couch to sit with Sophia for a chat to sum up her findings and insights from reading my body and to receive some advice.
Will I experience sound healing therapy again after this session? Yes, definitely! Feeling the vibration of the bowls on my body was immensely gratifying and healing. I got up feeling ‘light’ and rejuvenated. Perhaps I can describe it as having travelled to a distant sound portal and was given a private concert for my body and soul! The great thing about this therapy is that it is both a passive and a participatory experience. It helps you relax, but it also allows you to go on a journey – which you can navigate and experience in your own way. Remember, every sound healer practitioner will have a different style of administering the session. The number of bowls and other sound tools will vary too, ranging anywhere from 10 to 40. Also, as Sophia explained, “the selection of bowls varies depending on which chakra the healer is focusing on, but they are all working on the body.”
Image Source: http://deannawon.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-energy-that-drives-you/
So, I hope we whet your appetite to experience sound healing if you haven’t already. If you have tried it, drop us a line and tell us what was your experience like. We would love to know! And whether you work with a sound healing therapist, attend a sound bath event (as a group), or use some of these tools we mentioned on your own, sound healing offers plenty of benefits. Finally, as a last note, remember to always take good care of your mind and body, because they are your most valuable assets! If you feel like experiencing a public event or private session with Sophia or to learn more about sound therapy, her Facebook page is here as well as her website.
Sophia at White Lotus Holistic Center
First picture credit:http://www.abigaildevine.com/singing-bowl-healing/