The Singing Bowls

This morning before breakfast, Gonzalo led me into the main yoga studio where Karyn will be teaching morning yoga and I will be holding our writing circles. The space is round like a giant yurt, but is called a molloka. I set my things in the corner and sat on the striped mat Gonzalo set out for me.

In the front of the molloka was an array of instruments—gongs, singing bowls, digeridos, drums, and others I didn’t recognize and couldn’t name. Gonzalo asked if I had any intention for the healing session. I said I wanted to release the folks from the last retreat—and the last retreat—and to open myself to these mountains and this terrain and the spirit of this Sacred Valley so I can best be of service to the next group, arriving just a few days from now.

Gonzalo asked if he could place the singing bowls on my body and I said, “Yes, do whatever you do. I welcome it all.”

Gonzalo said I could ask him questions about the treatment later, but for the time being to let go of my thoughts and enter the moment. And so I closed my eyes while Gonzalo placed a bolster under my knees and covered me with a thick blanket. Then slowly the sounds began—coming from my right and my left from above and below me. And I could feel myself floating in the space, my ears welcoming the gongs and rings and chimes.

During the session he placed some kind of vibrating device on my belly and later on my diaphragm and later on my chest and I could feel the vibrations deeply penetrating my body. “What is that thing?” I wondered and then I let the thought float away. I dipped in and out of sleep and wondered, “Hmmm…is it still working if I fall asleep?” That thought too drifted away.

I have always loved sound—the vastness or it and the precision of it. I remember how much I loved editing interviews back when I was a young woman working in radio—figuring out exactly where to cut the tape with a razor blade to make a seamless segue between words, phrases, stories. And I loved these sounds, too.

I surrendered to the sounds and the vibrations for a long time and then I heard Gonzalo’s voice calling me back and inviting me to feel my body, to feel the air on my skin, to sense the light through my eyes, and finally to open my eyes. I felt deeply rested. I wasn’t sure what had happened, only that I loved it and would happily do it again.

Over breakfast—some kind of wonderful onion pancake, green beans with garlic, porridge, quinoa granola, papaya, pineapple and fresh chamomile and peppermint teas—I got to ask Gonzalo some questions about what I’d just experienced. He told me that the deep vibrations I’d felt on my belly and chest had come from the singing bowls themselves—which shocked me. I’ve been using a singing bowl for years to call my classes to order, to open and close sessions, and I never knew the bowl itself could vibrate with such intensity!

Gonzalo also told me he’s from Argentina and has a background as a bass player. He learned to play the digeridoo and loved it and gradually began meeting musicians who played singing bowls and started to learn. “It’s more like reiki than playing music,” he told me.

“Intention plus vibration equals healing,” is what he’d been taught and he is continuing to study. Now, he’s studying sacred geometry and its relationship to sound and music. And he builds some of the instruments he used in my session—a harmonic drum and the digeridoo.

I asked Gonzalo if he still played in any bands, and he said not now. “Once I became aware of the healing power of the sound, I couldn’t stand in front of those giant amplifiers without using earplugs,” he said.

“How wonderful for you to have something you want to continue studying your whole life,” I said as I finished my last bite of onion pie.

Now Gonzalo has gone on to work and I’m sitting here feeling rested and renewed sharing this post with you. Brenda will be arriving this afternoon and we’ll be getting to work, too, but for now, I’m enjoying resting and relaxing in this beautiful place. There’s a cold wet bite in the air and I’m thankful for my down coat and scarf. It gets cold in the mountains at night!

The molloka.

The instruments.

My mat.

The ceiling above me during my treatment.

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