Photo by John Watson/Imagemaker Photographic Studio
Are you hurting, sick, depressed or generally stressed-out? Or not too bad but would like to feel better, or maybe just interested in trying Sound Healing treatments?
Steve uses a combination of awesome Himalayan singing bowls, gongs, and didgeridoos along with voice and guided meditations/
Please inquire for rates. A sliding scale may be requested for those in financial need. Dual treatments with Johnna and Steve together are also available.
Contact us directly to set up your appointment or for more information: 612-521-4308
The August 2014 EDGE Magazine features another article by Steve about Sound Healing, this time in a group context.
It provides a good look at the theory, design and performance of our Sound Healing concerts, including how they differ from Kirtan, and why we don’t think of them as sound or gong “baths.” The article includes audio and video examples. Read it here.
Elmer Fudd, Porky Pig, and Sound Healing
8-12-14 by Steve Sklar
I’ve been meaning to share this and the timing seems right…
I’m a bit of a black sheep in the Sound Healing world, being both a practitioner and believer, but also a skeptic and critic of certain claims and practices.
One of the things that frequently bugs me is the Oh-So-Serious-and Somber attitude and atmosphere that seems fairly pervasive in not only the Sound Healing world, but among alternative and shamanic healers in general. This is in direct opposition to my belief that the nature of all creation is one of playful, joyous exuberance. And I believe that humor is one of the defining characteristics of humanity, and that laughter is real medicine.
Many of my clients are surprised to find that they are led to laugh during treatments.
Laughter helps to deal with stress, has positive hormonal and other chemical effects, allows us to confront difficult and sometimes taboo issues. And it is FUN!
In that spirit, I offer you a simple exercise to try. When something upsets you, when you are sad or depressed or angry or frustrated, pay attention to the thoughts in your mind. Usually they will appear as words, which are what I refer to as “inner sounds,” which are very powerful.
Now, take those words, those voices in your mind, and hear them as the voice of Elmer Fudd. They can be the voices of people that hurt you, or your own thoughts, things you wish you could say, or expressions of anger, pain, etc. All of them, in the voice of Elmer Fudd. Say them out loud if that suits you. You don’t have to be vewwy, vewwy quiet.
If “Fuddsy” doesn’t work, try Porky Pig. Or Daffy Duck. I don’t recommend Yosemite Sam to beginners, and DO NOT use the voices of Disney characters. They generally won’t have the same effect, and may lead to expensive copyright litigation. Stick to Looney Tunes characters, and you’ll be all right.
Robin Williams sings Bruce Springsteens-FIRE in the voice of Elmer Fudd
Porky demonstrates my point
My Approach by Steve Sklar
Sound healing uses a variety of sonic tools and musical instruments which are often directed toward or applied directly to the person’s body. While there are a growing number of high-tech gadgets available, I prefer to use ancient technology such as Tibetan singing bowls and tingshas, didgeridoo (based on the ancient Australian Aboriginal wind instrument), large gongs and frame drums.
I also find the voice and vocal harmonics to be quite useful, and teach clients and students to use their own voices to cultivate and direct energy. When learned, such use of the voice provides a great technique for self-help, and works from the inside-out. My approach is always geared toward the individual, based on a mix of discussion, experience and intuition and there is often a shamanic component as well.
A sound healing experience is highly subjective, with the person receiving often entering quickly into a state of deep relaxation or trance. The vibrations have can have both calming and energizing effects, and often provide quick and effective reduction or relief of pain, discomfort, and stress. Many sessions produce a beneficial trance, or dissociative state, in which cycles of physical and emotional suffering are disrupted, allowing body, mind and spirit to restore balance and facilitate the natural healing process. This aspect alone can provide great relief.
The sonic tools and instruments I use offer a wide range of physical, mental and energetic/spiritual effects. They all work on the physical body in a similar way to massage, in that the sound waves have considerable intensity (from subtle Tibetan bowls to quite loud in the case of the gongs, with didgeridoos in between) which vibrates the body. The vibrations also affect the energetic systems.
Singing bowls, didgeridoos and gongs (along with one of my other interests, Throat-Singing) have very different qualities than most musical instruments such as pianos, violins or clarinets. The latter instruments produce sounds that have comparatively simple tonal characteristics, intended to be played in sequences and combinations to create melodies, harmonies, and rhythms. The attention of the listener is drawn to the macro, exterior perceptions, the musical performance.
With my sound healing instruments, the sound and its effects are very different. While singing bowls and didgeridoos are often poorly suited for most popular musical forms, they produce very complex tones and textures with shifting, swelling and receding and morphing harmonics. Notes aren’t arranged in patterns; instead a single or few notes focus the attention. This is micro listening, and has the effect of drawing the listener IN, leading the listener to inner channels of perception and exploration.
When this happens, one finds themselves in a pleasant, trance or dissociated state. A trance is simply a narrowed focus of attention, and the bowls or didgeridoo can produce a very quick shift. Here, very deep work can take place.
There are three types of sound: External, Internal, and Inner. The most familiar sounds are external, and include all the sounds that we hear through our ears, and to a lesser degree via our skin and tissue conduction.
Internal sounds include those from digestion, the heartbeat, air rushing in and out of the lungs, and even minute sounds produced by tiny sparks occurring as signals leap between neurons.
Inner sounds are altogether different, and don’t consist of physical waves of vibrations. These are sounds of the psyche, mental sounds. They may have emotional content, and may or may not produce physical effects.
Imagine the sound of thunder… the cry of a baby… the voice of a loved one. One “hears/feels” the sounds, even though they are not physically present.
These sounds can have a profound effect on our perceptions, emotions and health. And many problems, physical, emotional, and mental can have roots in blockages formed by misuse of the inner sonic network.
When we are in pain, stressed-out, anxious, we tend to repeat to ourselves that we are in pain, worried, etc. This serves as a negative form of self-hypnosis. It begins in our conscious mind courtesy of the ego, then often gets tuned-out. Over and over, we send these messages to our body consciousness, and the various other portions of our psyches. This system, maintain wellness is now used instead send the wrong directions. This is a major source of physical, emotional, and energetic blockages.
As with all experiences, perceptions, thoughts and beliefs, these are stored in our bodies. And for removing unpleasant, or painful experiences, I may use a visualization accompanying the bowls. I guide the receiver on a journey of consciousness down into oneself, through the various systems to the organs and down to the cellular level, then to the sub-cellular realms of molecules, atoms, to the level of the tiny, vibrating and bits of conscious energy that are the manifestation and expression of All That Is.
From that perspective, we are mostly space with vast distances between the submicroscopic bits of energy and matter orbiting one another, like infinitesimally small solar systems. The sound of the bowls, or the didgeridoo, gongs or voice then blows through them like a warm, loving, cleansing wind, sweeping away any pain or unpleasant experiences, memories or fears, and replacing them with positive, healing energy.
This ancient syllable is best known from the Vedic traditions and their offshoots, or the so-called Dharmic religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikkhism, Jainism, etc. In those lineages, it is seen as a Sanskrit incantation, with various meanings related to such concepts as a name of the divine, “I Am Existence,” a sonic representation of the beginning, duration, and disintegration of the universe, etc. It is often said that the word is an important sonic symbol in other spiritual paths, although such claims seem generally accepted but poorly documented.
However, in modern times recitation of OM, often pronounced as a drawn-out A-U-M has become a popular part of many spiritual and therapeutic values. For many, unless it is a matter of religious faith, there is little in the way of evidence that OM has the various mystical powers and attributes often spoken of. For those outside the Dharmic traditions, how might we understand its use and benefits?
A hint may be found in the phonology of the word: “to make a humming or droning sound.” When spoken or chanted, there is an interesting phenomenon that occurs within the speaker.
Early in my explorations of sound, I became aware of Alfred Tomatis’ theory that certain types of sounds have specific effects on the nervous system, and by extension upon both body and consciousness. He believed that sounds rich in high frequencies charged the nervous system, while sounds rich in low frequencies discharged energy from the nervous system. In my own experience, however, I failed to note this.
My explorations with vocal toning led me instead to notice that open-mouth vocalizations were useful for discharging energy, and that closed-mouth voicing built up energy, charging the system. Upon considering common real-life examples, this seemed to make sense. When stressed, shocked or in pain, say, when accidentally striking one’s thumb with a hammer, the natural reaction is to yell, scream, or otherwise vocalize loudly with the mouth open. This has the effect of forcibly releasing some of the unpleasant rapid buildup of nervous energy, or PAIN.
Closed-mouth vocalizations, often referred to as “toning” have the opposite effect, if done with some volume: Only a small percentage of the energy is released through the smaller openings of the nostrils, and a tiny percentage via bone and other tissue conduction. This causes a build-up of energy in both body and consciousness.
When one slowly vocalizes “AAAAUUUUUMMMMM” there is first the open-mouthed release or discharge of energy, which can be made purposeful via intent so that one may reduce the amount of negative, old, or unpleasant energy, followed by the closed-mouth voicing which then builds back up the energy in one’s system.
Thus, the practice of “OMing” can be a simple but highly effective method of balancing, refreshing and literally “toning” one’s body and mind. When practiced for a sustained period of a few to several minutes or more, the effect can be rather dramatic, releasing tension, stress, and discomfort while gently energizing and enhancing one’s self of well-being.
Try it yourself as a free self-treatment and see what you experience.
Quotes from Clients:
The sound healing experience is deeply connective – weaving body, mind, soul, spirit thru time & space. Steve & Johnna are very perceptive and skilled not only with their musicianship but with knowingness and the timing of when to urge, when to nudge and when to help spread wings & fly. The process has helped me immensely. I trust them deeply. – Kate Miller, therapist, Minneapolis
“Those of you that know me, know of the deep pain I have been living in these past 3.5 years, because of the loss of my husband, my friend. At times the pain in my chest would bring me to my knees and leave me gasping for breath. Yesterday I had a Sound Healing session with Steve Sklar and I cannot even begin to tell you How Amazing I feel!!! Much lighter as if I am floating around and I have not stopped smiling since !!! Thank You Steve, from the bottom of my Heart, Thank You!!! And my Boys Thank You as well!! They have their mom back!!” – Lanae Rae Eide
My sound healing experience with Steve was an incredible experience! His experience with and mastery of a variety of sound wave producing instruments is superb, his open heart and gentle voice guided me into a deep place of peace within myself, where I felt all the cells of my being, my muscles, my organs, my bones, my electrons!, all shifting to come into greater harmony with each other.
My emotional self shifted. My physical self shifted. I left feeling clear and relaxed. Over the next few days, i felt my body working better, fighting itself less. I would say improved digestion, improved mood, improved mental function in particular. If you have not before, a unique and profound experience highly recommended to all men and women! Do yourself a favor, open your mind, open your heart, and give a try!!! Thanks again brother! I’m ready for another! 🙂 – Sincerely, Xuba Evaristo, Therapeutic Bodyworker, Father, Drummer
I was very impressed with the healing! My level of stress and ability to handle it is much better. You had the warmest hands of any healer I have dealt with. The heat radiating from your hands was amazing! – Marybeth Lonnee, Apple Valley
“I still have that awesome inner silence and guess what…..I did my physical therapy exercises this morning and had more movement and range of motion then EVER before. I am so excited because you helped me make more progress than I could do before. Yay!! My physical therapist will be scratching his head. LOL!”
Follow-up, one week later: Also, you did leave my physical therapist scratching his head. LOL. My upper back has improved drastically… I did have some lower hip and quad improvement too!” – Christina Carlson Hanlon, Robbinsdale MN
Hi Steve, thanks for today! Got home feeling very weary, slept very hard…what a day!! Mentally/emotionally/physically I feel SO SO SO much has been cleared out by today’s session…..you do a good thing for people. Can’t say enough about it so I won’t try, but just say I am grateful to you. See you round the bend. – Sue West, musician
Follow-up: Hey, Steve and Johnna, just reporting back after my sound treatment session a few weeks ago… well, I came in to your place a big ball of mental, emotional, spiritual and physical scar tissue, nursing some spasmed muscles, overwhelming fears, and near-constant severe pain. My physical condition did nothing for my overall sense of how my life was going. I was expecting to get a cat scan and a trip to Mayo clinic, but all of this has turned around.
You did your thing with the Tibetan singing bowls, gongs, didg, and intense guided imagery. What a valuable experience. I did not know what to expect, but I felt better right away after my session with you. I feel much better overall, have been working hard, more energy and focus, and I have even finally been able to work in my garden!
I am no spring chicken and so I may always deal with some discomfort from my surgery scars,…so they tell me. And I am not 100% pain-free. But, I “100%” have my life back. Whatever you did cleared a lot of pain out of every system in my body, is how I see it. I have hope and joy and ease in my days again. I am excited to start each day now. This is really good. THANK YOU!!!! – Sue West, WI
I feel marvelous! I definitely am interested in pursuing Tibetan Singing Bowls once I can afford them now. You definitely have peeked my interest. My anxiety has lessened greatly and I honorably thank you for that, Steve. I also feel so much more relaxed and in tune with myself! It has been so long since I’ve felt this way. Once again, Steve, thank you! – JJ Vong