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To hear is to be here

Finding your flow: Healing through sound and meditation

Did you know that the words hear and here have a common root? The change in spelling only originated in the 14th or 15th centuries – originally meaning something like ‘to be told, or learn by report’. Of course, it makes sense – to ‘hear’ something we have to be ‘here’ – we have to be present!

And yet so often living in the city we close ourselves off to our senses and miss out on really being present. This is especially true for our sense of hearing – the many background noises of city life, of traffic, and even of media and electrical appliances in our own homes mean we rarely have a chance to relax and open up fully.

At our Tara Hills retreat centre, it’s a different experience – the quiet and openness of the countryside surround you, interspersed by the sounds of the wind, and of the birds and animals. This is the type of aural landscape that our body has evolved with over millennia and where it can naturally feel at rest.

Sound is not just something that enters our ears, but also our whole body – subtle vibration we can feel directly, but again in our city lives this is often on overload and to deal with it we have to close off feeling. When we can open to all the subtle feelings of our body our experience of life comes alive! We can rest deeply and as our energy recharges we can start to feel a vibrancy and joy that may have been missing for a long time. We can come to hear and feel our own precious inner lives.

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By its very nature sound can also open us to a sense of stillness in the mind. Normally our everyday lives are filled with thoughts and plans, conversations real and imagined.

These can help us map out the plans for our lives, however often they can again overload us and take the form of worry, frustration and other difficult emotions.

Have you ever noticed though how our thoughts and stories, whether positive or less so, are things we hear on the inside of our heads? 

By its very nature sound can also open us to a sense of stillness in the mind. Normally our everyday lives are filled with thoughts and plans, conversations real and imagined. These can help us map out the plans for our lives, however often they can again overload us and take the form of worry, frustration and other difficult emotions. Have you ever noticed though how our thoughts and stories, whether positive or less so, are things we hear on the inside of our heads? By opening our sense of hearing out and tuning in there for a while, we can change the channel as it were – release our attention from the inner dialogue and place our awareness in something far more soothing, whether it’s the sounds of nature or some beautiful music. 

On our recent retreat ‘Finding your flow: Healing through sound and meditation’ we explored the many ways you can do this, firstly through the simple fact of being in a natural environment, and through finding relaxation in the body and stillness in the mind. From there we took a journey through different kinds of music, different ways to use mantra and vocalisation, and the experience of being directly absorbed in the vibration of instruments such as gongs.

This opens up how different sounds or different kinds of music have a different energy to them. This is quite obvious with say, a catchy upbeat pop song compared to a deeply calm or even melancholy piece of classical music. If we pay attention closely to our experience however we can start to pick up where we feel these in our body and the whole palette of qualities they have. This can help us bring in emotional qualities to our life that we might otherwise lack, or open up and bring healing to parts of ourselves to have been cut off or in pain. 

A sense of deep connection, transcendence or even ecstasy can arise through sound, and this is something that various spiritual traditions have cultivated for thousands of years. Indigenous cultures across the globe have rich and varied traditions in this way and spiritual traditions of the East such as Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism likewise. We also find this in the religions arising from the middle east – think medieval Christianity and much glorious sacred music since, and the deep and mysterious Sufi tradition within Islam.

Ben Dollman – Lifeflow teacher & retreat leader 

Ben Dollman, is a professional concert violinist and dedicated meditation practitioner with over 15 years of experience. Through his extensive practice and study, he has developed practical tools for calm and focus, which have helped him to manage the highs and lows of his demanding work lifestyle. Ben’s passion for meditation shines through in his work as a teacher, and he is committed to helping others discover the many benefits of this powerful practice.

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