It was only a week after RiSE Festival, a week exactly actually, and a nearby yoga studio had advertised a full moon sound bath. It seemed like the perfect followup to my experience at RiSE, and it felt like just the thing to keep me “up” in terms of my end-of-year commitments. And so, I didn’t get my ticket.
Wait, what? Exactly. I don’t quite understand it either. I did show up early, yoga mat and blanket in hand, but it wasn’t until I was turned away at the door because the event was already at capacity that I realized that the experience actually felt important to me.
The full moon has always felt special to me. Earth’s satellite lighting up the sky like a mini sun. Outside of my own sentiments, it has inherent symbolism: is phases and the phases of life, its 28 day cycle, its light side, its dark side. It provides for endless contemplation. The moon is a fascinating thing and it likewise fascinates me. So it is surprising that I was surprised at my reaction when I was told there was no more room.
As I despondently walked back to my car processing what strangely felt like some sort of loss, I thought to myself, “Wait. This is L.A. This cannot possibly be the only full moon sound bath in this city.” And, sure enough, in West Hollywood another was about to begin! I called, there was room, and 30 minutes later, I was on the floor amongst seeming sound bath veterans â€“ I felt unprepared. Pillows, and pads, and blankets, and eye masks, people spread out on the floor in their own little hives of considerable softness. I lay down, and three women began to play various instruments. I promptly fell asleep. Let me rephrase: I, who have a reasonable amount of difficulty sleeping, promptly fell asleep.
I came looking for a very literal vibrational experience. I remember visiting Bali and sitting onstage beneath the Jegog (a very large bamboo instrument used in Balinese Gamelan music) and feeling the sound reverberate in my body. I am drawn to those types of heightened experiences, much the same as I am drawn to the phase of the moon when she is full. The sound bath, becoming more of a “thing” lately, is a method used to promote relaxation in mind and body, and some outfits are more scientific in their arrangement than others, measuring the Hertz of the instruments in an effort to produce a specific vibrational resonance. I am intrigued by these places and love seeking them out, but I am also intrigued by my own intuition and awareness of what I am drawn to and what makes life magical. And what exactly is that mechanism at work that bars my access to awareness?
While interesting and intriguing in their own right, we don’t need scientific articles outlining whether or not a sound bath “works” and why. The question really is, does it work for you? Our culture loves to roll its eyes at intuition and new, seemingly “out there” philosophies. If there’s no data or double-blind study, there’s a lot of poo-pooing that occurs–or at least a lack of trust that you know something to be true or beneficial for you. Blame it on the placebo effect, it doesn’t really work. Doesn’t that take the magic out of things? Doesn’t that sometimes make you question your own intuition of what is good for you, what you innately feel is helpful and healing for you? Doesn’t that get under your skin and erode the trust you have in yourself even just a little? It does me. I often find myself second-guessing, or thinking initially that something isn’t important or worthwhile, and then later I come to find out that it is, or at the least, that it mattered to me. Was it my own culture prevailing over my own intuition when I decided I would just show up instead of securing my place at an event that was clearly very important to me on some level for some reason? Was it something else? It’s interesting to contemplate.
I’m certainly not implying that science doesn’t have an important place in society and culture, but we do know in our bodies most of the time what is right for us, what is helpful or important. Sitting beneath the Jegog in Bali I remember the delight, the feeling that a reset button had been hit. To be literally vibrating in unison with something else, to match the vibration of something else, to feel connected to it, felt magical. Much the same way being able to rest, really let go and rest, with a room full of strangers on the full moon did. And I woke to the vibrations of tuning forks that were placed on my back. A novel experience? Certainly. But also magical, right, and completely full.