I had a wonderful time at UxI this year and I feel grateful that I was invited to offer my workshop (Re)member: Restorative listening.
I learned so much through facilitating this workshop!
I was scheduled to arrive the day before my workshop but I actually missed my flight. I was stuck in the airport all day so I just walked around the terminal in circles drinking tea and window shopping. It was a bizarre feeling to be in this in between space. To be held in a state of pre-departure. It was all for the best though because it allowed me to empty myself out and prepare my body and my being to listen.
When I arrived that evening I went straight to SomArts to plan the exact route of the soundwalk.
I can only know what is the correct route through walking myself and listening/feeling the space.
Admittedly, at first I was disappointed to see that freeways entangled the space but then I remembered the words of Katie Down who is one of my mentors,
“All sounds are a part of the sound bath.”
I just stood there leaning my back against this building made of glass and concrete rotating my head around with my eyes closed not with the intention of identifying anything but just to let the sounds wash over me.
I began to float in sound. It was cold and I could feel my skin tighten and shrink around my hair follicles. I asked myself, “What is this sound?” and I saw rivers. In that moment I wasn’t surrounded by freeways. I was in multiple rivers of wind and water.
I walked to the entrance of SOMArts and walked back and forth along the street until I felt that the route was settled and met my host for the evening.
The next day I arrived early because my host dropped me off on her way to another event. I was too early, like, 2 hours early. So I kept walking, but this time inside SOMArts and savored the silence and stillness. I looked at all the art and vendor tables. Then I walked outside and bought myself some tea and breakfast.
After the opening ceremony I began my workshop with an acknowledgment of land and first peoples and a statement of intention. Then I asked everyone their name and their favorite sound. Then we broke into pairs and I demonstrated how to communicate nonverbally through touch so that everyone felt like there was a way to hear and be heard although talking was not allowed. So we began with the soundwalk and I was so touched by the participant’s level of openness and vulnerability. Two groups of women slowly led themselves to each other and extended their hands until their fingertips met. The two unsighted women’s faces lit up to caress and be caressed by another. One group pressed themselves onto a parked car in stillness.
The tenderness I witnessed really struck me. Tenderness with one another and nonhuman others.
I also realized that when I do this workshop again and there are more than 10 participants I need an assistant to help me facilitate. It’s not impossible to do alone but I definitely had my hands full trying to keep track of everyone.
Also I realized that the soundwalk actually warrants its own workshop.
Then after our 30 minutes was up we moved inside to the soundbath.
It was a truly humbling experience. I made an announcement to everyone in the room to be mindful that sound travels and can be disruptive to those experiencing the sound bath but, just like in life, you can’t control everything. There were kids laughing, a speaker came on with music spontaneously, and someone’s dog started barking. The only option was to laugh, be at peace with it, and keep going. This is why I love this practice. It’s a classroom to learn about patience, releasing control, and letting the self reveal itself to itself. After the workshop was over I thanked everyone for their participation and asked if there were any questions. One person asked me what my relationship is to my bowls and I talked about the iconography of singing bowls, capitalism and wellness culture, and how my lineage does not originate from where singing bowls are traditionally used. I ended with a story about how I came to acquire these bowls. I mentioned that my bowls are hand hammered (not machine made) by a group of metal workers in India (not a large international corporation).
I said all this to outline how I did my best to be ethical when acquiring my instruments.
Afterwards a couple people came up and hugged me and thanked me for the experience and I felt so happy and content.
I wish I could do this (nearly) everyday.