I’m a sound healer. So, should I apologize because the world is filled with imperfect or unexpected sounds? Or is that what I’m teaching you?
I am a sound healer who uses singing bowls, but I am also a teacher. And as I teacher, I’m making a pact with myself not to apologize to students for perceived imperfections that arise in a sound session.
Should I apologize to my sound healing students if something isn’t “perfect” – if someone snores or if people are talking outside of the studio space? Or that the world isn’t “perfect” or silent? Or should I just keep teaching them what I’m teaching them in a sound session. To listen with kindness to what arises in their bodies, breath, and thoughts. (Find out more about sound healing here.).
I teach yoga, meditation, and sound healing and recently questioned this idea of apologizing when I watched one of a Francesca Cervero’s videos on IG. (@francescacervero). It was about why, as teachers, we shouldn’t apologize for teaching our classes and private sessions online now due to COVID-19. Online sessions are amazing in so many ways and apologies take away from the advantages that they offer. They’re not better or worse than in-person sessions; they’re just different.
This had me wondering why I have been apologizing to my students because COVID-19 took us away from our in-person sessions and online (even though I like teaching online!). And I realized that I often find myself apologizing to my students basically for life not being perfect during my classes or private sessions. That’s a lot for one person to take on!
I apologize if someone snores during a sound healing session or if we can hear someone talking outside of the space when practicing yoga or if there’s traffic or construction noises outside while we’re meditating. I apologize if there’s a technical difficulty for virtual classes that is totally beyond my control. And I apologize when I’ve worked so hard to make it all work right and I am still learning and not doing it all perfectly.
Not apologizing is what I’m teaching
So why am I really apologizing sounds or other “distractions” when the primary focus of what I teach in my “Mindful Big 3” classes of meditation, sound healing, and mindful movement is to notice with kindness and to work towards non judgement?
What does that mean in real life? Even when we’ve come to a situation like sound healing with singing bowls where we often can relax to the beautiful sounds of the bowls, there may be some things that are not “perfect”. What I mean by perfect here is that they don’t fall in line with our expectations. And most stress comes from our expectations not meeting reality.
But, guess what? Even when everyone is well-intentioned, things happen and we don’t live in a vacuum. There are sounds and interruptions and technical difficulties. There are people and environments and computers to deal with.
And if I could take away all sounds and we went into a soundproof room for a session (which I’ve heard even has some measurable sound!), there would still be your thoughts which are the things that are bothering you about the other sounds!
Thinking about thoughts
When I teach a sound healing session, I teach that it’s an experience in itself and it’s also a practice for everyday life. Experiencing a sound healing journey is about deeply listening. And it’s amazing because you always have the bowls to come back to. (More about how sound healing heals in this blog post.)
But don’t expect your mind to be completely blank. There will likely be thoughts, emotions, judgements, comparisons, and arguments from the mind. Maybe there are times of bliss, but there also may be times of agitation and resistance.
What we’re practicing in a sound healing session is the process of noticing breath, body, sounds in the environment, the singing bowls, and thoughts with a kind heart and awareness. Thoughts might not be true or helpful. And they might be old stories that are just not useful anymore. But in sound healing, we’re not trying to change our thoughts, just meet them with kindness and notice. And then come back to notice the next thought.
Distractions and Kindness
When we’re expecting a blissful crystal singing bowl journey and someone next to us starts snoring we might think, “this is ruining it for me, I can’t relax now, this isn’t fair, the teacher should do something to stop the snoring!” It’s those thoughts that ultimately create the tension for the person, not the actual snoring.
Another person could hear the same thing and think, “wow, that person is really deeply relaxed and getting some good healing sleep…oh, there are the bowls again, let’s follow that sound…” This student might have a more relaxing experience since she embraced the humanity of the person next to her and came back to noticing the next thing – the sound of the bowls.
Teaching over apologizes
When distractions, unexpected things, and interruptions from the plan come up, I know that noticing with kindness is hard. That’s why people practice yoga and meditation for many years and it’s still a practice!
The only thing that I can do is keep teaching what I teach. I guide people to notice their breath, bodies, sounds, thoughts, energy, and emotions with kindness to themselves and others. This is a practice that literally takes practice. Read my previous blog post here about the three easy steps to meditating (get still, notice, and be kind).
And I’m there to hold imperfect space for them in a world that has other people, technical difficulties, noisy fans, honking cars, singing bowls, breath, construction, life, emergency vehicles, snoring, life, and love. Those are the sounds of LIFE and I am making a commitment to not apologize for them.