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Earthquakes, Barry Manilow and Sonic Rainbows

18 Oct 2021

Introducing Ereni Mendrinos who shares more about how the new Wigwam Sound and Voice Sanctuary has come to be…

I am sitting here with the shifting, rumbling earth beneath me, as my husband and I are currently based in Crete. We have felt earthquakes here before but in the last weeks there were big ones (between 5.8 and 6.3 magnitude) with a number of aftershocks – definitely far bigger than previously. Although we rent a well-built house and are fine ourselves, some friends have been deeply affected and ”fight or flight” reactions have been triggered.

It is inviting me to consider once again how we cope with insecure times.

Unexpectedly, I feel grounded and connected to Earth as a living body. I am experiencing that this shifting, moving Earth is the reality of my life and not just some intellectual idea.

I have been thinking about how just like the Earth’s tectonic plates, life events are not always predictable. Relationships don’t play out the way we had perhaps hoped, work issues arise, a pandemic strikes, or, most relevant to us here, we or our loved ones receive a cancer diagnosis.

In the words of Buddhist nun Pema Chodron: “Life is like that, we don’t know anything.”

Even though I understand this I often long for familiarity and safety, as many of us inevitably do.

Yes to Life, Wigwam and Barry Manilow

In my twenties, my first confrontation with cancer was an early pre-cancer diagnosis that I was lucky enough to get caught and treated preemptively. Since then, I have seen my first cousin and a couple of dear friends go through cancer, and even closer to home, both my mother and mother-in-law were diagnosed with stage 4 cancer a few years ago.

In my mother’s case, colon cancer had metastasised to her liver. My mother-in-law had a “terminal” ovarian diagnosis due to how quickly the tumour was growing. We were told by her Oncologist to make haste to visit her in New Zealand, and she was encouraged to put her affairs in order.

I am relieved to say that for both of them the outcomes were far more positive than expected.

Since her diagnosis, my mum has outlived her younger surgeon, and has returned to such energy that I am usually the one slowing her down. Her passion for swimming in the sea is as strong as ever (we suspect she might be part mermaid).

Likewise, my mother-in-law has been cited as a “medical marvel” in a New Zealand journal. Rather than being on “death’s door” as we feared, years later she is going strong and recently told us that now she has to deal with ageing, something she didn’t think she would have to face.

Photo by one of mum-in-law’s medical team

Again, life was “like that, we don’t know anything.” as Pema Chodron said.

I have been lucky enough to be good friends with Robin Daly, the co-founder of Yes To Life, and his wife Nancy since I was a 19-year-old theatre student in Devon, and also to know Bryony, the other co-founder of Yes To Life, both as a child and as a young woman, and in the little time I was in her orbit, she made a big impression on me with her immense positivity and passion. I was later asked to sing a Barry Manilow song at a celebration to mark Bryony’s life and all that she inspired. She loved Barry, and I felt honored.

 

Speaking of singing…

Even though I am a qualified BAST certified Sound and Voice Therapist which might sound rather formal, I would like to introduce myself to you in this more lighthearted way: “Hello, my name is Ereni and I love dipping into sonic rainbows. I would like to encourage you to join me.”

Now I would like to share with you some of the numerous benefits of Sound and Voice Therapy which have helped me feel supported through the inevitable uncertainties of life. They are the reason why I am now offering you the ‘Wigwam Sound and Voice Sanctuary’ and I would like to introduce you to a few of them here, by sharing a little of my own sound and voice journey.

A few years ago, I went through a period of depression and anxiety. An important part of my life since I was 19, suddenly fell apart, and here I was in my forties, feeling like I had to re-assess almost everything. Looking back, I changed from a funny, outgoing, emotional person, to a more cynical, depressed and anxious version of myself. I was still putting on a good show of positivity, but inwardly I was struggling.

The accompanying spiritual cynicism that I experienced was the hardest to bear because I had always been an idealist and suddenly this was no longer sustaining me. Life felt meaningless. I remember my husband saying “I just want my wife back”, and although I tried, I just didn’t know how to find my way out of my inner fog.

Years prior, I had become fascinated with therapeutic voice work, during an overtone chanting weekend with a young Jill Purce. Since then, I have periodically attended workshops by Nikki Slade and Chloe Goodchild. More recently, while listening to Kirtan singing on a weekend retreat, I found tears streaming from my eyes and I sensed intuitively that the voice may guide me “home”.

Experientially, I realised my connection to spirit and deeper knowing was still alive despite the inner crisis I was experiencing. I signed up to train as a group Sound and Voice Therapist with an instinctive leap of faith, not knowing where it might lead while I was still struggling with my inner challenges.

There was coursework I had to complete as part of my studies to be a Group Sound and Group Voice Therapist at BAST. For one particular module, each day I was to move, breathe, hum and tone specific tones connected to each chakra (energy centres in the body) with accompanying movements. I was also invited to observe my experience.

Ereni

What started happening astounded me

Each day I observed an area where my “flow” was impeded and in the observation already things would shift. Often there were correlations very clearly connected to what was happening in my life.

If I was exceptionally anxious, my root chakra tone was weak. If I had had a difficult conversation with a family member, my throat chakra felt blocked, my voice wobbled. If I had had a difficult talk with my husband, my heart chakra felt pain and my tone was weaker.

I contemplated why that might be and started making efforts to make certain choices following my findings:

“Be more direct and kind” and the throat and heart vocal tones started clearing. “Be active, walking and swimming”, and the root chakra voice tone was strengthened. “Take time to contemplate by the sea”, and my third eye chakra toning was far brighter which I intimated was my intuition clearing.

My biggest “a-ha” moment was realising how much this practice of self reflection through sound and voice work cultivated my intuition and inner knowing and that my inner compass started strengthening.

Because each chakra is also connected with a colour, I found myself experiencing the colours and sounds wash over me. It felt like I was dipping into my own sonic rainbow.

“Sometimes when things fall apart, well, that’s the big opportunity to change.”

Pema Chodron

I have since experienced how sound and voice therapy has helped challenged teens in a school support project cultivate their inner knowing, a PhD candidate discover that how she approached holding a frame drum reflected her fixed ideas about how she functioned in her work and studies and a couple who are recovering alcoholics found deep relaxation through therapeutic Sound Baths. Amongst many examples.

Photo; my own Therapeutic Sound Bath set up

Over time I have realised that this work can offer us a mirror for self-reflection.

Although I am facilitating these sessions, each of us has our own engagement with the exercises. We are taking a very individual path and at the same time reaping the benefits of being together. The engagement between the individual, the group and the practice can be a very powerful transformative tool.

Life happens. “Imbalances” are inevitable. The rumbling, shifting earth both outwardly and inwardly is inevitable. It is my great privilege and pleasure, with the ‘Wigwam Sound and Voice Sanctuary’, to be facilitating an online safe space for us to explore this sound and voice work together and discover our individual range of sounds and colours, our own sonic rainbows, to help support us. To gather more tools so that we might feel increasingly empowered on each our life journeys.

I look forward to seeing you at the Drop-in Sessions and on our Retreats.

See this book; “Frequency plus Intention = Healing” Jonathan Goldman’s Healing Sounds

Check out our Wigwam Sound and Voice Sanctuary

Wigwam Sound and Voice Sanctuary

 

Photos courtesy of copyright free images at Pixabay