How Sound Healing Can Set You Free
Hi and welcome to the BAS Wellness Column! My name is Erynne Elkins and I’m a Well-Being Advocate and Certified Breathwork Facilitator. Every week I’ll share a holistic wellness modality available here in the Bay Area. Cheers to good health!
“The Bay Area needs a big spiritual recalibration where we feel our interconnectedness. My classes are about showing up exactly as you are. We come out of our racing minds and into our bodies. In that field of safety and belonging, we can take risks, grow together, (and) have fun.” – Phoenix Song, Sound Healing Musician
In San Francisco, there’s an onslaught of sounds, energies, and frequencies encasing us wherever we go. Just take a look on any given day while you’re out and about in the city at how many people are sporting headphones to keep out the noise. Being able to seek out wellness modalities centered around sound are a relief for those times when one can’t press the mute or off button on the outside noise. “Everything in the universe is making sound and vibrating. Your body–every cell, tissue, organ–is playing whole symphonies of music right now. When you’re not in optimal health, your cells don’t vibrate at their most desirable frequency. You can receive a sound bath to retune your cells. Or you can actively make sound where you’re using your own voice to heal, vibrate, and move energy in your body,” explains San Francisco-based sound healer, Phoenix Song.
Transforming one’s voice is an ongoing journey and something Phoenix is personally experienced in. They don’t just teach it, they live it. What you see today are the fruits of over twenty-five years of doing the work to heal grief, and rage. Phoenix, a Korean adoptee, opens up about their earlier struggles of coming into themselves. “As a transracial adoptee, I struggled with issues of race, culture, and belonging. I’m also queer and was twenty years old when my mother cut me off. She’s very religious, so I felt a lot of rage at homophobic religions, institutions, and society. I was in a very dark place, very depressed and suicidal, and felt alone in my twenties,” they admitted.
During this period, they lived in India for over three years and began their healing journey with music and spiritual practices. There, they met a woman from Slovenia who played didgeridoo. Phoenix says, “It’s a mystical instrument the indigenous Australian people play in their ceremonies. There’s no sheet music. You play your own breath, emotions, and sounds. Didgeridoo opened me up to my own music and helped me release and express pain. I started to find my voice through it by singing into it. Playing music saved my life by helping me make beauty out of pain,” Phoenix recalled.
They were no longer in a bubble dealing with their own stuff, but received a lot of empathy and encouragement from people who heard their music. “People would listen to me play and say, ‘Your music touches me’. I didn’t feel alone anymore. I was getting love, feedback, and support. It was a very beautiful process,” Phoenix says.
Phoenix later ventured to Korea to get more in touch with their roots and search for their birth parents. Although they never found them, they discovered an unexpected, organic gift. After expanding their use of musical instruments to percussion, strings, and native flute, they found the courage to play their most naked, vulnerable, and powerful instrument, their own body. Phoenix began to sing and write their own songs in a Korean punk band named Anokha. “I had never sung before except through the didgeridoo. My voice was constricted and tight. I started out screaming my pain in loud, angry songs about choking on the pieces of my broken heart and being chained to my soul of uninterrupted desire. After five years of singing, I was finally able to access joy after going through so many layers of rage, grief, and sadness,” they recall.
And now after twenty-five years of playing their own music and letting it unfold organically, Phoenix supports others in healing through sound in the Bay Area. “There are two main things that I do now: (1) I play music and provide private and organizational sound baths and other sacred healing musical opportunities where people can passively receive sound vibrations. I play my didgeridoo over people’s bodies and tune people from root to crown with different healing instruments as well as my voice. I use the power of intention as well as the power of vibration to retune people’s cells as well as shape matter and consciousness. (2) The other thing I do is more active where I bring groups of people together to help everyone free their voices. We use different sound and healing modalities including singing, sound meditations, expressive arts, drama therapy, movement, somatics, and mindfulness that have helped me on my own journey,” Phoenix adds.
“I believe everyone can sing. Your body is your instrument. I help you sing, sound and speak your truth with confidence. We sing uplifting songs from different cultural traditions and do vocal improvisation to come up with our medicine songs for ourselves and the world. By showing up, letting go, and trusting in the music inside of you and the sounds and the words that need to come out,” encourages Phoenix, “you free your voice and life.”
Phoenix offers a myriad of 10-week classes in both the city and the East Bay such as Free Your Voice and Free Your Voice while Drumming along with transformative sound baths at venues like Grace Cathedral (the 4th Monday of the month). They will launch a 9-month training program in the Fall called Free Your Voice and Body Stories. The health benefits abound when you make the choice to allow sound and your voice to be the prescription. “When you sound, you feel calm, grounded, relaxed, energized, connected, and joyful. It really is the best medicine ever. It’s a great mood stabilizer. You don’t need to trap and hold onto emotions that don’t serve you. Sound them out, release, get clear, and speak your creations into being,” Phoenix encourages.