Every so often The Daily Dreamer interviews a dream worker with the hope that readers will get a sense of the many different ways that people can learn about themselves from their dreams. Today's interviewee, Travis Wernet, specializes in sound healing. Starting in February he will be leading a tele-conference dream group.
DD: You have said that music is medicine. Did a particular event in your life inspire you to look at the connection between sound and healing?
TW: I can actually think of many instances of inspiration, but I'd have to say that one which stands out relates to my first trip to Egypt in 2010. I was invited to join a group of travelers from diverse backgrounds and to play Didjeridu in a ritual-ceremony for 24 folks in the Kings Chamber in the Great Pyramids at Giza. We gathered quietly in the space and each individual was supported to lie down in the sarcophagus as I played over their bodies and created sound in the room. The energy of that and the experiences people shared following this experience, as well as my own feeling afterwards, deepened my interest and commitment to finding more ways to knit the experience of listening to certain kinds of sounds together with the intention for finding and receiving healing.
DD: Have you ever tried sound healing with someone who was not particularly musical? Did it affect her response to the technique?
TW: Most definitely. I have found that folks who are less exposed to or involved in music of any sort have quite strong responses and feel very affected by the music and tones. It's almost as if these folks easily enter into what the Buddhists call 'Beginners Mind' and are usually deeply and wonderfully impacted by the musical element of the work. The beauty of sound healing is that the actual tones and vibrations of the instrument have a foundational effect, so it's like taking vitamin C, in a sense, in that the sound will always create an outcome that is related to the properties of the resonance and the frequencies of the tones. It's possible to build on this foundation with further intention and surrender or release into the experience.
DD: When we work with dreams it's often a highly verbal process: in other words, we talk or write about our dreams and try to untangle, and perhaps rationalize, their symbolic messages. Does your non-verbal, musical process supplement this verbal one? How do the two techniques work together in your dream groups?
TW: This is a great question and describes the crux of the approaches I take to doing both forms of work. I find that the verbal and non-verbal elements gracefully support one another. We do engage in quite a bit of discussion in the groups I lead. I consider this a sort of contemporary oral tradition. The music and sound enter in as tools for sinking into the feeling-scapes and images of the dreams, and provide a lovely counter-balance to the verbal experience. We also do incubatory practices to support the recall and invitation of our sleeping and waking dreams. So, I tend to seek to create a balance of sound and discussion in the groups, often by starting out with some chanting of Sanskrit seed syllables (like 'Aum', but there's more than this one sound - in fact there are chants for each chakra center in the physical-spiritual body) or I will play the Didjeridu, Native American Flute or Tibetan/Toning Bowls. After we've worked a dream, we'll also often take some time at the end to bring some pure sound to the work upon closing that piece by also playing and listening to the above instruments. We also close the meetings with grounding tones and I always make the effort to create some space where the talking can branch out into a less mental or thought-oriented domain and this is where we can enter the universality of sound and feeling as a punctuation or new opening to further felt layers of the work. Dreamers have reported that this often has the effect of inspiring further dreams and recall as well as varying non-spoken levels of insight.