What more, I hear you cry, could darling Joseph Yanaku contribute to YOTL? He mans the front desk, he paints the walls, he designs the website, he supplies all kinds of vibes and spirit and general aesthetic genius. He can't do anymore, surely! Oh no, what's this? He’s only going to lead a Sunday Night Sound Bath!! Every Sunday at 7.15pm, he’ll be using a mixture of Himalayan bowls, gongs, crystal singing bowls and therapeutic percussive instruments to zen you out in preparation for your week ahead. It starts this Sunday, 4th March. And it’s going to be MEGA. And what’s this? An actual interview! Amazing!
What first drew you to sound as an aid for meditation?
My whole life has been dedicated to sound and vibration. As a musician and composer, I have always been aware of the effects that sound and music can have on us. As artist and a designer, I am very passionate about colour and creating ambience, you know that ‘thing’ you can feel but can’t see. I think that my work basically boils down to one thing: a desire to create spaces that uplift, inspire and bring about a positive shift for those that occupy them. I have been practicing yoga for many years now and have strong ties with the yoga community in London and so using sound for meditation brings all my passions together. So, I feel like I have always been a sound therapist but I made it ‘legitimate’ by training at the British Academy of Sound Therapy.
What’s the science behind sound as a therapy?
We are interpreters of vibration without even realising it. What we see with our eyes, hear with our ears, and feel with our fingertips is an interpretation of vibration. Everything about what we call ‘reality’ is an interpretation of vibration. Of all of our five senses, hearing gives us the most direct access to understanding vibration through the experience of sound. It is because of this that I feel sound gives us a deeper connection to and understanding of the energetic body. There are several techniques used in sound therapy. One of these is the process of entrainment. Our bodies house a number of rhythms. The heartbeat (the first thing we ever hear) is the most obvious example of this. When resting, the average heartbeat is at around 60 beats per minute (BPM) and at around 75 on average during activity. However, when we are in a state of stress our heartbeat can increase to around 87 BPM and when we are deeply relaxed it will fall to around 57 BPM. Playing a regular beat or rhythm over a period of time on a drum or on a gong for example, will entrain the heart rate to this rhythm. This can therefore be used to bring about a deep state of relaxation and aid meditation.
In your opinion, what effect does sound have on us?
We know that music has a way to move people in ways they don’t ordinarily move. It makes us want to dance, facilitates emotional release, elevates our mood and holds us in a state of non-resistance for longer periods of time than almost anything else. In terms of sound as an aid for meditation, think of it like this: if you are willing to focus on sounds rather than a conversation, an opinion, a problem, or even a piece music that carries an emotion, then it has the same capability that meditation does where you are focused without any resistance. Anytime you focus without resistance your natural vibration raises to a frequency that allows your physical body to be more cooperative with itself.
In the age of technology where there is now an app for everything, including yoga and meditation why should people come to a sound bath as opposed to just popping a recording on or playing gongs through their phones?
As a recording artist, I often use electronic sounds and I do not shy away from using social media as a device for outreach and connecting. There is a place for everything and I can’t rule out that there would be some benefit to listening to recorded sounds. However (and I feel quite passionate about this), where meditation is concerned I feel that this is one time where we should be turning the apps off, putting the phones down and going on an inward journey. We already live so much through our phones that they’ve almost become an extension of us. I think it’s important to maintain a healthy connection with nature and with ourselves without any ‘add-ons’. Also, listening to sounds through speakers or headphones is never going to have the same effect as being in a room where a gong or a crystal bowl are being played with their vibrations resonating and pulsating in the air and through your body.
What are Sound Baths good for?
Attending sound baths can:
• Aid meditation
• Reduce stress
• Calm anxieties
• Increase mental focus
• Improve quality of sleep
• Ignite your creativity
The list goes on…