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Ali Jeffery
from: Ali Jeffery
Category: Sound Healing

Sounds of Nature

Through interacting with the sounds of nature, we can commune with the universe. This feeling drew me to the realm of sound healing. Years ago, moving slowly through a city park each evening, the amalgamation of sound frequencies offered by the wind blowing through the leaves of the many trees seemed to bring my body into a relaxed and vital state, while carrying my mind to a space of oneness. The delicate, butterfly-like quality of a breeze through silver birch trees soothed my heart. I felt that humans must have an innate propensity to connect with the sounds of nature – our original soundscape – their effect, perhaps, being unique to each person.

Walking in the depths of a forest, twelve years ago, hearing Amazing Grace played on guitar amidst the sounds of bird song momentarily took me to a place of bliss. Without knowing the source of the music, the illusion was that it arose from an angelic realm. The combination of the music and the sounds of nature was nectar.

Such experiences drew me from mainstream psychology and academia towards the healing arts of music, sound and movement. I was fortunate to join inspiring workshops in African Drumming, Sanskrit Mantra Chanting, Kundalini Dance and Sound Healing in my city, and later to study sound and gong therapy. The similarity of experiencing the gong and the sound of wind through trees struck me – both have a subtlety and a totality of sound. Feeling the vibrations from gongs and singing bowls reminded me of the visceral nature of bees’ humming. Group vocal toning with crystal singing bowls created the feeling of surfing on a wave. There seemed to be many levels of correspondence between sound therapy and nature. Both, perhaps, can offer the opportunity for healing in similar ways, for example, through exposing our bodies, minds and energy field to a range of frequencies, allowing sympathetic resonance to occur, leading to rebalancing. (Sympathetic resonance is the phenomenon by which a passive vibratory body can be triggered to vibrate, in response to stimuli from a vibrating object in close proximity which has a similar natural resonant pitch).

Later, spending time in Africa, Asia and Australasia, living and working in many communities, I was introduced to new instruments and meditation practices. I began playing outdoors, combining music and tones with the sounds of nature and holding sound meditation groups. People described how encountering the sounds of the gong and singing bowls seemed to enliven their experience of nature – brightening both the sounds and colours they perceived. I was interested to learn about the Schumann resonance – the earth’s resonant frequency, which entrains our brainwaves to a frequency in between an alpha state, associated with relaxation and creativity, and a theta state, corresponding to dream-like experiences and meditation. It seemed that simply being in nature could bring us into a receptive state for healing. I connected further with movement practices and the integration of movement, sound and nature, exploring sacred geometry in relation to each.

More recently, through my MA in music therapy, I have been fascinated to research other people’s experiences of taking part in musical improvisation outdoors in nature. This practice was felt to be a unique – quite different to improvising indoors – and some people described experiences of a spiritual or transpersonal nature arising. 

I work as a music therapist and a sound therapist, with individuals and groups, independently and in collaboration with others – musicians, yoga teachers and singing teachers – and, as often as I can, with nature herself.

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