Candace Blair on the beach with sound meditation

The healing power of sound meditation

Good vibrations

Story by Carolyn Males + Photography by Lisa Staff

The symphonic gong moves closer, casting a small wind as it passes over my prone body. Its harmonic high and low notes speak of faraway galaxies ablaze with spirals of stars. And now as the gong’s vibrations swirl around my head, I can feel them deep in my limbs and torso. I don’t know where any of the other 15 people who have come here for this sound healing journey are traveling, but for the last 30 minutes that I lay back on my mat on the Jiva Yoga studio floor, I’ve crossed continents. As Kundalini teacher Candace Blair takes us on this shamanic journey of music and meditation, I enter Tibetan temples, their walls echoing with deep-throated chants of monks, then take flight high into the Andes where I am now hiking the Inca Trail near Machu Picchu. At this moment I look across the Sacred Valley to the green rim of the mountains across the way where a condor soars against the blue sky. My spirit catches a ride on its wings, and the heaviness of the world slips away.

This evening I’d come to one of Candace Blair’s Soul Fire sessions, with expectations of an intriguing experience. Yet tucked away in my subconscious I carry a tinge of skepticism, the memory of a long-ago gong bath in a cramped room at another place where a friend and I sat uncomfortably wedged into a corner while a small symphony of snoring emanated from the sea of those lucky enough to have found space to lie down. The music was lovely, but a thread of tension buzzed through us as neither of us could get fully into that head space.

Candace Blair of Soul Fire Social
Candace Blair of Soul Fire Social leads Kundalini yoga and Sound Healing sessions at Jiva Yoga Center. Sign up at


This evening, however, is different. Candace is taking us on a spiritual pilgrimage facilitated by her calming voice, sips of ceremonial cacao and the resonant tones of gongs, bells and crystal singing bowls. Tonight we entered the sage-scented, low-lit room as individuals, each with our own intentions — to heal our body, soothe our soul and alleviate our struggles with anxiety, stress and loss. Then as the Criollo bean chocolate, revered by Mesoamerican cultures, warms us, Candace invites us to “call in the divinely feminine spirit of this heart-opening plant medicine” to release the negativity and emotional blocks that keep us from moving forward. “This internal vibrational activation,” she explains, “enhances the sound healing journey which aids us in relaxing our nervous system and mind and activates our chakras system or energy centers.” Next she invites us to repeat three “ongs,” the sound of creation. Breathing deeply, we chant in unison, creating a powerful vibration that echoes through the room and through our bodies. We become a community, even as we glide onto our separate inner paths.

For the next hour Candace guides us as we lie back, eyes closed, weaving our way through our dreamlike states. I’m aware of the different sounds — breathing, Koshi chimes, rattles and the harmonic tones of singing bowls as Candace taps them and rubs a leather mallet around their lips. But as deep frequencies begin vibrating through us, I can’t resist taking a peek at her sitting cross-legged in front of the big Pluto Gong. As she circles its rim with her mallet, mysterious outer planetary sounds fill the air. Then, striking its face, she brings forth richer, more inward tones. I let my eyelids close as she starts our homeward journey by turning a long rain stick that evokes the movement of water. Led by the patter of raindrops on palm fronds, I walk through a tropical forest and then down to the sea where ocean waves lap at the shore. Home.

As we roll up our mats, we casually share experiences, and I leave relaxed and yet energized, eager to put meditative practice into my daily life. 

Experience a sound healing journey with Kennedy OneSelf
Experience a sound healing journey with Kennedy OneSelf from 1-2:30 p.m., Saturday, March 9, at Jiva Yoga Center. Participants in this voyage through vibration simply lie down and relax. Sign up at Learn more about Kennedy OneSelf at ©Clara Moon

Soul meditations vibrations

A week or so later, I opt for another sound journey at Jiva Yoga, this time an immersive symphonic orchestral experience of acoustic vibration performed by Asheville musician Kennedy OneSelf. In the darkened studio, he sits surrounded by his 7-foot-long didgeridoos that he’s handcrafted from agave, along with assorted bells, chimes, drums, flutes, singing bowls, bird calls, Shruti boxes, plus a unity harp he’s made. Once we’re settled on our mats, he tells us his intention for the afternoon: “To offer serenity and relaxation, to help reach our inner peace and quiet our minds.”  It’s a looser meditation, focused on letting go of distractions and just being present. For an hour and a half he moves from instrument to instrument, rhythm to rhythm, sometimes humming softly, as his gentle music floats over us. While it carries the DNA of Appalachia in its sound, there are undertones of ancient civilizations that reach into the soul.

Scientific research has shown that different frequencies send vibrations through our bodies, affecting us in different ways, and that sound mediations can indeed reduce stress, anxiety, fatigue, depression and even pain. That’s why it’s not surprising that drug addiction programs, mental health organizations, teen trauma programs and other groups have taken Kennedy OneSelf’s healing sound journeys. Now, after experiencing this magical musical voyage, I’m tempted to sign up for one of his immersive retreats where I can learn how to make these beautiful sounds. When I confess to being a piano student dropout, he reassures me. “These instruments are simple and intuitive. You don’t need any experience.”  And with these words, all those anxieties go drifting away.

Similar Posts