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The Sound of Emotionality

Playing with 'Hope' in Mind!

We sat in the garden amidst my variety of percussion, first two, then three of us, then four, five. We got up to 7 I think, which at the women's shelter is a lot. The biggest win was a woman, often ornery, who sat at first far from the circle, listening to us play our drums and shakers along with a backup guitar. She pulled closer and closer and finally joined the circle where she played a shaker, then a drum. YAY!


Asked by the art therapist to explain our "goal," I shrugged. I then said what I always say, which is, "My only rule is that we listen...And when we listen to each other, really listen, we often come to a rhythm, to a kind of harmony. Then, we sound good."


The "goal" if there is one is not really to sound good, but it is helpful when it happens because...well, because there is enough cacophony in our minds, in the Brooklyn streets around us. It is lovely to come to a soothing harmonious rhythm. And I do believe it is a sign that people are really listening, if they come together. We all have rhythm, I believe, it's just how willing we are to fall in with others, to surrender to the Greater Rhythm of the Group, to get in tune:)


I went on to say that a big reason I come to the shelter is to offer the opportunity for all of us (me included) to get out some of what's going on inside us. "Anyone want to throw out an idea, just a word, that expresses what's going on with you today? Something we could play out?"


There was silence and then the beautifully tattooed woman to my left spoke out boldly. "Emotionality," she said.


I smiled. "Perfect." I went with it, knowing in general that it was about expressing 'emotion', but I looked it up afterward to be exactly clear. Emotionality is said to be "a measure of emotional reactivity to a stimulus." Certainly that's what we were after, to react, to pay attention to our reaction, to feel what we were feeling, and somehow express it safely through our instruments.

Before the drum circle I had been witness to a 2-year-old on the sidewalk, first in a massive screaming tantrum, then smiling and happy, and then back to screaming and kicking and crying. I'd smiled (only because it wasn't my child) and suggested to the mother that the child was a perfect expression of how we all feel on the inside but just have been trained out of expressing.


But in so many cases, as adults, we need to express that reaction, that sadness, that anger, that RAGE at not getting what we want, at being confused, at needing something or someone and having no way of knowing how to act to make it happen.


Later, someone told me they'd heard us playing in the garden from a block away. "You sounded so great!" she said. And my heart soared. I'd felt incredibly gratified by the circle, just the mere fact of engaging this crew of ladies, many whose attention span is limited, 'emotionality' leaking out in anger or trauma responses that prevent them from sitting and playing along with others. But to hear that the sound was beautiful to passersby, that we'd created lovely music to put out into the world, to share something so positive...


When we'd gone around to talk about emotions at one point, I had shared that I was feeling hopeful, likely based on the fact that we'd gathered there at all. And maybe that vibration of hope carried through to the group, maybe with positive intentions transmitted through the steady beat of my drum and my voice ringing out in various hums and syllables, supported by many drumming hands, by a beautiful guitar melody...maybe that's what helped create peace in a place where often it doesn't seem to exist. Hope, I would argue, is never a bad thing to put out there...

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Speaking of hope, I have been putting my sound baths out there in the world in the hope of bringing calm and focus! Just last week, in addition to my sessions at the men's and women's shelter, I offered a demo for the staff of the home fragrance and body product company Apotheke in their beautiful Red Hook facility. Tune in (hopefully) for a community event and a chance to shop for their yummy products soon!


And we had another lovely lovely early evening sound bath at fitness/wellness space

HomeBody. We sold out (thank you Kat and Keb!), and return clients are already asking "when is the next one..." Stay tuned.

The calm repose of participants is always an amazing thing to see, and the good energy created through deep listening together lasts well beyond when I pack up my drums and bells and bowls.


Reach out to me at stephsaullthompson@gmail.com, or text me at 917/974-6166 to bring Sacred Bloom to your business or home for private or group sessions. As we all work to recover and reunite post-pandemic, deep listening together in this way seems like a necessity (if I do say so myself.)


I will be hosting a small retreat in the Catskills July 16-17, see flyer below. Space is limited so reserve now!


Would love to sound bathe, hike and create art with you!! If you have a healing/wellness offering you'd like to contribute, please reach out and we can collaborate!


And don't forget to listen in to my podcast,

The new season is already beautifully underway with chats around my kitchen table with amazing percussionist Dani Markham and indie phenom Moxie the Band. Next up Monday is a conversation with strangers waiting all day in line for the best seats for the Phoebe Bridgers concert in Prospect Park...they articulate perfectly why music so matters!


In hope,

Steph

XX


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