Years ago, on a random afternoon in Bali, I found myself traveling by motorbike to the Pyramids of Chi, twin pyramids rising from deep within the heart of the island jungle.
Erected side by side, surrounded by lush palms and dirt roads, and beyond that surrounded by volcanoes and ocean, one pyramid stood tall and gold, the other tall and silver.
While one pyramid hosted chanting and ecstatic dancing, the other was filled with floor pillows and designed to deliver Sound Journeys orchestrated by a dozen or more giant golden gongs statued throughout the interior. These gongs would reverberate between the insides of the pyramid, rising through the triangular walls and up.
The sound would travel through each of us guests, lying on the floor, resting on the pillows, and then ricochete off the pyramid sides, rising, taking us with it.
I remember entering the pyramid offering the gongs and intentionally choosing a pillow space where I could place my head as close as possible to the largest gong. I wanted to feel every sound as intensely from the source as I could.
The Sound Journey I experienced at the Pyramids of Chi in Bali was so incredible, that it paved the way for me to join Sound Journeys as often as possible.
So this past week, I again joined another Sound Journey here in Nicaragua, or perhaps it was proffered as a Sound Bath. There were no gongs. However, the sounds included singing bowls, a guitar, a flute, a xylophone, and (sorry to any readers who were present at this event and know better than I . . . ) plinky, plunky instruments that I cannot name.
I laid out my mat and pillow on the floor in the open space, positioning my head as close to the largest singing bowl as I could get. I wanted to feel every vibration as fully as I could.
Have you ever experienced a Sound Journey? I believe it’s called a journey because of where your mind travels as you lie there, your senses heightened through your ears as the frequencies and hertz vibrate through your body and your whole energetic self.
As I lay there, surrounded by others on mats laid out near me, and who no doubt were on their own private journeys, I let mine begin.
My mind drifted from the present, and then shot off, traversing into more caverns and canyons than I’d be able to describe with any justice in these pages even if I wanted to. My mind left. And in those moments, hosted by guitar strings, angelic voices, and the tonal waves of the singing bowls, my mind opened up to what some call downloads, insights, or epiphanies. My mind had peaceful freedom to explore spaces I wouldn’t otherwise have created the space or time to explore.
When our mind travels, it excavates our deepest memories. This is what happens in peaceful stillness.
We rediscover memories that surface with a purpose. Dusty, maybe, but like long-forgotten diamonds in the bottom of a jewelry box, these memories emerge from the overlooked pockets of our minds.
Shining as bright as they ever did – brighter because maybe we haven’t seen them in a while. Unthought of for years. Decades even.
Perhaps these shiny diamonds of memory are unearthed at the exact moment we needed to see that shine again. And within them, we uncover a strength we’d forgotten we’d had.
As I lay there, my head nearly helmeted by the singing bowl, musical chords saturating the air around me, a diamond memory infiltrated and took the helm.
I was 25 years old and bundled in a heavy coat, scarf, and probably a beanie, and with arms tucked tight, I paced the train platform alone on a chilly afternoon in Sussex. I’d just left an interview where I had been rejected in my application to become a full-time high school teacher. I was waiting for the train, and wondering what I was going to do with my life now.
In the UK, when you run through the gauntlet of an interview process for teaching positions, the expectation from interviewers is to be given an immediate answer upon the offer. You cannot respond to an offer with a “Thanks! Give me a week and I’ll let you know.”
The power lies in the administration. It’s an immediate acceptance or rejection – a moment of decision that can alter the course of your life. As a young educated woman, I had a promising ability to be a good high school teacher. The kind of teacher students tend to remember fondly decades into adulthood.
But of the 3 applicants for the English teaching position, I wasn’t offered the job. And so, I had walked alone on a dismal English day to the train station. Head sunk low, discouraged, with no idea what I was going to do next.
Lying under the lyrical notes of the stringed and wooden instruments, my memory continued to unfold. As I paced the platform, I heard a “Halloooo!” from the other side of the rails. It was the Headmaster of the school, whom I had never seen at the station before. He had cupped his hands to his mouth and was shouting at me giving me a thumbs up and projecting the biggest grin my way.
I couldn’t quite hear his words over the roar of the approaching train, and I didn’t understand his jubilance amidst my sorrow and fear. But I waved and smiled at him anyway before the train passed between us. The train roared by, and I sank back into a deluge of worry and discouragement.
I remember that sinking feeling of things not working out the way I had planned. How directionless and defeated I felt.
Later that same evening, an unexpected phone call came through from the school to explain that while I didn’t get the teaching job at that moment, the “powers that be” had since re-jigged the class schedules and budget and created a fully-paid job for me as an English teacher. (Which also included a working visa). A significant undertaking that was not lost on me.
Thus spiraled the course of my life, beginning with a career in the UK that would shape the direction of my profession and travels since.
But this memory was not of victory. While the outcome was joyous, the moment was terrifying, and this terrifying moment was the memory that emerged from the dust. I relived it again as it dropped in during my Sound Journey, bringing with it the memory of feeling so awful, fretting alone about my future at the train station, which I haven’t reflected on for nearly 20 years,
And then, whilst the notes pitter-pattered around me in the night, my conscious thoughts elbowed in – why is THIS memory coming to me now? Why am I revisiting a sad, defeated, moment on a dirty train platform on the outskirts of London, while in the present moment, I lay under a starry and moonlit evening while singing bowls and guitars blended with the nighttime chirps of the jungle life around my head? Why was my mind there and not here?
The re-emergence of this long-forgotten memory was confusing.
Dwelling in past moments of fear while I was trying to journey through sound in the jungle had not been my intention.
And as I began to question what this thought was doing at the moment, it suddenly became clear.
I realized that I was being reminded that so much is working for us that we can’t see. Especially in times of doubt, surrender, and fear.
A diamond memory shining through layers of dust. I realized there was strength within I needed to remember.
I’m not completely clear on how to explain the magic and science of energy and sound and thought – but I believe in the validity and powerful influence of each.
I believe my memory of feeling desolate at the train station dropped down on me this past week to remind me that even in the moments we feel so lost, the moments where we feel we’ve given our all toward something, and still feel like we failed, to remember that there are still conspiracies happening behind the scenes that are working for us. We have movement beyond our vision that is on our side.
It was a reminder to have faith that there are plans in motion making changes in our favor far past what we see in the present moment. It was a reminder to lift our chins. Trust. And keep trying.
As the soulful, lyrical, and rhythmic journey of sound continued in the air around me – the trickling flute, the cascade of guitar chords, and the spilling sound from the singing bowl so near my head – I left the fret of my memory in the UK from years gone by, the fear I fostered and panic at having failed, and I shifted my mind to the joy that followed.
I shifted into the strength that memory reminded me I had. The strength of resilience, the strength of hope, the strength of self-belief, and the strength of endurance. So many diamonds began to shine when I began to perceive this memory in a different tune.
So, dear readers. Have faith. Listen closely to what your soul nudges you to remember.
Cherish those diamonds of yours. We all have them within us. Proof of our strength. Proof of our shine. Reminders of what is possible beyond what we can immediately see, perhaps uncovered by what we can hear.
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My stories are pretty good.
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