As a co-creation built on Joseph’s love for Eastern Philosophies and Practices and Dan’s background as a DJ, Urmi Sound is an exploration of the integral relationship of sound, in its many forms, and the healing process.
With their studies taking them from Indonesia to Guatemala and Peru, Urmi Sound are sharing the medicine of Sound through ceremony.
As a couple, two things we bonded over immediately were our loves for music and our yoga practices. These two threads have been present from the beginning of our relationship and after some time, we became interested in how these two things intersected. It became apparent that music, and more broadly, sound, is so integral to our state of wellbeing. Whether it’s a hypnotic beat or a stirring piece of classical music, it triggers a very palpable physical, mental and energetic response.
For many, the fall of rain causes a sense of safety and calm to wash through the nervous system. Conversely, we could be 30 minutes into quite a stressful and noisy traffic jam and we notice that our jaw has clenched, our muscles have tensed up and we are gripping the steering wheel like a vice.
Noticing that we are so vibrationally sensitive, we explored harnessing sound in a more intentional way. Creating textured soundscapes to drop into and be guided towards clarity, deep rest, self-enquiry and contemplation.
J: One of the most powerful ceremonies we both took part in was a Mayan ‘temazcal’ in Guatemala. A temazcal is a traditional low-heat sweat lodge made of stone or mud. Besides promoting physical well-being and healing, the temazcal is also a ritual and spiritual practice in which traditional healing methods are used to encourage reflection and introspection. While the body rids itself of toxins through sweating, the spirit is renewed through ritual.
D: We sang for hours in the heat, coming into a trance-like state. For me (Dan) I have always had low-blood pressure and prone to dizziness and fainting, however over time, this tendency became more of a psychological fear of pushing myself too far which had always led me to avoid certain situations. The temazcal was a huge milestone in trusting my body and finding resilience, and to my surprise I felt invigorated and strong throughout the experience. The temazcal is thought to represent the womb and people coming out of the water are, in a symbolic sense, re-birthed. Taking that first gasp of fresh air is pure magic, you see the world again in so much clarity and presence, I remember being so acutely aware of the sounds of nature around us for many days and weeks to come.
Sound really speaks a universal language, one that has a way of interacting with us all to communicate thoughts, feelings and emotions which cross the boundaries of written text. This is what makes the practice so inclusive and allows for everyone to come away with something unique and beneficial from a sound healing experience whether that be increased clarity, an emotional release or a forgotten memory rising to the surface.
As beings made up of countless vibrating atoms, we are able to come into resonance with the healing frequencies produced by sound healing instruments creating a harmonising effect. In addition, studies monitoring brain waves have shown (particularly with the gong) increased stages of Alpha and Theta brainwave cycles during sound baths. These correspond to our digestive, restorative and pre-sleep states explaining some of the more restful benefits sound can provide. We are often asked whether it is ok to sleep in our sessions and we say YES! It may be that this is what you needed most in that moment and the envelope of sound has allowed you to do so peacefully.
The instruments and tools we use have been in use in ceremonial and therapeutic contexts throughout history which we hold deep reverence for especially when working with the energetic body.
D: Creating art, playing music, bouldering, gardening, foraging and cooking, anything that brings me down into the body and creating with my hands is a meditation.
J: We’re both really sporty and enjoy being active, things can get a little too airy for us if we don’t get a chance to move and sweat. Art, literature and music play a big role in bringing me back to my centre too.
D/J: Ceremony is something we engage in regularly to connect and remind ourselves of our true nature. Infusing the mundane with the sacred has become a really important practice for us.
J: I’ve just started my degree. I’ve wanted to pursue my yogic and Sanskrit studies academically for a long time but struggled to take the leap, so I’m excited to dive deeper and review my understanding through a more critical and culturally sensitive lens. It’s still early days so wish me luck!
D: Design, urbanism and cities are a core interest of mine and I am currently completing my Msc in Urban Studies. Cities are magical, vibrant fusions of culture and people, yet with this comes the unique pressure and stress of urban living. As rapid urbanisation continues and more people dwell in cities it is vital that we address some of the growing mental health issues that are occurring in our cities.
My particular field of research focuses on wellbeing in cities and exploring innovative design and city strategy approaches to make our urban experience a more tranquil one. Both Urmi Sound and my studies feed into and inspire one another, hence the importance I put on space during our ceremonies and working in studios that champion mental health by providing safe and harmonious spaces in cities. Moreover, my academic interests call for sound, considering the use of sensory natural soundscapes in public places.
D/J: We’re also playing with integrating electronic sounds and music into our soundscapes and movement practices, so keep an ear out for that!