During ceremony a few years ago, the gentleman guiding the event spoke and said, “Stay here, the ceremony is in this room.” This has something that has stuck with me for many years and still unveils itself in new ways. It was more than a lot of other lessons from that evening. It reminds me why we are holding space. Creating community in sound and ceremony requires an understanding that the facilitator guiding the experience is present with the physical bodies which are laying within the space. It’s actually quite easy to close your eyes and move into the sound with ones intuition. This, in my opinion holds a hypocrisy. For unless it is an orchestration, it is play…it is all intuition. For if that were truth, all sound practitioners would offer the same resulting experience. Sound in and of itself creates a neutral space where the practitioner can sit with whatever subconscious flutterings arrive.
In my experience over that last decade, hosting hundreds (possibly thousands) of events and classes, the result I have come to is actually quite simple. I have found that each class or event is a unique moment in space and time. The evolution of the universe has brought together a group of people on purpose, and thus the outcome will be a result of those people coming together and the culmination of subconscious pull to time and space. In a way, that which is needed by the practitioner results in a movement to an event. I have seen this by way of multiple people having the same experiences, the same intuitive guides within a shared dream space, or other idiosyncrasies which allow a relatable (if not the same) experience. This has shown me that everyone moves through a theme within their subconscious that webs together the entire group. This can also be seen through how people hold their physical body within the space. During the session, are they moving or fidgety? Do they seem annoyed with someone snoring? At which point, while using sound and understanding the effects of the instruments being used, the facilitator can adjust play or adjust bodies to maintain a neutral space so everyone can have an experience without the interference of outside stimuli. Given, one cannot negate all, but holding space requires one to try.
It is the combination of knowledge and intuition which creates the most potent experience. Holding a knowledge of the instruments in combination with deep states of meditation allows the facilitator to call intuition into the conscious mind. It is not a meditative state where one closes their eyes and feels into deep space. I would take a conscious and attentive mind over an intuitive one in a sound experience. In realms of light and dark, a hand held offers a feeling of safety and security. I want to know people feel safe and comfortable, for if they do not have that the resulting experience will be less than what could be.
So then, why is that important? Because on a subconscious level everyone in an event wants the same thing, to feel safe, welcomed, and loved. We all actually experience this in traveling. Traveling insomnia is a real thing. This is often because a new place heightens the sympathetic nervous system. This is the fight of flight and subconsciously heightens ones external awareness to assure ones personal safety. The mind must feel safe to securely feel the space. Not sleeping while traveling, though frustrating, is a healthy sign of the nervous system. Albeit, it does not affect everyone. Some people have experienced sound in this way, others have not. But yet, as a space holder one should offer a space akin to their home. For me personally, it reminds me of what the Buddha said regarding singing bowls. It is said that the first strike of a singing bowl should be akin to returning home. It is a metaphor which resounds in every instrument I play, for the only strike we have is the first strike within the present moment.
This should be home with like minded souls and family, where we support each other and the struggles of the human experience and that which age brings. Sound ceremony is where people come to heal, expand, and connect to themselves and others. The human experience is quite predictable, yet the individual interpretation of that experience is as unique as the individual. As the facilitator, many things may move the mind, most of which are psychic fluctuations. Most of the time the thoughts are not your own, but rather the expansion of others minds coalescing with your own consciousness as the filter. I know this by listening to people after and their experiences. Many times they say the same things that have moved through my mind while playing.
Which bears to question, is that which is witnessed by the mind a creation or a subjugation of intuition? If your thought enters my mind, does it cease to be your thought? Is it shared at the same moment or delayed? Given, these question may give no answer but alludes to the mystery sound creates. I do not expect to have these questions answered and I love to have elements of the practice which cannot be explained. For me, the knowing of said mystery highlights the importance of the work itself.
Holding space requires an understanding of experience, a compassion for all souls, and deep listening to not only the instruments but also the deafening aspects of silence. I believe when the sound stops, the silence brings forth what is needed to be attended to and often needs healed. We are the creature, the creator, and the creation. We are the light and the dark. We are love and fear. We are different, we are the same and simply walking each other home. We are simply humans, being.