“As we hone our ability to listen, we’re able to go into deeper meditation. We become willing and able to understand ourselves more deeply,” says Paul Kuhn, Founder of Passage and Director of Experience for The Assemblage, “Sound meditation is a tool to help develop a deeper awareness, which is really just inner listening.” As a skilled facilitator, Kuhn uses sound meditation as a vehicle for transformation by integrating sensory stimulation, breath, and meditation to deepen presence, awareness, and insight.
Sound meditation is an ancient practice, but it’s recently been resurfacing. Kuhn defines it is an integrated practice that combines a shamanic ceremonial setting with an Eastern emphasis on breathing exercises and visualization. Specific musical instruments played during the meditation allow participants to use sound as a vehicle to disconnect from habitual thinking and find deeper inner harmony. Studies show that the use of sound during meditation is linked to reducing stress and anxiety. For the past fifteen years, Kuhn has been fascinated by sound and it’s relationship to consciousness. As a musician and practitioner, he’s been exploring these themes through meditation and breath.
Kuhn creates transformational experiences both in New York City at The Assemblage and around the world through his Seven Senses Retreats retreats, one which will take place in Yelapa, Mexico at the end October. We sat down with Kuhn after a sound meditation experience at The Assemblage.
How did you get started in sound meditation?
For as long as I can remember, I have always been asking the “Why are we here?” questions. But my real dive into the realm of consciousness and meditation was in early college. I had a professor at the University of Michigan who taught a class called Psychology and Spirituality — the first thing he said when we walked in was that this would be unlike any other class and he told us that he would not be giving us grades. Instead of reading books and writing papers, we would go to Buddhist monasteries and talk about psychedelics. Then about three years ago, I met a wonderful teacher named Alexandre Tannous. I experienced his sound meditation work and it was very healing. As soon as the experience was over, I asked if I could learn from him. He was kind enough to teach me and that led me down a new, profound path.
Why is sound such a powerful meditative tool?
At the quantum level, what we perceive as matter and form is really just vibrating energy, moving at different frequency rates, including what we perceive as ourselves. Our physical body, emotions and thoughts all have vibratory signatures as well. Working with sound allows the participant to work with and bring resonance to these various parts of themselves through awareness, intention and listening.
The instruments we use – gongs, Tibetan singing bowls, chimes, tuning forks, etc – are non-tempered and have audible harmonics and overtones which the ear can hear. These harmonics and overtones can entrain the brain, bringing participants into deep, non-ordinary states of consciousness where healing, revealing and rejuvenation can occur. Many of the instruments used in this practice are traditionally used in Eastern spiritual and meditation practices for these reasons. Further, each instrument that is used has a specific ethos and flavor that evokes different states of emotion. So if you play a chime at a particular scale, it’ll bring a reminiscence of childhood, and if you play the Gong for me, the Gong might feel like the creation of the universe. So all the instruments play together while you’re in a state of meditation to actually can create an experience.
Why is sound meditation important for us today?
Today, we live in a very connected world and are barraged by constant stimulation and noise. This environment has a huge impact on our attention span and it is very difficult to find stillness, to find signal in the noise. I believe that deep down we all want peace and love, and we are searching everywhere for it, out here. But it’s inside us. Sound meditation helps quiet the mind so we can look inside and meet ourselves. And it sounds beautiful too.
This article is a part of The Awakening content series in partnership with The Assemblage— a coworking, coliving and community space in New York City for those who believe in doing well by doing good. The Assemblage offers Ayurvedic food and beverage, daily wellness programming, nightly cultural events, impact travel opportunities and nature retreats. To experience the NoMad or John Street location, book a tour using the code: ‘LETSASSEMBLE’ to spend the day.