Sound Stories

What if sound were an entity,
and silence was its dance partner…
are we the music?

Some things to consider…

What sound is saying

What silence is holding

That our presence is woven by them both

*Before you read anything else, please put on a pair of headphones and listen to the Isle of Hoy.
Then join me below, and I’ll explain why I have asked you to do that. Try to feel your hearing.

Our Imaginal Sound Family

Sound, for me, is my extended family.  It is not some incidental characteristic of life, it is a siren of life, a presence that intertwines and encompasses its own sensory opposite; silence… or quiet. It is the shamanic being in my story that enables me to travel to faraway places that change everything; where the physical becomes liminal, and places become spaces. 

Sound and silence reside in a place that traverses the physical/non-physical. An experience available to all of us, on a circular spectrum, their relationship encompasses us at their center, generating a sonic sensitivity of presence through the eclectic touch of the e-motion-al and the sensory. Stillness and motion are part of the dance. Sound teases and tends to the emotions, that which literally ‘moves’ our interior sensibilities more deeply. It also animates our intellect to reach beyond, into its imagination; the mind’s pleasurable state of reverie, unburdened by ‘worldly things’. 

And we… nestled therein, expressed through the motion of sound and silence weaving, we have a chance to know ourselves more directly than ‘mind’ may otherwise be able to fathom. Sound imbibes and informs us, creates motion through us, dimensionality, through its own tactility and intelligence. There are relatives too; noise, music, space and time, stillness and motion… dreaming… collectively revealed in their own ambiance. It is a family network of harmony, dissonance, pulsation, and wholeness: Life in motion and contemplation – acute and serene. It is also our friend that helps us know ourselves, beyond the ordinary.

What is this molecular family dance doing to us, and for us? Why is it here… what is it showing us in its own spatially pulsating language of ‘here, and gone’?  Why can it so completely entrance us and take us over, and then disappear into itself? What is that?

Sound Space

I am a musician; a singer and songwriter, a sound healer, and explorer of numinous space. It’s where I love to hang out, and when I perform I shift into the liminal state. I think that’s part of entering the spatial, leaving Kronos (linear time) for Kairological (encompassing space) enchantment. This exploration of sound feeds me and informs me – I am curious to be enfolded within its aliveness. I am curious to travel into the imaginal where I almost disappear from the definitions that make me visible, into the ambiance that makes my soul audible… and me, vulnerable.

Singing at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, I have come to know her sound features, the sense of timing for a sound that comes from me to travel her length and then return to me; how little I have to effort to receive back so much from the reflective caverns of her architectural sonography (think ‘topography’ in sound). It is a joy that changes me. I have even begun bringing in leaves and branches to presence their sounds, and that of the wind (with my breath); outdoor sounds in the indoor space. This gives me more wild(er)ness to sink into. That’s an interaction… an interaction with aliveness. 

*Listening opportunity: In this piece below I had reached a point after playing music where it became about doing less and less and merging increasingly with the other-worldly space I was entering. I was becoming transparent to the moment. It was a truly precious moment of grace. (N.B. You will hear the yoga instructor’s voice – this was a yoga class – but see if you can experience the spaciousness, the liminality I am describing, by focusing on my sounds only). It then moves into the Shavasana (where there is no talking, just music) at around 49 minutes.

*Becoming the wind and the music @ Grace (listen) @37 mins onwards:

The Sound Of Leaves

I have noticed many conversations recently about the soundscapes of silence that we naturally inhabit (outdoors and within ourselves) and yet don’t easily notice because we are so often surrounded by urban sounds and mechanical noise (including the airplanes above us). Even our mind’s own thoughts can feel noisy and invasive. Can natural acoustic sound help with that? 

Sound can have a ‘windy’ nature – literally – and there is subtlety in the deep silence that it can take me to, leaving me there, enveloped and wrapped in a gentle state of stillness and arrival. It is an expression of shape, mood, and moment. As a child I learned this from the wind in the leaves of the tall trees of Epping Forest, in Essex, England, and also on the stony beaches of Aldeburgh, in Suffolk, England, feeling the wind on my face, watching it dance across the North Sea’s waves, hearing my feet crunching the stones. 

Perhaps there is a place that you grew up hearing that somehow felt like a special kind of home?  

Over the years I have listened, listened to the wind shuffling the leaves in the trees (like they are doing so beautifully today, in San Francisco, California), listened to people’s voices carrying different emotions and messages – sometimes revealing that they are hiding things in the timbre and energy within their voices, not always reflected in their actual words. The wind is honest, we can hear it and be restored, if we know how to listen, i.e. to feel and sense our listening.

Nature speaks through the tactility of its sounding, sharing its presence. In 2021, I spent a few months in wild parts of Scotland, walking the mountains and the land. I recorded and filmed all I could. I created a piece, along with spoken word and singing, to share the feeling of belonging. I hope I have captured some of that wildness and its communication in The Mountains Breathe. Can you hear it… can you feel it?


Well crafted music, poetically expressed words, well-timed touches… to me these are all sound talking. An entity… present and attentive, vigilant and observant… ready to interrupt with a touch unique to itself, when the timing is right. This is also true of silence. It is its own presence… it explains itself. Silence is its own language, it is a language of textures.

The french philosopher Max Picard talks about silence in his book ‘The World of Silence’ (2002). I am excited that someone is talking about it! As he states ‘Silence is nothing merely negative; it is not the mere absence of speech. It is a positive, a complete world in itself…. There is no beginning to silence and no end: it seems to have its origins in the time when everything was still pure Being. .. when silence is present it is as though nothing but silence had ever existed.’ (pg. 17).

And then he talks about music; ‘The sound of music is not, like the sound of words, opposed, but rather parallel to silence… Music is silence, which in dreaming begins to sound. Silence is never more audible than when the last sound of music has died away.’ (pg. 27).

I have felt this in my sound healings and performances – it is as if the sound is a vehicle to take us to deeper levels of silence wherein deep earthly magic can weave itself into us, us into it, restoring our shamanic nature, the self-knowing that mulches into our belonging.

Magic, Ambiance, & the Isle of Hoy

There is magic in the atmosphere – but one has to find the right place (literally) where we can feel it in our sensory selves… like matching antennas. For me, one such place was the Isle of Hoy – an island in the cluster of the Scottish Isles of Orkney.  If you didn’t listen to the piece above yet, now would be a good time to do that. 

It is important to find our own places of magic as they bring alive our creature selves, the curiosity, the playfulness, the depth of meaning. I, for one, am often lonely for meetings with the beings that live in the forest of my soul.  One such place knew me before I even got there.

When I was staying in the Orkney Isles in 2021 I took a ferry across to the Isle of Hoy. Everyone had told me it was ‘a must’ for me while I was there. Tending to go to places when no-one else is there, I arrived at this Isle and drove off the ferry boat into a magical kind of silence. I was halfway across this very small island when I felt the energy of it land inside me and animate me from the deepest part of me. I felt the magic in me coming alive. And it was lovely. It was so lovely, that I had to get out of the car just to feel it, uninterrupted. And, as I was feeling it I had the unusual thought ‘I wonder if I can record this feeling of magic?’ So I got my Zoom H5 out, and placed it on the roof of the stationary car. I recorded the air for about 6 minutes, while I basked in the sunlight and the silence; the ambience of Hoy. I am sure it had something to do with the scale of mountains to land – the mountains were huge and the island small – as you can see in the image connected to the Soundcloud audio.

*When you listen, let your mind relax and spread out slowly, let the ambience float into you, be there yourself, quietly listening, gently feeling that ‘nowhere to be, nothing to do’, just being inside the ambiance of a place of such magic as legends are made of.  Who do you become when you sink in and relax? How do you feel? Where are you belonging… and to what?

Sound Mythology

Sound carries us across the river styx to its banks of silence, sensing, and feeling. When we get there, this silence becomes about breathing in its multiplicity of textures, restoring our belongingness to the fecundity of who we are. The mind may want to wonder the absence of the sound that took us there, or wander off into story, but it has done its job. Silence emerges from sound, sound from silence. They spin and intertwine in their dance of co-creating realities that take form, and that give us a chance to experience ourselves as sensory beings. We are affected by this. We are tuned in… ‘twined’ in.

So, if sound carrying us over the river styx does that mean it can help us avoid feeling the pain of ourselves? No. And we shouldn’t ask it to. For when we hide from ourselves, we delay ourselves – and time here is precious. We can learn things from this ‘one precious life’ when we pay attention, when we seek this subterranean connection. We can learn about the tactility of sound and how it is the vehicle to take us to the silence and stillness where potent magical things can happen to us, within us… for us.

Your Sound Reducing Your Stress

To use your own body’s voice to help with self-care, self-awareness raising, is the simplest (and least expensive) way home. Although we can use recorded music or other people’s music to help shift our state of being, and reduce our mind’s activity, here I am advocating for how sincere the use of your own body’s sounds can be in calling you home, and restoring your own sense of peace, purposefulness, and balance. Self-connection is inherently available to us through our own sound generation.

Our minds travel fast. If we are agitated they travel even faster. Our emotions can cause us to worry, future anxiously, regret sadly, and be away from ourselves too much.  I have discovered, after many years of researching and exploring, that by making acoustical sound ourselves, we can change our state of being. By simple toning we can learn how to help ourselves to sink in and reduce our stress, become more present, become gentler and nurtured. Just by singing the vowel sounds of your own language you can help relocate yourself back into your body. I teach this all the time, and I have seen how it helps. 

I’m sharing this video with you to use at your leisure – it was filmed some years ago by The Sacred Science team and it demonstrates how to use simple vowel sounds and tones to alter your state of being, and your frame of mind. They are simple exercises and no musical training is needed to benefit from them or to do them helpfully. I am inviting you to feel the benefits of self-sounding (for self-grounding). You can find out how much power you really do have to monitor your own climate, moment to moment.

I hope some of these ideas, musical sharings, and considerations help you to somehow feel more connected to sound and it’s possibilities, along with its many relatives.

Thank you for reading.