The room pulsed with energy. Animated conversations dropped to hushed whispers, and everyone settled in for the evening. We lay arm-to-arm in a sea of pillows and blankets, prepared to be swept away by a soul-stirring, mind-altering sound experience. The earthy smell of sage filled the yoga studio, and Kassia Meador, sitting comfortably at the front of the room, mallet in hand, circled the rim of a crystal singing bowl. The sound bath was underway.
Sixty-five of us poured into the Alo store in Beverly Hills recently for the latest event in our ongoing Mindful Masters meditation series, an evening of sound with Kassia, surfing legend (she went pro in high school), savvy entrepreneur (she launched her own surfwear company, Kassia + Surf, four years ago) and inspired sound practitioner. She was first introduced to sound as a healing device back in 2008, after stumbling upon a white-domed building in the desert during a photoshoot in Joshua Tree. The Integratron, now a tourist destination for people seeking a spiritual recharge, wasn't on the map yet, but Kassia started chatting with the guy there—coincidentally, a surfer from Topanga, California—and he offered to give her and her friends a sound bath.
"It was something that I felt as connected to as the ocean the first time I went surfing," Kassia explains. Struck by the expansiveness of it all, and the dreamy meditative state brought on by swirling sound waves, she started playing around with sound herself. She formed a performance art group in L.A. called UFO 2012, and later teamed up a friend from the group to experiment with sound baths under the name Rhythms of Vision, long before the term "sound bath" made it's way into people's vocabularies. They played at galleries, art parties and the like, aptly calling their performances "abductions."
"A practice a day is what allows me to keep moving in the way that I like...Being able to sit and breathe is so powerful."
Eight years later, Kassia says she's deep into sound healing, and compares the practice to the ritual of surfing. "It supports my flow with the ocean. It’s a way I can give back to other people and a way we can all collectively hold space for each other. People come together and commune in this beautiful way." After spending most of her life working her physical body, she's particularly drawn to sound because it allows her to move her "energy and emotional body." She counts meditating daily and using a tuning fork to do sound healing on herself as essential to staying afloat. "A practice a day is what allows me to keep moving in the way that I like. Sometimes if I’ve had an exceptionally challenging day, I meditate twice, just to check in. Being able to sit and breathe is so powerful."
In the yoga studio, Kassia's instruments commanded the room. Her crystal bowls sang, her gong set off a clash of vibrations and her flute hummed quietly, activating those sweet theta brain waves. As the symphony of sound slowed down, she wrapped up the session with Koshi wind chimes, creating a harmony that we never wanted to end.For Kassia, giving a sound bath is all about being present and feeding off everyone's energy, skills she's picked up from years of practice. "Because I’ve surfed so long, I can look at the ocean and tell you where a wave is going to come up. It’s the same in the room. I can feel the energy and how to move with it. That takes surrendering, and everybody is informing it in a really subtle way."
It's the community aspect of these sound sessions that really gets her. "It's like riding these waves together. We’re like, alright, let’s jump in." She mentions a quote by Lao Tzu, one of her favorite philosophers: "Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?"
"I think that sums it up," she says. Our thoughts exactly.
*Photo courtesy of Kassia Meador.