It’s the summer of 2001, I’m at the International Breath Conference in Madison, Wisconsin. The workshops are so plentiful that I have the opportunity every few hours to confront my desire to do it all and make a single choice. The immediate choice before me is an interesting and practical workshop that I can easily apply to my work, or a sound healing workshop, which pulls at my heart, spirit and sense of adventure. I choose the former because I’m so practical (or perhaps because I’m so well defended), and it’s a good workshop – thought provoking, relevant and grounded in medicine, yet a stretch.
And now it’s lunchtime and us nature lovers are gathering on the patio to share lunch and experiences in the glorious Wisconsin sun. There’s a hum as I approach the patio, and I find everyone a buzz, talking about the wonders and magic of the sound workshop. I spot this vision of a woman on the other side of the patio. She’s tall, elegant, and moves with such grace that I can’t take my eyes off her. The buzz begins to focus around her, and I move closer, my curiosity peaked. I hear her speak, and the quality of her voice – deep, rich, gentle, steady, a thick Danish accent with eloquent diction, her voice so at home in her body – mesmerizes me, draws me in further. Then I realize, it’s her, Karina Schelde, the sound healer who presented the workshop that I passed up. A man is making arrangements with her to present a workshop in his area. She passes him a packet of materials to use as the organizer, and I’m overwhelmed by an urge to grab it out of his hands. I want some of what I’m hearing and feeling, and by God, I’m going to get it! But let me preface this story by saying that I’m a pacifist, and a bit shy at that, and so I am able to restrain myself. Instead, I just listen, allowing some semblance of sanity to return to my core, and I watch for an appropriate moment to express my interest in being the gopher that brings this magical Being to Maine. We speak briefly, she hands me a packet, and we go our separate and busy ways.
Now here, Irene wants me to give you the flavor of our conversation. But I have to tell you, I must have been in an altered state of consciousness, because I truly remember nothing of the conversation. I can only tell you that, with packet in hand; I could breathe a sigh of relief. I then knew I would have the opportunity, at some point in the future, to experience first hand and up close what Karina has to offer.
Fast forward to today, February 2003, and we’re just a few short weeks away from the opportunity I’ve been waiting for – the opportunity to participate in Karina’s two-day introductory workshop to voice and sound healing, “The Magic Power of Voice and Sound.” So let me share with you a little bit of what I’ve learned about this remarkable woman and her work.
Karina, originally from Denmark, has an extensive professional background in the healing arts and has studied and taught healing modalities internationally since 1978. She has integrated her experiences from counseling, bodywork, synergy breathwork, rebirthing, shamanic healing, meditation, acting, and voice and sound healing into her own unique and cutting-edge approach to using sound and voice as a healing modality. She is a recognized pioneer in her field and has received wide media coverage in her tours through Europe and the States, as she offers transformational sound workshops and trainings, sprinkled with one-on-one counseling and sound healing sessions. Her European tour includes Denmark, France, Holland, Italy and Switzerland. Her 2003 USA tour includes California, Louisiana, New Mexico, Virginia, Washington, and now, for the first time – Maine! And, to top it all off, she lives in Haiku, Hawaii. Can you imagine leaving the sun and gentle breezes of Hawaii to come to Maine this time of year?
Karina is founder and director of “The Professional Voice & Sound Healer Educational Training & Certification Program”, which grew out of her research in sound healing medicine. In her two-day intensive introductory workshop, coming to us on March 15th and 16th, she teaches us to become instruments of healing for ourselves and for others. This workshop then is a prerequisite for “Sound Initiation”, a five-day intensive designed to deepen self-understanding and the ability to use the voice for healing. In turn, the five-day workshop is a prerequisite for the professional training and certification program mentioned above. That program is a three-part training (7 days, 10 days and 14 days) over the course of several months. State side trainings this year are being offered in Mt. Shasta, California (Part 1), Sedona, Arizona (Part 2), and Big Island, Hawaii (Part 3). Perusing the details of her advanced training program is like sampling the finest wines and include such things as ceremony and ritual, breath work, working with grief and laughter, sound healing techniques (of course!), overtone chanting, dolphin and whale consciousness, acting and intuitive singing, sound medicine, prayer, etc. No wonder I wanted some of that!
So, who should meet Karina and her work? Anyone on a healing journey, who is ready to experience the magic of voice, find the power of their own authority, and “discover the vastness of who they truly are.” First and foremost, people attend her workshops and training program for personal growth – to break through old and limiting life patterns, to connect with the deepest parts of themselves, to find and express their authentic voice, and to deepen connection to spirit. In addition, many participants are healers interested in developing more healing skills to add to their armamentarium. Participants in her workshops and training include body workers, hypnotherapists, psychologists, counselors, coaches, workshop leaders, teachers, singers and musicians, and “anyone wishing to expand their range of self-_expression or to speak more directly from the heart. ”Since I haven’t yet had the pleasure of participating in her workshops, I’ve had to rely on testimonials for my understanding of the experience. Testimonials are numerous and glowing, and attest to Karina’s ability to hold participants in love and safety and to carry them to new heights and depths (I’ll share a few with you later, when I talk more specifically about the upcoming workshop).
Karina teaches that the human voice is one of the most powerful tools available to heal the body and soul. This is so because we “are held together by sound … we are one big resonating sounding board.” When we are out of harmony, “out of tune”, if you will, we can learn how to use our own sounds to bring ourselves back into balance. Although we are born with this knowledge, most of us have lost the skill and need to be trained (retrained?) to use it. Karina describes our voice as unique, like our fingerprints, reflecting and acting as a map to our body and our personal and collective histories. Unlike electronically produced sounds, the human voice can be modulated precisely to attune to whatever areas of our being need healing. By linking our intention to our voice, we can directly channel our heart energy, our thoughts, and our consciousness to that area, thereby potentiating the healing.
Karina reminds us that sound medicine is as old as creation, the Story of History telling us that “in the beginning was the word” – a sound vibration. And because each sound is the carrier of a message, contrary to the shyness and shame many of us carry about sounding, this means there are no “false” notes, no “wrong” notes, no “bad” notes. Each sound is a perfect _expression of who we are and what we need in any given moment, even if the sound is strange to our normal way of hearing. And, sound can heal any part of us that is out of balance, whether the imbalance is reflected in physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual dis-ease. This is so because each part of our being has its own unique vibration, and, since sound vibrations permeate most molecular structures, sound can access areas that are not readily reached by other healing modalities. The vibration of all areas of our being can be penetrated and impacted by sound in the service of healing, if we only allow it. Many indigenous cultures have carried this knowing for centuries and continue to use sound medicine as an integral part of their healing practices.
So, as you can hear, and perhaps already knew, healing sounds are strong medicine. Our innate voice is a remarkable, magical and powerful source of healing. We own an instrument of healing that we are barely aware of, yet it is a direct doorway to the Source and to ultimate healing. Karina speaks of the healing experience through voice and sound as follows: “To liberate the voice from suppression and separation is to free our linear mind, to come back to our original language where everything begins and exits, awakening our primordial self and touching the very core of our being. Listen to your own voice beyond the words, and you will find that the voice is resonating in tones and frequencies. There is a message in the tone of our voice. It reflects what we feel in the moment, and who we are.” Consistent with the science of neuropsychoimmunology, she speaks of our cellular memory, which holds a remembrance of wholeness, an “inherited wisdom of knowingness”. She teaches about dolphins and whales as embodiments of that experience, using exercises in her workshop to help us access this kind of knowing. Her goal is to teach us to tap into our capacity to live that experience, to learn to be here, “where we have wanted to be the whole time”, a place where we can use our own sounds to bring us back into balance, back to the present moment, back to connection with self, others and Spirit.
Her introductory workshop starts this process with emotional release exercises, designed to open the throat chakra. Once the throat charka is open, we can more readily “tune” our voice as an instrument. The process involves learning how to listen deeply, both internally and externally, to our sounds. This raises our awareness of the effect and power of our sounds, and allows us to consciously raise the frequencies of any sound _expression. Once the channel is open, we can use it to access cellular memory, which holds a wide range of previously unavailable, yet valuable information. Linking intention from the heart and the mind with the sound of our voices, then brings us to the point of using sound as medicine
The following is an example of the kinds of exercises that Karina uses in her introductory workshops to help us awaken to the life-giving power of sound. If you choose to try the exercise, just remember the synergy and power of group process, which exponentially potentiates the experience. And now, a cautionary note: if you’re reading this on the bus or in your office, you might want to wait to do this sounding exercise in a more private place – or not, if you aren’t shy and are a really daring soul!
“Start by taking a deep breath and then let out a sound of sighing, the feeling of ‘Finally, I can relax.’ Feel how your entire body is melting into sound frequencies as you continue to do these sounds for a couple of minutes. … Now let these tones and sounds flow into, ‘What else do I have to say and express?’ … And now continuously express it through sound without judging yourself. … It might not be the ‘nicest’ sounds, but surely the sounds will give you a sensation of release, of letting go, and perhaps even of having fun in playing with the sounds. This is where it all starts.”
Here I’d like to share a few quotes from participants of “The Magic Power of Voice and Sound” workshop:
q “A transforming experience, a true internal “house cleaning” that vibrated away the life long blocks and patterns. I now feel whole, eager and confident to pursue an active path as a teacher and a healer. I haven’t found any other healing modalities that match sound healing in both effectiveness and fun.” Bob Gersky
q “Karina is truly impeccable. She provides us with a method and with tools to deeply trust, to find our own power, to connect with the Source and to move whatever energy needs to be moved, in order to experience and to remember who we truly are. With her unique sound healing method my life is drastically changed.” Lori Lewis
Karina’s focus goes beyond personal healing. She speaks of “the Kingdom of Heaven” being within each of us, and reminds us that, “walls have been broken in the past through sound frequencies.” She proclaims now as the time for human kind to claim that power through our own innate voice, through our inherited knowledge, and to become extraordinary sound healers for ourselves and for the Planet.
Karina has recorded a number of audiotapes and two CDs, and published her first book on sound healing in 2002. Her CD, Sound Healing Songs, focuses on healing and aligning the charkas. I used this CD recently for a group breathing session, and all had profound and expanded experiences, finding deep and previously untouched places of resonance in our bodies. Roger Sorkin, in talking about his experience with her CD, The Song of the Soul, states, “If you wish to experience a truly advanced plateau of inner peace and healing that causes your body to tingle with ecstasy and your soul to blend with the peace and serenity of a new found joy, then listening to this CD is an absolute must.” I concur. To hear her sing or sound is to open to a world of wonder. Her voice is truly an instrument of magic. That the human voice can make those sounds is almost unbelievable! My friend and colleague, Maryanna Bock, also attended that conference in Wisconsin that I mentioned earlier, but was awake enough to attend Karina’s two-hour workshop. In talking to me about her experience with Karina, she says, “The experience lives so deep in her, it’s a blow out experience just to hear her make sound. That’s complete in itself.” Karina sometimes conducts Sound Concerts on the islands – when she has the time. I hear that these events too are life changing, opening people up to new levels of listening and speaking and of being in relationship to voice and Spirit. I can only imagine!
Her book, The Magic Power in the Human Voice: A Complete Guide to Human Voice and Sound Healing, is a small and powerful book. She brings the material alive through her passion and spirit connection, helping you to feel the power in your bones. Her intention is to give practical yet powerful tools to use in healing wounds, re-patterning, and discovering our greatness through voice and sound. An up front confession here, lest you buy the book and get thrown off by one of its characteristics. My first attempt at reading the book was impeded by my focus. Given that English is not her first language, and it appears that editing from that perspective was limited, I got hung up on problems with flow related to grammar. However, once I familiarized myself with the heart of her message through my explorations, I was able to return to the book and experience the beauty of the content – with ease, I might add. It’s a solid introduction to her work and to her heart. Her bottom line message: “You have got a voice. Therefore you are an innate healer.”
Mary Fogg is a Body-centered Psychologist & Transformational Breath Facilitator.