The first time I heard a Tibetan singing bowl was in a tiny shop in Maginhawa, Quezon City.
The store owner used it to cleanse the crystals we had just bought.
I’d never been a New Age kind of girl, but I kept hearing about crystals, so I was curious to see what all the fuss was about.
Several years into being on meds for clinical depression and anxiety disorder, I wanted to look into other things that people have found helpful in dealing with their mental health challenges.
I told my doctor about my interest in checking out crystals and she said, “Why not?”
It couldn’t hurt. My love affair with crystals didn’t really blossom, though—my interest waned before I could cleanse them under the next full moon.
But it was this same curiosity that brought me to Tirta Spa in Boracay. We were in Boracay for Discovery’s Laboral Summit, where specific wellness sessions and fun activities were assigned to different journalists, with the open invitation that we were welcome to join any other item on the schedule. It wasn’t on my list, but I knew I didn’t want to miss the sound healing experience.
I’d been intrigued by sound baths for a long time and I wasn’t the only one. Five of us gazed up at the spa’s gorgeous entrance, transported to Bali for a fleeting moment. Later on, we would find out that the entrance actually came from Bali. There was a door from India, too.
A single singing bowl
Inside, En Calvert, a sound healer who is also the multiawarded spa’s owner and director, welcomed us. The spa’s massage and pampering services have been put on hold because of the pandemic, but Calvert still holds sound healing sessions by appointment. It’s something she is very passionate about. Sound healing isn’t new at all—it can be traced back thousands of years. Calvert first discovered it two decades ago, when she was living in Hong Kong. Back then, she loved exploring temples and monasteries all over Asia and India. Her love and passion for sound healing began with a single singing bowl, one she bought from a market in India as a souvenir.
“I started to explore and every time I would strike my singing bowl, it instantly and constantly created a wonderful sense of well-being in me. I felt so peaceful and renewed. I thought, there’s really something mystical and spiritual about the bowls, because I feel so good every time I play and hear it.”
Calvert, who was already into energy healing and had started her training in Reiki in South Africa in 2000, was so inspired by her firsthand experience with sound therapy.
She studied spa management in Hong Kong and when she was getting ready to build her Boracay spa, she returned to India to buy furniture. While there, she brought three more Tibetan singing bowls. This led her to think about including sound healing ceremonies in her spa’s services.
Unique vibration waves
“Convinced by the incredible benefits through my readings, my inquisitive mind continued researching further about the origins and history of this sound healing. This led to me traveling all the way to the beautiful, mystical foothills of the Himalayas to begin my professional course in sound healing therapy at one of the sacred ashrams in Rishikesh, India, the yoga capital of the world and also a religious pilgrimage destination place,” she told Lifestyle.
Calvert has spent years studying sound healing, learning from Indian sound healing masters and even Russian physicists.
She said, “I was able to focus and understand fully the unique vibration waves and their effect on improving peoples’ well-being. Our mind and body are the same as any vehicle or machine that needs to be tuned up or calibrated for us to be balanced.
“Sound healing is energy medicine. It has an ability to balance our chakra or energy. Once you hear the soothing vibrational sounds, they deeply penetrate into your system and release the dirty energies and impurities, some of which have been stuck in the core of our well-being since childhood.”
The sounds she produces with her bowls and forks during a session can be therapeutic, she said. “They are beneficial for an exhausted or heavily laden or burdened mind as they have a deeply relaxing and soothing hypnotic effect on the brain and body.”
The sound therapist believes that sound healing is for everyone. “Adults, young children, teens, kids, people who are having mental and physical challenges or even financial struggles, even healthy people. It’s highly recommended for all, as long as you are open-minded about energy healing and energy medicine.”
Sound healing can also be integrated with conventional medicine.
Calvert has been doing sound healing sessions at Tirta Spa for 14 years now. She is also a certified sound healing master teacher—she trains aspiring sound healers and also does workshops for companies, spas, hotels, resorts and yoga studios. “I am willing to share my knowledge with those who are interested and who have an open mind about how this benefits yourself and others.”
But that day in Boracay, we weren’t there to learn, we were there to experience healing. And I was in need of healing. I had a really challenging couple of weeks before that trip; I was feeling so low that I started to wonder if my antidepressants had stopped working.
Before we entered the healing room where our sound therapy would take place, she told us we were going to start with a ritual: We were to throw salt over our left shoulder to blind the devil and ward off evil.
Calvert started the session by cleansing each of us. One by one, we were asked to step into a bowl, strike it, close our eyes and put our right hand on our chest—our heart chakra. The bowl sang and vibrated beneath my feet as she smudged sage and palo santo around me.
When we were all back on our chosen mats, Calvert told us about sound healing and her journey with it. Journalist Marie Lozano asked Calvert an interesting question: “Can sound healing work on the deaf?” Yes, Calvert replied, because they can still feel the vibrations.
Soon, it was time for our sound bath. We lay on our backs, our eyes covered with masks, a singing bowl each between our feet.
“That’s for your root chakra,” Calvert told us earlier. It’s the chakra most connected to money, she said.
“Can I have two?” someone joked and we all laughed.
I closed my eyes and relaxed. Soon, the sounds started. Calvert (and her sister, who assisted) used her big collection of Tibetan and crystal singing bowls, chimes and tuning forks along with other sounds—chanting, music, even running water—during the session.
The sounds moved around me, surrounded me and enveloped me. Soon, I wasn’t sure if I was asleep or awake.
All I know is that I felt so comfortable, almost like I was floating. I had stopped trying to identify the different sounds. My mind was free of the usual rush of thought and all I could see in my head were abstract shapes, moving, like ink spreading. I didn’t want the experience to stop.
When it was over, I felt like I had just woken up from the most relaxing massage ever.
“That felt so good,” I told Calvert. And that feeling stayed with me.
“But sound healing or energy healing is not an overnight process or a one-time cure. It takes practice for purification and some spiritual invocation routine, too,” Calvert told Lifestyle.
Even without her saying that, I already knew I wanted to do it again. That’s how much I enjoyed my first sound bath experience. And I also know that, from now on, I would be booking a session with Calvert every time I go to Boracay.
But I didn’t want to wait for another trip to Boracay to have another sound healing session. So I started looking for Manila-based sound healers. (See related story.) In fact, I already made a booking for a session that will be held over Zoom. My headphones, my chakras and I cannot wait. INQ