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Insight Interview with Mikael King • Aura Magazine August 2009 issue.
by Richard Todd Russano
Waimea Gazette, Hawaii May 06 issue.
Awakening to the Yoga of Sound Healing
written by Kim Cope Tait
March 8, 2006
There were a hundred little things that nearly stopped me from attending. Ego kinds of things. Laziness kinds of things. Fear kinds of things. Finally, when the time came for me to attend Mikael King’s Vocal Harmonic Empowerment workshop, I gathered up my tools… camera, notepad, pencil… and headed to the private studio home of Zett Elyss Amora in Waimea. Her prism-adorned, cathedral-ceiling studio would serve as the forum for a small congregation of people interested in the healing properties of sacred sound.
The idea of chanting and toning was not new to me, and indeed I had felt the power of voices in unison in the yoga classes I had taught on the rare occasions I would ask the class to join me in chanting the sacred syllable “Om.” The reverberation of the group intoning of “Om’s” three sub-syllables… “Au-O-Um” had been a powerful thing, and when I could get my yogis to lose their sense of self-consciousness around the idea of making “noise,” we had made “beautiful music” together.
It was less that we understood the phenomenon at work than that our intention rose beautifully over our bodies, vibrated in our chests and created a kind of harmonious buzzing in our throats. Our intention to connect with the divine in ourselves and in each other was what we were reaching for with our little “Om’s,” which combined to make one lovely super-syllable—the universal syllable for peace and recognition of the ways that we are all connected.
This little seed, which provided my basis for understanding what we would be doing at Zett’s house this night, was a microcosm of what would happen here. With our breath and with our voices. It gave me a way to orient myself to sounds I had never heard, to concepts that might have felt foreign otherwise.
I can remember the moment that as a child I stopped singing. I was listening to the Bee Gees with headphones on the living room floor. The really big ones that looked like I was on my way out to direct airline traffic. The song playing was a favorite of mine, and I was belting it out, straining my 6-year old lungs to raise this familiar noise into the air around my ears. Of course, I could not hear myself and I suspect my house quaked with my crowing, and so the damage done when my father walked by, leaned in and looked at me with disgust was irreversible. “Stop singing so loudly,” he said, “It sounds awful!”
The truth, unmitigated, but bearing such harm, such destructive potential that my father would never even know. I never sang again where anyone could hear me. Years passed and my father, whose voice is redolent of Elvis Presley in the good years, was asked to sing at weddings and church services and every office party that came and went, and I understood him to posses a wonderful gift that I, in the distribution of genetic traits, did not inherit.
So it was funny to find myself amid this congregation of mostly people who had a good sense of sound, who saw themselves as singers and thereby had experienced in maybe a loose and undisciplined way but in a real way nonetheless, the power of their own voices and of the vibration of sound in bringing balance, bringing alignment, and bringing healing.
Nearly last in my introduction of myself as we went around the circle, I found myself explaining that in fact I was not a singer and that I had allowed my voice, as I grew older, to become very small. Not in my writing. Oh, I was boisterous enough on the page, but in the air. As sound. My expression had dwindled over the years to a weak little tone that turned to a squeak when I tried to raise it.
I told the group I was a writer and a doula (I thought that choosing two of my “occupations” would be the moderate thing to do—I didn’t want to seem scattered, after all), which paled in comparison to the woman who only three people before me had named her “occupation” as “channeling the goddess Kuan Yin.”
Yes, I was quite dull compared to this woman, and I declared my color, my “spoke on the wheel of our circle,” to be a beautiful blue, shot through with purple. Something near to the divine, wanting to be, but not quite. The color of the fifth chakra that spins at the throat and governs our sense of creativity and self-expression, our ability to communicate…shot through with the color of consciousness, the third eye, the purple-white light of the crown chakra, which opens toward heaven and spins our consciousness of the Divine. Our pure and perfect love.
Not bad for a non-singer.
Mikael had gone around the room with a smudge, burning Palo Santos in a ceremonial opening of the circle and a cleansing and blessing of each individual who had come. In a room of about 15 people, I was surprised at how many belonged to this sub-culture of the Island, how many were receptive enough to be in this new place with this new concept…with this new and gentle teacher.
Mikael wafted the thin smoke of the smudge near the body of each participant and only once or twice used his voice, a kind of low controlled toning, to do the work of preparing us. When it came my turn, he spent very little time, and I have to admit that I felt jipped. I had awaited my turn eagerly, wanted some kind of gift from this gentle, powerful yogi. I wanted something to happen when he moved into my space.
When a new couple arrived and wanted to sit together, stood at the door until someone shifted to allow for this, I quickly moved into a new position; I was, after all, only a guest and not a true “client,” as it were. Fortuitously, my new position placed me again in line for a blessing, and again I waited, thinking, This time he will see me. This time something will happen.
When he came to Zett, who was next to me, and then me again, he passed over us quickly and said, “You guys are both here,” with a small smile and moved to the woman on my other side. Indeed, he had seen me, and I knew that I was not among those who needed help getting centered tonight, and so I was satisfied for the time being to be passed over; it was true, I was there, and I resigned myself to the anticlimax of my blessing.
I watched with interest as Mikael lit candles, sprayed little bottles of lovely essences like lemon verbena, lavender, and ylang ylang. Then he took his place in the circle and closed his eyes to get centered and know where to start.
One who works so intuitively as he does, must take the time to know what he knows. One who wants to understand himself and those around him must do the same. Why is it that we do this so rarely? Close our eyes and listen to what our gut or in Hawaiian, our na’au, is telling us? It’s the visceral part of us, the part that is God in us, the part that ultimately has the power to bring healing.
We can’t heal anyone, Zett would remind me at one point in the evening. People allow themselves to be healed, and they might give others permission to channel the healing of the Divine to mend their bodies and their spirits. This is commonly known as prayer. We must agree to be healed. In spirit.
When she says this I look at my hands and begin to experience the epiphany that will occur over several days and which will culminate under a waterfall in Waipo’o Valley. It is an epiphany about the limits, and also the non-limits, of what I can do with my hands. Ways I want to help others to heal, ways I want, for example, to help them bring their babies down and into this world with as little interference as possible. The way that babies under my hands in their mommies’ taught bellies roll and move under my touch; it’s because they feel my intent, and yet the healing, the injunction to, for example, turn and put their little heads toward the front of the birthing mother’s body rather than toward her aching back, will not happen until I see that there is really nothing in my hands. I must acknowledge Akua, God, Source, whatever you want to call it, and consciously bring that divine energy through. Prayer. Of course.
So meeting Mikael King is the beginning of all of this. Of the way I wake to myself, the way I remember my path and the integral component of sound in the work that I might do. I wonder how many people in the circle are having epiphanies of their own, and I secretly sense that each one has his or her own unique awakening which I cannot even fathom.
This is, after all, why we have all come here tonight, whether we acknowledged this expectation or not. Yes, when we open ourselves up, when we become receptive to change, to transformation and spiritual growth, amazing things happen. Once we agree to know more…about ourselves and our incredible potential as human beings, things are set in motion, and we will either learn what there is to learn, or we will become afraid and close our hearts to change.
My challenge this night was to be vaguely aware of this truth and still continue to move in this way, still pursue the new sight I knew was opening itself to me. A whole “can of worms,” as Mikael so eloquently put it, and his smile when he said it was almost mischievous, for who can prepare anyone for trial by fire? For what does it mean to really embrace change and spiritual growth?
Three hours is only enough to scrape the surface of what this Tibetan yogi healer offers as he travels from place to place. We all see and are drawn toward his light, and we know there is so much more for us where we are seeking. Yet it is enough. It is potentially the beginning, as is every learning experience, every opportunity for spiritual growth.
It always involves a change, and key to this is our willingness to embrace it. What will become of us and our patterns if we agree to undergo this change, whatever it is? To grow in this new direction. It is frightening. It is unknown. And it is exciting!
At the end of the evening, we embrace. Mikael looks at me and quietly intones, “It’s good to see you again, beloved sister,” though in this life we have never met. Without hesitation, I respond to the heat rising in my belly, the acknowledgement of truth.
“Yes,” I say, “it is good.”