The Gift of Sound Healing

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I’ve done some significant contemplation about what it means to have developed autoimmune thyroiditis, Hashimoto’s dis-ease, a case of mistaken identity in which my thyroid gland suffers “attacks” from well-meaning but confused antibodies. I’ve thought a lot about what my thyroid might represent in myself, my being, my person. It’s located at my “voice box”, my 5th chakra, and might be the communication connection between my heart and mind. I think it represents my message, my voice, my need to communicate my wisdom to the world.

I was a free spirit kind of person, trusted everyone, guided by my heart and soul, and freely gave and received gifts from spirit and kind souls which enriched and blessed my life immeasurably. My message was love and connection, joy and gratitude. My childhood was one of exploration, freedom, wholesome play and discovery, and full of expression balanced by challenges and some pretty scary moments and times too. Even so, I was able to shine, sing and share my message of love and connection and was resourceful and resilient. But somewhere along the line of being bullied by my husband and his family, mourning the loss of my family and experiencing just too many traumas and painful losses that became just too heavy to bear, I shut down and shut up. By the time I was 30 I knew my marriage was toxic, I had cared for my beloved brother through his struggle with AIDs, and then ushered into the caretaker role of my mother who called upon death as a way out of her broken heart.  Family trials tore us apart and betrayed my sense of belonging and loneliness set in, all while raising my 2 beautiful children, alone with him right next to me.  My body began to feel the burden of those traumas, the neglect and abuse, the grief and the loneliness. It had nowhere to go but inward with the suffering and pain.

People don’t want to hear grief, not really. They want to “stay positive.” I was drenched in grief so I learned how to hide it. I shut up. It was heavy and real and I think it scared people to see me feel so low. So I poured my energy into physical and spiritual practices. I increased my running and revved up the distance and the difficulty, I skied as many days and as hard as I could in the winters, I hiked the hills, I worked out at the gym, and I practiced yoga and had a serious meditation practice, and I worked hard at everything I did and was diligent about getting it right…all for so many reasons, but mostly to escape further and further from the external pain and into the safe recesses within myself. The silence was spacious, blissful and full of the most incredible numinous love that I craved. It was home.

By the time I was 50 I had escaped the marriage, buried 2 more of my dear brothers, created a sanctuary home for me and finished my degrees. But I still felt alone in a world that didn’t really want to hear my message of love and connection. It wasn’t articulate enough, or structured enough, or it was too far out and hard to understand for some. The thing is that my message is to feel love, to find love, to nurture love, to let your senses take it in and radiate it out. I simply radiate love and I’ve found that words aren’t really needed so much. So, recently, after years and years of shutting down my voice I began to soften it and allow it again. I gave myself permission to use my voice how I wanted to, whether in writing, talking, prayer, ritual, counseling, consultation, or however it flowed, my expression began to heal and I am in process of finding my beautiful voice again.

Healing is a process, it never ends, but you can be healed along your healing process, and I’ve done so much work to heal body, mind, spirit and emotion and consider myself healed. My spirit is healed, my body is healed, my emotions are healed, my mind is healed. I feel really good and my beautiful lab work shows I am antibody free, though the autoimmune is still there, it is in remission. To me, to be healed is to be in the self-realization and self-actualization process of a self-examined life. And there’s always more self-exploration, awareness and discovery to do toward actualization. Life is a process and we find what we need to learn about ourselves along the path. So I do pay attention to the messages within and without me. I do so with interest and gratitude, and I watch for guiding gifts of spirit along the way.

So when Dr. Gwendolyn McClure, Vocal Sound Healer, (and Earth Angel) recently offered me a gift of a day long sound healing intensive that I gratefully accepted. A dear friend of hers initiated a campaign of good deeds in honor of her father and she thought that I’d be the one she’d like to gift. This gift was divinely timed and offered and proved to be a beautiful propulsion toward releasing my voice. We gathered in a beautiful space around an altar and laid our mats, blankets, and pillows around the altar in the middle like spokes of a wheel. We were invited to place any special items on the altar and had Bruno the cuddly bear for comfort or strength as desired or needed. Bruno came by me for quite a while as a cuddly friend and fierce guide of courage and perseverance. Speaking up and having attention on me is scary at many levels and Bruno did give me a kind of inner strength as I held him. It made me feel as if I wasn’t alone and was protected.

And then she explained how sound is healing and how it moves our emotions through our bodies and can release what is stuck and holding us back from realizing our full expression. We listened and felt the healing vibrations as she channeled songs gifted to her. We listened and felt the healing vibrations as she drummed for us. We listened and felt the songs she sang for us and those we sang. We listened and we felt. I listened and I felt. I felt the stuckness in my throat, the catch in my voice, the clench of judgments around the sound of my voice, the tenderness of my thyroid and the guardedness of it, but with each invitation to release a sound I felt my voice relax and get stronger and the judgments fall away. I got louder, I took up space, I played with my voice, I howled like the coyotes, I chanted the sounds that came, I simply expressed the sounds and noises of my voice and it released me. I witnessed a full spectrum of emotions within me and moving through throughout the workshop. I wasn’t reliving these feelings, but witnessing them while feeling them. I was able to stay grounded in my heart space and integrate all the feelings that I’ve experienced through my lifetime. I acknowledged myself for my generous spirit. I felt the joy of being a very young child and being so free with Nature, and I felt the oppression of controlling relationships, the darkness of that confinement, and I felt the deep grief of all of the losses of my loved ones. I felt the spectrum from a small bright and carefree child all the way through to a frail aged dying person, smoky and wafting toward heaven, and those feelings released me. I didn’t judge them, I witnessed them and set them free. I’ve been holding onto those feelings for my whole life, keeping them safely within me as friends, burdens, memories in the peptides of my body with nowhere to go but further and further within. I’d identified as them, but I’m not them. By releasing these trapped feelings I’ve created so much space in my life to be more of who I am.

I’ve found myself more confident in my consultation and counseling roles, my leadership roles, and relationship with myself and with others. I am able to speak from my truth and stay with it. I even wrote a love letter to myself since the workshop, helped hold calm and loving space at a workshop, written a few guided meditations, and expressed feelings and thoughts in more clear and articulate ways. This sound healing workshop has helped me to attune and align with my inner divine wisdom and I am grateful for this unconditional gift of love from Gwendolyn and her friend. It is as if the static is cleared and I can hear myself clearly.

I’m stepping into my wisdom with each step along the healing path. Each step is integral to being healed. Each experience matters and how we integrate it matters, and I’ve learned that we get hundreds of opportunities to do that along the path. I’m a wise soul who has had so many life altering experiences that have shaped who I am, but not defined who I am. I am not dis-ease, I am ease and grace in progress. I am well. I am a loving, kind, grounded and knowledgeable person with much to teach and share. I can stay with my truth while honoring yours. My voice is tuning to my higher power, my expression is love, my message is to feel it and radiate it, sing it, share it however you can. Step fully into love for yourself and for all. It’s the expression of Love that heals.

Many Blessings,

Janis E. McKinstry





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Showing 3 comments
  • Reply

    Dear Janis, It was a joy to have you in our Berkeley Vocal Sound Healing Journey workshop, and I am honored that you wrote this blog about your experience! With Love, Songs, and Blessings, Gwendolyn

  • Reply

    I enjoyed your warm vocal presence at the Vocal Sound Healing Journey workshop, and am grateful you were inspired to write a piece on your experience for your Blog!! Much Love, Many Blessings, and Rich Songs for your Heart! Gwendolyn

    • Janis McKinstry

      Dearest Gwendolyn, I am grateful to you and your healing voice. I loved your workshop and would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone. Much love and many blessings, Janis

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