Shuniya Sound Therapy: A Miraval Experience

As I staggered up the desert pathway from Spirit Flight with Dr. Tim Frank, I felt an overwhelming need for deep rest and reflection before my next treatment at Miraval. I arrived at the award-winning resort and spa in Tucson, Arizona not even three hours before, and here I was feeling completely loopy and out of body headed to my next treatment: Shuniya Sound Therapy with Pam Lancaster. Ironically, it turns out I was in my body — and out of my mind. Allow me to explain.

Pam greeted me in the lobby and I floated down the hallway behind her to the treatment room. A sheepskin rug lay out on the floor encircled by Tibetan singing bowls of various shapes and sizes. Two giant gongs hung near a pillow and soft music was playing in the background.

We sat down in overstuffed armchairs and Pam asked me how I was doing. I admitted I was a little out of it and she gave me a gentle, knowing smile. “Tim is my partner,” she said. “I am known as the ‘yin’ and he is the ‘yang,’ so you may experience something here a little less intense.” I felt myself relax more knowing she inherently understood the transformational experience I just went through for the last two hours.

Pam drew a vertical line down a piece of paper and entitled one half “weeds” and the other half “seeds.” The weeds are things we’d like to let go of or change about ourselves. The seeds, on the other hand, represent the beautiful essence qualities of our true nature.

“It’s important to understand that these weeds are not negative,” Pam said. “They are just aspects of our lives that we need to work on. If you could leave these things behind today, you’d be happy you did.”

She handed the paper over and asked me to start by writing down my weeds. I looked at it with a blank stare and said my mind was not working in its regular fashion. She encouraged me to write from my bodily sensations instead.

So, I took a few deep breaths and began to write, albeit clunky and slow. It felt strange to write from my body rather than my mind. But at the same time, it was a welcome relief that my all-too-familiar mental chatter was gone.

Pam handed me a wooden stick covered on one end with suede. She demonstrated how to move the stick around a large crystal bowl in a circular motion to produce a tone. With her guidance, and in short, I released my weeds and celebrated my seeds. But we’d only just begun.

I laid down on the sheepskin rug and closed my eyes as Pam guided me through a powerful visualization. She began to play a sequence of tones on the ancient instruments surrounding my body that kept me suspended in a deep meditation.

I swam in crystal clear blue waters. I flew high with the birds alongside the trees. I touched the moon and the stars. I could do or be whatever it was I put focus on. I felt safe and at peace. I experienced pure joy and freedom. I had endless playfulness and curiosity. I felt one with all aspects of nature. I was light and free.

This unique combination of mindfulness meditation, music vibration and intention setting are used as medicine. Sound healing therapy has been traced back to ancient civilizations on all seven continents. Today it’s used from spas to hospitals to help reduce pain and stress related to anything, even cancer. It gets people out of their mind and into their body and spirit. And that alone is healing.

In October I’m traveling to New Delhi for the Global Spa and Wellness Summit. I plan to spend the month of September in India to experience ancient healing techniques such as yoga, meditation and sound healing. The power of sound and vibration is heavily utilized in the Buddhist monk’s practice. I’m curious to learn and experience more.

At the end of both Miraval treatments, I heard the soft whispers from Tim and Pam alike: “May you remember this deep sense of peace, of safety and of unconditional love that surrounds you in this moment…right now…and for all time.”


With this short, simple (and free!) guided meditation.