What is Sarasa Sound?
Sarasa Sound runs therapeutic gong and chanting sessions in South West London, both for groups and one-to-one.
Gongs - and other instruments such as singing bowls - produce extremely resonant tones, full of complex overtones and harmonics. These sorts of sounds are very therapeutic, and in particular are good at releasing blockages and tensions, whether physical or emotional.
In addition, when played in specific ways, these instruments are great at helping us drop into deep states of relaxation (similar to when we are in dream sleep, or when we're hovering on the verge of sleep, or if we meditate regularly). There is growing evidence for both a) the importance of regular deep relaxation for our health and wellbeing and b) how sound can help us achieve these deep relaxed states.
Finally, these sounds vibrate in our bodies and particular sounds or frequencies can resonate very powerfully in us overall or in particular parts of our bodies, which can help reduce pain or tension.
Many people, even those who may struggle with other relaxation or mindfulness techniques, respond extremely well to gong and sound baths. People attending Sarasa Sound sessions report improved relaxation, increased focus and energy, better coping with depression and anxiety, relief of chronic pain, and release of blockages and tensions both physical and mental.
What happens in a Sarasa Sound gong bath?
In a Sarasa Sound session, large gongs, Himalayan singing bowls, quartz crystal singing bowls, Javanese gamelan and voice are used in specific ways to maximise their therapeutic potential. Participants simply lie on yoga mats (or sit on chairs if they prefer) with their eyes closed, and enjoy the sounds. Sometimes, for example in 1-2-1 sessions and in some group sessions, we start the session with a really quick and simple process of "guided observation" to help us benefit even more from the gong bath. Sessions generally last 1 - 1.25 hours, although sometimes on special occasions they might last longer.
As well as gong and sound baths, Sarasa Sound also offers chanting sessions. If you already attend Sarasa Sound gong baths, these sessions are a perfect complement. And they are powerfully therapeutic in their own right - the combination of the specific breathing technique I teach, the vibrations we create in our bodies and in the air around us, plus the trance-inducing overtoning, all help us drop into a deep state of relaxation, activate our parasympathetic nervous system (which helps calm us and relieve anxiety and stress), and release tensions and blockages, whether they’re physical or mental.
We learn simple, straightforward techniques that we can use at home or even, in the case of the breathing and deep listening techniques, on the bus or any public space, any time we perhaps feel a bit anxious, stressed or overwhelmed.
What happens in a Sarasa Sound chanting session?
In a Sarasa Sound chanting session we focus on learning and practising relaxing and supportive breathing techniques, deep listening, beautiful and powerful kundalini chants, and uplifting overtone chanting. We learn and practice simple techniques that you can take away and do at home. I’ve designed the sessions to be practical, non-dogmatic, gentle and encouraging.
They are suitable for everyone, including those with no experience of chanting at all, and particularly anyone who finds the idea of chanting/singing excruciating or terrifying (as I did before I started). Sessions are 1.25 hours long.
Cathy Eastburn, Founder of Sarasa Sound
I've been playing Javanese gamelan (Indonesian bronze percussion) including gongs, metallophones, drum and voice, for over 20 years. From my very first class I fell in love with the sound, and quickly became aware of the powerfully therapeutic potential of these instruments. in 2003 I set up Good Vibrations, a charity that runs gamelan workshops in prisons, secure hospitals and with ex-offenders etc in the community. Good Vibrations projects are about helping people develop crucial life skills like listening, communication, and teamwork, plus reducing anger and stress, and helping people feel more connected to others. Good Vibrations facilitators help groups of people to work together to create beautiful music and express themselves. Through this work I learnt a huge amount about creating "safe spaces", non-verbal communication, how to facilitate people's own learning and development with gentleness, open-ness and confidence, and how to manage one's ego when doing this work so it doesn't get in the way too much.
More recently, I discovered the sounds of the Western symphonic tam-tam (the kind of gong commonly used in therapeutic sound work), singing bowls, and the use of voice in over-toning and kundalini chant. As well as continuing my study of gamelan I have also been studying therapeutic sound, including completing a year-long Practitioner Diploma in Sound Therapy with the British Academy of Sound Therapy (BAST). BAST is one of the two leading colleges of therapeutic sound in the UK, and I like them because of their evidence-based approach and their focus on learning and practising specific techniques which are demonstrated to be particularly useful and effective.
Alongside my therapeutic sound work, I also work as a professional Javanese gamelan musician, specialising in the female vocals (sindhenan). This involves both traditional gamelan music and more experimental music using gamelan and electronics. I regularly perform in London, around the UK and abroad in various groups: Southbank Gamelan Players, Siswå Sukrå, Eternity Bleeps & Augmented Gamelan.
Apart from my music and therapeutic sound work, I'm a mother of two teenage girls, have a longstanding interest in environmental issues in particular the psychology of climate change, and I work as a volunteer Legal Observer for the Green & Black Cross network, supporting protests and direct action in London. Since October 2018 I have been involved in Extinction Rebellion, working with others to raise public awareness of the imminent and grave threat of the climate and ecological breakdown now underway, and trying to force the government to take action in order to prevent, or at least mitigate, the likely catastrophic harm to our children’s generation.