Crystal Singing Bowls Were a Relaxing and Cleansing Cancer Therapy for Me

My local cancer wellness center offered a singing bowls session, which I found incredibly relaxing.

I had wanted to go to hear the singing bowls at Stewart’s Caring Place, the cancer wellness center in Akron, Ohio, for months, and I was finally making time for it. My semester at school where I taught writing had ended, and I was in the paper-grading process, so I didn’t have to be in class.

On a Tuesday in December, I showed up at Stewart’s with a yoga mat and an eagerness to experience the crystal bowls. I glanced at Stewart’s calendar to be sure I was getting the time right — 10:30 to 11:30 — and I read the blurb about it one more time:

“Sound healing is a type of meditative practice which uses sound for its healing vibrations and to induce a state of relaxation and promote a balanced mind-body connection.Wear comfortable clothing and bring your own yoga mat to sit or lie on.”

I was almost seven years out from my second cancer, but that didn’t matter. Stewart’s allowed anyone who’d been touched by the cancer experience at any time to utilize their free services. My yoga mat was still in the plastic, and I felt a little embarrassed by that. They’d know I was a newbie.

I entered the quiet room, where a woman named Lesley Turski, a certified sound healing practitioner and owner of Cleveland Sound Healing, was going to perform the sound bath. I liked her instantly because she calmly smiled at me and said, “Welcome.”

I took off my coat and opened the bright pink yoga mat, the cellophane around it crinkling loudly as I pulled it off. Around me sat and lay six other women; I was the seventh and the last to enter. I plopped the rubber mat onto the carpeted ground and tried to unroll it flat. Then, I lay down on it and put a pillow from a nearby chair under my head. This position lasted for about five seconds. I felt uncomfortable, so I got up and sat in a chair. It was from this padded seat that I listened to and absorbed the interesting, exotic, and calming sounds.

“Hello,” Lesley said. “I’m so glad you could join me for some holiday season self-care.”

She didn’t mention the word “cancer,” but I knew everyone participating had either had cancer previously, or currently, or had cared for someone with cancer. We were a little tribe, and I felt right at home.

I noticed that Lesley looked and moved like a ballet dancer, and I would learn at the end of the session that she indeed had been a dancer in her earlier life. She started by doing a verbal guided meditation that immediately put me in a relaxed state. I paid attention to my breathing. It was marvelous. Her voice was very soft and quiet, but powerful.

After the verbal meditation, she started to make interesting sounds with a flat metal instrument, a metal sound plate, which she struck with a rubber mallet. “Dong, Dong,” it rang. Walking to each individual, she made the sound over each person’s body. I liked it.

Next, she played something round that sounded like ocean waves. This was called an ocean drum. I was instantly transported to the east coast — Rhode Island, to be specific — where my husband’s family lived. It was amazing how the sounds could do that. Listening to them generated images and feelings in your head and body.

Next Lesley played something that sounded like church bells. I was zoomed off into a dark church and it was Christmas; I imagined that I smelled incense. There was the rain stick that sounded just like rain falling or a soft shower running in a quiet house.

Then, came the steam heat sound. I was taken back to my elementary school cafeteria. Now, something that sounded like a little bell in a baby toy—a Koshi chime.

Finally, she stroked six bowls of various sizes with a white wand. They rang out beautifully.

After a quick 50 minutes, the sounds were over. To finish, Lesley “talked us down” or back from our meditative state. We focused on our breathing again and then the various parts of our bodies. When asked at the end of the session, Lesley said that she played intuitively and that no two sounds bathing experiences were the same.

At the very end, she said “Namaste.”

“Namaste,” we replied.

She quietly said, “I’ll be doing another session on January 10. I’d love to see all of you back.”

I knew I’d come again. Where else would I get such a novel, relaxing experience?

I was thankful to Stewart’s Caring Place for hosting Lesley and her crystal singing bowls. The experience had put me in a good mood for the upcoming holiday season. Leave it to Stewart’s to provide something like this for its clientele. And the whole thing was, again, complimentary. Moved, I went home and made an electronic donation to our local cancer wellness center.

We were very lucky in Akron to have such a great resource that featured folks like Lesley Turski. We were blessed to have Stewart’s Caring Place.

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