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Jessica Caplan with sound bowls around her head

Sound as Healing Medicine in the Hudson Valley

By Nixa De Bellis | March 31, 2023

Sound healing practitioners and sound bath experiences abound in the Hudson Valley because of the balm to the spirit and body that the resonance of sound healing offers. Scientifically proven to realign the body’s vibrations, decrease mood swings and improve sleep, sound therapy can also help ameliorate PTSD, lower blood pressure, affect cholesterol levels and more.SIt’s also profoundly transportive; a kind of magic carpet ride that brings us out of the stresses of the mundane, and into the realm of the cosmic and eternal. Our bodies are vibrational and resonant instruments, after all.

Sound bath healing instruments

Read on for stories from local sound and healing creatrixes (Latin, feminine of creator) as they share their sonic journeys. We’ve also included a few resources for learning and experiencing sound at this level of well-being.

As far back as I can remember, I have listened to the resonance of bells, extravagant organ pipes and the intonation of voices as a spiritual and healing practice. Each morning, I make “a ringing” of a brass bell collection to greet life upon rising. I recall the somatic cacophony of South Indian temples and their raucous bell clanging of vitality and praise. Every culture the world over has used communal rituals of song, chant, dance, and sound in a humming rhythmic synchrony of the senses. The gongs, tuning forks, drums and singing bowls that have survived or re-emerged from ancient ritual practices into modernity have informed us that sonic vibrations are medicinal and a crucial part of a portfolio of modalities used to maintain, enhance or correct health and wellness, and a great medicinal practice we can expect to be advancing over the next 50 years.

Dr. Robert Svaboda, an Ayurvedic physician, teaches that the sense of hearing and the quality of sound is related to the most subtle element, ether, the one that suffuses all the other elements (air, fire, water and earth.) Think about the way our emails go through the ether or how our minds are often in the ether with a subtle non-physical essence that potently influences the air, fire, water and earth elements, and our human bodies, our breath, our warm interior and watery emotions. Sonic vibrations, like a subtle ether, having the capacity to move through all of our layers, harmonizing them within and meeting the lavish sound of all of Nature outside. This field of subtle energetic alignment is called resonance and it is to be felt as well as heard.

What to Expect From a Sound Healing Experience

Every sound healer carries a tradition or lineage that might instruct and request differently, as well as include different instruments. In group sound baths or private house calls, usually, clients/guests lie down. Some meditators or body-oriented people prefer to sit upright or may choose to sway or dance during the sound experience, as in somatic movement.

More traditional sound baths include metal, clay and crystal singing bowls, gongs tuned to the vibration of celestial bodies, tuning forks, drums, bells, flutes, chimes, rattles and other finely honed instruments for resonance, for ether carrying through the layers to vibrate healing.

hands-on approach to sound healing

Sound waves can shelter, repair, regenerate and revitalize the body by manipulating molecules, regulating nerves, blood flow and calming the mind via vibration that clears stagnation and obscurations in both the subtle and gross aspects of our being. Because they can reach all of the stuff we’re made of through the element of ether, sound vibrations are used alone and in tandem with other healing modalities to make any of them more subtle, suffusing and efficacious. Feel into a hum right now, together, “oohmm…”, sounding the exhale.

Beloved Sound Healers in the Valley

Jennifer Muir, of Spiraling Heart Sound, studied the tradition with Elaine Mackle, founder of Tibetan Tones, at Menla. When asked how sound medicine has influenced her life, she replied, “It’s shown me the foundational vibratory nature of everyone and everything. The implications of this are vast and deep. I feel I’ve only scratched the surface! I understand myself as a vessel, a walking talking tuning fork. How can I best calibrate and harmonize my vessel and how can I best aid others in doing the same? This is the question that guides my sound healing journey. I feel like an explorer heading out into the Wild West- uncharted territory. I’m so grateful that sound is a part of my path and that I can use this modality within my own family.”

She went on to say, “I believe sonic healing is making a full circle back into our culture, its popularity is booming even in mainstream allopathic medicine. There is something very exciting unfolding. I’ve seen its profound healing effects many times firsthand. I love that in this culture, inundated by so many aggressive self-help health and wellness modalities, with sound healing there is literally nothing to do. It’s a lay-back-and-receive mode of healing which is such a relief. The moments in life when we can get out of our own way are pregnant with healing potential!”

“…with sound healing, there is literally nothing to do. It’s a lay-back-and-receive-mode of healing which is such a relief” ~Jennifer Muir, Spiraling Heart Sound

Sound Bath at Sound bath Gongs from the Sage Academy of Sound in Woodstock NY

Jennifer Muir sees group and individual clients at:

Because the modalities are so efficacious when paired. Jennifer’s favorite way to work is one-on-one because, she says, “Sessions are more intimate and focused on an individual’s intention that morphs and deepens as we proceed together.” Jennifer shared a story that exemplifies the profound healing power of sound. “I had a client a couple of years ago who had Parkinson’s-like symptoms including severe tremors and labored breathing. This was a one-on-one session; the client was on a massage table with bowls played on the body. It was challenging at first for the client to find a comfortable position. Once we got him propped up comfortably, I started playing my Himalayan bowls on his body, starting on his legs and then moving to his torso–focusing on his heart and belly. About ten minutes into the session his tremors stopped completely, and his breathing slowed and normalized. He entered into a deep state of relaxation for the next 40 minutes. Once up and off the table, he expressed he felt a palpable sense of well-being. His tremors ceased for several hours after. I often witness tension leave bodies as softness and ease take their place in my clients, but this was the most profound transformation I have witnessed up to this point in my work. It was very affirming.”

Woman on a table with sound bowls on her back for healing at Menla in Phoenicia NY

Jessica Caplan, of Resonance of Being, is a sound healer conducting private and group offerings, as well as training on both sides of the river. She explained, “I’ve been singing, performing, and playing music my whole life, then became a yoga teacher in 2006. Discovering and then diving into sound healing (beginning at the Open Center in NYC) brought together these two huge pieces of my life–music and the healing arts–in a way that feels so natural, true, and integrated. Now sharing this passion for how sound, and particularly my own voice–can be such potent medicine, feels like my true dharma (purpose). Studying sound healing also opened up a whole new pathway of expression through voice – moving away from the performative and into the healing/therapeutic aspects of music/sound.”

“Sound is a way we can process and digest experiences, even trauma, without words or narrative. It’s a pathway to deep listening – which cultivates more presence and compassion”

She expressed, “Exploring this modality has felt like a remembering as if this is something I was always meant to engage with and share. Sound is so integral to who we are as humans. I like to say that we are all ‘sound beings’ –a tapestry of vibrating (sounding) cells. Because sound is part of who we are, working with it mindfully can provide immediate relief, transformation, and transcendence. Sound is a way we can process and digest experiences, even trauma, without words or narrative. It’s a pathway to deep listening – which cultivates more presence and compassion. In this way, sound provides a steady anchor to rest our busy minds on. People I work with who struggle with meditating, or just being still, often say that the sound takes them out of distraction and into a space of inner quiet. For me personally, as a practitioner, it quite simply feels like home for me to work with sound in an intuitive, curious, and healing way that helps others connect to their inner resources.”

Jessica Caplan of Resonance of Being

Jessica Caplan of Resonance of Being

Uniquely, Jessica offers sound experiences for women to explore using their voice as the instrument of healing. I know several women who have spoken of this therapeutic work in resonance with how Jessica explains it. “A big part of my practice is working with people to help them access their authentic, embodied voice–in all of its expressions. You can think of it in a way as sound healing focused on voice. I call the work Sonic Embodiment because it’s about embodying ourselves as the sonic beings that we are. In 2021, I created an online group program for female-identifying/non-binary folks called RECLAIM, which I offer several times a year. The program takes participants on a journey back to their authentic voices, and it’s been such a rich experience for me to offer and continue to refine this offering. There’s nothing I love more than empowering women to love and embrace the medicine of their voices. Find out more of her sonic offerings of Voice & Sound Arts at Jessica Caplan Resonance of Being.

A workshop training to learn how to do Sound bath Gongs from the Sage Academy of Sound in Woodstock NY

Madeleine Grace, of Sonic Elixirs, is a singer/songwriter who spent years training with guitar, ukulele and piano, along with her voice. She explained that she had struggled with complete authenticity as a musician until she found a teacher who asked her to begin tuning in to her “yes” and “no,” and what her heart was feeling. Her need to grow a 100% authentic practice was born. With sound healing, “I was able to rewire my brain, calming my nervous system and find peace inside,” she said. She got a loop pedal to layer her voice and began a non-traditional sound healing practice, meaning she does not use Tibetan bowls, forks or gongs. She makes an intonation of voice and creates sessions for healing that she calls, Serenade + Sweat (voice bath with or without subsequent sauna with contemplative conversations or quietude). Madeleine also teaches an outdoor seasonal practice called Returning to Heart Meditations which are loosely guided sound meditations where people lie directly on the Earth to tune to the unconditional love and groundedness of Gaia. She also offers Marma Point Therapy (akin to acupressure) in tandem with vocal intonations (as well as without.) She feels this layering of sound can aid the bodywork in being even more efficacious than the touch alone.

With sound healing, “I was able to rewire my brain, calming my nervous system and

find peace inside”

Attuning the gross physical with the subtle sound vibrations is a way to make deep healing happen. When we cross-connect and layer the elements and the senses, and different creative forms, we heal faster. Dancer and Art Therapist, Natalie Rogers, explains in her book The Creative Connection that layering all the expressive arts–movement, sound, drawing, painting, writing, and guided imagery–aids us to tap into relaxation and the deep wellspring of healing within. Dr. Karyn Purvis’ research shows that when we want to build new neural pathways for healing, it takes 400 tries to shift the pattern. When a stress-free environment is generated through creative sounding and sonic healing, layered with any skill, then behavior or activity patterns shift in just 10-20 tries. This shows us that the “rest state” we generate with sonic healing can help our nervous system find a calm track, offering a map back to a well-traveled path. The sound ether penetrates and aids our intentions for healing, skill building, trauma recovery and feeling good…now. For most people, the outcome of sound healing feels like relaxation, a calmer state of mind, an unraveling of anxiety clusters and a loosened grip on oneself. For a marma point therapist, an aromatherapist or a sound therapist, for example, using several senses, several creative forms, varying intonations and sonic vibration synergizes and improves the benefits of all of the modalities.


Sonic Elixirs by Madeleine Grace are entirely improv events hosted at homes and centers around the whole region, where she is in the process of deep listening. Sound moves intuitively through her and she invites the spirit to allow her to, “Hear for the souls attending what would bring them to a state of coherence, wholeness and positivity.” Here is a sound sample of the vibration of her voice intoned for healing.

Michael Jay, of Michael Jay Sound, is one of the first US students of Grand Gongmaster Don Conreaux. He is a primary member of Don’s Mysterious Tremendom performance group and continues to study and assist him with gong training regularly while Don is in the US. He is also a facilitator of Sage Academy of Sound Energy retreats and trainings and periodically with the Open Center in their Sound And Music Institute program. Michael creates immersive, collaborative experiences indoors and out, Upstate and down, called SVAHA-Sound Vision Alchemy for Harmonic Attunement and SUN-Sonic Universe Now, which can be booked for your group at your space of choice. He works with gongs, tuning forks and more. Yet, by making way for intuition, he allows each session to be newly powerful in its own way. He recently created a sound bath with just a kalimba (finger piano) and an acoustic bass. Participants claimed it to be their favorite sound bath experience so far, with play and intuition lode stars to guide us home.

Michael Jay Sound Healer and Gong Master

Michael Jay Sound

Sound bath Gongs from the Sage Academy of Sound in Woodstock NY

The Hudson Valley Healing Center in Poughkeepsie has a Salt Cave on the premises. When we layer the modalities in creative connection, healing happens faster. Our ancestors likely made much of their ritual music in caves, which are hollow spaces and instruments themselves. Enter the modern version, complete with pink Himalayan salt mineral benefits layered with sound, making the healing happen with ease and grace. Many Sundays, but not everyone, they offer a sound bath in the salt cave! Check their website for dates to head over to soothe your nervous system, reduce stress and increase relaxation for your body, mind and soul threading through all of your layers by the ether of sound.


Sage Academy of Sound has trained many of the best sound healers in the Hudson Valley. You can unfurl every Sunday in their cozy second-floor studio in Woodstock to receive a sound bath or become trained through their program, drawing out and attuning healing frequencies from instruments and bodies. Visit their beautiful, robust shop online for instruments and more, but also check their ever-changing calendar for hour-long events, weeklong workshops and retreats like their upcoming Menla retreat in Phoenicia June 22-25 this year (reserve your spot through the Sage link below), as well as their 12th year training and certification program.

Leah Garnier leading a sound bath at Sound bath Gongs from the Sage Academy of Sound in Woodstock NY

Leah Garnier at Sage Academy of Sound

Faculty includes Founder and owner, Lea Garnier, as well as Maestro Tito La Rosa, Billy Martin, Jessica Caplan, Eric Fraser, Angell Deer and others. Sage Academy of Sound sells instruments for all your sound healing needs in a brick-and-mortar shop, as well. Healers Jessica and Jennifer both mentioned their great selection. Find them at 6 Deming Street, 2nd floor, Woodstock, NY. Moreover, they have SoundHealing Training and Sound Baths by Lea Garnier and Special Guests. Here is one captured in the Hudson Valley…

Sound Healing Immersive Retreat at Menla Mountain Retreat and Dewa Spa
MAY 26 – MAY 28, 2023
Have you ever wanted to dive deeply into the practice of Sound Healing? Are you curious about how it works and how you can incorporate it into your daily practice? This retreat is designed to educate, integrate and practice the art of Sound Healing through different classes, workshops and activities. It’s a great way to reset, relax and recharge while also having fun, learning new things and making meaningful connections!

Jessica Kaplan and sound bath event at Menla in Phoenicia NY

Jessica Kaplan at Menla

Sonic Tonic at the Kiva (MAMA) in Stone Ridge is part of an informal sound healing collective. Current members are Peter Blum, Katie Down, Ev Mann and Thomas Workman, all renowned and accomplished musicians and sound healers. Their extraordinary sound immersions provide audience members with a dreamlike environment, “a horizontal concert” replete with instruments from all over the world that transport the listeners through a sonic 90 minute journey. Be healed and reconnect with your dreams. Next event is on Sunday, April 16th at 6:00 – 7:30 PM.

And Now We Will Now Close Our Healing Journey…

First though, to extend your subtle sonic awareness further into history and culture, have a listen to this profound podcast episode from The Emerald entitled, “On Resonance: Caves, Hooves, Hearts Harps…and the Birth of Culture” which is described as “From the deep sounding board of the Paleolithic cave to the resonant spaces that birthed Greek prophecy to mythic visions of humans-as-instruments, this episode explores how resonance is utterly central to human experience, how modernity has become what one sociologist referred to as a ‘catastrophe of resonance,’ and what we can do to reclaim our deep resonance with one another and the natural world.”

Sound bath healing instruments

Finally, we hope this immersive journey together here will remind you that inner calm and a deeper connection to your dreams and higher truth are within reach. Through a medium that is deeply relaxing, healing and transporting, sonic healing is readily available in the Hudson Valley. Whether you explore sound bathing in studios and treatment rooms, special events in your own home or immersive retreats and training, participate in the lavish abundance of Great Nature vibrating through our individual nature. Reestablish lost resonance and reclaim a natural healing capacity through the wisdom of ancient peoples who have carried these tools forward to remind us to rest in the alluringly resonant, subtle and harmonious hum of our healing.

Let us sound a hum. “Hmm…oohmm.”

Featured Photo of Jessica Caplan from Resonance of Being

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