If you’re looking to improve your well-being, this is an interview you have to read. Michelle Lewis, a Vibration Sound Therapist, Reiki Master, and the founder of Third Eye Wholistic Wellness, sits down with MysticMag to discuss how she helps others heal their body, mind, and spirit.
How did you come across vibrational sound therapy and what made you interested in the field?
I came across vibrational sound therapy when practicing as a mental health therapist. I graduated from Portland State University in 2013. And I worked in the field of mental health and health and human services. My career has been centered on working with child welfare and/or justice-involved community members and/or their family members that have been severely impacted by having any involvement in those systems. Hearing the stories of those individuals and families pushed me into pursuing my degree in health and human services once I got accepted into the School of Social Work to pursue my MSW [Masters Social Work], I was spiritually drawn and led by my ancestors into the field of mental health, where I practiced for at least ten years, working as an Afrocentric mental health practitioner at a behavioral health clinic for a major hospital here in Portland. There, I predominantly worked with BIPOC communities members who sought out to work with a culturally specific mental health provider.
During my process of working with people, I really got in tune with somatic therapy and started doing a lot of reading about somatic therapy modalities, as a mental health therapist, you are often working and holding space for people as they unpack various traumas that they have witnessed and experienced and those traumatic experiences are deeply encoded into the very fabric of our DNA better know as epigenetics. Therefore, although in a typical therapy session, the individual may unpack and share details of those trauma experiences while the therapist may use for instance CBT cognitive-behavioral therapy to look for and challenge distorted thoughts, reframing, and things of that nature, we sometimes forget that this all has an impact on their body. One thing that I learned through that is that sound works very well to help with the body’s healing process. Hence, I started researching that topic online and came across the Vibrational Sound Association.
Furthermore, I was also going through my own physical health issues, and through my own research, I begin to learn about how various sound frequencies can help calm the parasympathetic nervous system to help the body with healing. When I first found the Vibrational Sound Association I took a look at the course details, however, I didn’t sign up right away, but then the pandemic hit, spirit pushed me to jump right into taking the course. I learned so much about sound using the weighted Tibetan sound bowls that can be placed directly onto the body. The cost of the course also included four beautiful sound bowls and everything just took off from there. I started using the sound bowls on myself where I could, putting them on my feet and hands to get the feeling of it, and started noticing right away tremendous changes in my mood. There was some reduction in the pain I felt from the severe arthritis I have in my knees. Overall, I started noticing the benefits really quickly and I just have been using them ever since then. I opened up the Third Eye Wholistic Wellness, where I, just recently, also started seeing clients and offering them vibrational sound therapy. It has been working wonderfully so far.
Can you explain the principles behind vibrational sound therapy?
The principle behind sound therapy is that sound healing uses all kinds of different vibrations that can help heal our body, mind, and spirit. That allows different emotions to vibrate and look different in everybody’s body. Additionally, people can have blocked unexpressed emotions that can cause a lot of diseases. Having that in mind, the purpose of sound therapy and using instruments in various therapeutic ways is to improve the health and well-being of an individual. That’s why I always try to tell my clients when they have their first experience with sound therapy, just like I would do when I was doing mental health, that sometimes we got to expect things to get a little worse before they get better and that this is not a quick fix. It requires time and you need to make it a part of your regular self-care routine. Those, in a gist, are some of the principles behind it.
Can you walk us through a typical vibrational sound therapy session?
A client first signs up for their first vibrational sound session, and then I schedule a 30-minute intake where they come in and complete intake paperwork, informing me briefly about their health history so that I can make sure that I’m checking for contraindications and that I don’t provide this service to anybody that can cause further harm to their body. It also creates a space for people to ask questions about what they can experience during a session, which comes up quite a bit. I do tell people that some people fall into a very deep, relaxing state of sleep; in some people, it brings up a lot of emotions and feelings; sometimes there are twitching and involuntary body movements which demonstrate and show that you’re getting that energy unblocked and it’s moving, dispersing throughout the body to remove itself from your auric field. I try to explain those things so that people know what to expect during the session and what they need to do after the session because some people would detox, or they would get hit with a flood of emotions that didn’t come up right away during the session. I try to answer all the questions I possibly can to prepare that person to receive that sound so that it can hold space and take care of them.
What other services do you offer and how do you incorporate your experience as a vibrational sound therapist into them?
I am a Kemetic Reiki master and a Usui Reiki master, so sometimes when I’m using the bowls, I might feel it in my own body. When people allow me to share sacred space with them and to be in close proximity to their body, we’re pretty much exchanging energy with one another, so when I’m working with you, I’m taking on some of this energy. This can impact me in a myriad of ways. I sometimes become emotional during sessions, so I’ve became very restricted in my own body. I’ve had to make sure that I’m breathing and doing those diaphragmatic belly breaths. All types of things come up for me as well, so I explain to my clients that we’re exchanging energy with one another. In that light, sometimes when I’m working on the body, I may have to bring in a different instrument. Some of the instruments that might use are tuning forks that can be placed on the body to try to further get that stagnant energy moving throughout the body and to have it released.
On top of that, I sometimes bring Reiki into a session, if needed. I do let my clients know upfront that, although they may have came to me for just the vibrational sound bowl session, I might have to bring in some other instruments. I do get their permission to do it, of course.
It’s very intuitive work, so I’m paying attention to how I feel; I’m looking at the body on the table and looking to see if their hands are in the fist mode, whether they are slowly releasing the grip as the sound is working through their body, etc. All that gives us messages about how the body is receiving the sound, how the tone of the bowl sounds, has the sound drown out very quickly, if it sounds pure and long, etc. I’m paying attention to a myriad of things when I am in that space with folks.
What kind of results have you seen in your clients after your sessions, and how do you measure success?
How I measure my success is the feedback that I get from clients. They call me, they send me emails, they text, and they also sign back up for more sessions. They express to me how good they’ve been feeling and how it’s impacting their life. I had a client most recently who I’ve been seeing for about three months, who got diagnosed with adult-onset ADHD. They informed me that they, for at least two weeks, were able to focus a lot more and stay dialed in, and they had never felt like that before. That was with me using the tuning forks and she thanked me for that. That’s the kind of feedback that I’ve been getting and I’m very happy that people welcome and embrace it, as well as that they know that it’s there to provide support to us. Sound therapy has been around for thousands of years, and we can benefit from it.
What do you like the most about your profession?
I love working with people. I love providing healing support to people. I love that. I have in my heart to want to do it. I don’t look at it as something that I have to do or a job. It just feels good; it feels right; it feels natural. When I’m in a session with a client, it’s like I block everything out and I’m just present with them, and in that process, I’m being healed, as well, and I’m so thankful to my most high that they have selected me to hold space for people in that way. It has been the most life-changing thing that I’ve done. All the services that I offer to my community members and to people who come and see me, I utilize them so that I can tell people I’m not just providing this service for people and not accessing the services myself. I do utilize them, and I have a sound therapist that I go to to get the help that I need to keep myself grounded in mind, body, and spirit, and to heal my body.