By Lalitha Devi
We love Beth DesMarais’ recent conversation with Steven Halpern, the award-winning composer called "a founding father of New Age music" (Los Angeles Times).
Beth is both the director and co-founder of Nambu Botanicals. She asked Steven to describe his work, which is based on the mysterious healing powers of music.
Among his other many achievements, Steven Halpern is a Grammy nominee and author of over 50 albums. He’s also a committed researcher in the field of deep brain relaxation and the effects of sounds on the mind and body.
If you’ve ever squirmed on your yoga mat after a long and tiring day, struggling to relax as the instructor guided you into a meditative state, Steven Halpern’s music is for you.
For example, his latest album “Deep Theta” takes its name from the brainwaves produced during REM sleep (or dream state) and in deeply relaxed conditions of the body-mind on the threshold between wake and sleep.
His compositions will bring you refreshing changes—a deeper state of relaxation and effortless unwinding.
Even more surprising, his music will allow you to reach a higher state of awareness.
Below are excerpts of this edited and ground-breaking interview. We hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we did!
This excerpt is from Dr. Pillai’s Human Evolution Web Series 2016 and Nambu Botanicals “Sound Infused Herbs For Minding the Body,” part two.
Beth: Steven Halpern is the founding father of sound healing. Steven, thank you for being here! People want to hear how you got involved and interested in sound healing.
Steven: As a kid, I was always into music. I was playing trumpets at age 9 and studying jazz, jazz-rock and improvisation.
This was something that came very naturally to me. I first read about the healing powers of sounds used in ancient times in an article about Edgar Cayce. That stimulated me to search through many different, not easily accessible books back in the 60’s and 70’s about the healing powers of music, like in ancient times.
And in my own meditations, I set out on a quest to find out what healing music would sound like in the late 20th century.
It was no longer me being the musician who had practiced all of these hours, playing all these fancy scales and runs, but the music just took on a life of its own. And I got into the flow state and tapped into another level of being.
And once I started hearing the music in my head, I found myself in front of a piano, which I had not studied (but knew a little bit about) and started playing the gentle meditative music that I have been known for ever since.
So that was really a gift, my calling, my dharma was revealed to me.
I was finding out that there were millions of people who were looking for something that was legal, non-addictive that worked.
Beth: So it sounds like you’re talking of some sort of a deeply spiritual experience that you had with your music and I’m sure you continue to have. So that it also grows and flows through other parts of your life. Is that correct?
Steve: Exactly. As I look back, a lot of my musical breakthroughs have been triggered or catalyzed by some of my spiritual practices, and spiritual partners. From the first one: “Chakra Suite,” to “Mindful Piano.”
I was the music and the music was in me and through me. And I was just a vehicle for the music to help make it audible and to manifest it in the physical plane.
Beth: Awesome. I think you have helped a lot of people to discover their spiritual sides, to discover a different aspect, a different level of life and fulfillment in finding their own way, their own purpose and healing.
Would you, Steven, consider music to be an art or a science?
Steven: I would consider it both. I would also say that when I am in the studio, I am not thinking as a scientist. I’m an artist and let go of any preconceptions. I’m totally in the moment and I can respond to inner guidance and cues to follow where the music takes me.
In response to some of my very first public performances, two major scientists like Dr. Stanley Krippner, and Dr. John Lily said: “What we see subjectively is that people are relaxing and meditating.
We took biofeedback readings, that included brainwave biofeedback (or GSR), the electrical conductivity of the surface of the skin, and most significantly aura photography, Kirlian photography, of the electromagnetic energy field, the subtle energy field around people. This was done in 1973.
Most music was not composed with the intention of creating a relaxation state, or a healing experience of the body.
Healing music assists the body in healing itself in the same way the whole field of healing music is, whether you are working with tuning forks, Tibetan bowls, mantras or trance. What you find when working with them is that an energy vortex assists the body in amplifying its own self-healing energies, its own innate wisdom.
Most music has a rhythm that is faster than a relaxed heartbeat. One of the other reasons it doesn’t work to get you into a relaxed state is that most music is based on what composers call a tension and release syndrome. In other words, the music will build up and create tension and then release it.
Most music, therefore, right off the bat is not your most appropriate or effective choice, because it’s literally creating stress and tension as you are waiting for that other note.
The “Scalus Interruptus Syndrome” has become a little video that I did a couple of years ago. It went viral. It’s on hundreds of websites around the world because people suddenly get what that very simple exercise how tuned in we are subconsciously, unconsciously. We are stressed without even realizing we are stressed.
Part of my gift was to notice that I was being stressed by this [rhythm] .
Beth: Excellent! I’m glad you took it all the way. I particularly loved what you and I talked about when we met in Sausalito a couple of months ago, when you started doing the scale Do Re Mi and then illustrated to folks, “You are waiting for the next one.” And then that’s not meditation, healing.
What you are illustrating is another form of music which is more healing, more in the now, and more meditative, and certainly more along what Dr. Pillai teaches and what we do with the phonemes in our herbs.
Steven: I would just say that the work that Dr. Pillai and you are doing with the phonemes is opening up a whole new dimension of information, exploration that takes what I’ve been doing into a whole other dimension.
I’m very excited in learning more about that and the concept of entrainment.
We are entrained by our environment all of the time!
We are trained by the tremor in any music, by the pulse in any classical music.
So some of my latest recordings for clutter clearing and pain relief add music that you could move to with some rhythms. But including subliminal information and brainwave entrainment forms in a threefold way to affect consciousness, and target very specific outcomes by the nature of the affirmations that we encode into the music.
That is one of the things that I am working with, as well as my latest album will include additional use of the tanpura, which is the traditional acoustic entrainment, brainwave-entrainment instrument that’s central to Indian Raga music.
I want music that can get me into those [relaxed] states very quickly and my latest series, the Deep Theta and the Deep Alpha Entrainment albums work within seconds.
Beth: Excellent. Thank you Steven!
So that concludes the Second Nambu Botanicals Webinar in The Dr. Pillai Series. We thank you all for joining the show.
Listen to the entire interview here
You can learn more about Steven Halpern at www.StevenHalpern.com
Learn about Nambu Botanicals’ newest, sound-infused Love & Grace for the heart chakra.
Special Nambu Botanicals offers this week, now extended to April 24th.
Holy Basil known as Tulsi, combats the body’s negative reaction to stress. As a powerful powerful adaptogen (herbal ingredient), the herb lowers cortisol, a chemical in the adrenals. Tulsi, goes beyond stress to fight anxiety, the emotion that arises with stress.