We connected with sound-healer Shervin Boloorian – founder of Sound Healing Bali – to find out how to quiet the ‘monkey-mind’ and energize our internal healer.
Shervin, can you give us a brief introduction to your younger formative years.
I’m an Iran-born refugee brought up in the UK. I left home at 16 to avoid sinking into an emotional tailspin. I was a brash, rude, hyperactive teen at this point—my views were growing rightwing and I was self-destructive. I was an atheist and somewhat troubled (as some atheists are). I sank to my lowest lows of depression just before leaving the UK. I didn’t believe that the universe was a benevolent place and couldn’t get humanity. My very special older sister helped extract me from the situation and took me under her wing.
I loved alternative music from the ’80s and later Goth-Industrial (yes, I even wore makeup and dressed all in black!). I loved sports and American football in particular. Before I emigrated to the USA, I played for a British youth American football team who were national champions in the UK two years in a row. I also worked at the World Cup of soccer in 1994. That was the same year I tore my knee ligament, which was crushing. I finally got to slow down. Before that, I nearly died in a car accident that was narrowly averted. It changed my spiritual views. I changed my political views in college and chose to pursue political science, becoming fascinated by social justice movements and leaders. I knew I wanted to be in service to a cause I believed in. That put me on a path to activism for the environment, animal welfare and immigrant rights. I somehow was selected as one of top two graduates of my political science program and before completing my Masters, was accepted as a California Senate Fellow by the state legislature.
From Iran to the USA and into politics and policy. What were you trying to shape?
My time in Washington DC was more about trying to push back rather than shape. Any activist career in Washington is mostly based on reactiveness rather than proactiveness. There was this little thing raging on called the Iraq war at that time and Iran was in the crosshairs as the next target. Although that hasn’t changed, there was some progress before the current administration came into power. I was advising a national coalition of groups on the issue of Iran and was one of the few Iranian faces that some members of Congress had ever seen. I guess I was trying to prevent Congress and the Bush administration from “liberating” Iran…I saw the statistics of the number of dead from the Iraq conflict and was horrified that there was this gradual dehumanization of the “enemy” that was now being redirected against Iranians. I guess I made that cause the central focus of my life and it swallowed me up.
You studied under urban shaman and author Robin Rice, what most impressed you about her?
I was impressed by Robin’s patience as a guide. She took on 12 apprentices for a year-long program. That’s no small task. I think every single student had their meltdown moments, including me. One or two dropped out because of the intensity. Just learning to trust ourselves and navigate the world of non-physical reality created a crisis for some of us. Robin patiently stood by each of us as we went through our own shedding and shifting processes. Her mentorship and belief in abilities I didn’t even know I had inspired my own style of teaching for my sound therapy students.
What drew you to Bali?
Beaches, arts, community and warm weather. I visited Ubud in Dec 2009 after leaving DC. Ubud became my home but I need time by the beach too.
Music as medicine. How does sound healing work?
First of all any holistic energy modality relies a lot on a receiver’s personal motivations. I don’t find it helps if you want to “fix” your hubby or girlfriend and drag them to these experiences, if they don’t really want it. Sound healing works through the use of sound vibration as a means of creating balance and deep relaxation so that the body’s own self-regulating and self-healing systems can kick-in better and support recovery.
You are proficient in a number of natural music instruments, which?
There are quite a few. I am not classically trained in any, so I may not be “proficient” in the way of a recital or technique clinic. The ones I play most are—didgeridoo, various flutes, percussion, drum, crystal and metal bowls, guitar, dulcimer, chimes and gong … my primary instrument is the voice.
Does each instrument heal differently?
You could say that. Whichever instrument a sound therapist uses, those which generate a natural sound have a stronger effects than anything synthetic. So the recommendation is to build a connection with acoustic instruments (not synths and loopers). Also, the instrument is just one part of the equation. You need a sensitive and competent sound-energy worker who knows when and how to play the instrument while staying present for a session to work. It’s a far cry from entertainment and “intuitive” sound workers who have little to no training are being a bit cheeky by calling themselves “sound healers”. The person offering the sounds is more effective when they have trained with a teacher, have a good attitude and anchor a space that sends out positive and safe vibes for the guest to open to receive the sounds.
Can you explain as energy beings what we might be looking for in sound?
Friendship… sound is a companion that can help us make sense of often senseless, strange behavior. Our world is difficult to comprehend; people even more so. Consider that the cosmos, at all levels, is made up of vibrations. Music and sound form a language of expression, which help us grasp essential qualities in ourselves and others. This can support living a more harmonious life and identifying when there is chaos and manipulation inhibiting that harmony. Sound goes beyond verbal communication. It can literally levitate objects, so it animates and uplifts. It can be an unseen partner in our journey that penetrates the physical, affects feelings and clears mental stress. It provides a map to a core essential way that is unique to each individual. Each one of us is music. Life is generally richer when we stop and listen to appreciate that music.
What have been the highlights of your career as a sound therapist?
Learning to sing in an authentic way to my children to help them sleep at night. Writing a song to one of my father’s poems. Doing the Rumi Music for Peace program, which brought together my activist past and my music career. One with the Beloved united a number of Bali businesses and cultural organizations behind a cause, launched my most ambitious world tour and received endorsement by the world’s top Rumi translator, Coleman Barks.
Since you possibly live daily life in “connectedness” and “peace”, how easy or difficult is it for someone to get you riled?
Hehe. My kids do it all the time.
“According to Buddhist principles, the “monkey mind” is a term that refers to being unsettled, restless, or confused. … it is also the part of your brain that becomes easily distracted. How does your music, and in particular your latest global offering I hear you Mother Earth go about calming the incessant chatter?
I don’t know if my music instantly calms the monkey mind. It may for some. I have found it takes an individual practice to do that. The music from IHYME is peaceful and calming to be sure. It uses instruments that are played in such a way to create and sustain that effect. There are natural sounds from our biosphere also woven into each track. Natural sounds have a calming effect on the nervous system just on their own, so if you appreciate those, you will love the album. Once listeners allow themselves to immerse in the different layers of the natural elements, there is almost an innate and involuntary response of peace. It’s like it is coded in the DNA. We all feel it when we listen to the ocean waves or other natural sounds we love.
Here in Bali you lead sound healing sessions, seminars and programs. How can someone sign up to one of them?
Just visit my website www.soundhealingbali.com and sign up for my newsletter or go to my Instagram page for all the details. My next trainings are in August and September in Ubud. One of my current goals is to set up my own sound healing space.
Are you leading any online podcasts or similar?
There are a number of online events and podcasts I have done for other venues and interviewers. I liked the one for Sarah from Impulse Yoga. June marked the 8th year anniversary of my sound medicine classes at the yoga barn, so there are a few live online classes available on their FB page.
What do you think we will all take away from this viral disruption to our lives?
Jane Goodall says that it started from a lack of respect for nature. I tend to agree. Another takeaway is more rest and time with loved ones… Before 2020, most of the world believed that environment, race relations and health were secondary to a robust economy. I am wondering if these non economic issues have now raised their profiles.
And lastly, any soothing words of encouragement or mantras you care to share.
Avoid noise and the noisy people.
To listen to Shervin’s holistic sounds go to: