Getting a Klangmassage in Germany
I just like the word. Well, most German words are intensely awesome. But I was intrigued when searching for a midwife here in Germany, one woman had written on her website she practiced “Klangmassage.” That meant “sound massage” and I was totally game- for whatever it was going to be. I emailed and set up an appointment with Ruth who planned to come over and take me on some sort of German sonic Ausflug the next week.
I did zero research on it, mostly because I wanted to leave any preconceptions off the table (and I’ve come to realize that living in another country, speaking another language, preparing can actually throw you off.) Sometimes better to just go in blind.
Ruth came over with a box of shiny looking bowls and a pillow. I knew at once these were Tibetan singing bowls. I had heard them in film scores and New Agey meditation music, but had never used them before. Singing bowls originated in the Himalayas and have been used throughout Asia for thousands of years in prayer and meditation. More recently in the western world for music, healing and relaxation.
Being a concerned midwife, Ruth and I talked about mein Plan for my birth here in Deutschland, along with the politics of midwives and doulas within the medical system. She was especially interested in the fact I was a musician and might have a different take on the bowls.
"Lass uns sehen," I replied. Let's go see. My husband, who was in the kitchen, looked at us like we were about to sacrifice a small animal in our bedroom.
She told me that she had practiced under Peter Hess, the German engineer who had actually introduced these singing bowls to the West. I should know by now that it's only natural a wild-haired, Albert Einstein doppelgänger would popularize an ancient Eastern technique of sound and healing. Like many alternative and natural therapies- from homeopathy to coffee enemas (true)- I’ve come to discover that it’s simply old news to Germans. They have been bringing the secrets of the natural world to the mainstream for hundreds of years.
I was interested in getting a sound massage a) out of curiosity, especially how sound could be used to heal the body. (True, this was veering dangerously close into hippie territory in the vicinity of Phish shows and cayenne pepper fasts, but it's not likeI was a stranger to those endeavors, either.)
And b) because embracing a new experience in another culture, in another language, is the secret sauce of life.
Ruth set up the bowls on my body and began to chime them ever so gently, working her way up from my feet over my uterus, chest, heart, head and back down. The harmonics were so LOW, as if the ground was opening up, and I wondered if it was too much for a little baby sitting in a sac of amniotic fluid. I felt like tiny electric channels were coming up through my feet! The resonance bowls were big, metal, each settling into my body as she conducted this mini-concert in my bedroom.
The Nepalese believe that we are, quite literally, made out of sound. When we are healthy, we are "in tune" with ourselves. If we are sick, then we hear discordant sounds. But if we are sick and listen to harmonious sounds, then we will heal.
So this was the Klangmassage. A chance to open up the "blocked" parts with sound, rippling through my body like rivulets of water in order to get "in tune" with myself. Danke. Schön.
I was almost overwhelmed with all the vibrations- it was almost too intense, could that be possible? In the distance I heard the faint trills of our neighbors' daughter practicing the flute, but in my spaced-out state I could have easily been in a Japanese onsen somewhere in the foothills of Kyoto.
Ruth finished the session with a delicate ding of the last bowl, which signified that I could open my eyes. Had I been transported to the next dimension? Had I been healed? Were my cells realigned? She laid on the bed next to me, like my high-school best friend, and began to tell me the baby was sehr neugierig- very curious- about all the racket going on out here. I'm sure she was just as curious as I had been!
As we hugged goodbye she said in her deep Franconian accent, "Rufe mich an, wenn du ein Problem hast. Jederzeits." Call me anytime if you have a problem.
Dependability. Because Germany is awesome like that.
Have you had a sound massage? What was your experience? Leave it in the comments below!