INTERVIEW: Sound Healer Swami Arun, Bali

Swami Arun leading a Gong Bath at the UN World Yoga Day event at the Yoga Barn.
Swami Arun leading a Gong Bath at the UN World Yoga Day event at the Yoga Barn.

Swami Arun is a sound healer working with Tibetan bowls and gongs who has been giving classes and sessions at The Yoga Barn in Bali for the past ten years. He currently offers four classes a week as well as private sessions and teacher trainings.

So this year was the tenth anniversary of the Bali Spirit Festival, where you offered twice your “Gong Bath” sessions to a group of about 200 people, and it’s also ten years since you have been at Yoga Barn?

Yes, it is also ten years since I have been working at the Yoga Barn. I was there right from the beginning, and actually before Bali Spirit group started Yoga Barn.

MT: So, I have noticed in the last five or so years that sound healing has really exploded all over the world, and so I was interested to talk with you who have been doing it longer than this to find out what you think about this phenomenon?

SA: It is funny because I have also noticed this explosion of interest in sound healing. At the beginning when I arrived here in Bali I noticed that most of the focus of the people was on yoga. Not many people used to join the (sound healing) meditation. And then, just like you say, about five years ago, I noticed this huge interest and huge affluence of people coming to the class. So I see that people started to realize how powerful is to be exposed to a sound healing class healing with its relaxing effect on body-mind.

MT: So it’s like an awakening of consciousness to that energy?

SA: Exactly, people now they feel it. They start to feel more sound healing effects.

MT: How did your journey started?

SA: My journey is a very funny story. I moved to Australia in 1998. I was living there, and at that time I was still doing professional photography and at the same time I was enjoying Australia, living and working there.

MT: Where were you living?

SA: Bondi beach in Sydney. So one morning around March in 1999, I just woke up and I had this clear voice of my intuition telling me:

‘Hey, you are in Australia, what are you doing man? You have to learn the didgeridoo.’

MT: That’s so amazing.

SA: Yes, cause it was completely out of the blue!

But it was so powerful. It became one of the missions of my life. I felt I could not go back to Italy without learning this ancient instrument. So I had to give it a try. It is not easy to learn the didgeridoo. Some people they try and they just give up.

MT: And so had you had those kinds of intuitions coming to you before?

SA: Well, I don’t really remember about before that event, but that one was so clear and powerful that actually I would say that Australia was the clear beginning for my conscious journey, of my spiritual path. Before, I was not really thinking about my spiritual path or any spiritual journey. I was just enjoying life as a professional photographer. So Australia is where I had really deep experiences and where I started my spiritual journey.

MT: So when you got that message that you should go and buy a didgeridoo, what did you do?

SA: Well, that’s what I did. I went to a shop, I think to the Rocks in Sydney and bought one…

MT: Maybe a tourist didgeridoo?

SA: (laughs) Well, no it was a good one. Of course I didn’t know how to play the didgeridoo. So in the shop, they said to me to come back in the afternoon ‘cause the Aboriginal teacher would come and teach me how to play the didgeridoo. I was so happy, I was going to learn the didgeridoo! (laughs)…

Went back in the afternoon, and the guy said to me: OK, you do the sound with the lips like this, you do the sound with the tongue like this, you do the sound with the throat like this and you do the sound with the diaphragm in this way… and for the circular breathing you do like this. I tried, and I couldn’t do anything. And then he said, OK, nice to meet you, and see you later, bye. (laughs)

MT: (laughs) Really!?

SA: But that’s the concept with didgeridoo, you just receive the information and then from that information you start to work yourself, because if you have never played the didgeridoo, you cannot make any sound. So after you get the information then you slowly start to learn by yourself how to make sounds plus at the same time you have to learn the circular breathing. So it’s a very deep journey.

MT: So the guy was like: OK I am just going to tell you how this works and then you go home and practice?

SA: Yes, that was the concept of the class. I went back home, and I started to practice… it took me three weeks to have the double breath with the circular breathing and immediately after I did it I didn’t know how to do it again. But then slowly, slowly, everything fell into place. Afterwards I met people who explained to me that the sound of the didgeridoo is sound healing. The vibration, the frequency and the sound is healing. They explained to me the pitch of the didgeridoo. Which pitch corresponds with which chakra, and how you can play the didgeridoo on people who have some kind of pain or trauma. So I immediately started to practice on my friends when I went back to Italy.

And it was really working. I remember my friend had a pain in her elbow, and I started to play the didgeridoo for about fifteen minutes and the pain was gone.

MT: Actually touching the elbow with the didgeridoo?

No, just playing about 5 or 10 centimetes away, and just making all the sounds with the didgeridoo basically clearing the energetic area where the pain was.

After that I attended a pranic healing course, where I learned more about energy field and how the energy field works, the aura etc. So this gave me more clarity and more insight about energy healing.

MT: And did you notice how the circular breathing changed your physiology, because it’s such a strong breath?

SA: At first I didn’t really see such a change but that was really tiring… normally men breathe with the chest – with the lungs. After a while when I was playing the didgeridoo, putting more attention on the prana and how you breathe when you play I realized that I was breathing from my diaphragm in my everyday life. I feel for women it’s more natural to do that but men breathe more from the chest and I guess this is to apply for people living in the city, completely absorbed in the system, I haven’t done any tests.

Also I noticed that it gives you energy. If you are feeling cold, and you start to play the didgeridoo, you become powerfully hot. So it really changes you – it energizes you.

Swami Arun reflected in the Paiste gong in Bali

MT: So then how did your work with the bowls and the gongs develop from there?

SA: I was using the didgeridoo to do healing with friends. I also tried it on some Japanese friends – and normally Japanese people are more sensitive, so one time it happened that a friend started to shaking. I felt little bit afraid – like; what’s going on here? But my friend was OK, she was just really reacting to the vibration and frequency of the didgeridoo.

Then one day a friend who was already on a spiritual journey invited me for dinner at her house, and when I arrived, she had a metal bowl in her hand, and she said to me – look what I bought today and she struck the bowl in front of my face. I remember that I closed my eyes, and the sound really immobilised me, and I realised it was like some kind of remembering. When she struck the bowl, the sound totally kidnapped me. Next I asked her what it was – when I came back from these 30 seconds of being projected in another dimension, and she told me that it was Tibetan bowls.

MT: So was that in Australia or Italy?

SA: That was back in Italy in 2000. A few months later, in 2001, I went for my first time traveling in India. And there were many Tibetan people living in India selling handcrafts. And again, the voice of my intuition came and said ‘buy Tibetan bowls, buy Tibetan bowls!’

And so I followed this voice again. At this point I was better able to recognise the voice of my intuition.

MT: It is interesting, because as your spiritual journey progresses you have become more in touch with that voice, and you follow it more easily?

SA; Yes. The more you are living in a way that you are more aware, then the more you are in contact with the voice of your heart, the voice of your intuition. At this time also, I started to buy organic food. It was my first time shifting from eating just anything from a normal supermarket to organic food, healthy shops, local farmers markets etc. so I started to slowly upgrading my diet.

During my travels in India, in 2001, I started to buy many bowls. And all along my journey I never studied sound healing with anybody. I was always learning everything by following my intuition. Like being the master of myself.

MT: Also with photography?

SA: No, photography I was an assistant to a couple of professional photographers. But for the sound healing, no, I was just exploring and learning myself.

Soon I realised that with the Tibetan Bowls, I could play many at the same time and the sound is super gentle soft and a well-being feeling is immediately experienced.

At that time in India I bought a jeep and I was traveling in the South and received divine guidance to create an individual session of sound healing with the Tibetan bowls. I started to put Tibetan bowls on my body, around me, and then I realised that I couldn’t really get the expected effect, because how can you relax and play at the same time? (laughs)

So whenever I would arrive in guesthouses in India to stay, I would ask other backpackers and travellers if they wanted to experience the bowls – a Tibetan bowls sound healing massage – for free because I was learning myself. And nobody declined the offer.

MT: Of course!

SA: And that was an amazing experience, because I just followed my intuition again by placing the bowls on people’s bodies, around them and then striking and vibrating the bowls, and after five or ten minutes, the people were going away, either into theta state or they were falling asleep – deep sleep, some of them even snoring.

While I was playing, I could not believe it, I became aware that these bowls are magic. I mean, how can you put somebody in five minutes into a deep sleep, a deep relaxation in five or ten minutes by playing these metal bowls? I realised that these bowls are magic.

MT: And did you realise that some were more magic than others?

SA: I wouldn’t say that some are more magic than others, but I would say that some are special. They are special because they can reach a range of sound, or maybe a length of sound that other bowls can’t… some are very special of course. I have one Tibetan bowl that produces a vibration much deeper and stronger than other bowls, so I feel that one is a special one, but they are all magic, because when I play them all together in a set I see that the mind just cannot resist.

Then at one point, I asked myself: what is my credit here?

MT: You mean, what am I doing here?

SA: Yes, what is my credit in doing this. And the response was by doing it with love, doing it with passion. Those are the sparks that make the session greater and more powerful: your love and passion for doing something.

MT: So that’s coming through the bowls?

SA: Exactly, it’s like chemistry: your love and passion for doing something you love to do plus the bowls and… BOOM, it’s like atomic! (laughs)

Otherwise, anyone can play the bowls and you will still feel the effect. But what makes some sound healing better than others is the love….

We are definitely attracted to different therapists because of their energy. But I feel the greatest contribution of the therapist is the love and passion.

MT: And your intention?

SA: Of course, the intention matters as well.

MT: And what do you think is happening? Is it basically that the frequency of the bowls is changing and aligning the energetic frequency in the body?

SA: Well, what I can feel is this – I’ve read a bit about a science called cymatic. If sand is placed on a paper or water is placed in a container and then they are exposed to a certain frequency, they start to make mandalas.

So what my feeling is that we vibrate at some kind of frequency, and if this frequency goes out of tune in some organs or in some areas of the body, sound healing frequency re-patterns the energy field and realigns anything that must be aligned. It harmonises all your energy field. In fact at the end of any session, a group session or individual session, people feel happy, they feel light, and they feel joy in their heart. Basically what happens is that because the mind is stilled.

You are openly exposed without any filtering to the sound healing frequency and able to receive a re-patterning, a realignment, a harmonisation of your entire energy field.

MT: It is almost like a tuning of the human body. It’s like maybe some people are out of tune. 

SA: Yes – it’s like we are a guitar with loose strings and being exposed to the sound healing frequency of Tibetan bowls, gong, didgeridoo, crystal bowls – it retunes you into the perfect pitch.

Swami Arun with Gongs in Bali
Swami Arun with his Gongs in Bali

MT: So can you tell me how you got into playing the gongs?

SA: One day I was in Chiang Mai in Thailand travelling and I ended up in a Yoga Mala festival where they were offering a Gong Meditation class. I arrived when the class finished but this lady – Katherine Bless – who was offering the class played the gong for me. The sound of the high frequency Paiste gong and its 30 octaves transfigured me. The next thing I did was buy a 32 inch Paiste symphonic gong, which was the beginning of my gong mastery journey.

MT: Wow, Amazing. And I have had that experience in your classes too. So can you tell me a bit about what happened at the Bali Spirit Festival just finished. You had ten women come up to you after your gong bath and told you they had an emotional release?

SA: It was kind of fun, because at Bali Spirit Festival 2017 I used my whole collection of seven gongs. At the Yoga Barn in my weekly class I always use four.

MT: You need a truck to drive to each class?!

SA: Yes it’s heavy!

But I am lucky ‘cause I store the gongs at Yoga Barn. For the festival I decided to use all the gongs – it was the first time I used all the gongs together in a public session and yes I needed a truck. And it was amazing! More than two hundred guests showed up at the Gong Bath. I was so happy because I saw this huge interest in the gongs, the sound of the gongs is very fascinating…

Swami Arun at the Bali Spirit Festival in 2016
Swami Arun at the Bali Spirit Festival in 2016

In my weekly Gong Bath class at Yoga Barn, there are one or two people who come up to me afterwards, crying, or maybe hugging me, or really thanking me from the heart because they had some shift or some deep experience, or they had some emotional release. I am also aware that some guests are shy, they don’t feel to share, but they still have a significant experience, so don’t exactly know how many guests had a deep experience, but I know it reaches many.

But at Bali Spirit Festival I had at least ten women (manly women, because women are more open to share) coming up to me at the end of the Gong Bath session either crying, or on the verge of crying, and I said to them – if you feel to cry, just cry – and immediately they were exploding into tears. It was huge, because as I said normally one or two people come up to me after my Gong Bath sessions at Yoga Barn.

Many people were saying thank you, and I could feel it was a really deep thanking, coming from the heart, not just some kind of socialising. So, it was very powerful. One woman hugged me for three or four minutes: she wouldn’t let me go!

But I can understand, because they feel like some deep healing happened, and the funny is – they feel you are the one responsible for what happened to them…. and I am laughing, because every time I say to people, I was just enjoying myself by playing the gongs…. I am serious. When I do my sound healing sessions at Yoga Barn, I play the gongs only once a week. I live my everyday life, and then every Thursday night when I go to do the class, I am so happy to go because I can play the gongs.

So every time, I explain to the guests: I was just behind the gongs. I don’t even see what’s going on, because the lights are down in the class, and I am just enjoying myself playing the gongs. Then at the end guests come with stories of healing or something extraordinary happened to them.

MT: That’s amazing, and I mean I think that’s the truth of any musician – anyone who is channeling any kind of art or music – it’s not like they are doing for the people, they are doing it because it makes them feel good.

SA: Yes, exactly.

MT: And as soon as you think of the people, as soon as you start projecting that this has to feel good, and that I want people to feel this or that, it’s like you have lost your centre.

SA: I started my sound healing journey in 1999 so it’s eighteen years and I realized that when the mind comes in and you want to do something, you cannot do it right. I mean, you can set an intention, but if the person is not ready to release something, you can put whatever intention you want but you cannot really make this happen. It happens only when the person is ready to let go, to release.

So – you cannot let your mind – your ego, take over and pretend you are doing something you are the responsible for what happen, because from what I see, I just go at Yoga Barn and play… some guests just come for curiosity, some guests come to receive something amazing and then for some of them nothing happens and some guests experience something amazing.

So it’s up to them, it’s not up to me.

MT: And it’s up to you to just be in your center and enjoy!

SA: Yes. Like I said, my powerful spark is just doing my sound healing session with love and passion, and just enjoying myself in playing the sound of the gongs, but honestly, not taking the credit – like – did you see what I did?!

To me that is totally a lie.

MT: But you know it’s so much more relaxing to let go of the mind in that way. Ideally on the spiritual journey, that’s where we all want to be. 

SA: Yes. It depends on the person if they understand this or not. Because the mind, the ego is very subtle and slowly, slowly takes over, and then you become a great sound healer or a great teacher and you start to believe you can do this or that…

MT: That it’s all about you…

SA: Yes, because whatever is happening it’s because it was the right time for the person to release to let go something no needed anymore. Probably they would have gone to another sound healing session and it would have happened anyway. So it’s not about the therapist, it’s about the sound healing.

MT: So you are the channel. And now that you’ve been doing it for so long, do you experience the benefits at the same time that you are giving it?

SA: Well, at the moment I am doing four, sometimes five sessions a week including individual sessions, honestly I feel not many people expose themselves to five full professional sound healing sessions at week. What I feel is that sound healing frequency combined with a vegan diet – it keeps you younger!

I feel sound healing frequency speed up the generation process of the cells. But if you have a plant-based diet and you expose yourself to five sound healing session at week, it keeps you young.

MT: So you have found the elixir of youth! So finally, I wanted to ask you what you would advise to people who want to do sound healing?

SA: Well it’s funny you ask that cause I offer sound healing trainings, and I ask a high price, to see if people really want to learn sound healing to be professional and also ‘cause I am sharing my life experience. But you can also learn like me, by just doing it yourself. Go and buy some Tibetan bowls, go and buy some gongs and start playing with them.

Experience a little bit of Swami’s magic in the video below!

Find out more about Swami’s classes and his upcoming Training on the Yoga Barn page. Or visit Swami’s Youtube channel


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