Arts and Entertainment

New CD immerses listeners in a deep cave of relaxation

Barb Nichols releases a CD this month entitled
Barb Nichols releases a CD this month entitled 'Sound Journey: Deep in the Cave.'
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Barb Nichols

There is a place where peace prevails and love is amplified.

You may want to go there right away. Who wouldn’t?

Local sound massage therapist Barb Nichols will take you there on her new CD entitled “Sound Journey: Deep in the Cave.”

A CD release celebration is at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14 at Whidbey Children’s Theater in Langley.

The recording is designed to assist people in attaining deep relaxation. It is for those who are in need of a deep and restful sleep — one that takes the mind on a pleasant, mesmerizing journey to complete relaxation, where sleepers can surrender themselves to the serenity of the moment. It helps people fall into a Theta state, which is that dreamy place between waking and sleeping, Nichols said.

With two tracks (one is 42 minutes long and the other 27) “Resting in the Cave” and “Basking in Sweet Waters,” Nichols uses natural sounds such as birds of the forest, a frog in a cave and a babbling brook to fill in as background to the Tibetan singing bowls and Balinese gong that she uses in her sound massage therapy studio.

The nature sounds were all recorded by Nichols on Whidbey Island and at the Hoh Rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula, and mixed by Robbie Cribbs at Sound Trap Studios in Freeland.

“At the beginning of Track 1, you’re in the forest with the cedar waxwings and other early morning birds. I recorded them at 4:30 a.m. in our front yard, in the early summer, up on a bluff north of Maxwelton Beach,” Nichols said.

The frog in the cave was recorded at an island friend’s pond, while the sounds of the brook came from the rainforest.

“I got a beautiful recording of the brook for 45 minutes, and two minutes after I turned off the recorder, a major airliner went by overhead,” Nichols said.

It’s not easy getting clear recordings without human intervention such as cars, boats and planes, she said. Then there’s the possibility of a dog barking, crows squawking or the wind blowing.

“But all those lush experiences of being out there in nature, listening up-close and personal with the critters, are just the best, whether I get a good recording or not.”

She uses other instruments as well, such as ocarinas, wind chimes, mbira and sustaining tonal bars in order to enhance the overall experience.

Part of her motivation to make the CD came from her realization that many people have trouble sleeping.

“Just during this past year, I found out that many of my friends and family were having trouble sleeping,” Nichols said.

“As I got deeper into this project and was telling people what I was up to, I realized that there’s almost an epidemic going on. There are so many people who are sleep deprived,” she said. “I was pretty shocked and amazed to find this out. And I was even more shocked and horrified to find out that many have had to resort to drugs for sleeping, out of desperation.”

Nichols has been a licensed massage practitioner since 1985, specializing in Lomi Lomi, a deep, gentle, nurturing Hawaiian massage. Since 1995, she’s been combining sound and vibrational therapy with Lomi Lomi massage, and calls her unique massage form Sound Massage.

This is her first CD, which reflects the essence of the sound journey experience that she shares with her massage clients. Her hope is that many more people around the world, as well as her clients, will now be able to share in this experience in the comfort of their own homes.

Her impetus in combining massage therapy with sound came after a close encounter with a pod of humpback whales while snorkeling in Hawaii.

“The whales’ beautiful song, a mesmerizing melody of long, sliding tones, touched me ever so deeply,” Nichols recalled. “I found myself basking in a joyful, loving feeling so immense that it’s indescribable in words.”

“The physical vibrations of the tones were so powerful that I became simply energy vibrating. It’s as though I was pure energy without the density of physical form. After the sounding ceased, I found myself eye to eye with this whale, basking with him in a ‘bubble’ of stillness and silence. We were in an endless, timeless moment beyond peace.”

After that experience, Nichols devoted her career to using sounds and vibrations in her healing studio. She found the Tibetan singing bowls to be potent tools for providing a transformational experience, similar to the one she had when hearing the vibrational tones of the whales.

“I recorded this CD with the intention of helping all you sleep-deprived people out there,” she said. “But it’s also a great relaxing tool for meditation and for melting away any daily stress.”

At the CD release celebration, she invites guests to bring instruments for a “harmonic music jam” and, after experiencing some of the relaxing effects of “Deep in the Cave,” to have some hands-on time with the singing bowls and gong.

Refreshments will be served. The $20 CDs will be on sale with a special $5 event discount. The event is free. Call Nichols at 331-5033 for more info. Whidbey Children’s Theater is at 222 Anthes Ave. in Langley.

To visit Nichols' studio, click here.

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