What do the Peruvian Jungle and Winston-Salem have in common?
Both are places where you can have an experience with sound that you might find life changing. Just ask John Shanton Wilcox. John is a Sound Intuitive who has called Winston-Salem home for 22 years. John offers open-minded individuals the opportunity to allow sound into their beings in a whole new way.
When I asked John to explain what it means to be a Sound Intuitive, he said “I get out of the way and allow the energy of the person or group to flow through me and inspire the sounds that are produced.”
Naturally, I wanted to know how sound came into his life in this unique and, frankly, mystical way.
“In 2001 I was on a 10-day retreat in the Amazonian jungle, experiencing ayahuasca every other day. In the first session, I was advised to set an intention and mine was ‘what should I be doing to serve my community?’ and the answer came: I should do what the ayahuasca shaman was doing for me but without the ayahuasca.” (Ayahuasca is a South American psychoactive brew used as a traditional spiritual medicine in ceremonies among the indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin.)
The term guided meditation has become familiar to most of us and what John wanted was to be able to guide a meditative journey using sound. He had been collecting sound instruments for years and it was time to put them to use! During John’s last session with ayahuasca in the jungle he asked “Who am I to be going out into the world, with no formal training, and working with sound to help people?” Ayahuasca made it clear that he had been in training for years, since the day in 1994 when he walked the Inca Trail into Machu Picchu.
Back in NC after the 2001 trip to Peru, a friend who was helping clients by practicing Myofascial release asked John if he would be interested in collaborating to bring sound into the healing sessions she offered. MFR, self-myofascial release, is an alternative medicine therapy claimed to be useful for treating skeletal muscle immobility and pain by relaxing contracted muscles.
John packed up his instruments – a collection that is now comprised of over 70 instruments – and realized immediately that he was doing the right thing! By working with patients and sound, he learned to listen to his intuition and, although it took some time, he has learned to trust that what he is feeling is what needs to be done.
So, what is done exactly?
When I participated in a sound experience called Primal Sound, myself and three other friends arrived to John’s sound studio in Ardmore wearing comfy clothes and carrying our yoga mats. We were welcomed warmly and entered the sound space where the lighting was low, incense and candles burned and soft, hypnotic music played softly as we settled in.
We hydrated and got comfortable on our mats, some with pillows, blankets and eye covers, others stretched out languidly. John explained that he would begin to play his instruments near and around us, in no particular order and with no set melody in mind. He explained that as our energy combined with his intuitive nature, he might be inclined to make sound with his voice but it wouldn’t be singing. John said we might go inward and get answers or we might just relax and get out of our minds for a little while. We were all intrigued and ready to begin our experience.
Now, at this point, I could announce “spoiler alert” and tell you what the next 45 minutes or so was like for myself and my intrepid gal-pals. But I won’t. Instead, I will tell you that it was unlike any yoga class, massage session or meditation I have ever experienced and it left all of us hoping to experience it again. It was unique for each of us even though we were all in the same room, hearing the same sounds being made by John and his instruments. And yet, we each felt the sound in a way that was unique to us which made it simply, magical.
You might never hike through the Peruvian Amazon with an ayahuascan shaman but you can take a journey unlike any other, right here in Winston-Salem.
For more information or to schedule your own Primal Sound session, email JohnShantonWilcox@gmail.com.