MORE than ever, we’re looking to the wisdom of our ancestors to guide us. The road to progress has come to an abrupt dead end and, wracked with climate anxiety, many of us are looking back, looking to start over.
Cork soprano and award-winning voice practitioner Kim Sheehan has exactly the right kind of the expertise to guide us on that journey. In her work, she draws on the ancient practice of voice vibration to increase happiness and creativity, improve sleep and lower anxiety. She continues to garner praise and attention.
Kim was awarded the inaugural Jane Anne Rothwell Award for her creation of All that is Sound and an Opera Bears ‘Award for Magnanimity‘ for her online voice-vibration class, Good Vibrations. Now, she’s bringing it back to her home town.
For one special day on January 6, 2023, Kim and vastly experienced yoga teacher Deirdre Desmond will offer a group of 25 attendees a yoga and sound retreat in the beautiful setting of Minane Bridge, Co. Cork.
Spaces are filling up fast, but the impressive duo promise to add a second date if there’s enough demand.
The day itself sounds gentle and attendees will find themselves in safe hands. It starts with a session of somatic yoga, characterised by making slow movements with purpose. This is aimed at beginners but will stretch the more advanced. People will release their own sounds with intention as they stretch and listen to their bodies.
“This is not about singing; it is about the healing power of vibrations,” says Kim. “I have found that it is a powerful experience for trained singers like myself, however, as we are so used to relying on our voices to perform. These vibrations can be very healing for us.”
After a tea break, guests will create collective sound. According to an enthusiastic Kim, this promises to be a wonderful experience.
“It’s a bit like being in a choir, you are both in your own body and joined with those around you.”
Following a restorative session of yoga, Kim will perform a voice sound bath. Everyone present will be asked to lie back, letting the sound wash over them.
“Sound baths are very popular. I will use my voice along with singing bowls and a harmonium. Participants are given the space to focus on their own wellbeing during this time.”
The busy mother-of-two feels it’s hugely important that this work is done in person.
“It is so wonderful to create sound with other people. It’s deeply meaningful. I do one-to-one sessions with people online, but sharing an actual space with people is really important too.”
Voice vibration, Kim explains, dates back thousands of years to ancient India and Ireland. The Sanskrit chants of India have a very inward focus, calling up strength and resilience. The Celtic chants bring us back to the land, the soil, the elements. Both are extremely powerful.
“When I use the Celtic chants, it evokes something in me, wakes up something inside. It has a lot to do with how the words or placed, how they flow. It reminds me what it is to be near the ground. It’s not about understanding, only hearing.”
She explains that our ancestors would often address the wind or the sun in their chants, to afford them the opportunity to set up camp or get through a harsh winter.
Sanskrit chants differ. She points out that the benefit of Sanskrit is that people eventually wrote down the chants, so they are easier to find. These chants were used by common people who had difficult lives and created chants to maintain core resilience.
“It is amazing what this day can unlock for people if they are brave enough to let go and become part of a collective.
“In the sound bath, I take a chant I have found and put it into a modern melody. Often this work unlocks people’s creativity. Others will yawn, stretch and on rare occasions people experience deep emotions. But always in a positive sense, allowing them the chance to work them out in their own way.”
It’s been a busy run up to the retreat for Kim, who performed in the Christmas Concert at the Cork Opera House. She lives in London and relishes her regular trips home to Cork.
Kim has performed throughout Europe and the UK, with companies such as The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Zürich Opera House, and Irish National Opera, but for her there is no place like home.
“I have sung in a lot of places, all over the world, and there is genuinely nowhere like Cork. You really get a sense from Cork audiences that they want you to do well. It’s not about being from Cork. I think they’re like that with everyone. Cork people are just lovely.”
To book your place, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or text 087 1386757.