For thousands of years, the power of sound has been used in cultures all over the world to access different stages of consciousness. The Forumist headed to London to discover how it’s being harnessed to help with self-exploration and fulfilment.
The multidimensional healer Susan Rozo has developed her own approach to sound and light alchemy, which she describes as an art form that can heal and transform through self-exploration and creativity. In her studio in central London, we experience a two-step process that leads us deep within ourselves. During the first phase, we sit upright while Rozo gently talks to us, asking abstract questions that take us to different places in our mind to help start the introspective process. For phase two – a “sound bath” – we lie down, comfortable and relaxed, as Rozo uses different sounds to alter our level of consciousness until we fall into a meditative state. When the session ends, it feels as though we are waking from a deep sleep. We are rested and energised but also slightly confused: where have we been? And what has happened in the meantime?
Rozo explains that alchemy is all about change. Her clients often talk of being dissatisfied with their lives, but unable to pinpoint why they’re feeling like that or find a solution. Which is where sound comes in, says Rozo – as an alternative way to understand and perceive reality. Using different sounds, she takes her clients on an inner journey to explore their flow and equilibrium, until they find a way to move on to a different state of mind.
During these journeys, diverse internal patterns or issues are revealed by the client, patterns that have different levels of complexity and, in some cases, may have existed for generations. Some people come to Rozo to open their minds and further their personal development. Others have a more specific issue, such as anxiety, loneliness, a recent loss or other lifestyle-related types of stress.
“Sound is an abstract language that is led by a higher intelligence. You can’t really put your finger on what it is – you can only feel it,” Rozo explains. For her, sound is a gateway to opening up yourself to understand a reality that is a lot richer than what most of us experience in our daily lives. Through its own volatility, sound connects us to other abstract parts of the world. Rozo also sees it as a way of breaking down and perceiving music, which as well as being a form of entertainment, is an intangible space that allows us to reconnect with ourselves.
Born in Columbia, Rozo grew up in a Catholic family and spent her first 13 years living in the countryside, a lush and diverse tropical environment. The noises of nature were always important to her and she was constantly surrounded by the organic and traditional music of the region. It was a period of balance and harmony that laid the foundations of what is her practice today.
Later, while at university in Bogota, Rozo initially struggled to adapt to urban life, which turned out to be so different from what she had experienced during her childhood. However, she still had a dream of one day moving to an even larger and more foreign city. One of the teachers Rozo felt close to told her about London and its many diverse faces, leading her to make the decision to head to the British capital when she was 21 and learn English. It was a huge personal step for her in many ways, but upon her arrival she soon realised she would be staying there for a long time: London was where she belonged.
It was also in London that Rozo really began to explore the universe of sound. She was amazed to see how the people around her would immerse themselves in music on a Thursday night, for instance. In her home country, she had experienced music being used in a very different way, most commonly as a part of ritual practices. Through a friend, she found out about The British Academy of Sound Therapy, based in southeast England, where she studied for two and a half years to become a sound therapist.
Her studies there helped Rozo to understand the research that backs up sound-therapy methods, but she also felt there was more to be explored in the area and went on to develop her own system. It was an experiential journey that unfolded as she learnt more about different traditional methods from places such as Japan, India and the African continent. She also later had the chance to reconnect with her Andean roots and Amazonian healing methods by becoming involved in projects that support indigenous people in South America. This was a period of deep exploration, where she felt herself taken one step closer to the elements, receiving intrinsic wisdom that contributed to shaping her into who she is now.
Rozo talks of always having been led by her heart and spirit in life, which is why she strives to channel her energies towards a greater good. As a sound alchemist, a lot of her work centres on the emotions, and if any of her clients’ issues have an emotional connotation, getting to the root of the issue is key if it is going to be healed. “I go one layer deeper, to connect with the spiritual world. And sound is one way of doing that,” Rozo says, explaining that her sessions are a way of harmonising through rhythm. While there is science behind what she is doing, there is also a complexity to it that cannot really be put into words. It has to be experienced.
“It takes strong dedication and commitment to explore sound and tune in with our deepest core and truth,” she says. To her, dedication is crucial and her journey is one of fulfilment: “We can only experience a sense of devotion if the heart is fully in it.”
Words by Johanna Bergström
Photography by Daren Ellis