I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the most sought after sound healers and teachers in Toronto, Darren Austin Hall. Darren is a truly wise being who is well versed in many healing sciences. He is a Sound Healer, Mystical Musician, Yoga Instructor and Teacher of Spiritual Arts who recently taught at the largest yoga conference in North America.
I once heard a man speaking about Darren and he said, “If we had more guys like that in the world, things would be looking good.” I couldn’t agree more. I hope you enjoy the powerful insights from this interview as much as I did.
Hillary Faye for Yogi Times: How did you get started on your yogic path?
Darren Austin Hall: Yoga came to me shortly after I had a spiritual awakening in my final year at university after my first introduction to meditation following the sublime teachings of Eckhart Tolle and Yogananda. I feel blessed because I was so steeped in exploring mindfulness when I entered my first yoga class and felt an instant connection to moving as meditation. It was thrilling because I was more interested in living meditation throughout my daily life rather than sitting stoically for long periods. To me, the challenge of our modern era is making meditation dynamic and something that we’re always doing, such as the teachings of presence which Eckhart Tolle elaborates on beautifully. During my first yoga class, I really discovered how asanas were ways to strengthen my concentration while being challenged to hold awareness in the body during difficult body postures. I found the more I was able to stay present and relaxed in a challenging asana, the stronger my heart-mind became. I knew after my first class that I had discovered an art and practice that I would utilize my entire life as vital spiritual practice.
HP: People really feel powerful energy when they are listening to your crystal bowl music. Why do you feel the crystal bowls affect people so much?
Darren Austin Hall: Crystals are legendary healing tools and have been used since ancient times in such a capacity. There are so many dimensions to why they benefit us. For one, they emit powerful and healing energy fields that come into entrainment with our own, inspiring them back to balance. To have instruments made out of such a substance just increases the effect substantially. I believe the crystal singing bowls are some of the most advanced healing instruments on the planet, in fact. We also have many crystalline structures in our body, such as blood and bone tissue so there’s a natural resonance that happens when we hear the bowls, listening with our whole body, not just our ears. It has been proven that the sounds of the bowls put people almost immediately in a state of meditation and help evoke a spiritual sensibility. I believe this explains why experiencing a performance of the bowls often evokes a visionary journey. Many people have significant revelations, relief of pain and even visitations from spirits. Really, it never ceases to amaze me! Ultimately, everything in the universe is vibration so when we experience sound as pure as the crystal bowls produce it reminds us of the essence of what we are and all is. We merge with vibration. It can be nothing short of a divine experience!
HP: How did you get interested in music and sound as a healing art?
Darren Austin Hall: Ever since I was a child I’ve been drawn to creating music in an ecstatic, wild way with free-singing and improvisation at the heart of it. In fact, I used to hear music perpetually of immense detail and power and would often go into trances at night and sing myself to sleep (much to the chagrin of my parents!) However, I left these tendencies behind (as many of us do) as I became a teenager and then an adult, seeing them as ‘weird’ and ‘eccentric’. It wasn’t until I did training in shamanic healing that I realized that making music in a channeled kind of way, from the heart of the moment, was actually an ancient skill that evokes powerful healing energy in the artist and the audience. It was then I revisited my tendencies and realized them anew as my gifts.
HP: Your new album, The Tantra of Truth, is much loved and people are appreciating it as a tool for healing and evoking a sense of the sacred. What was the whole inspiration behind it?
Darren Austin Hall: I returned from a trip in India with a renewed passion to consecrate my life to the power of music. I had been expanding my abilities with different world instruments and shamanic singing since my first album which focused mainly on my vocal work with crystal singing bowls. For this album, I worked with my dear friend and soul brother, Stephen Bahnesli, who’s an excellent producer. Together we began to draw forth all I was feeling into big soundscapes, exploring modern textures of electronic music as well. The whole idea was to create something akin to a soundtrack for the growing evolution of consciousness on our planet with music that evoked ecstatic states of being.
HP: You performed a concert at the largest yoga conference in North America recently in Toronto. What was it like to perform before hundreds of people?
Darren Austin Hall: It was really a dream come true and an incredibly beautiful environment to perform before so many people who are already open to hearing music of a sacred kind. I felt connected to the audience in way that was rapturous and deeply heart-warming.
HP: You also shared a popular workshop at the Toronto Yoga Conference you innovated called “Chakra Journey”. Tell me what that’s all about.
Darren Austin Hall: Chakra Journey was something that came to me some years ago when I was beginning to create workshops that combined more shamanic and sacred musical elements. I’ve always been a lover of the chakras and feel incredibly grateful for the yogic traditions that lay out our multi-dimensional selfhood. It’s of such profound healing for us all after centuries or even millennia of disempowering beliefs to reclaim the beautiful truth of what we really are. However, I find one of the great challenges in the West is that the intellect is so powerful and intellectual knowledge so compelling that many of us stay in a theoretical realm and don’t experience many of the yogic insights through impassioned embodiment. Chakra Journey was born out of this need I observed to not only know mentally about these healing concepts but to experience. So with Chakra Journey I guide people through the chakras using diverse exercises from mantra, vocal toning, qi gong, asana, breath work, healing and sacred music performance and more so that we can really feel and experience all these wonderful dimensions of what we are.
HP: What do you do to stay grounded and centered when you are teaching so many yoga classes, workshops and playing shows?
Darren Austin Hall: For me it’s all about having disciplined routines in my daily life, that I don’t waver from that turn up the volume of spirit to reconnect to the ultimate, such as morning meditation, prayer, and daily singing. It’s also about being present moment to moment, making yoga a practice that really never stops, having faith that when we are perpetually centered in this way, the body will naturally ground us because it’s a perfect expression of nature itself. Embodiment is really where it’s at and I spend much time descending into my body and roots to Earth rather than ascending, which I feel is a path too many are chasing after without properly rooting first. I do also make time continually to go to raw forms of natural environment, such as forests and parks, and spend time praying and relating to the great mother Earth. Gravity is, after all, her embrace.
HP: If there was a piece of wisdom you could give to someone who is just starting their journey of self-discovery what would that advice be?
Darren Austin Hall: Embrace adversity. It is the sweetest teacher you will ever know. Hunt your “demons” and “shadow aspects” with fierce love and friendship. There is nothing to fear, only opportunities to deepen the mastery of love. And if one ever feels down, get up and sing and dance and shake the multi-dimensional spaceship that is the body. You are guaranteed to be instantly uplifted.