Sound Bath Sessions Interview: Candace Cheung
I interview all the sound bath practitioners that I feature so listeners can deeper connect and get to know more about their practice and their approach to sound baths.
The first interview is with Candace Cheung (@crystalbowloflight) who regularly gives sound baths at Ikigai (@ikigai.hk) in Causeway Bay and other locations around Hong Kong. She distributes Crystal Tones crystal bowls so she always has many unique sounding bowls on hand to choose from which yields interesting and varied sound combinations during her sessions.
Sound Bath Sessions [SBS]: Hi Candace, how long have you been performing sound baths?
Candace Cheung [CC]: I bought all the Crystal Tones Singing Bowls in November 2020. I officially started teaching physical classes in June 2021.
SBS: When did you start going to sound bath classes?
CC: I started my first spiritual healing in 2017 and even earlier on I had interesting spiritual experience during meditation or energy healing. So yeah I started with meditation practice first in 2016/17 and since then I would go every week to meditate in 2016.
SBS: What kind of meditation was that?
CC: In the beginning it was kind of a lot of different type of religious type meditations like Buddhist and Tibetan meditation and then finally I found a meditation center in Sheung Wan which they use Crystal Tones™ Singing bowls for meditation and after that I found the sound meditation which was the one I most drawn to.
SBS: What made you go to the seek mediation classes in the first place?
CC: I always had this six sense or psychic feeling when I was young, but I never knew how to develop it or get further into spirituality. I hit my rock bottom of my marriage, and we tried to mend our marriage via various counselling services. I joined a hypnotising course, and during those four days I discovered who I truly am and why I had no self-worth. I decided to end this phase and started to move on to find my own path. During one session, I could see my new future house! Things just unfolded one by one. I wanted to find my aloneness to oneness. Then my spiritual journey began with trying out different meditation techniques. I found with sound, my meditation could quickly zone in and uplift my emotions or mood. My curiosity led me to learn further from different mentors.
SBS: What drew you to sound bowling meditation?
CC: I think especially for meditation, when you are asking for stillness of your mind, in the religious kinds they will ask you to follow different types of things or mantras. I find that sound to me personally is more powerful because I can just anchor my thoughts to the sound. I sort of feel that I am part of that sound and just flow with that sound. Sound gave me tremendous stillness and I was able to really focus and expand that mindfulness and awareness 10 times more because of the frequency of that sound.
SBS: How many bowls do you have now?
CC: The maximum I had a few months ago was close to 70 crystal bowls. Now I am down half.
SBS: Oh really? You sold that many?
CC: Yes! We are sorting the new ones hahahaha…..
SBS: How do you choose the bowls for performance or sessions?
CC: I think there is the intuition part of it and there is also following the music structure, especially with chakra healing. The alchemy crystalline journey [session] I do is for healing each chakra. In that case, I would select the bowls based on the tone for each chakra.
But in general, classes like at Ikigai for day to day where I think people just want just to be chilled and relaxed, I tend to choose more grounding sounds with more low bass. So that would help people if, for example, they had a ‘monkey mind’ or too many thoughts in their head, the large grounding bowl is really good to help them stabilize their thoughts. I usually choose some low tones and some higher tones just to balance the frequencies out.
SBS: Yes, I remember the last recording we did, you had that big bowl, and it was so… creamy. It was amazing.
CC: Ha ha! I still have that one. The big one I think a lot of people don’t really have it in Hong Kong because the apartments are small and people tend to choose 8 or 9 inch [bowls] to purchase, but to be honest, the 10 and the 12 inch are quite powerful.
SBS: Yes, I think it really suits the big room at ikigai. I don’t know how it would be in a smaller space. Perhaps it would be too overpowering?
CC: Yes, maybe.
SBS: I see you have had some sound bath performance with other musicians. Do you like collaborating with other musicians for sound baths?
CC: Yes, I love to collaborate. I think the beauty of the crystal tone singing bowls you never know how it will come out. So, in some way it’s a spiritual practice that you have to carry your mind to the unknown and expect whatever comes out. Right? I think it shocked me and I was honored when I had that recording with you because there was no music sheet to follow just the sound and what it wanted to sing. You are listening to know what the next note is.
I think collaborating with different people inspires you and allows you to know how they see spiritually. Like the vocalist I collaborated with, it was so difficult because I felt I needed to give her room to release her vocals so I couldn’t be too powerful with my bowls. Then whatever rhythm she is doing I need to be the background music to complement her. That is improvisation right there. You know, you just have to really relax yourself and really chill with it.
SBS: Yes, that’s the beauty of improvised music like jazz and experimental music. It’s really just playing off the other people in your group and creating something new with everybody’s ideas. It’s a live creative session. It’s beautiful when you are…
CC: In that zone.
SBS: Exactly. What was the most memorable collaboration or performance you have done?
CC: : I think so far, it would have to be the vocal session I had with Karina. The collaboration I had with her was so ‘there’. Even though it was practice, it didn’t I feel like practice, it was a performance. I felt like I was with her, like I knew when she was singing like its was two spirits meeting in that one particular land and we are in that wavelength.
SBS: Did you ever practice with her before?
CC: It was the first time we jammed that day. And I immediately felt her soul and her sound because there were no lyrics she was just chanting. It was amazing how her voice was able to tune with the bowl or the bowls seemed to tune to her voice. It felt like it was working two ways. It was amazing when you are inside the room you are like, ‘wow’. You are just there. It numbs your heart, that type of feeling.
SBS: Yes, that was really beautiful. Well actually, I have to tell you that recording with Karina will be the first Sound bath Sessions release on Sunday (26/2).
CC: Oh yeah? That’s great!
Actually, the recording you made of me before (Eyes yet to Open) when I listen to it, I can’t believe it was me. If you asked me two years ago, I don’t think I would have been able to perform like that. I think we met at the right time that I had the skill to do that.
SBS: I think that over the past few months your skills have been progressing with each recording. I think that the openness to collaborate and the new ways to combine the different bowls and frequencies I think that it will only get better.
Finally, what do you think about the SB community in HK?
CC: I think that the sound bath community in Hong Kong has many different varieties, and everyone is unique whether they play the bowl or gongs. I think sound baths are so dynamic. It’s like a violin, you can play the way that you feel. Everyone has their own emotions or frequency. I think that there is a lot of room to grow if we can gather the sound community together. It’s the spirituality of people we are helping, to release stress.
It is my hope that the sound bath healers have a certain spirituality when playing the bowls because if you cannot calm or heal yourself… it is not about playing the instrument, it is about involving your whole heart, whole spirit, from the bottom of your heart. It is about how you fill yourself with that mindfulness when you are playing the bowl. So, practicing it in terms of meditation is key and I hope everyone is aware of the energy they are expanding to the community in Hong Kong.
Candace and Karina’s crystal bowl and vocal duet sound bath session is out on Sunday 26/2. Subscribe to listen. Sound Bath Sessions have weekly releases featuring sound bath practitioners from Asia.
Sound Bath Sessions is a subscription-only project that offers live recordings of exclusive sound baths from sound therapists and healers in Asia.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.