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Inner eye series

Meet Jackie and Caleb of Sounds Nice

In this Inner Eye Series, we spoke to Jackie and Caleb of Sounds Nice. Read about how sound healing can help us discover more about ourselves, better connect with our communities, and be more at peace with the sounds in the world around us.

In this Inner Eye Series, we spoke to Jackie and Caleb of Sounds Nice. Read about how sound healing can help us discover more about ourselves, better connect with our communities, and be more at peace with the sounds in the world around us.

Jackie and Caleb embarked on their own journeys of self discovery through sound healing, journeys that spanned apprenticing with the greats of sound meditation—and drumming on New York rooftops during lockdown. Together they created a “brave space” for sound meditation that can be experienced on Maloka.

MJ: Tell us about your journey to becoming sound healers. 

Jackie: I spent many years disconnected from my community and myself. During those dark episodes, I was introduced to meditation and sound. Sounds from resonating instruments, like the bowls, allowed me to close my eyes and go inside during a time when I found that quite difficult. Sound healing was a gateway into loving myself, sharing myself with the world, and being truly authentically me.  

I became obsessed with sound, studying online and apprenticing with other sound meditation teachers and communities. I joined meditation communities like the Medi Club and The Big Quiet. I left my art world career behind, and started finding ways to share the gift of sound with kids. 

At the time, Caleb was doing something similar, but with drumming. We were both passionate about using sound as a way to discover ourselves. As time went by, both of us started working more with adults, finding ways to bring play, self exploration, and simplicity to our community.

Caleb: I originally moved to New York to be a rock drummer and I dipped my toes in the tech startup scene, which burnt me out eventually. After reaching some really low points of depression, I returned to my own drumming as a tool to heal. 

I started leading meditations using drums. It really lit me up to introduce self-exploration through sound. During the pandemic I would drum on my roof and it was so healing for me, as well as for others in the Greenpoint neighborhood. 

Simultaneously, Jackie was offering her sound meditations in Maria Hernandez Park. In 2021 as the world started opening up, Jackie and I came together to create Sounds Nice, a retail space for community sound meditations. It’s been epic. 

MJ: What are people who attend your events looking for? 

Jackie: Most people who attend are hungry for a deeper connection with themselves and we offer a beautiful entryway to their hearts by creating what we call a “brave space”. 

We hear “safe space” in wellness a lot, but we realized that we can’t truly create a safe space for everyone because we simply don’t know each person’s individual experience, their past and their trauma. We can’t know exactly what each person needs to feel safe, but we can create a “brave space” where people feel they can lean into what they need to feel strong in the moment. 

Sounds Nice holds space for unity, playfulness, collaboration and belonging. We are intentional about how we bring people in and we make sure we reach out to people from all walks of life. This has helped build the deliciousness of the kaleidoscope of people that come in. We are in awe and inspired by the level of diversity that has been cultivated. 

MJ: Could you describe the benefits of sound healing?

Jackie: Humans are 65% water, which makes us a great conduit for sound.

When we are experiencing depression, anxiety, or tough emotions, you might imagine that our internal waters are crashing waves. When you experience the vibrations from a sound meditation experience, your internal waters start to move and dance in a harmonious pattern, linking up with the sound. This is what makes us feel calm. . 

Caleb: You can liken it to how the heartbeat of a rider syncs with their horse. When we’re in a sound healing together, we become more connected as a community. It alleviates loneliness.

MJ: What do you offer within Maloka and how can people get the most from the practice?

Caleb: We created a 7-day sound meditation journey we call “Field Trip” and our intention is for users to feel all the feels. The journey starts from a home base, rises to a climactic moment and then returns to this grounded home base. There is never a bad time to practice but it’s especially a great way to start the day. 

MJ: How can users integrate the practice into their lives? 

Caleb: Sound is all around us all the time. We can’t control it and at times, when it's loud and seemingly obtrusive, we want to run away or diffuse it. 

The practice promotes active listening and letting go of the control that sound has on us. We hope that as users integrate the practice they will be able to make all sounds playful and welcome them as a part of their life. There is a lot of presence that comes with that.

Jackie: My advice to users is to take time after practice to reflect, move slowly, bring a friend along into the journey, and find a way to do it within your community. 

MJ: What are your views on VR as a tool for healing? 

Jackie: We honestly had a lot of hesitation about VR. So much of what we do is about real life and community and we wondered if VR would be a step away from that. We questioned and looked at it from many angles but when I finally tried it, I had a profound experience. I went from judging VR to being in complete awe of it. 

Putting the headset on gave me a eureka moment about all the people this platform could potentially touch. All the people who have issues with meditation. People who don't have access to community, have social anxiety, have PTSD, or have trouble closing their eyes. I thought about how all those people could use this device to instantly experience the recalibration that comes from these practices. 

We’re feeling pumped even though we know that we need to be intentional about how we approach VR. We want to make sure we add value instead of adding to the problems we see with digital in the world.

Caleb: We also like the gamification and play aspects. They’re both fun and exciting. 

What are your personal mantras?

Jackie: “Do you, baby”. This has helped me combat imposter syndrome and be less judgemental of others. For self doubt and life’s ‘what if’ moments, I tell myself “It’s all happening.” 

Caleb: For me, the most important message is “Be here now. Enjoy every sandwich”. It’s my favorite quote from the late Warren Zevon.

Check out Sounds Nice’s 7-day sound meditation journey, “Field Trip”, on Maloka. You can also follow Jackie and Caleb’s journeys here:

Sounds Nice NYC

IG: Sounds Nice

IG: Jackie Cantwell

IG: Caleb Spaulding