Steven Halpern’s Journey Pioneering New Age Music for Healing
Halpern is a GRAMMY® nominated composer, recording artist, and researcher. He is also a founding father of New Age music and a pioneering sound healer. In a rare and inspiring interview, “Stephen Halpern: Healing the World Through Music,” the accomplished musician moves beyond the superficial aspects of music as entertainment and explores how it has the potential to move and transform us at a very deep level.
Halpern likens his music to “a tuning fork for the brain” that balances the listener’s biofield and tunes their chakras. The result is a reduction of stress, a boosted immune system, and a shift into mindfulness and inner tranquility.
Within moments of immersing yourself in this otherworldly music, the breath slows “as the music automatically evokes your natural relaxation response and nurtures body, mind, and spirit.” Adding to the basic melody line, Halpern has also infused his music with crystal bowls, bamboo and silver flute, cello, brainwave entrainment, and subliminal affirmations, all for the sake of transcendence.
Halpern’s fascination with music began in childhood with an abiding interest in sounds—the wind blowing through the trees, the steam radiator clicking out its own rhythms, and so forth. One of his first memories was when he first heard music coming from a neighbor’s apartment. He was so taken with the sound that he awoke to his life’s calling. From the earliest age, Halpern recognized the power of sound, both to disrupt health and to uplift it; some sounds made him feel wonderful while others negatively affected his digestion or state of mind.
Halpern’s next major realization occurred when he left home to attend the University of Buffalo. At that time, as a freshman, he was invited by the faculty and grad students to join a jazz jam session. He picked up his trumpet, began to play, and soon became so lost in the music he noticed his trumpet seemed to be playing itself. “I had tapped into another level of energy,” he said. Like other artists down through history, deeply moved by waves of music, he simply found himself in a state of flow. This opened a whole new world for him.
Eventually, with an education and experience working in music, Halpern became an accomplished trumpeter. As a 22-year-old grad student, he was invited to audition for a sister organization of Esalen, an institution and retreat that focuses on humanistic alternative education. With a little reprieve before his appointment, Halpern went into the nearby mountains and sat in a grove of redwoods.
Surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature, Halpern had a “spontaneous meditation” and became aware of music coming from the ether. There he received a message that spoke directly to him, telling him that this was the music he had long been seeking, the music of the 20th century, based on ancient principles. “Your job,” he says he heard from the ether, “is to bring it out into the world.”
Tasked with finding a way to introduce a special form of music and sound to those willing to embrace it, Halpern’s life’s work became solidified. He’s found a way to integrate meditation, music, healing, and the upliftment of the mind for all of humanity. No doubt, he remains one of the founding fathers of New Age music.
In today’s manic world of stress, depression, unnatural lifestyles, anxiety, and uncertainty, Halpern’s work is profound, and one might say necessary; he’s found a way to seep into his listener’s consciousness and turn the key that unlocks healing.
Whilst immersed in the enchantment of Halpern’s music, one is reminded of the Sufi master Hazrat Inayat Khan, the great musician and mystic who said, “What science cannot declare, art can suggest; what art suggests silently, poetry speaks aloud; but what poetry fails to explain in words, music can express. Whoever knows the mystery of vibrations indeed knows all things.”
New Study Looks at Ancestor's Gut Microbiome to Improve Health
A fascinating new study shows our gut microbiome has been experiencing a potentially catastrophic loss of diversity over the last millennium, possibly giving rise to various common chronic diseases. Is it too late to avoid irreversible damage to our health?
While most of us don’t ever think about it, we coexist with over 100 trillion microbes, the majority of which live in our gut and are essential to our health. Though the existence of the microbiome was first recognized in the 1990s, the full understanding of its importance and mechanisms is still in its infancy.
Dr. Alex Kostic is a microbiologist at Harvard Medical School, who has been studying the microbiome as a mediator of disease. “You know, this concept of the microbiome as a community of organisms living on humans and other mammals, and playing an integral role in our physiology really is a new concept, something that people have only been studying for the past 10-15 years or so,” Kostic said. “But what we’ve come to realize, as we study the ecology of all of the microorganisms living on humans, especially in the gut, is that it’s incredibly diverse, and pathogens are really the exception to the rule. Everything else has a lot of other roles that we’re still trying to tap into, but we can be fairly confident that they’re not driving disease in people.”
In their quest for a clear picture of the microbiome, researchers have recently turned to studying its history.
“What’s really gotten me interested in the history of the human microbiome, is this concept of being able to identify, if it exists, a ‘universal ancestral human microbiome,’ something that was common to all of us before the process of industrialization,” Kostic said.