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 Research Shows Effectiveness of Breathwork in Healing
Breath, most of us take it for granted, and yet as an influx of recent studies show, when we learn to control it, it can be the key not only to our physical wellbeing but to our spiritual transformation.
Breathwork is the conscious awareness and control of the breath through the practice of various techniques. While breath practices have been incorporated for millennia in many religious and spiritual traditions, they were largely forgotten with the rise of the modern western world. Today, however, we are in the midst of a massive resurgence in interest in these ancient practices.
Ben Stewart is a filmmaker who has been researching and practicing breathwork for years. “We always have breath, it’s free, and it’s relegated to the subconscious for the most part of our lives,” he said.
When we bring it back into the conscious realm, just the very act of bringing awareness to the breath is something that augments the experience of what the breath is doing to us, but also just becoming aware of your breath allows you to realize how much we actually hold our breath, how interrupted and inconsistent our breathing really is.”