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The Fix: Marsha Bentami

My name is: Marsha Bentami.

I’m known as: A sound bath meditation practitioner.

My expertise is in: Using sound to help set the tone for peoples’ ability to find relaxed awareness, simply by listening.

I stay physically healthy with: A regular asana practice, Pilates, going to the gym and walking—lots of walking. It’s such a treat to walk along the Hudson River while listening to my library of music that I've diligently collected over the years; a collection I’m very proud of.

I keep my emotions balanced with: Spending as much quality time as I can with my husband and our two mini doxies. Regular family snuggles with them is a must. Of course, listening to music is my go-to no matter what. As I say on my website, “I live in it & love it with complete abandon.”

I’m intellectually stimulated by: My husband. He’s incredibly interesting, intelligent and knowledgeable. I also love movies, docs, books, podcasts, conversations etc. Anytime I am able to learn something new, think about it and swap findings with others, it thrills me to bits. In fact, I'm in the process of creating something around that concept in regards to politics: to create awareness through community by listening to one another, as well the factual information available to us, and doing something actionable with it. In collating and discerning info through discussion together, we will learn how we can empower ourselves to make informed decisions in support of our own well-being, as well as each others’.

I was recently transformed by: My husband and I going on an adventurous road-trip for a month around the South West of the US a few years ago. We hiked in six national parks! Our favorite moment was in Moab, Utah. As we were walking along the trails, we got to a point where we were entirely alone, surrounded by the most stunning views. At some point, my husband stopped, turned to me and said, “Do you hear that?” I replied, “Hear what?” “Exactly," he said. For a moment, I thought we’d slid into a nonsensical circular conversation, but then I realized that he was saying,“Listen!” Why? Because it was silent. A thick, expansive, all encompassing, humbling, awe-inspiring silence had descended that put life—and our place in it—immediately into perspective. It brings me to tears every time I think of it.

In the last six months, the ritual that has become so important for me is: Immersing myself in sound, as well as silence. Living in a city, that might seem hard to do, but if I treat it like a game, it's not. I live in Battery Park and, on the weekends, it can get very quiet, so I play a mediation game that’s similar to the one I created when I was around 4 years old. I listen. At first you don't really hear anything, but eventually something either pops out or slowly reveals itself. As I'm listening, I find the patterns in what I'm hearing and imagine what the sound itself would look like if it were an image—shape, color, etc. Then, I wonder what is making that sound and gradually identify the rhythm, weight, duration, softness, sharpness, patterns, whether it's near or far and so on. It is the soundtrack of my neighborhood and I’ve grown to love these private moments. The best is birdsong. If you allow yourself to watch with your ears and imagination, without trying to force a narrative or judgement onto it, this too becomes a beautifully nuanced, long stream of music. As the sounds of the city and the birdsong meld together, it’s as if the city is the percussion section and the birds are the melody. 

Here’s how you can do it too: You can do this anywhere. In the morning while laying in bed, walking around the city, on a park stroll or while watching the world go by—you choose. Just take a moment to tune into the sound easiest for you to identify and explore its patterns, as explained above. The sound of a car horn: “be beee,” or a train in motion, “shuckity shaa - shuh”—whatever, have fun with it. At some point, you might observe your breathing becomes part of the pattern of the music in your surroundings. Go with it and let the sounds merge together like an orchestra or a live band. If you come to one of my sound bath meditations (like the one this Wednesday!), I explore this with the instruments I use. 

It helps me live my process because: It’s calming and a fun way to become more aware. For example, if I'm in a bad mood and am stuck in line somewhere, I sometimes do this as an initial time out from the grip of my frustration. I don’t ignore or distract myself from how I'm feeling; I allow myself to feel it and put more of my focus on what I’m hearing. It’s like putting your headphones on without having to physically do anything. It can simply be a fun way to amuse oneself while gaining inner emotional awareness and a sense of how the outer world interacts with our inner landscape, without it seeming like work. I find great humor at spotting the absurdities or unexpected happenings in life, both in my reactions and observations of myself and the world around me. Particularly when I can catch myself getting all tied up in knots about things I cannot change or control, like my husband’s freight-train like snoring.

Cover image from ‘EN ROUTE’ Wona Bae & Charlie Lawler, photographed by Sean Fennessy

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