May 8, 2020
This week I checked in with Adam Tuttle, Bostonian, musician, and licensed mental health therapist. Back in January, Adam hosted a Heavy Mediation event at Dorchester Art Project and I was curious to learn more about this unique form of music therapy. During these tumultuous times, we could all benefit from new methods of de-stressing and I am so glad I got to hear from Adam and learn more about how he sharing his therapeutic work with the world .
I am good! Work has been really stressful, but I am staying positive and have been really excited by a lot of projects that have been popping up all the sudden. It's a really strange time, but I'm trying to learn what I can from the experiences.
Drone meditation is just another way to meditate using sound to help center yourself. I started using doom and drone music in my meditation practice while in grad school to be a trauma therapist. There are so many ways to meditate and what works for a person is so dependent on their experiences.
I always have a million ideas and projects so my brain's natural resting state is go-go-go. I found using doom and drone metal really helped me focus on a single thought or just drowned out the normal churning of ideas I have in my head and as a way to stay grounded. A few years ago I started making my own drones at a practice space I share in Studio 52 with my bass amps for a full body experience. I've been playing bass for over 15 years and the feel of the low frequencies from speakers at high volumes has always been soothing to me. I got the idea to start experimenting with ways to incorporate it into a full body meditation practice. When I started I was using a loop pedal run through a bunch of effects in order to create a drone I could use and manipulated different parameters experimenting with how the vibrations from my two big bass amps interacted with myself and the room. I've been researching music therapy to augment my therapeutic practice and meditative practices since then and started conceptualizing the project as "Heavy Meditation".
Meditation, like so many things in life, can be really specific to the individual's experiences. In much of my research into music therapy the biggest determinant of a positive outcome is if the person already has a connection to the music or sounds in some way. If you are someone who enjoys loud heavy music or is comforted by the low rumble of the bass at a concert then you might connect with this. Alternatively, if you are someone well versed in meditation it might be an interesting way to try a new meditative intervention. For me sitting in silence for meditation is very challenging which is why I was drawn to this other end of the spectrum. I think the saying is “maximum volume yields maximum results”. Since it is a full body experience I would suggest participants be aware of how this might affect them. Asking anyone to connect to their body in a new way can be challenging and can bring up a lot of new emotions.
It was really great! I had been doing this for myself and a few other people over the last few years so I was unsure if anyone would have an interest in it at all, but the room was packed. In advertising for it I suggested people bring art supplies, yoga mats, journals, or whatever they wanted to make the experience theirs. There ended up being so many people we realized we would have to cap attendance so people could spread out a bit more in the future. I was really blown away that there was such interest. I had made questionnaires for people to fill out at the end and I received some amazing heartfelt feedback. It's not really realistic for people to have two 1200 watt speaker cabinets at their home so I am looking forward to sharing this with others. My hope is really to develop this for other people and find ways to make it more accessible in the future.
I have been in talks with Brain Arts and we are planning to make Heavy Meditation a monthly thing when Boston opens back up again. I'm really happy to be able to make it a regular event and keep developing the practice further in the future, it really is a personal passion of mine combining my love of music and my therapeutic practice.
I just released an album for free on Bandcamp of two drones, one with a simple slow modulation throughout and one with more hands on adjustments and ambient washes.
My hope was for people to use them at home when they meditate or whatever they need to do to relax. It's a really challenging time right now so it's important to try and stay grounded, relaxed and clear headed. I'm releasing it under my noise project Uttered in Tongues while I develop the practice and discover how best to navigate it as a meditative intervention.
In saying that I'll be sure to make a distinction between the noise works and the Heavy Meditation side of the project. My plan is to release many different types of drones so people can find what works best for them.