Sound Therapist and Meditation Teacher sounds off on using music to understand the space around us.
– KEYS SOULCARE
Sara Auster is no stranger to a good tune. As a sound therapist and meditation teacher, she creates experiences that broaden and deepen our musical and emotional landscape — all while connecting her worldwide fans through shared, sacred experiences. Last year, as we doubled down on our online presence, she wrote a book that made us feel a little closer to our community.
Here’s our chat about finding ritual in sound and how Auster uses deep listening as a tool of self-discovery, pleasure, and connection.
How did you find your way to sound therapy?
When I was 23 [years-old], I had a traumatic accident that left me with a broken back, chronic pain, and emotional trauma. I had two choices in my recovery, a life of chronic pain and an intense daily regimen of opioids or to discover a more holistic path to healing physically, spiritually and emotionally. I chose the latter and began studying yoga, meditation, and psychoacoustics. My body and spirit were healing in ways far beyond just my recovery from my accident. This transformation is what inspired me to teach and share this work with others.
How do you define your work?
My work explores how sound and listening transform space, both physically and psychologically. I define a Sound Bath as a deeply-immersive, full-body listening experience that intentionally uses sound to invite gentle yet powerful therapeutic and restorative processes to nurture your mind and body. A focus of my work is centered on making meditation and healing accessible to all. I’ve been very fortunate to facilitate sound baths in public schools, hospitals, boardrooms, and at iconic sites like The Museum of Modern Art, Lincoln Center, and Madison Square Garden. In the spirit of accessibility, I have recently launched AUSTER SOUND – an online space where you can enjoy unlimited access to LIVE + On-Demand Sound Baths and community events – anytime, anywhere. I’d like to offer the Keys Soulcare community one FREE month with code “TUNEIN”.
What does soulcare mean to you?
I love that term, soulcare. To me, it means returning to spiritual health, and that’s what I’ve always been interested in. Not only a very strong mind-body connection, but also exploring the emotional body. You can do all the things, (the green juice, the workout, the face cream…) and check things off the list, but if you’re not managing and interacting with your emotional wellbeing, that stuff’s not going to shine through.
What makes you a lightworker?
My goal ultimately is to help people love the totality of who they are, and where they are. Within that, I would say, it’s important to acknowledge darkness and shadow in the healing process. The darker, stickier stuff that we all experience but rarely talk about? Those are the corners of the spirit and of the soul that give information that is in service of healing. By embracing light and dark we find peace and equilibrium.
Many of our lightworkers returned to that idea: that those who spread the most light have done so by wrestling with personal darkness. How does your work reflect that?
I am very intentional with the words that I use when I teach and facilitate. I very specifically use the words “therapeutic” and “restorative” to describe the experience. If say a sound bath is “blissed out”, “light-filled”, and “floaty,” you have a very high expectation for what you’re “supposed” to feel. And within that expectation comes judgment. When something is therapeutic, it’s not always joy filled: it can be hard, challenging, and uncomfortable. But there’s light in that process, too.
How does your work help stoke community?
Shared experience has always been so important to me. And now of course, it’s difficult to access that. It’s such a gift to connect virtually, and my live [virtual] events have been places where family members and friends from Japan, to France, to South Africa, and New York can connect though getting quiet together and talk about their experience afterwards. People who are feeling isolated or alone can feel they are part of something bigger – a deep and meaningful connection through collective shared breath, shared listening.
Apart from sound baths, do you have any musicians or songs that are on your personal playlist?
Oh my God, yes! As soon as I thought about this one, I thought, “I have to make a Keys Soulcare playlist!” Music (listening and creating) is such an integral part of my self care. I don’t spend much time thinking about genres or get caught up on what’s new or trending. I just go with whatever mood I’m in and lean into the emotions and energy of the song that can complement or enhance my vibe.
What does sound as ritual mean to you?
I would say it’s important to create a consistent practice to integrate something into your life. I have a very simple way to remember that. I call it the three E’s: effort, ease, everyday. The effort comes in showing up to engage, which does take a little bit of work… but then you want to be able to find ease in the experience. If you don’t like doing it, chances are you probably won’t want to come back to it. The everyday piece is self-explanatory! I talk about this idea in my book: the reverence that is present in ritual honors the order and process of any routine. “Routine infused with intention becomes ritual.” [an excerpt from SOUND BATH: Meditate, Heal and Connect through Listening]
What other personal rituals are part of your soulcare?
Meditation, for me, is like hygiene. I make the example of brushing your teeth: it’s part of my twice-daily mental, emotional, and physical hygiene. I always try to move with joy, so yoga, going for long walks in nature, or just dancing in my house with my husband. And of course, connecting [virtually] with friends and family on a regular basis.
How has deep listening empowered you to connect to yourself and those around you? Share your thoughts in the comments!