Written by: Alex Dvorak
Interviewed by: David Khaydatov
Alex Falk, a hip-hop artist since the age of 15, heals through music. As an adult, his definition of musician expanded to include crystal bowl sound meditations. His two worlds of sound collide, one inspiring the other. His background in hip-hop informs the freshness he brings to the cushion.
Falk guides students into states of deep relaxation through sound meditations paired with mindfulness practices. His organization, Atonal Meditation has partnered with the Big Quiet and Medi-Club among many others to bring his class to diverse groups. His work as a sound practitioner has transformed the lives of hundreds of students harboring afflictions like anxiety and addiction. Falk’s most profound fulfillment is in helping facilitate healing by holding space for student’s to observes deeper states of self-awareness.
Falk found meditation at a time in his life when he was stuck creatively. His soon-to-be wife, a sound practitioner, invited him to a free training session. That day was life altering. He knew then and there he wanted to dive deep into the knowledge and traditions of sound meditation. Submerging himself in a world of singing crystal bowls opened his creative channels and shifted his connection to writing hip-hop music. “I really take the time to be present before I make a beat or write. I ground myself in my breath. Or step outside to close my eyes and feel the sun or pause and listen to the silence.”
His musicianship informs his meditations and vice versa. Falk begins many writing sessions with a gratitude practice. “It’s my way of saying grace before a meal so to speak. Reflecting on the abundance and the energy that flows through really nourishes the creative process. My sound therapy has helped me connect to the healing aspect [of hip-hop] in a much clearer way.” He credits hip-hop for creating a space of unity that offers comfort to communities facing injustices in our country. “Hip-hop is competitive, its ego driven, but it’s also a healing tool.” He believes that hip-hop’s unique roll in inspiring generations to find their voice is alive and strong in American culture today.
Once certified and absorbed in the world of healing sound, Falk focused his teachings on unexpected communities. “My work is centered around helping people from all walks of life access and experience the therapeutic benefits of sound meditation.” He reaches a variety of newcomers to the practice through weekly group and private sound baths, large-scale meditations like the Big Quiet, and mindfulness courses at public high schools across all five boroughs of New York.
As a substance abuse and violence prevention counselor, Falk brings a unique set of compassionate skills to his students. He acknowledges that many who seek sound therapy are in vulnerable states embodying traumas, insecurities and stress. “Trauma informed care begins with ensuring the physical and emotional safety of the individuals you are working with. It is essential that the person in the seat of the teacher/facilitator understands this and can meet the group where they’re at.” The most rewarding part of his work is when a student has a breakthrough. Falk has fostered a culture of trust and openness in his workshops that often lead to the sharing and healing of grief and suffering.
Producing intentional sounds as a musician and sound practitioner, Falk is aware of how we consume sound as a culture. “As a society we’re struggling to listen more and more as our attachment to technology shifts.” He enjoys the miracle of the iPhone, as most of us do, but believes that as a result of being bombarded with sensory information, our capacity to pause and listen deeply is becoming increasingly difficult. Falk stresses that homeopathic tools help us manage stress and heal what he refers to as “the emotional body.” He elaborates, “Western civilization doesn’t put much emphasis on the care for the emotional body. Deep listening, meditation, counseling, therapy—all have huge scientific proven benefits to our health.”
While the shift in shorter attention spans has been taking place for over a decade, Falk believes there is a positive balancing force rising up against it. He embraces the momentum teaching hundreds of young people his meditation practices. He believes the interest and evolution of meditation will continue to grow more mainstream. As he puts his mark on the world through sound, he affects crowds of people hungry for a way to alleviate their concerns and amplify their joy. Falk’s goal as a teacher is not only facilitating this healing, but to give his students the tools they need to fulfill their own emotional gaps. It is a practice of self-exploration that often leads to self-discovery through musical notes.