Sound Waves with Cheryl Rodriguez

Bringing balance back. Integral Sound Healer Cheryl Rodriguez reveals how the soothing and restorative power of sound has transformed her life, mentally and physically.
9 May 2023
Words by: Sharon Leece

Sound is a form of vibratory energy; it can touch us on many levels, mental, emotional and energetic. Texas-born, Hong Kong-based finance professional and wellness entrepreneur Cheryl Rodriguez credits the multifaceted power of sound for her ability to balance the demands of a banking career with her soul-affirming role as an Integral Sound Healer.

A two-week business trip to London led Rodriguez to discover the positive effects of sound therapy. “I had purchased an all-class pass at a yoga studio. One day, I tried a group gong bath after a yoga class. I felt so relaxed and calm that I kept returning.”

Back in Hong Kong she continued to go to gong baths, including 9-hour overnight ones, in a bid to maintain balanced living in a fast-paced city working in an equally fast-paced job. “Simply put, sound healing or a gong bath is a type of guided meditation. When the gongs, singing bowls and instruments are played, a soothing soundscape is created that can take the listener on a relaxing, meditative journey.”

Sound connects back to our inner being. “All one has to do is lay there, breathe, listen, and let go. The vibrations produced in a gong bath help to “tune” your body and aid in restoring harmony and resonance.”

Singing bowl with mallet with red tip on a green and blue marble surface
Sound has the power to take the listener on a relaxing, meditative journey
Sound has the power to take the listener on a relaxing, meditative journey
Sound has the power to take the listener on a relaxing, meditative journey
“The more often we are able to quiet the mind and be in the present moment, the more we can be at ease with ourselves and easier navigate what life throws at us.”

Rodriguez has a long-standing connection with music and credits this, in part, to her sound healing path. “I studied music in high school; it really moves and inspires me. I think music speaks to us – it can be very healing. When I lived in Japan I would go every year to a traditional taiko drumming festival on a remote island. I loved the sounds and vibrations of the drums, and dancing freely to the music.”

Practitioners believe that sound creates a higher vibrational state that allows the body to restore itself. Rodriguez experienced this for herself in 2017 when she had emergency eye surgery followed by a long recovery period. “There was a lot of pain, swelling and pressure as well as temporary loss of vision in the operated eye. The doctors couldn’t say whether I would get my vision back,” she explains.

Upset, uncertain and anxious, she went to a gong bath to find calm and relaxation. The effects were instantaneous. “When I came out of the session, I was completely surprised that the pain and the swelling was greatly reduced - this lasted a few hours.” She went back multiple times and experienced the same result.

After recovery, she began to study sound healing in-depth, working with masters from Germany, Thailand, Argentina, Dubai, India and Hong Kong. Today, she guides sound meditations using breathwork, gongs, singing bowls and other instruments at The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong and also on a private and consultancy basis. She organises yoga and sound workshops and designs weekend retreats, usually out in nature.

a woman standing and holding a gong next to a seated woman on the floor
Rodriguez with Tania Bardhan, Senior Spa Director, Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, image courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong
Reflection of someone standing in the water with ripple effects

“Today we have to juggle life, work and family; we are overloaded with information and devices.” The Covid-19 pandemic added another layer of tension and anxiety. “It was like being on a heightened state of alert. It’s important to find a way to release that and reset.”

Rodriguez strongly believes that sound healing has benefits for all. “I’ve worked with executives, families, males, females, clients with stress or health issues. I’ve offered summer programmes to children and even given a session to my late grandmother who was near 90 years old.

“Personally, I try to go regularly to a sound session to maintain my own balance. I also play for myself at home or self-heal with singing bowls or tuning forks (I love placing a bowl on my chest, tummy or legs). I’ve also been known to whip a tuning fork out of my bag and give a mini session on friends or colleagues with tight shoulders!”

Q / A :

What inspires you?

Nature, the beach is one of my happy places! During the pandemic, Sai Kung was a place I gravitated to for its abundant nature. I am also moved by people and their stories; by my teachers, for sharing their wisdom and skills.

Your personal wellness routine?

I usually do a yoga or Qigong practice followed by a TRE. Once a week, I like to take a breathwork or sound meditation class. I’ve always been active in physical sport since I was young, and after my eye surgery it took a while to get back into a routine. I’m still finding my way and I now gravitate to the more gentler movement practices. As we all know, life throws curves so I think it is important to first take care of myself so that I can better take care of others.

A woman in a green top and pants holding a gong in one hand and a mallet with a stretched out hand in the other
Rodriguez with her gong, poolside at Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, image courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong
“Slow it down, take a breath, have a look around. Laugh. Find a movement and/or meditation practice that makes you feel good.”

How do you find your balance?

Self-care for me is getting out to nature. I grew up in a coastal city in Texas, so I love being by water. There is a lot of natural light in my apartment and I have a lot of plants – this really helps brings balance and a bit of nature indoors.

I’ve been attending in-person “Living Made Easy” seminars hosted by my friends Ariel & Shya Kane. Since the pandemic, they began offering their lively 2-hour seminars via Zoom and I usually attend twice a week from home. Their seminars really help me to stay more present/in the moment – which then creates a lot more ease, relaxation, and fun in all areas of my life.

What do you do to soothe your soul?

Meeting friends. Live music. Hanging out at the beach with a good book, with the waves crashing in the background. Hiking in Sai Kung, also kayaking or outrigging. I also love Brian Morrison’s breathwork classes via Zoom on a Saturday afternoon!

An inspirational quote that resonates with you?

I love rain and the sound of rain….so one of my favourite quotes is:
“To enjoy the rainbow, first enjoy the rain.”

I also think this relates to the ‘instant gratification’ world we are in, of rushing to achieve, so this quote reminds me to slow down, to enjoy the process, the beauty, over the outcome. It also relates to sound healing - slow down, connect with nature and the natural sounds around us.

The most important piece of wellness advice you can give?

Slow it down, take a breath, have a look around. Laugh. Find a movement and/or meditation practice that makes you feel good. Nourish your body, mind and soul.

A double rainbow over the horizon
The calming beauty of the Ocean