Episode 7: Exploring Consciousness and Sound Meditation with Eliza and Josh Peck
This week, journalist Stacey Lindsay takes over as host of the UMA Ayurveda Podcast. Stacey speaks with Josh and Eliza Peck of the Dojo Upstate, a sound meditation retreat in upstate New York. Josh and Eliza create experiences—which many call sound baths—that take people on a journey of exploration and healing. Their conversation with Stacey covers how sound can unlock greater abilities to heal, as well as ways for us to better know ourselves. In leaning in and recognizing discomfort, there can be great growth. Josh and Eliza also talk about allowing ourselves the opportunity to listen, really deeply listen, and engage in the moments with whom we share. All of this has the power to help us, as humans, transform, heal, and evolve.
Eliza & Josh Peck's website: https://www.thedojoupstate.com/
Episode Transcript:Shrankhla Holecek: [00:00:06] Hi. I'm Shrankhla Holecek, The founder and CEO of UMA, An Ayurvedic Beauty and Wellness collection. This is the UMA Ayurveda podcast. Each week, I'll be having a conversation with someone I greatly admire on the topics of Ayurveda, holistic healing, spiritual well-being, and alternative health. By sharing this wisdom, I hope to share a personal truth and revelation with you that as ancient as they are, Ayurveda and other healing modalities are as modern and relevant today as ever.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:00:47] This week, Stacey Lindsay takes over as host of the UMA Ayurveda podcast.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:00:53] Stacey talks with Eliza and Josh Peck. Eliza and Josh are the founders of the Dojo upstate, a sound meditation retreat in upstate New York. Together, they create experiences which many call sound baths that take people on a journey of exploration, self care and healing. Their work is profound, and being that meditation is a huge part of Ayurveda, we couldn't wait to learn more from them. So here it is.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:01:20] Stacey's conversation with Eliza and Josh Beck.
Stacey Lindsay: [00:01:30] Josh and Eliza thank you so much for give me your time. Josh Peck: [00:01:32] Thank you for having us. Yeah. Thanks for having us here.
Stacey Lindsay: [00:01:36] You're in beautiful the Hudson Valley, correct? Yes. Well, let's. I'd love to start at the beginning.
Stacey Lindsay: [00:01:44] I know the dojo upstate is a sound meditation retreat and the Amba Sonic Listening Room again in the Hudson Valley. It sounds so idyllic. It's also a beautiful endeavor because you two are married and you've been creating these sound experiences and meditations together for more than six years. Take me back to the beginning. How did the love of sound and how did the dojo upstate come about for you too? Josh Peck: [00:02:06] Sure. It's really had a life of its own. I my background is in music. I was classically trained as a child and played piano for years and found myself in a position as a composer for film and television in New York City for years that the property was a shared property with another music producer. We had looked to create a weekend escape or during the week, project based artist studio. And so it evolved as a space primarily for production and privacy and just getting out in nature to create. Eliza was in the picture in the early days when we bought the house and the property up here. But it evolved, my friend that I purchased the home with moved to the West Coast to pursue music, and Eliza gracefully stepped in and helped iterate what was already in the works to become what it is today.
Josh / Eliza Peck: [00:03:12] And we started doing sound meditation together about six years ago, and a lot of it was doing some meditations and converted yoga studios or various places that weren't necessarily created for sound. So there were Chriqui floors or there would be sirens going by because we were mostly doing stuff in the city. So we really wanted to create a space that was made for sound where the intention of the space was really all about sound. And that's kind of where the beginnings of the dojo started.
Josh / Eliza Peck: [00:03:45] Yeah. There's another element, too, which was this desire to explore how to use technology to bring people closer and to create more of a shared experience that was visceral, that was more immersive. And so I. And I knew immediately that I wanted to. I needed a space to explore this. You couldn't create spatial sound in headphones without the space or in just a stereo image without, again, the room. So the room itself was. Employed as an instrument. Early on, as another tool for all of these different versions of composition, whether it would be for film or for experience, all kind of thing.
Josh / Eliza Peck: [00:04:35] And another interesting thing about the room is it has 22 channels of audio. Yeah.
Josh / Eliza Peck: [00:04:40] So there's there's 22 speakers built within the walls. And so a lot of the tech is hidden in this beautiful aesthetic that's still clean but not sterile, like a recording studio necessarily still has a sense of inspiration for players that are in the room or people who come in to have a listening experience.
Stacey Lindsay: [00:05:01] There's so much there to unpack sound meditation, really in general. I'd love to, if you would, describe what sound meditation is for our listeners, because I feel like we're hearing about it more and more. And it's becoming part of people's wellness routines in a sense or a destination for people. Take me through the experience and what it is exactly.
Josh / Eliza Peck: [00:05:21] Sure. There are so many beautiful ways that people access this world of meditation. And there are different names that people attribute to very similar overlapping modalities of sound versions of this. This is also commonly referred to as sound barths sound healing's.
Josh / Eliza Peck: [00:05:42] The important difference that we like to promote in the way that we were taught is referring this, referring to this as a sound meditation, because it replaces this emphasis on the participant as an active, engaged, engaged role.
Josh / Eliza Peck: [00:06:01] And that is to say that it's not a passive experience where you're just awash in sounds. There's an element that where the magic happens, we're all this transformational engagement can take place is in the observation as a participant. And so there.
Josh / Eliza Peck: [00:06:22] And that means simply just noticing your feelings, noticing the change in moods that the different instruments can suggest or invite.
Josh / Eliza Peck: [00:06:32] So it's not also healing in our practice as much as an opportunity to be healed or to activate that inner wisdom, that inner knowing, that inner healer.
Stacey Lindsay: [00:06:44] That's incredible, because you would think maybe, OK, I'm going to go and I'm going to just passively listen to sound. But it is so much more so much more to that. And I wanted to ask you what somebody's role is in the experience. And you started to talk about that a little bit. But can somebody be more engaged or in a sense, more active during the whole sound meditation experience?
Josh / Eliza Peck: [00:07:06] Something we talk to people about is how to be an active participant in the experience. And one thing that you can do as a listener is have an intention going into the experience to help with that. You can think of some things that you want to let go of or some things that you want to welcome in. But having an intention really helps drive the experience and helps engage the person in in some things that they may want to work on in themselves. It takes a lot of courage to go to these spaces of inquiry, of healing. And it's really what the person puts into it is what they get out of it. We also talk about ethos and how these different instruments are of a different ethos, meaning that some instruments may trigger sadness or nostalgia for somebody, whereas other instruments may trigger joy or happiness. So engaging with those emotions as they come up and just observing the emotions without judgment and without engagement, but sitting with them, allowing them to happen. Allowing yourself to feel this and and go on that exploration.
Stacey Lindsay: [00:08:16] I love that you say without judgment. That is one thing at UMA that we talk about quite a bit, because, of course, we're deeply rooted in Ayurveda. And two profound guiding principles of Ayurveda are, one, that the mind and body are linked and also the mind has the power to heal and to truly transform the body. And we feel our part in this is being generous with yourself, I think at allowing for that, too, to be part of your life. I wanted to ask you, what is your take on that and how do you feel that sound and sound Meditation can relate to that mind body connectivity.
Josh / Eliza Peck: [00:08:50] I think a lot of these practices are devices for or realigning with a deeper sense of awareness as a window into presence. And I think that's where do you see this? This philosophy of mind, body connection is oneness. There's there's often a lot of immediate knowledge stored in the body. And so somatic therapy is and body knowledge that can unlock emotional issues that we store, whether we say that's in the mind or elsewhere. But they are very interconnected in our work. And I think the the physical property of sound, the way that it requires a medium of air and transmission through the ear. Moving this physical world to the electrical world, to the knowing world, to levels of consciousness. Josh Peck: [00:09:44] You have this ability to shape and affect reality by providing opportunity. And that's what Eliza was referring to. And she says some instruments can suggest nostalgia or joy. There's an opportunity that sound presents to access both the mind body states.
Stacey Lindsay: [00:10:07] So how can this fit in? How does this fit into modern life? Of course, we're going a million miles a minute. But if somebody were to say, gosh, you know, this sounds amazing, but I don't know how to. How do I fit this into my life?
Stacey Lindsay: [00:10:20] Do you recommend once a week or just kind of exploring it here and there? How do you see it fitting in?
Josh / Eliza Peck: [00:10:27] I think so much about meditation and engaging in meditation is to really listen to your mind and your body while you're doing these experiences. So for one individual, they may do a sound meditation and then want to come every single day or once a week. Whereas other people might want to engage once a month and we'll more slowly turn it into a practice. I think what's important is, is not getting to a point of frustration or pushing oneself, but just allowing yourself to gently engage in the process of meditation.
Stacey Lindsay: [00:11:03] So I imagine there's this is incredible immersive experience where you're exploring consciousness. But what about after after you leave the meditation? Is there a way to honor what you experienced and to essentially continue to get to reap the benefits of the experience?
Stacey Lindsay: [00:11:21] I think it's a good way of connecting the earlier question as well, which is like how does this fit into modern life?
Josh / Eliza Peck: [00:11:27] You have an entry point, which I think is, again, just about awareness about being in the shower with your with the water coming down on your head and hearing that different sonic experience and having that be this opportunity again to drop you into a greater sense of presence. And similarly, on the way out. How do we integrate these experiences? That's where in most med meditation practices or or journeys or arcs of transformation, you have arguably the most challenging period, which is making meaning, bringing back changing the patterns.
Josh / Eliza Peck: [00:12:10] And I think with sound a way to you create integrative practices is simply to court, creates quiet spaces, quiet spaces for yourself, quiet spaces with conversations such as simply being present with a friend or a family member without agenda, without queuing up your question while you're listening. That's something that I've learned in this is work is just a slowing down.
Josh / Eliza Peck: [00:12:44] Presence.
Josh / Eliza Peck: [00:12:44] While listening in, that can be incredibly hard. As you say, queuing up questions while you're having a conversation with somebody. It's like it is probably one of the hardest things, I think, for human beings today. Just as you said, to slow down. Are are there ways that you recommend people in their in their day to day?
Stacey Lindsay: [00:13:03] I'm so curious because I need that very much in my life to take a beat and to to try and be more present.
Stacey Lindsay: [00:13:11] I think so much about being present is is not living so much in the future. And we have this tendency to want to plan out our time or know what the next step is or know what we're gonna be doing in 20 minutes or while we're speaking to somebody like Josh spoke about having an agenda or sometimes just wanting to engage with somebody is queuing up the next question, but really allowing for the space of presence, for the space of listening and just relaxing into those spaces. Is is the easiest way to be present. And I think also having some sort of meditation practice that that one can dip into daily or weekly is very beneficial in in understanding presence.
Josh / Eliza Peck: [00:14:02] I think also that there's an interesting. Thread to follow with the uncomfortable subject of death. And I think there are moments I've explored just just thinking more about death.
Josh / Eliza Peck: [00:14:20] There's a beautiful app out there called We Croak. And it's just randomly text to you throughout the day. I think it's five times a day. Just a quote about death or light of inspiration. Or maybe it's a funny joke. And the point to be made is that in contemplating sort of are arguably the greatest fear, the greatest unknown, we can bring a more. Josh Peck: [00:14:49] Forward sense of gratitude into each moment and understanding and appreciation. I do this with my dog. I do this with Eliza and I think it's a nice way to cultivate presence is to contemplate death. Without sounding too morbid.
Stacey Lindsay: [00:15:06] No, that's that's really that's really beautiful.
Stacey Lindsay: [00:15:09] And stemming off of that, too, I feel like there's a lot of beauty in the discomfort, too. And there's a lot of discovery and information there as well. So whether you're contemplating death or you're just leaning into again, it's just mentioned before exploring your consciousness. That can be really, really scary for people. It is scary even if you've been doing it for a while. But it but also incredibly grounding. And there's amazing information there. What would you say to somebody who who wanted to be brave, who wanted to do that work, say, and through some meditation or just even having starting a conversation with themselves? But they were scared. Any words of wisdom, of encouragement?
Josh / Eliza Peck: [00:15:55] I think I would start with. Just a question, which is. Can you think of any time that there has been meaningful growth without challenge, without pain at times and sometimes just this awareness bringing up the fact that there's a strong correlation between the challenge, weight, difficulty and growth in obviously Buddhist traditions. This is suffering and. To say what?
Josh / Eliza Peck: [00:16:36] What's the opportunity you want here? This is this is a chance for you to explore. And there's no coercion. This is an invitation. And that's how I got involved. I just wanted to explore a higher potential version of myself.
Josh / Eliza Peck: [00:16:53] And we're continually learning. I think it's important in these conversations to reiterate we're not any more of an expert than anyone else out there. And we're on our journey and we're constantly human and fumbling through it at times, but that there is a grounding and access point in the specific flavor of sound work that I find universally understandable.
Josh / Eliza Peck: [00:17:21] And using these moments of challenge or these moments of suffering as an opportunity for growth, it's there's so much fear in the unknown. And we're all kind of going through this. I know. Face together right now. And it takes a lot of courage and it takes a lot of bravery to dive into the unknown and to release yourself into it.
Josh / Eliza Peck: [00:17:43] Yeah, there's a lot of trusting, a lot of surrendering allowance acceptance. It's a lot of things that are easy to put into language. And we do it so frequently, particularly in the wellness world, that it tends to also soften the gravity of the meaning. But when you really sit with that, what is really surrendering to this experience? That's what. That's the call. That's the invitation. And people that answer that are, well, reward rewarded in any modality.
Stacey Lindsay: [00:18:14] I imagine use that so many people see this beautiful work. Could you give me a story or to have some someone who is profoundly transformed or benefited? A story you'd be willing to share about somebody who's shifted from these experiences with you?
Josh / Eliza Peck: [00:18:29] As we spoke about earlier, a lot of what we talk to people about before doing these appearances is having an intention and really setting aside time to prepare for the experience. So what people get out of it is what they put into it and the willingness to surrender, the willingness to explore themselves. We've had someone who was an alcoholic before. They experienced some meditation and their intention coming in was that they wanted to quit drinking alcohol and they came for the experience. And they haven't touched a drop of alcohol since. We had somebody else who who had some childhood trauma that they wanted to explore. And going back to that space of childhood trauma recontextualize thing, what happened and being able to forgive herself and forgive the other people involved was a beautiful, transformational experience. And I'm I feel so proud of people who who go there and and just being able to hold space. What we'd like to do as facilitators is really get out of the way of the experience. We have so much love for each other and we want to create spaces of love and nurturing and safety for people. So our role as a facilitator is to create this nest of safety and allow that person to really go in and explore those parts of themselves that that can be challenging and scary. And seeing somebody have the will to go to those places and have those moments of healing is really beautiful.
Josh / Eliza Peck: [00:20:14] And I think it's also hopeful to remember that it's it's really up to the participant in these spaces.
Josh / Eliza Peck: [00:20:23] It's all about permission. There's no magic bullet or prescriptive instrument to play to unlock something or her magical frequency in our philosophy that they can do that. A lot of it is about. Providing a container for someone to give them self permission to recontextualize and do all these, again, transformational devices. And it's not. It's some people just find it relaxing moment to chill and unplug. It doesn't always need to have such gravity or require that. And from one experience to the next for the same person tends to be dramatically different.
Stacey Lindsay: [00:21:06] Well, I have to say, it's just relaxing, talking to both of you, too. I'm a lot more relaxed.
Stacey Lindsay: [00:21:14] Before we get on this call, so thank you so much. Where where can where can people find you? I can't wait till I can make my way up to the dojo upstate in person. But in the meantime, where can we find your work online and learn more?
Josh / Eliza Peck: [00:21:29] So what we've been doing a lot lately is creating these Lifestream experiences with binaural audio. Maybe Josh can explain more about what by neural audio is. But it's been a way for us to translate these sound meditations right into your own home. Josh Peck: [00:21:48] Yeah, we're essentially using a lot of interesting technology that allows for the listener to feel as if they're vividly in the room when they're using headphones. And this is achieved by recording with a dummy head with two microphones in each of the years. And this this this method essentially creates this vivid 3-D landscape. So right now are as a way to visit us. You can visit us at the dojo upstate dot com to learn more about our work. And this is also where we're hosting our weekly live streams. And Sunday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. p.m. Eastern Time.
Stacey Lindsay: [00:22:28] Yeah, amazing. Well, Josh and Eliza, thank you so much. And thank you for putting this beautiful work out there. It's shifting the world for sure.
Stacey Lindsay: [00:22:36] thank you. It's been a pleasure. Thank you. Thank you for having us.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:22:45] Thank you so much for listening. If you'd like more information on our guests and the additional references during our conversation, please visit us at UMAOils.com. Please subscribe to the UMA Ayurveda podcast, and share. See you next time!