By Sabrina Franza
By Sabrina Franza
Jesus Martinez, owner of Martinez Handmade Cigars, gives an inside look to the hand rolled cigar making process.
I sit down with Sara Auster, a sound therapist and meditation teacher, to talk about what sound therapy is and how it helped Auster on her journey of personal recovery.
SARA AUSTER: My name is Sara Auster. I am a Sound Therapist and meditation teacher.
LAURA RUBIO: What you are hearing right now are Himalayan Singing Bowls, one of the many instruments Auster uses in her practice. Sound therapy found its way into Auster’s life in an unexpected manner.
SARA AUSTER: I have been a musician my whole life and then, in 2002, when I was working as a professional artist and musician, the floor of my studio collapsed. And I fell 15 feet, I broke my back, I was temporarily paralyzed.
I suffered from chronic pain for a long time after that, which is really the very specific moment that set me on a path of sort of self-healing and self-inquiry and trying to, you know, figure out how to not be in pain all the time.
LAURA RUBIO: After the accident, Auster wanted to find a way to keep music in her life.
SARA AUSTER: Well, I have this love of music and I’m an artist and how can I creatively express myself in a way that’s holding space for other people to heal and recover from injury and trauma? That’s how I ended up here.
LAURA RUBIO: Auster offers her therapy in sound baths, meditative events that can be private, in small groups or at large-scale events.
SARA AUSTER: It’s not a concert. It’s often described as a concert. It’s not a concert because I’m not performing. I would say maybe it’s most similar to jazz in that it’s really like a conversation however it’s not just me in conversation with myself. It’s me in conversation with the humans that are in the room with me.
LAURA RUBIO: Something that is always present in Auster’s sound experiences are the crystal singing bowls heard earlier.
SARA AUSTER: Because they are bowls, they’re round, and I’m playing them by taking this rubber mallet or suede or, acrylic often, to circle around the outside to create a friction that makes them “sing,” that’s why they call them the singing bowls.
LAURA RUBIO: Auster also includes wind chimes in her sound baths, although they play their own part at the end of her sessions.
S: This may be like a little bit of a, you know, coming back, like a little gentle uh, you know, “Good morning! It’s time to wake up.” (Laughs) Yeah.
LAURA RUBIO: Auster believes that sound, like music, has the ability to shift our mood. It all depends on the relationship we develop with them.
SARA AUSTER: And so, it’s just, it’s part of life and part of city living. There’s lots of sounds like that in the city that I love to talk about, even the noisy neighbor.
LAURA RUBIO: She hopes that people can see that meditation is anything but a soundless experience.
SARA AUSTER: The truth is meditation is, it’s really just a practice of knowing yourself better, in a sense. And by knowing yourself better, you then know how to interact and relate with the world around you in a much healthier way.
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“I’ve always dealt with climate change issues and the aftermath of climate change, but now that it’s in Puerto Rico it makes everything that I work hard for 10 times more important,” said Angel Morales, a 16-year-old community organizer for the United Puerto Ricans’ Organization of Sunset Park (UPROSE).
The organization partnered with the Climate Justice Alliance and the larger Puerto Rican community to establish October 11 as a National Day of Action and host a rally in Union Square Park to command Congress to create a federal aid package to help Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria. “This is my people under attack–this is my people not being able to survive,” Morales said.
Morales and other protesters and speakers called for the repeal of the Jones Act, which requires that goods transported between two United States ports are shipped by vessels built in the U.S. and controlled by Americans and thus limits Puerto Rico’s ability to receive the necessary provisions.
“Right now our people are hungry,” Morales said. “They have no water, no medication. They’re lacking all of the basic necessities of life right now. So our number one concern is sending stuff out there so that they can survive.”
“My 60-year-old grandfather who is legally blind is still, all these days later, MIA,” Morales said while telling her story onstage at the rally. “I remember watching the news reports as they were coming in and thinking, ‘There is no way this is really happening.'”
Continuing as raindrops wilted her speech, she said, “You see what they don’t know is that when it matters most, we come together and everyone magically becomes family,” she said. “As horrible as this is, we will get through this together.”
Protestors and passing park goers listened under dripping umbrellas as Morales concluded her speech with a call to action. “That’s why tonight we are here to demand a just recovery and build resilience in Puerto Rico,” she said. “We need all of our people to make it through this climate crisis and set up measures so that we are prepared for the next disaster that hits. Today and everyday, we stand with Puerto Rico.”
Shielded from drizzles by a yellow umbrella displaying “CLIMATE JUSTICE” painted in large red letters, Morales released high-pitched cries in support of the rally. The congregation raised flags, banners and fists all across Union Square Park and loudly chanted, “Puerto Rico is under attack. Stand up. Fight back.”
“Of course I’m Puerto Rican, so all of my family’s out there in Puerto Rico. I still haven’t been able to get in contact with a lot of my family out there, so that definitely affects me personally but not in a bad way as you may think. This makes me even more determined. It makes me even more persistent, more strong. I’m doing everything in my power stateside so that my people in the island, they can get what they need.”
After the protest, Morales connected with a rally participant about their common struggles with being in New York while their families remain in Puerto Rico. When the participant finished voicing her concerns, Morales simply said, “Don’t worry–we got this.”
Morales stood quietly as journalists interviewed a demonstrator.
“We’re not just gonna fix what was broken. We’re gonna start something new from the ground up. We’re gonna make sure that we’re not kicked out of our homes like in other disasters where, after disaster hits, somehow people come in that had no business there in the first place and our people get kicked out. We don’t want that in Puerto Rico. We will not let that happen in Puerto Rico.”