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Listen to this: Sound therapy

Not so long ago, Reiki used to be viewed as an outlier therapy in western society. Now it’s a common treatment, sought out by cancer patients in particular. This Amherst practitioner believes sound therapy and crystal treatments will soon be viewed the same way.

  • During a typical 75 minute session, Saralee Hofrichter, above left, selects a few different types of crystals and places them on a board with “sacred geometry” stamped on it — a series of intersecting circles. The board, above right, is put underneath the massage table, with other crystals placed around the client on the table. Staff Photo/Andy Castillo

  • The notes from each chakra sound bowl, above, corresponds to a specific part of the body, Hofrichter says. Staff Photo/Andy Castillo

  • During a typical 75 minute session, Hofrichter selects a few different types of crystals and puts them on a board with “sacred geometry” stamped on it — a series of intersecting circles. The board, in turn, is put underneath the massage table, with other crystals placed around the client on the table. Staff Photo/Andy Castillo

  • Hofrichter has a collection of crystals that includes bloodstone, chrysoprase, celestite, emerald and many others. She says the crystals impact different parts of the body based on their composition. Staff Photo/Andy Castillo—

  • In her practice, Hofrichter sees herself as a conduit for energy, and helps to direct it in a way that helps people find relief from pain or ease from anxiety. And while she’s a part of the process, the treatment’s success is ultimately up to the client. Staff Photo/Andy Castillo—



@AndyCCastillo
Monday, December 03, 2018

Afew years ago, Saralee Hofrichter of Amherst discovered the healing power of crystals while visiting João Teixeira de Faria, a Brazilian medium known as John of God. The experience was transformational.

"When I came back I couldn't talk about it for a long time. There were such deep internal shifts that made no sense in the material world that we live in,” said Hofrichter, 58, a practitioner of holistic therapies such as Reiki, an ancient Japanese form of healing where the therapist is believed to direct energy through the body with or without touch. She also incorporates crystals and sound into her treatments. 

She was standing in her home-studio next to a massage table in the center of the room. Along one wall, a set of clear quartz crystal bowls painted in different colors representing the chakra rested on a shelf. The chakra refers to sections of the body where energy is held, she says.

"And when I say energy, in that sense, I mean tapping into whatever you want to call it — god, divine energy, source energy — that unlimited energy that is available to us just by being a human being," Hofrichter notes.

A few decades ago, Reiki, while practiced in other cultures, was viewed as an outlier in western society. More recently, however, it’s become more common, an alternative treatment approach sought out by cancer patients in particular. Hofrichter believes that crystal treatment and sound therapy will one day be viewed the same way.

In a set of drawers on the opposite side of the room were trays filled with crystals — amethyst, hematite, jade and citrine, among many others. Each crystal has its own physical components, which affect different parts of the body or mind, she said.

Before Hofrichter started practicing Reiki, crystal and sound treatments, she worked as a holistic aesthetician and skin care expert at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Stockbridge for 15 years. She retired five years ago to pursue a more holistic care business on her own, adding Reiki and crystal treatments to her skin care treatments.

“Inevitably, people would get off the table and say ‘Wow, that was so much more than a facial,’ ” Hofrichter remembers. “It started me on the exploration of energy. That led me to become a Reiki master, and start to use the energy more consciously.”

When a person is mentally or physically hurting, their energy is thrown off. While in Brazil, Hofrichter says she felt the power of crystals first hand.

“Every other day I was there, for two weeks, I had a crystal treatment. I’d be put in a metal cabin of treatment rooms. There were these different colored crystals were above me. And they would play this incredible music,” she said. “During these crystal treatments that I had, I would journey somewhere, and I’m not a big journey-er, but I would go to some far, far, deep meditation, and be transported somewhere.”

At other times during the day, she would meditate with others in a room near Teixeira de Faria, giving him energy to perform healings, some of which were extraordinary, she says.

“I feel like I’ve expanded my belief system to incorporate the world of unlimited possibilities, and to tap into that world where magic can happen, and where there’s infinite possibilities,” she said.

Soon after coming home, she took a five month course in crystals at Sanctuary Healing Arts Center in Amherst, studied Reiki at the same place, and learned about sound treatments at The Center of Light Institute of Sound Healing and Shamanic Studies in Vermont. She also has a bachelor’s degree in alternative healing from the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s University Without Walls.

These days, Hofrichter said she uses crystals and sound to help realign parts of the body that aren’t in alignment.

“Sound has the ability to bring harmony, and project the correct frequency to that part of your body that is out of whack,” Hofrichter said. “When your brain waves synchronize with the frequency of the bowls, that’s where it can affect and uplift your vibration.”

While she uses sound for healing, it can also have a negative effect. Someone living in a large city, for example, might be impacted by sound without even realizing it, she said.

“That cacophony of horns and sirens and police cars has an effect on someone,” Hofrichter said. “You can imagine that person going to a cabin and experiencing quiet, and the effect it has on their bodies.”

During a typical 75 minute session, Hofrichter selects a few different types of crystals and puts them on a board with “sacred geometry” stamped on it — a series of intersecting circles. The board, in turn, is put underneath the massage table, with other crystals placed around the client on the table. The crystals impact different parts of the body based on what they’re made of.

Clear quartz, a type of stone, help to direct the other crystals’ energy to the right place, she said. Each crystal is chosen either by the client or Hofrichter, who selects them based on intuition.

Before starting Reiki, Hofrichter swings a pendulum over the person to clear their chakra and help them relax, she says.

“Then I start doing Reiki. Reiki can be actual touching of the body, or on top of the body,” she said. “It’s very gentle. I start at the head, and usually just hold that for five minutes. Often, I’ll feel like this ping-pong inside their head. And I’ll try to calm all that energy down.”

Depending on the client’s ailments, she either sings or strikes the bowl corresponding to the chakra where discomfort is felt. Just as each bowl has a different color relating to a chakra, the bowls also produce different notes.

“This is the root chakra — the bottom of your spine,” she said, striking the first bowl. A low note resounded through the room. She struck the remaining bowls, each one a little bit higher.

“Sacral chakra. This is the plexus, about your belly button. The heart chakra. Throat. Third eye,” she said, striking the last bowl.

In her practice, Hofrichter sees herself as a conduit for energy, and helps to direct it in a way that helps people find relief from pain or ease from anxiety. And while she’s a part of the process, the treatment’s success is ultimately up to the client.

“Intention, and not just with the sound, is a really big part of the treatment and healing,” Hofrichter said.

And besides the healing aspect, she notes that every client leaves the treatment room feeling incredibly relaxed. Likewise, the singing bowls are “very calming and beautiful to listen to. It has so much potential for healing,” she said.