Friday Feature: Sound Healer Shanila Sattar

Friday Feature: Sound Healer Shanila Sattar

Our Friday Feature celebrates powerful women from our sisterhood who share their magic with the world in unique and inspiring ways. This week, we are proud to share Shanila Sattar, a sound healer, wellness activator, women's researcher, speaker, and the founder of AlwaysPlay Studios. She uses ancient modalities with a modern twist to balance the everyday person and has worked with groups with anxiety, stress, depression, mood imbalances, and sleep troubles. In addition to this thoughtful interview, she created a custom sound bath for restful sleep for the Fred and Far community that we will be sharing here and on IGTV. Scroll down for the restorative soundbath and meditation for sleep Shanila created just for us.

When you were a child, what made you the happiest?

One of my favorite memories is of my grandfather saving me off-season fruit for when I would visit my home country. I had moved away from Bangladesh to the U.S when I was about 10. My grandfather would go through deep efforts to find the best fruits of that season - lychees, mangoes, guavas, papayas, and more - and flash freeze them for me. So when I'd visit, even if those fruits were not in season, I'd get to have a taste of the best saved for me by my grandfather. That always made me very happy and loved.

What inspired you to do what you’re doing today?

I would say I've been divinely guided! My background is in tech and in scientific research; there was never particular a desire of mine to be in wellness or sound healing. As I started to discover sound healing, breathwork, and other amazing wellness tools that really transformed my own wellbeing, it felt natural to start learning more and sharing it with others. Now when I think about it, I'm a 4th generation sound healer! Sound and vibrational healing is part of my DNA and it's cool to see how others in my lineage have practiced sound as healing in their own ways.

I love the name of your company - AlwaysPlay - how and why did you choose it?

I think we tend to take ourselves WAY too seriously now-a-days! Don't you think? AlwaysPlay Studios is a reminder to PLAY, to have fun, to trust, to enjoy. From play we experience the deepest joys, love, growth, expansion, and clarity. It's when we're separated from rules and expectations where our highest selves speak to us. Deep inside of all of us, is a little kid, who wants to play, have fun, and not take things so seriously. As we're busy learning rules and meeting expectations, we forget about this kid and how simple they are. Even in times of stress, uncertainty, and hardships, AlwaysPlay is a reminder to keep it simple.

Shanila Sattar performing a soundbath

Tell us about breathwork and sound baths - why did you choose these two modalities to focus on? How do they work?

I love breathwork and sound baths, and that combo together because of how SIMPLE they are, yet have life changing effects on people. Several years ago, I accidentally discovered sound baths at a music festival during a time when I was going to a ton of transitions. Deaths in the family, break up, emotional and mental imbalances, and much more. I was in a place where I just didn't know how to take care of myself. The first time I experienced a sound bath, it was the first time i felt absolutely silence in my incredible busy mind. Complete stillness. I floating into a deep meditation and literally from that point on I was like, "oh that's what that feels like". I'd never been a meditator, in fact, I had a huge aversion to meditation because I thought you had to a be a certain type of person to be someone who meditation. You know? All zenned out, nothing bothers you, and you're so calm. That's not me. And what I hadn't realized up until that point is that there are plenty of ways to meditation. Sound Baths, breathing, dance, art, exercise, and so much more. For different people, different things stick.

For me it's sound. I'm highly sensitive to my listening experiences. It allows me to go inward, somatically engulf, space travel, experience dimensions and colors, hear messages, stay still, and any combination of the above. In that space, I feel deeply connected. Sound vibrations and frequencies (as we know from decades of music and neurological research) have the ability to calm brain waves, illicit emotion, and activate the body's natural healing systems. Sound baths are not random; there is an entire entrainment process, understanding of frequencies and they react with the brain and body, and it's a beautifully curated experience depending on what we're trying to accomplish.

Breathwork, similarly, has been use for over 10,000 documented years to achieved heightened states of awareness. Different breathing techniques and styles do completely different things, and each style can be used depending on what you're trying to accomplish. Many report that breathwork can be 10 years of therapy in one session and very effective in removing emotional blockages, healing through traumas, and bringing in self-love. I share more details and techniques of both sound baths and breathwork in our breathwork and sound bath facilitator trainings at www.alwaysplay.org.

In times of great stress, sleep is oftentimes one of the first things to get disrupted? In your experience, why is that the case?

Our body's function on something called the circadian rhythm, which can be re-balanced by breathwork and sound baths. Stress and anxiety are the biggest culprits of what disrupts that natural cycle. When compromised, our body goes into a "flight or fight" mode. Basically it's in survival mode and our body's are deciding how to do the bare minimum, to survive. It's here where our immunity, mood, eating habits, hormone production, and sleep are put on the back burner because our body's resources are used towards survival, instead of "luxury" things like sleep. In high stress, our parasympathetic nervous system is under activated during flight or fight - our heart rates are compromised, blood pressure, digestion, immunity, hormones, and of course, sleep.

Why do breathwork and sound baths help restore our sleep and overall well being?

Curated sound baths by learned practitioners help the brain get to certain brain states were sleep is activated. We have several brain states and different frequencies, different sound bowls, and even different notes, talk to the brain in different ways. When sound baths are used for rest and restoration, we're entraining the mind to be in a theta and delta state. In these states, our brains are in rest mode, instead of survival. It's important to go to sound baths or experience virtual sound baths with proper techniques and frequencies, particularly for sleep. Otherwise, it's the difference between taking a nap that's really amazing or taking a nap that makes you super irritated and groggy! All brainwaves my friend! I go deep into all the details in our 2 day sound healer trainings in www.alwaysplay.org. There's over 100 styles of breathwork and they all do different things, but in general, certain styles naturally down the systems in the body that are over active, and naturally speed up the systems that aren't working at an optimal level. Breathwork also releases feel good hormones in the body like serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, and even DMT, that are all incredibly powerful for the body's overall regulation, especially sleep. We dive deep into proper breathwork techniques and facilitation in our breathwork facilitator trainings on AlwaysPlay.

Can you give us a story that exemplifies why you get fulfillment out of the work you do?

Much of my work that's not seen in a public domain are in women's shelters and veteran's legions. I believe healing, especially natural ways like sounds and breathing, should be more accessible to overlooked and underserved populations. Some of my favorite experiences are of hosting weekly sound baths at shelters where women feel so seen and cared for. I 100% bring 180lbs of instruments, and do not skip proper techniques when caring for them. Women's stories include getting transported to the waters of Switzerland, seeing a great grandmother, finally crying without judgement, and getting an hour of sleep that felt like 2 days. This is where I know the work is needed and where I am fulfilled.

Shanila Sattar Meditation Breathwork Soundbath

Is there a roadblock you had to overcome to get where you are today? How did you do it?

I think anytime you come from a science background there's a huge roadblock in doing holistic wellness and getting it out there. I've constantly had to let the work speak for itself.

When’s the last time you had to be super brave?

When I left my tech and science world to be a sound healer, that was brave.

What is something you're willing to be vulnerable about with us?

Much of my work is centered around emotional and mental wellness, and I would say that I'm called to it because it's not something I had strong examples of growing up. I don't think I can point of any conversations or examples that really illustrated good self love, self care, mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual wellness. We were immigrants acclimating to a new culture, language, and financial story; and I come from a culture where it's still incredibly difficult to talk about wellbeing in many ways. Much of my drive and the places I both create and show up in are highly informed from the lack of care people in my own family had.

What does choosing yourself mean to you?

It means trusting my highest self and listening to my gut.

How do you practice self love and care on a daily/weekly basis?

Self love for me is alone time. I really love to be alone. Daily, I need time alone and that can be with an activity, like listening to music or talking a walk, or just being. It is previous time for me.

What is your advice to your 10, 18, 25, 30, 35 and 40-year-old self (pick three, as applicable)?

10 - Keep trusting your gut.
30 - Live a life that you don't need to have a mid life crisis about in 10 years.
40 - See, you still don't have it figured out. Have fun anyway.

What do you love most about yourself?

I love my ability to do what I dream.

What is your big picture message for our community?

Self-love, like anything, is a practice. Sometimes practice goes really well, sometimes practice is hard and tiring, sometimes we want to skip practice because there are other things to do. But practice builds the skill, and self-love is a skill worth building. 

What are you working on that you want our community to know about?

My breathwork facilitator training and sound healer trainings are happening virtually now! If you'd like to know go deeper into your own healing or want to start facilitating breathwork or sound baths for others we have trainings coming up nearly every month. I also host a free Self Love Breathwork Circle 5pm PST - 6:30pm PST every Sunday. We have incredible breakthroughs each week. Through quarantine and stay at home, I've been hosting IG LIVE Sound Baths on @shanila.sattar as well.

Connect with Shanila on Instagram @shanila.sattar or on her website, alwaysplay.org.

Now get comfortable and enjoy this soundbath meditation for sleep.

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@Shanila.Sattar is the creator of @alwaysplaystudios and uses sound baths to help recalibrate the body's natural healing states. Sound frequencies and vibrations are powerful and beautiful ways to relax the mind into a deep theta state, where sleep and relaxation is improved. Settle down for the night with a sound bath using crystal alchemy bowls, crystal bowls, and healing instruments curated to help you improve your sleep. Here are some suggestions for enjoying virtual sound baths: 1.Find a cozy space to be where you can sit or lay comfortably for our time together. 2.Turn off distractions and lay your phone down. 3.Use *headphones* if you are able. 4.Invite friends and family to experience it with you. 5.Experience the entire duration of the sound bath. #soundbath #soundbathforsleep #soundhealing #restandrelaxation #soundthearpy #musictherapy #relaxationmusic #healingsounds #restfulsleep #shanilasattar

A post shared by By Melody Godfred MG (@fredandfar) on


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