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The Conduit Center

Connecticut’s Sound Meditation Pioneers

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by Terry Wolfisch Cole

Owen James and collaborator Jeff Nickell are the Co-Founders of The Conduit Center, an East Hartford-based studio offering Sound Meditation—deep relaxation accompanied by live music. The Conduit Center, which opened in 2010, also provides boutique yoga classes and workshops and numerous styles of massage.

Using gongs, Himalayan bowls and other rhythmic instruments, James and Nickell create Sound Meditation experiences during which deeply relaxed participants close the mind-body gap. James says that the path to his life as a “Gong Guide” and studio owner was not a straight one. His roommate bought some bowls and played them for James, who was originally skeptical, but soon began to experience a state of peace and calm due to the vibration of the sound. He says, “It quickly dawned on me that the sounds have a transformational power.”

Soon after, James joined his roommate to play bowls in public and received positive feedback. “We witnessed an immediate effect on people. Their faces lit up. Their energy changed. They quickly shifted from skepticism to gratitude,” says James. He sought ways to offer Sound Meditation experiences more often. Every weekend brought festivals, farmers’ markets and more parties. Nickell joined the group, a lease was signed and the Conduit Center was born.

Sound Meditation Events

Of the Conduit Center’s signature events, James says, “We are the home base for the study of sound meditation in Connecticut. Our prime directive is to explore the craft of sound mediation and how it can be used to introduce wellness into the busy lives of the people of Connecticut. We’re pioneers of sound meditation in the Northeast. I don’t know that there is another studio in the world that’s doing this the way we are.”

Together with a group of local favorites including Bob Eccleston of Acoustic Awakening, Jim Coles, Wesleyan professor Kalidasa, Andrew Vigarelli and Craig Norton, as well as more far-flung acts such as Golden Drums from Brooklyn, the Conduit musicians offer several Sound Meditation concerts onsite every month. They also offer events at area yoga studios, spiritual centers and colleges and play numerous private events. James says, “What makes our events different is that they are full immersion experiences. Our musicians move throughout the room. You have sound coming at you from every direction. You are enveloped in vibration.” He says that the physical needs of attendees are paramount. “We take steps to make sure that you have everything you need: pillows, blankets, zero-gravity chairs. We want you to experience an environment of total comfort. At a Conduit Center Sound Meditation, we’ve got you covered.”

Shawn Cole, owner of Yoga Center of Collinsville, has hosted the Conduit musicians at his studio regularly since 2013. “Our students sign up for these events as soon as we make them available,” Cole says. “They usually sell out. People are so eager to step away from their hectic lives. We are pleased to partner with Owen and Jeff and offer these much-needed and much-appreciated programs to our community.”

Esther Summer, who has been practicing yoga for more than 20 years, is looking forward to the musicians’ return to her area. She describes her recent experience at a Collinsville event as “the most relaxing, rejuvenating thing I’ve ever tried. It was like being bathed in sound.”

More than Music: Yoga and Massage

Two full-time and one part-time massage therapists offer their services at the Conduit Center every day. Whether Swedish, deep tissue or Thai in style, each massage session is tailored to the needs of the client and provided by professionals with extensive knowledge of anatomy, physiology and body mechanics.

Yoga classes are taught at the Conduit Center weekly on Saturday mornings, with more planned. “It’s a beautiful, intimate space,” says James of his studio. “We like to see it used as much as possible.” Classes are small, and are typically accompanied by sound.

Upcoming Events

The Conduit musicians have numerous events scheduled in the coming months, including weekly Sound Meditation Concerts at their East Hartford studio, a June 4 Restorative Yoga Workshop at Breathe More Yoga in Tolland and a June 11 Gong Meditation Concert at Yoga Center of Collinsville. Other events are anticipated at retreat centers including the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Lenox, Massachusetts, and at the Copper Beech Institute in Farmington, Connecticut.

The Conduit Center is located at 1227 Burnside Avenue #1 in East Hartford. For more information, call 860-888-4314 or visit TheConduitCenter.com.

 

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