Cradle of Sound: Reflections on a Harp & Harmony Retreat


by Marcie Swift, Psychologist & Certified Therapeutic Musician of the Harp

I was sitting with my delicately carved Celtic harp, leading a Copper Beech Institute day-retreat called “Harp and Harmony.” The warm sun streamed through blue stained glass, turning my black leggings lapis blue. We were in the last moments of my guided meditation with the notes of the therapeutic harp gently cascading throughout the sunlit sanctuary.

With a soft voice, I took the group ever so slowly in their mind’s eye to the image of an emerald pond filled with vanilla scented water lilies. We had, in this guided meditation, been walking in a lovely pine-scented forest. Now I asked the group to imagine, while sitting near the water, what each longed to let go of in their lives in order to live more fully in true presence. I commented that many of us ask ourselves at the end of the day, “Have I lived enough, have I loved enough, and have I let go enough?”

We pondered this quietly and then visualized ourselves writing it down on a piece of paper, then gently dropping the paper into a hand-painted chest by the bench. I played my small Celtic harp with its sweet and full voice and let the notes caress and soothe us, embracing us in a healing musical massage. We felt safe, warm, even lighter and more awake.

We took our time. And then when the time was right, I led us, through the guided meditation, through the woods again. We felt the soft pine needles beneath our feet until the trail opened to a wide meadow of wildflowers. We imagined ourselves lying down on a blanket beneath the bright sun and wide cloudless sky.

Our breathing was even and deep, filling us with that wonderful ease of living fully in the present. Each harp note anchored us to the moment and ourselves, erasing life’s daily distractions as we sat together safely cloistered in this pristine sanctuary. We floated down a stream of timelessness, in harmony with one another.

As the meditation ended and the vibrations of my harp notes still floated through the air, a woman bravely offered to share her experience.

Her soft voice quivering, she mentioned her desire to let go of fear – fear of abandonment, in particular. Several heads nodded as she shared her story of letting go.

“When we left the forest in your meditation and came to the image of an open meadow of wildflowers and a blanket, I had a very clear vision. A young child, maybe eight years old and blonde, wearing a long white dress, came skipping toward me. She was smiling openly and seemed serene and un-self-conscious. I realized, with a start, that child was me – free of fear and totally open to myself and the world. I embraced her in my arms and held her close.”

The room was hushed. Some of us put our hands on our hearts, savoring the poignant image of her reclaimed self – a self no longer brittle and self-protective, but open and spontaneous, trusting and hopeful. We understood.

Many of us sighed deeply, and I said, “Yes.”

The notes continued to vibrate around and within us, a gentle embrace, connecting us to one another and ourselves, in loving-kindness.

Awaken Everyday Blog
Writing to inspire mindfulness, contemplation and wholesome living, by Copper Beech master teachers, students and contributors.

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