Deb Jennings, Sounds for the Soul
Every Tuesday afternoon for the last 11 years, a small group of people have brought mats, blankets and pillows to cocoon themselves on the hardwood floor at the Unity Center of Des Moines.
As light filters through the stained-glass windows of the nondenominational chapel, sound healer Deb Jennings plays a gong, tuning forks and Himalayan singing bowls. The vibrations of the ancient instruments resonate through the space while she leads guided meditations on self-compassion, healing and the importance of service.
“I have them breathe in love and gratitude for themselves,” Jennings said, “so they can love and accept themselves just as they are, right here, right now, in this very moment.”
Inspired to Serve
Jennings is a lifelong musician who started playing the piano at 5 years old. Despite her love of music, she hesitated to commit to a life of performance or teaching. But that all changed in 1995, when a group of sound healers visited the church where she played piano for the choir. “When I heard the first note of the singing bowl, I felt my heart pull to it like a magnet,” Jennings said.
Unity Church of Omaha gave Jennings her first singing bowl, and since then, she’s built a collection of instruments from around the world. After an apprenticeship in sound healing, she began studying Buddhism to understand the history of the practice. This led to an invitation to study music in China, Tibet and India, where she spent a month learning from musicians at temples and monasteries. After that transformative trip, she returned to Iowa to care for her aging parents and set up a meditation practice at the local Unity Center.
In addition to the weekly meditation sessions, Jennings hosts monthly ceremonies connected to the lunar cycle. She encourages people to set intentions when the moon is new and release things when the moon is full.
“As we gather together in groups, the energy feels more powerful,” Jennings said.
Cacao ceremonies are a new addition to the schedule. Commonly used to make chocolate, the plant naturally relieves stress and boosts moods without any psychedelic effects. Ceremony participants consume cacao tea or cookies and then bathe in healing sound. After the meditation, the group regathers to discuss the experience.
“It’s something I can share with people that helps them communicate on a level that words can’t reach,” Jennings said. “I just want to create healing in the world so we can love each other better.”