Although she appears to have landed right where she belongs, Arlyn Ruddy didn’t just fall into her groundbreaking work as a sound therapist. Her unconventional journey actually began at a young age.
“When I was a kid, I would break down music by recording songs to a cassette tape, repeatedly hitting pause then play in an attempt to figure out what they were saying and what it all meant,” Ruddy said.
“Once I understood the underlying mechanics of how the tracks came together, I started writing my own lyrics, playing guitar and exploring a variety of percussion instruments.”
It was while searching for a larger purpose in California in the late 1990s that Ruddy somehow found her way into an impromptu drum circle with the Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart at the bottom of a 1,500-year-old redwood tree that was then occupied by environmental activist Julia “Butterfly” Hill. She also briefly served as emcee for a Los Angeles-based hip-hop act that once shared the stage with Wu-Tang Clan’s Raekwon.
Rather than finding what she was looking for in her many meanderings, Ruddy began to spiral downward.
“I was diverted from my original path, in part, because I had a notebook containing all of my lyrics stolen by some stranger that had needed a ride,” she said.
That loss, on top of other life-changing events unfolding around her, was more than Ruddy could bear.
“I got really into drugs after that and I pretty much lost all of my drive,” she said. “I don’t know how to explain it, but my creativity was hindered for a long, long time. And I couldn’t bring myself to write again for years after that.”
Yet, the ensuing chapters of Ruddy’s story do not prove to be tragic.
“From a spiritual standpoint, I had some radical things happen to me, including intense energy movements. But the final piece of clarity came to me as I was participating in my first sound bath. In that moment, I realized how profoundly transformational sound can be. You can keep it on the surface level if you want to merely feel good and relax, but I discovered that you can also let it take you a lot further in terms of making physical, mental, spiritual and emotional progress. I quit my job and went into sound therapy full-time not long after that.”
As a sound therapist, she applies specific performance techniques to a variety of instruments to help people confront specific aspects of themselves and allow for personal growth.
Having recovered from her own losses and addictions, Ruddy replanted herself in Charleston where she now performs her work in small private sessions and large public events in the area.
Join Arlyn Ruddy for a Full Moon Sound Ceremony at Satsang Yoga Nov. 19. at 6:45 p.m.