by Karen Shaw
We live in a hectic world, where we have little time to relax and take stock of where we are and where we’re going. But Gareth Wilkins from Skipton and his other half Laura Mitchell are travelling the country to try and change that. Under the name Mr and Mrs Brilliant, they are touring venues across the United Kingdom, including a number in Yorkshire and Lancashire, bringing their brand of SoundMedicine to the people.
They aim to use soundwaves and tones to help attendees enter a state of deep relaxation and let go of negative emotions, releasing them from negative patterns that might be holding them back.
The events involve immersing yourself into their SoundWave, something Gareth and Laura describe as a warm embrace. If you fancy giving it a go, sessions are open to everyone from seasoned wellbeing veterans to absolute beginners and visitors are encouraged to bring along yoga mats, duvets, pillows or anything else that will help them lie back and let the vibrations run over them.
When I catch up with the pair, Laura is about to hand over the keys to her house and they explain that they are happy floating around the country in the back of Gareth’s van.
“Ideally, we intend to move around the UK, Europe and further afield,” smiles Laura. They are certainly an ambitious pair and it’s not surprising when you consider the wealth of experience and expertise the pair have amassed.
With a prestigious 18-year career as an international opera singer, Laura trained at The Royal College of Music and the National Opera Studio. This lass can sing, “Opera’s amazing,” she grins, “but I thought ‘this is taking too much from me than I am willing to give. I wanted to put sound and healing together to create a kind of trauma therapy. I did that for myself as a way of putting myself back together. So, I trained in sound healing. I was already trained in yoga, so I put it all together and started writing mantra meditations.”
Whoa, it’s at this point I’m lost. I have a reasonable grasp of what meditation involves but mantra, nope, I’m not sure what that means… is it a type of Japanese plant? Luckily for me, Laura is able to educate me… “Man’ means mind and ‘tra’ means training. They give the brain something to focus on and the sounds are designed to open up certain areas of the body. They’re like little portals of the body, so if the vibration goes into a specific place it will cause a result to happen.”
Gareth’s interest in soundwaves began to emerge after he acquired a harp. I’ve known Gareth (Gaz) for over 20 years. An amazing pianist, he trained at Manchester University and Leeds College of Music to achieve a degree in Jazz. So, I was curious to discover why he’s swapped All the Things You Are for all the things you feel.
“I’d given up on music, I’d fallen out of love with it about five years ago. I’d totally had enough. I was training to become a doctor and a friend of mine had a harp going spare as you do. I’d always wanted to play the harp, so I borrowed it and played it in the evening after eight hours of staring at books.
“My exams came around and I said to myself, ‘if I pass, I’ll carry on with my studies, but if I fail, I’m going to give up my house and move into my car and learn the harp’. And I failed. I lived in the car, I learnt on the street, I busked and made sure there wasn’t any disconnect between learning and performing. That was an important step.
“I ended up playing for meditation classes and doing bits of shamanic work. I was really fed up of listening to rubbish meditation music on YouTube. I thought ‘how hard could it be?’ Then Laura fell into my lap and our world view and ambition was so closely aligned that we decided to put it together and ended up falling for each other as well!”
Enter Mr and Mrs Brilliant, both accomplished musicians who are delivering much needed refuge amidst the noise and haste of today’s hectic society.
“There’s a lot of darkness going on,” says Laura, “there have been studies done which say that the lighter side – the development of compassion, kindness, loving kindness etc. – is having to make an emergence now because it needs to balance, if not slightly overbalance the darkness. There will always be light and dark – that’s humanity and the reality of the human condition – but it’s more about allowing people the opportunity to find balance within themselves, which then they can pass on to somebody else. That changes the world – not everybody has to be a Dalai Lama.
“On a ground level, people are caused to go to mindfulness because of the anxiety, the stress and the trauma around them.
For those of you like me, ready to make assumptions – I can already imagine the ‘type’ that these events attract, no doubt they’ll all be wearing ethically sourced clothing, there’ll be someone there called Farquhar with a serious stare wearing a Peruvian cardigan, ladies with unshaved armpits, lashings of nettle tea, the sweet smell of sandalwood and no doubt they’ll all be vegan… I ask them if I’m right…
Laughing (luckily for me!), Laura answers, “It’s for everyone. Many people that experience our SoundWaves have deeply profound experiences, often unexpected. We’ve been quite humbled by that.
“You can expect to walk into a really lovely, welcoming and calming environment. Then at the start we tell you what to expect and how it works. We’re working on relations and relating on this tour, so we’ll mention a bit about that. Then we’ll explain that you’ll hear three bells to start, three bells to finish and all you need to do is make sure you’re comfy.
“You can follow my voice, or you can lie and listen to the music and not tune in to my voice, that’s fine as well. Most people just want to snuggle down for an hour and a quarter of music before we bring people out of the wave.”
“You’ve got to mix reverence and irreverence in equal measure,” says Gareth, “it’s got to be light or it becomes staid and heavy and that’s the biggest killer. It’s a vibrational medicine and the higher your consciousness, the higher your vibration.”
This soundwave thingy sounds like the perfect excuse to escape for a cheeky couple of hours wrapped in your favourite blanket while immersed in a plethora of sounds, but not only is it healthy for the mind it is proven that soundwaves are beneficial for the body too.
“Sound, in its rawest form is so powerful. Did you know they are using sonic waves to cure cancer? asks Laura. “Sonic lasers concentrate the sound to treat tumours. I always use that as a really good example of the power of sound.”
Cancer Research UK indeed reports on High Intensity Focused Ultrasound – HIFU – which has success against cells in patients with kidney, prostate and bladder cancers amongst others.
Mr and Mrs Brilliant is a call to people to realise their own brilliance, so, grab your blanket and in the words of The Beach Boys start ‘pickin’ up good vibrations’.
For more details and to book your place go to mrandmrsbrilliant.com or find them on Facebook You can learn more about what they do, why they do it, how they do it and more.
You can also hear their SundaySoundWave radio show, aiming to bring people all over the earth together at the same point each week to relax and contemplate the world around them. If you’re feeling stressed and run down, this is the perfect oasis of calm in the midst of the chaos.