WHEN lockdown struck, local woman Margaret Madden knew that her ‘sound meditation’ classes would be more important than ever.
Her relaxing methods are now helping people of all ages to sleep better and cope with the stresses and strains of everyday life, delivered online, straight from her own living room, for just £5 a session.
Big hearted Margaret (left) even offered the classes for free for four months over the coronavirus crisis and has also donated over £500 worth of class subscriptions to charity.
Half went to Links2Pink in memory of Antrim girl Ava Byrne, who sadly passed away last year, while the other went to the Cancer Fund for Children.
Sound meditation is a form of guided relaxation technique where participants focus on sounds and vibrations.
Always musical, Margaret first came across the practice in the 1990s when she was travelling in Nepal and was transfixed by the ‘singing bowls’ she heard being played.
In 2010, after returning from Tibet, an opportunity arose for Margaret to take part in a court and a year later she completed her diploma in Manta, Drum and Gong with the British Academy of Sound Therapy.
Among the instruments she utilises are Tibetan bowls, gongs, the shamanic drum, flute, kalimba, shruti box and many more.
Margaret has between eight and 12 loyal regulars, and is keen to get her own studio space one day.
“I think the appetite for alternative, holistic therapies and activities in Antrim is huge,” she said.
“A wellbeing centre in the town to offer therapies and treatments is well overdue and some of us have been campaigning for this for years.
“With so many people struggling with stress and poor mental health, a wellbeing centre would be a huge help and could also take some of the strain off mainstream health services.
“While modern technology is amazing and the sound quality from even a very basic mobile phone is amazing, my ambition and dream is to have my own studio space to offer classes and workshops and things like chair yoga for older people in the community.
“At the other end of the spectrum, although I only offer my classes to people of 16 and up, one of my followers has a seven-year-old daughter who loves to listen in the background every week.
“I just want to be able to make a difference and help - there are people who have lost jobs and income, people who are finding the pandemic extremely worrying, I have had people come up to me in the street and thank me and that has really moved me.
“I don’t make medical claims, but the response I get from most people is how much their sleep improves after taking part in the classes.”
Margaret is also learning sitar from one of the best known players in the business - and says she can even play ‘Jingle Bells’!