The Ancient Art of Listening

Once upon a time, we relied on our listening skills to tell us about the world.

In dense, shadowy forests, we listened for the crunch of leaves or the snap of a twig to tell us that animals were near. We listened when the wind picked up, warning us of an incoming storm.

After night fell, we gathered around the fire to sing songs, weave stories, and share news. The stories and songs we listened to as we sat by the hearth were passed from one generation to the next.

In fact, we’re born knowing how to listen. Months before they’re born, babies start to be able to hear sounds. Within hours of birth, they have been shown to recognize—and be calmed by—their mother’s voice.

But we often focus on other senses to the detriment of our listening skills.

No matter where we are in our lives, listening has the potential to help us heal, focus, and relax.

If, that is, we learn to pay attention to sound and harness its energy.

I’m Michael Reiley.

As far back as I can remember, music has been a vital part of my life. I always followed my own path, building a career as an independent musician and composer. Over the years, as my meditation practice deepened, I began to see how my musical and contemplative selves were intertwined.

Once I discovered the power of Deep Listening® and followed in the footsteps of my teachers, meditation and music converged for me.  They now coexist within my work, providing me with endless opportunities to explore and tap into my creativity.

Today, my work as a musician, composer, and teacher centers on how listening helps us heal, focus, and connect with ourselves and one another.

Having dedicated my life to the art of listening, I create ambient soundscapes that incorporate frequencies, field recordings, and music for various levels of consciousness, from active listening to deep sleep.

My recent projects include Echozoo, an archive of reimagined soundscapes of extinct animals and their habitats, and Celestial Music Box, a generative system that uses live star coordinate data to create sleep music.

I also lead workshops, soundwalks, and other interactive experiences where participants can experience the healing power of sound in community with one another.

As a therapeutic musician, I also play one-on-one for individuals who are healing from illness or experiencing life’s major transitions. Through live, acoustic music, I am able to provide comfort, relaxation, and respite for these patients.

I presently live and work in Italy, with my partner Monica.

 

Training and Traditions

  • Michael holds a certificate in Music for Wellness from Berklee College of Music.
  •  He is also a certified Deep Listening® Facilitator and an associate professor at the Center for Deep Listening at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He has studied with Pauline Oliveros, the founder of Deep Listening®, as well as Heloise Gold and IONE.
  •  As a therapeutic musician and sound healer, he has studied at the Music for Healing and Transition Program.
  •  Michael has studied Theravada Buddhism since 2001, including courses at Science of Mindful Awareness, Springboard Studio, Buddhist Insights as well as several multi-week retreats.

My Journey

Phase I – Musician (1990s)

Although I started piano lessons at age 8, I feel like I really became a musician at age 13 in 1990. In addition to figuring out songs on piano by ear, I began to play my dad's drum set, studied bass guitar and drums at the local music shop north of Philadelphia. By the end of the decade, I was a keyboardist in a popular improvisational rock band in Philadelphia.

Phase II – Producer (2000s)

Around the turn of the millennium (2000) I began to grow as a producer of both live and recorded music. I directed my first large ensembles (Gemini Wolf and Robots in Disguise), produced albums in my home studio, and co-founded a record label called earSnake.

Phase III – Composer (2010s)

In my third decade of music exploration, I grew organically into the role of a composer and sound artist. I collaborated with choreographers, installation, film and media artists. With other artists on the label earSnake, I composed and produced the opera 'Pangaea'. By the end of the decade I was living as a nomad as artist in residence around the world in locales like Brazil, Iceland, Germany, Thailand, and India.

Phase IV

The pandemic of 2020-21 gave me some time off to re-contextualize my work. I now see my output in the modalities of healing, mindfulness, and listening. Through my training as a Deep Listening teacher and Therapeutic Musician in the Music for Healing and Transition Program I can see a new path of sonic exploration unfolding in new and wonderful ways each and every day.
Integrated Methods

Discover the healing potential of sound, from guided meditations and sound baths to one-on-one and group sound therapy sessions:

Meditation

Therapeutic Music

Workshops