Interview by Sebastian Thomas
A new meditation craze is currently sweeping the world but despite its name, there’s no actual bathing involved. Once only found at retreats, sound baths are steadily entering the mainstream as an alternative to run-of-the-mill relaxation. The new craze of meditation where participants are immersed in soothing sonic resonance emitted by traditional instruments such as crystal singing bowls, tuning forks, and gongs, has hit Hollywood!
Hollywood actress Pilar Holland, who has starred on hit television shows each as Grey’s Anatomy, Criminal Minds, NCIS, Mistresses, Supergirl, The Young and the Restless, Scorpion, and Scandal, is a new participant of this form of meditation yoga. Asana Journal exclusively sat down with her to find out more…
How were you first introduced to yoga and what were your original thoughts?
I was first introduced to yoga 10 years ago. Initially I didn’t like it very much. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I really began getting in tune with my body and I fell in love with the practice.
What is the biggest misconception about yoga and meditation that you have encountered as an active participant?
I think people think yoga and meditation go hand in hand. There is yoga practice that is all about body strengthening and then there is yoga practice that is all about strengthening the mind. You don’t have to be into mediation to participate in yoga. I think some people think it’s very hippie dippy Bouncy Castle and it can be. You can make your yoga practice whatever you want it to be. There are so many different types of classes out there. You just have to find the program that works best for you.
How important is an active, healthy lifestyle to you?
I believe it’s very important to live a healthy lifestyle. It’s all about balance. I enjoy eating very much. I eat pizza, pasta and ice cream but not every day. I don’t deprive myself from enjoying life and indulging but I know that I have to balance that with going to the gym and keeping my body healthy too.
We hear you are into Sound Bath Meditation Yoga… what got you into this style of meditation that has become so popular?
My favorite yoga instructor, Emma Rosenblatt, told me about it. A year ago, I never even knew it existed. When I meditate or even get a massage, music is an important trigger for me. I love guided meditation with music. When she told me about the crystal bowls and being bathed in sound, I knew it was right up my alley.
Were you shocked at first when you found out that Sound Bath Medi-tative Yoga didn’t actually involve any bathing?
Haha. No. Emma had told me right off the bat that is was being bathed in sound.
How did you feel the first time you experienced the soothing sonic resonance emitted by traditional instruments such as crystal singing bowls, tuning forks, and gongs?
It was the most beautiful experience. I left the class feeling so calm and relaxed. I haven’t had the opportunity to experience the gongs. The woman I go to mainly works with crystal bowls and tuning forks while they sing, with the occasional guest playing the digeridoo.
Where is your favorite place to do yoga?
Funnily enough my favorite place to do yoga is LA fitness because that’s where one of my favorite instructors, Emma Rosenblatt, is. I think it’s as important to find a yoga instructor you connect with much like a therapist. That may sound funny, but you give yourself to their energy and presence for the duration of the class. I think that may have been why it took so long to get back into my practice, I hadn’t found someone I connected with. Maybe it’s not that important for other people, but I guess it is for me. When I found Emma, I consistently began attending yoga classes again. I couldn’t get enough of her voice, flow and music selection. I even started following her on Spotify to listen to her playlists when I meditated in the mornings. My favorite place to participate in sound bath meditation is wherever Eugenia Castro and Niki Saccaraccia are. They move around to a few locations in Los Angeles and I follow them wherever they go. Eugenia sings as well as plays the bowls and Niki directs us into our restorative poses and “forks us,” as she calls it.
Is it hard to find time to do yoga with your busy schedule as an actress?
Sometimes it is. My job is very inconsistent and you never know when an audition is going to pop up. So, when I’m free, I go. Sometimes a week will go by and I am bummed I wasn’t able to connect with my body. I probably need to find other instructors I like just as much as Emma, because then I’ll have more options to attend classes.
Do you feel that participating in yoga and meditation has helped your career and yourself as a person?
It has definitely helped me personally and I believe in turn has helped my career. I pay more attention to my mind and body these days. I’m more aware of myself in general. I think about what is healthy for me as an individual and how to continue to treat others with love and respect. I think that leads to a clearer mind and opens me up more creatively. I’m able to see more possibilities in the world and experience more people, which I can draw on in my art.
What advice would you like to share with other practitioners based on your personal experience or others looking at getting in to the same things you do?
My advice for beginners is to never compare yourself to others in the room with you. I still find that I’m not as flexible as I’d like to be. Sometimes I’ll look around and see that I’m probably still in the lower 25% when it comes to flexibility, but then I take a deep breath and remember that this is my journey and it’s about what feels good. Main advice, don’t look around! Focus on you and feel what feels good for your body. If you listen, your body is always trying to tell you.
Do you also follow a strict diet at all? Or what are some of your favorite health foods?
I don’t follow a strict diet. I believe in moderation. I have my cheat days. Fruit is one of my favorite health foods. Put a good fruit bowl in front of me and I’m in heaven.
What are your future dreams and goals both professionally and personally?
My future dream professionally would lie at the crossroads of creative fulfillment and social relevance. I would love to tell a story to a larger audience about something truly meaningful that could help change the world in a better way. The purpose of an artist is to help people see the change we want in the world and the truths in our society, and to bring people together to laugh, cry and experience empathy for another individual like or unlike themselves. I think that goes hand in hand with my personal goals. I just want to live a full life, continue to grow and share love and empathy with others.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
World Peace! However, if we are talking about something I can help make a change in in the next couple years, it would women is empowerment. I believe we are making strides for equality for women. Equal pay is something that’s been talked about more in the past couple years and the sexual harassment and assault issues are at the forefront now. Women’s empowerment is something I’ve been working on myself, and I believe a lot of women struggle with it as well. I would love to be able to embrace my power more. Sometimes I find myself being nice to men when they don’t deserve it, because I don’t want to hurt their feelings on make them feel uncomfortable. I was raised to be a caretaker and as women, we are often put into that box the moment we enter the world. So, instead I take on the burden of feeling uncomfortable myself and allow them to stomp all over my boundaries. I’m in therapy now trying to learn to find my voice more, to speak my mind and to communicate in a healthy way. In the near future, I would love to somehow be able to help women across the globe. There’s an organization I follow called Global Goals that inspires me to do so.