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Practitioner Journey: Annie Ridgway

practitioner journey Oct 15, 2019
Annie Ridgway

Annie Ridgway has undergone a huge personal transformation since she discovered sound healing; from the way she sees herself, to how she handles life and difficult situations. Annie tells Yasmin Rosales how her discovery of sound healing has changed her life in ways she could not even begin to imagine.

Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

I was born in Sydney, but I moved to the Blue Mountains 21 years ago. When I left school, I went to art college and then became an Art Teacher in high schools. I did that for several years and then I had my two daughters, so I was a stay at home mum for a number of years, which was great. I’d always been interested in music and was always writing songs. So, when my daughters were quite young, I had much creative inspiration and I wrote a lot of songs in the Blue Mountains. I was able to record and produce a few albums. I suppose you could say it was over a decade of prolific songwriting, recording and performing at Australian music festivals. It was great fun! Eventually, I took on a role in an alternative high school as the principal. I did that for about six years and it became incredibly stressful. I was thinking this isn’t me. I can’t do this.

How did you first discover sound healing?

My daughters and I always confided in each other. I was feeling particularly stressed one night and I said to them I was really burnt out and I wished I could leave my job. I hated it. That same night, Zoe, my eldest daughter, wrote this incredible poem for me. It just somehow channelled through her:

“An array of sounds fill space,

like different water pigments,

filling and swirling in a clear ringing bowl,

the colours of sound change all the time,

but the sound canvas remains the same, that being silence”

Then I started noticing when I went to people’s places, books on their shelves about sound healing. I borrowed a book called ‘The Healing Power of Sound’ by Mitchell Gaynor and I found it very inspirational. After that, I started searching music therapy courses that I could study as I wanted to step out of the role that I was in. It took a few years to make that transition. I stumbled across the Sound Healing Academy (SHA) through a google search, which at the time was called the Color of Sound Institute. I jumped onto the certificate course straight away and then subsequently signed up for the Diploma.

So, it felt like all the synchronicities with the ‘colour of sound’ were coming together.  When I was looking for courses, I got the poem out again and I realised that it was almost prophetic.

What made you take the leap and change career to become a qualified sound healing practitioner?

I think the universe has wondrous ways of working. I remember the new year of 2014, I felt there was a change on the horizon. I was at a yoga retreat and sure enough, there was a big change. There were a lot of problems at work and I was given an opportunity to resign from my job, which I did. It wasn’t ideal, but I think the universe sometimes uses this to guide you into another direction.

Everything then changed very dramatically. I didn’t have a job and had a lot more time but I see it as a gift. I see that whatever was at play there really served me in the long run because I think if I had stayed in that job, I may have developed health issues as it was very toxic.

Annie is much happier now working as a Sound Healing Practitioner and Teacher. 

It was a relief in many ways to then have the freedom to finish my Diploma and record an album. I went and recorded my Chakra Swoon album, which is vocal layers chanting on the chakras. It was a healing process in itself.

What did you enjoy most about the course?

I remember when I was doing the level 1 course, I bought some instruments and started practising with them, feeling all the amazing effects on my body. I found there were big shifts on a personal level even just doing that. It opened me up to a sense of self-acceptance. It peeled away the layers allowing me to the essence of myself. I started to become more authentic and real. That was a great period of growth for me.

"It opened me up to a sense of self-acceptance. It peeled away the layers allowing me to the essence of myself."

The introduction to mantra was also phenomenal. I just found that as I brought it into my daily life, my work became a lot more manageable. I was able to manage stress more easily. It took me out of my head and worrying.  Mantra takes you out of the cerebral space; it was totally transformational for me.

How has your experience with the sound healing academy impacted you?

I count myself very blessed to have found a career that’s aligned with me. I find that I can effortlessly step into it. It’s helped me to feel a sense of purpose.

It’s given me a lot of confidence. I feel as if it’s something I’ve been called to do. And I think as I continue to work with the instruments, the intuition flows. I’ve learnt some great skills and listening abilities. When you actually surrender to that it makes a huge impact and a difference. That’s been really powerful for me in every way. It’s helped me to open up on all levels as a person - to be more self-aware. I am not always perfectly balanced, but I can accept the different shades of myself now without judgment.

"I count myself very blessed to have found a career that’s aligned with me."

Ultimately, I think the personal transformation I’ve experienced from doing the course filters into my life daily, and of course, the work is never done. There are always more layers to peel away, but it’s certainly put me on that trajectory of coming back to myself and a deep connection to the Divine.

Can you tell me a bit about how your sound journey has developed since you qualified?

When I finished my Diploma in 2014, I continued on with my own healing journey. Little by little I gained regular clients and started doing regular sound bath meditations twice a week. I did get another teaching job part-time, but it wasn’t nearly as stressful. It was only last year that I embraced sound healing work fulltime. The teaching work I now also do for SHA enabled this to happen.

I find I gain a lot of energy from teaching the SHA workshops. I find it very invigorating. I think: “Wow. I love this! I love doing these workshops.” I get excited about sharing my knowledge with other people and seeing people transform. Magic really happens. In Australia, the workshops have really taken off and I am now training two other teachers; one in Brisbane and another in Adelaide.

Annie teaching in a workshop.

Other than clients and teaching, I also run retreats. One of the lovely opportunities I had for a few years was to work in a 5-star wellness resort in Thailand to be a sound therapist there, which was quite a privilege. I’ve also got a 5-day sound healing retreat I’m running next October in the same place.

Oh, and I work at ‘The Mind Body Spirit Festival’ in Sydney every year. I usually have a stall, where I give mini treatments as well as present talks about sound healing. I also had the privilege of performing on the main stage chanting mantra.

How do you bring your singer/songwriter experience into your work?

I teach Level 1 Voice workshops here in my home. I love doing those workshops. It’s fabulous to bring my singing and writing into my sound healing work. When people use their voice, it’s the most powerful transformation of all. Usually, on the voice day of the Level 1 workshops, there are some really big shifts for people. They find it so deeply personal when they are toning along with somebody else who’s treating them. It becomes an inner massage of sound, using the vibration from within as well as from outside. I also use my voice a lot in my client sessions, creating harmonies and discords. And I always incorporate my voice in sound baths too. I think it creates a lovely nurturing space for people.

"It becomes an inner massage of sound, using the vibration from within as well as from outside."

How do you promote yourself? Are there any platforms you would recommend to those trying to promote their work?

I would say don’t be afraid to reach out to people to see if they want to work with you. It is a really valuable healing modality so why would you hide it? I was able to work on the retreats in Thailand simply by asking them if they’d be open to me doing some workshops when I was a paying guest there. I began working as a teacher for SHA after I asked Tony if there were any opportunities for me to get involved. The opportunity to work at the Mind Body Spirit Festival happened by introducing myself to them in an email saying I do sound healing.

Annie speaking at the Mind Body Spirit Festival.

Other than that, I mostly use Facebook and my website for promoting my events. But my main vehicle is the Natural Therapy Pages. I have my listings on there, and I get a lot of enquiries through that. So, my advice is to make use of all those things. It’s a little bit of output, but it’s worth it.

What are your future ambitions for your sound healing practice?

I’ve got a very full calendar of teaching workshops. There’s also a Doctor who’s doing his Diploma and he wants to teach over in Hong Kong. I’m going there at the end of next year to help him set up as a teacher. There’s also another student in Singapore who’s interested in teaching there. So, I’m going to be a support person for teachers in this region, which I’m really happy to do. Other than these things, I’d really love to record another album of mantra with my new Rav Drum.

What's the best place for people to connect and check out what you do?

I have my Website and Facebook page. My email is [email protected] and my phone number is +61417242978. I don’t mind people getting in touch and having a chat.


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