Today we’d like to introduce you to Michelle Berc.
Michelle, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
It all starts with the two people who brought me into this world. My dad was an entrepreneur who was quite the adventurous man and my mom was very creative and was a jewelry designer most of her life. I think their mix of energy cultivated a creative trailblazer in me. Growing up, I aspired to be a creative professional and changed my mind quite often as I explored dance, music, clothing design, graphic design, interior design, film, art, and the list goes on.
I’ve always loved music from an early age, it seemed to influence everything I got myself into. I had piano lessons as a child and played the clarinet for a few years in elementary school. As a teenager, I loved creating mixtapes for friends which were compilations of the latest and greatest music I had discovered. This was the curator coming out of me at an early age. I fell in love with music videos when MTV first came on the air. At the time, I felt it was the ultimate artistic expression and knew in my heart this was something I wanted to seriously pursue as a career. I started early with video production in Junior High school and then on to majoring in Film and Photography in college. I worked in the Music Video and commercial industry for about six years mostly in post-production. I had so much fun being on and off the set of music videos for some of the top musicians in the world.
At the time, I was an aspiring music video director and felt like I had already accomplished this dream by working on these productions. On the side, I was developing a body of visual artwork as well as experimenting with producing electronic music. In my mid-twenties, I started showing my work at independent art shows. It was a struggle to get attention from established galleries without a Master in Fine Arts Degree, so I decided to create my own opportunities. During this time, I was living with my boyfriend in a downtown loft and I decided to be resourceful by utilizing the loft space to host my own art shows. I shifted into action and invited a handful of artist friends to exhibit their work along with some DJ friends and mostly because I loved community. For one night, we moved all the furniture to the back of the loft and created an art gallery in our living room. My neighbors in the building also joined in. A normally dark desolate downtown street came alive with a building bursting with creativity and several hundred people showed up.
It was a great feeling to bring people together and help artists show their work. During the first art show, there was this moment when someone actually wanted to buy a piece of art. The cool part is that it was the artist’s first show ever and now it would be his first official art sale ever. Things were a bit rogue back then. I did have a plan to accept payment for an art sale but wasn’t expecting to execute it that night. This was before wireless credit cardmachines were on the market so I had to call in over the phone to get the purchase processed, looking back, it was definitely old school. Within the next hour, we sold two more of his pieces and because he had never shown his work before, this amplified the energy of the evening. For an artist, their first art sale can really fill them up and be a catalyst for them to keep developing their talents. In this moment I realized that I truly loved inspiring people and creating opportunities for others.
Something special happened that night and this feeling lasted for weeks. I kept hearing from friends, “When’s the next one?” Create:Fixate was officially born! Myself and a small team continued to produce the “Art Parties” and within a year we outgrew the loft and started venturing to larger spaces as attendance kept growing reaching to over 1,000 in a night. For 14 years, we created art events across Los Angeles, from Downtown LA, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Culver City, and Venice Beach. Create:Fixate transformed into a proper nonprofit arts organization expanding our programs to also serve at-risk youth and explore specific topics through art that are relevant to the times. It was quite the endeavor and through it all we gave many artists their first art show, first art sale, and opened many doors for creative souls in Los Angeles. I have to share this story because it’s been a huge part of my path. I realized through it all that my greatest curiosity is understanding creativity and connectivity. I had no idea my path would lead me from music videos to curating large art shows and then on to my current career in sound healing and the healing arts.
About ten years ago, a neighbor invited me to try Buddhist chanting with her group. I really enjoyed the experience and after a few sessions of consistently feeling extremely good inside I drove to a bookstore to see if I could find a book about chanting. Low and behold, there was a whole section of books on music and sound healing. As soon as I finished the first book I ran back to buy another. The field was so fascinating to me because I’ve always had a great interest in understanding the vibrational world around us and what this human life is about. Creativity is expression of vibrational energy and I wanted to explore this further. When I stumbled into Sound Healing, it gave me all the answers I’ve been looking for. The subject touched on mathematics, physics, spirituality, music, health, and more.
A few months later, a sound healing conference was being held in Los Angeles. The long weekend was filled with workshops presented by all the leaders in the field at the time and I was like a kid in a candy store. This is when I heard the sounds of the crystal bowls for the first time and ended up driving home with a set of bowls by the end of the conference. My passion for sound healing developed for many years while I continued producing art shows and finally, I decided to sign up for a certification course in the field. I started performing sound baths in different friend’s homes and it grew from there. It’s funny to think about it, but I started Create:Fixate in my living room and then started sharing sound healing through the living rooms of many. Load and behold, my grandmother started her business from her dining room table as well as my mom designing jewelry in our house growing up … entrepreneurship is definitely in my blood.
As my knowledge expanded so did the sound meditation experiences. Like a true “Soundie,” there was always a new instrument to acquire adding new layers of vibrations to the healing soundscape. Essentially, I am painting with healing sounds. The attendance of the sound baths was rapidly growing and at one point, Skye Ray, came forward when I reached out looking for assistance. We’ve been a team for over three years now. Along the way, we would meet different musicians who specialized in unique instruments that are wonderful for the vibrational container we create. Almost every sound bath features a different guest musician. It’s been such a pleasure to see the experience grow just as much as the community. Now, sound healing is becoming very popular. Today, we live very busy and stressful lives that are mostly driven by technology. Due to the types of sounds and vibrations we work with, it’s an easier way for many to relax their over-stimulated minds. As the mind relaxes, so does the ego. Once we have the ego out of the way, deep energetic healing is well-received. The sounds are now able to re-tune one’s energetic body and then the physical body follows by re-aligning to a more balanced state of being.
These days we have regular weekly sound baths at different meditation and yoga studios across LA. Sound meditation has also been well-received in corporate wellness programs. We’ve been performing sound baths for companies on a weekly basis. It’s an excellent way to reduce stress in the office environment and rejuvenate employees. I enjoy infusing teachings about tuning into flow-state which elevates productivity.
We’ve also found ourselves performing special occasion sound baths such as birthdays, baby showers, and other celebrations. Sound meditation is a wonderful way to vibrationally connect a group of people. Even though the actual experience is about going inward, the more connected we are to ourselves, the more we are able to connect to others in a more meaningful level.
The other area that sound meditation is well-received is for those in deep healing stages of their lives. I’ve performed sound baths at retreats, recovery centers, and cancer groups. Then there is sharing soothing sounds for those in the end-stages of life usually in hospice. I’ve also participated in a handful of memorial services to assist those in the grieving process. As you can see, sound healing is very nurturing for all stages of life.
In the last few years, I’ve expanded my studies to include Vibrational Sound Therapy, HeartMath, explorations into Neuro-Feedback, and Breathwork. My passion is to offer modalities that help people tune in to their vibrational health with heart-centered intentions. Due to sound healing becoming so popular, I launched the “Sonic Being Sound Healing Program” in late 2018. This July will be the fifth level one training workshop this year and by the end of the year, I have plans to introduce level two. It’s been such a joy to educate others on this subject and share a decade of knowledge. This includes the Sonic Being Method which I’ve developed over the years. The curriculum shares practical sound healing tools to get started in the practice for self-care, groups, or to combine with other healing modalities one may already be sharing.
Also, I’m always excited to tell people that I’m in a girl band! Sonic Devas is a sound meditation experience that is a collaboration of about 15 female sound healers, singers, and musicians. It started out as an impromptu performance at Shakti Fest and has now grown to a proper experience that takes place in unique venues such as the St. Johns Cathedral and Wisdome in Downtown LA. Each session has a theme with new soundscapes and amazing visuals.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
There was a turning point in my life between 2011 and 2016. It was a six years period when both of my parents became terminally ill and transitioned within a few years of each other. This is when tapping into your resilience is the only way to keep your business running while going through life’s most difficult hardships. My father went first and then a few years later my Mother became terminally ill and it was impossible to produce the shows, keep up with the doors opening with sound healing, take care of her, and of course, take care of myself. After fourteen years of producing large events, I needed a break from the art world and sound healing was very nurturing for myself, my family, and the growing community who craved the healing vibrations. The universe clearly told me to shift things. I thought it would be a temporary break from the art world to explore new directions while healing. I found that sound healing fulfilled my joy of bringing people together through authentic experiences of self-exploration just as much as the art shows, which did the same through creativity. I’m still open to bringing Create:Fixate back to life once the right opportunity presents itself and perhaps bridge the two worlds.
Another challenging time was an earlier turning point when we formed our own nonprofit for Create:Fixate and left our fiscal sponsor. Expressing what we do in non-profit language for grant applications was particularly challenging. I kept saying to myself if those reviewing our applications could attend one of the Create:Fixate art exhibits then they would “Get It!” Learning how to effectively tell our story was so important for fundraising. We learned about this through the Annenberg Alchemy Leadership program. Through this process, I learned that I can’t do it all, what my strong-suits are, and landing at a place where the exercise for me is about “letting go.” I was so dedicated to our vision and was very hands-on with all of our programs. I was even teaching our Young Creatives Program myself until we had funds to hire another person to take on this position. It was a lot, yet it was so rewarding working with the at-risk youth. I was constantly in self-discovery mode through all the steps and stages, basically learning and growing on the job. I figured out that my strong-suite was focusing on being the artistic director, working directly with the artists and youth we were serving and not writing the grants, bookkeeping, and administration. We eventually received financial support to hire professionals in some of these area and it was a huge relief. Like most non-profits, the next challenge was to keep the funds coming in. I would visualize having our own building with an art gallery, studios, and actual departments of teams to help run the organization rather than all the departments solely residing in my brain. It’s a miracle the organization lasted 14 plus years. Hi I still have several art show themes developed that I would love to see come to life.
The last challenge that I can share is that I was so passionate about the subject of sound healing that I had to push through my fear of public speaking. Jump to a few years later, I finally feel comfortable in front of a group of people and have fine-tuned my facilitation skills. I still struggle from time to time with it but usually it’s a side effect of getting a bit “loopy” from doing so many sound baths these days. It’s actually possible to overdose on the powerful sounds and vibrations especially if you are an empath or clairsentient as I am. Now, I make sure to space out my sessions to allow myself recovery time. The next step would be getting myself in front of the camera!
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Sonic Being and Create:Fixate story. Tell us more about the business.
Sonic Being is the name of my sound healing company. I’m proud to be one of the first in Los Angeles to publicly introduce Sound Healing and it’s been amazing to see the modality in all its forms become popular in the wellness field. I truly enjoy educating people about vibrational health through ways that are welcoming, effective and supported by science. When one has inner harmony then outer harmony surrounds.
I’m also proud to say that we offer quality sound baths where we pay attention to the details. All of our instruments have been carefully selected over the years for their particular sound, frequency, and vibration. The meditation journey is orchestrated with healing at the highest priority rather than our personal musical expression when playing these instruments. Sounds are played in a specific order to not over-dose attendees which allows a gentle unfolding of healing and self-discovery.
I welcome all to attend one of our sound baths and you can find dates listed on my website sonicbeing.com. I also offer private one on one sessions combining sound healing with HeartMath (a real-time biofeedback software). Another options is Breathwork infused with sound healing. I’ve found that working with breath and sound together can produce powerful shifts and long lasting results in a person. As mentioned earlier, we do special event sound baths for all occasions. Lastly, I now train people who would like to welcome the sound healing practice into their lives for themselves and to share with others.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I am lucky to have the knowledge to listen to my heart and allow my passions to drive me. Starting a business from scratch and running it through all the ups and downs takes massive dedication. This dedication is fueled by my passion. I also have a belief system that if you’re going to do something, do it right or don’t do it at all which reminds me of that popular saying that luck is when hard work and preparation meets opportunity.
Joshua Tree and Bhakti Festival photos by: Erik Borzi; Downtown LA sound bath photo by: Bender and Deep Exhale