Features & Columns

Jessica Neideffer Takes Healing Principles of Sound to City Hall

People took semi-siestas on mats and sleeping bags outside of San Jose City Hall while Jessica Neideffer created meditative sounds with crystal singing bowls. Photo by Adrien Le Biavant

On a cold evening in front of San Jose City Hall, Jessica Neideffer sits on a rug, playing a set of a crystal singing bowls. Next to her, on the sidewalk, people lie in sleeping bags to meditate on the sounds, which are based on Vedic healing principles and amplified by a microphone to help trigger the pre-programmed pulsing light patterns of the Sonic Runway art installation.

Each bowl emits a different frequency, with Neideffer improvising to take others into deeper brain waves via sound.

Neideffer regularly appears at several places around town, such as parks, yoga studios and her private practice, Agada Energy Healing, where she does Reiki sessions and maintains a solid book of clients. But this time, right smack on a bustling corner in the middle of downtown's daily commute, other factors contribute to the overall experience. The neighborhood's perpetual ambulance sirens continue to scream. Cars honk. Skateboarders in the background attack the steps and railings outside of City Hall, as they've done for years. On the sidewalk, parents saunter by the performance with strollers. City employees, just coming off the clock, hang out and observe. Humans in various states of intoxication walk by, but no one harshes the mellow one bit.

As I stand there fumbling with my phone in order to blast the experience on Instagram, a cyclist rides up on the sidewalk and slows down to ask me: "What's with the people in the sleeping bags?" I tell him it's like meditation. Or yoga. Then he seems to understand.

A few mornings later, Neideffer and I are sitting around, shoeless, in her healing studio. There's a massage table against the wall and herbal oils on a shelf, along with books about reflexology, crystals and shamanism. She fondly talks about how wonderful it was the other night at City Hall.

"Each gathering is different people, so there's different energy and there's a different vibe from people that are there," Neideffer explains. "What I saw that night—I see things in my mind as I'm playing—I just see these beautiful pictures of people coming together and it doesn't matter where they are or what they are doing or what they believe because the sounds naturally attract people."

It didn't make a difference if passers-by were consciously familiar with the sounds. Once they arrived and began to focus on the experience—keying in on frequencies designed to speak to the mind and the body—a deeper state of awareness tends to emerge. It may not be dramatic, but the vibe was overwhelmingly peaceful. "I just saw it bringing all these wonderful people together," Neideffer says.

A San Jose native, she spent 20 years managing high-tech offices before going through some extreme symptoms of vertigo. After seeing a massage therapist who practiced Reiki, a Japanese flavor of healing and stress reduction, she realized her life's purpose was to develop a healing practice. As the saying goes, when the student is ready, the teacher will somehow appear.

As we talk, Neideffer articulates a laundry list of peeps and practices. Vedic philosophy. The Toltec lineage of Mexico. The New Thought self-help author Louise Hay. Don Miguel Ruiz and the Four Agreements. All the teachings of which emerge in the array of services she offers at her studio.

And when it comes to the practice of sound healing, it's all about intention. Neideffer likens the crystal healing bowls to any other musical instrument, in that they are extensions of the performer. Tapping into your intention is what drives how you share the sound or what you're feeling. In this case, the intention is to provide resonance to help the client overcome particular issues, both emotional and physical.

In the future, Neideffer envisions evolving her practice to work with kids on the spectrum.

"I want to expand," she says. "I want to be able to share this with people all over. And maybe creating some different classes for parents and children to come and attend. And to create at some point a really lovely community wellness center, where people can come and receive all services. Whether it's yoga or sound healing."

Agada Energy Healing
1211 Park Ave, San Jose