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In conversation with Suraya Sam

House of Ascend (HOA) is the brainchild of Suraya Sam (Sue), and represents the consolidation of Ascend’s best loved offerings in holistic wellness. Through a comprehensive syllabus-based practice, HOA provides a framework that enables the practitioner to work towards personal development and Self-Mastery in a safe and supportive environment. 

Featuring daily practices, monthly lunar rituals and live music sessions, HOA aims to facilitate a wholly different experience of therapy for the Mind, Body and Spirit. But what really goes on behind the scenes? We speak to Sue about her personal process, the continued evolution of HOA and what’s in store for the community in the near future. Read on to find out! 

House of Ascend (HOA) is the next chapter of Ascend’s evolution and has taken the practice we began at Ascend Yoga Therapy (AYT) to a deeper level. What made you decide to go in this direction? 

Adapt to change and BE the change!

AYT was a stepping stone for me. It was a RAW idea that manifested itself from a ceremony in the sacred highlands of Peru with my husband Jens Ringefelt and my friends Melissa & David Giuffrida. AYT was themed on the Chakra System where each class was based on one of the Seven Chakras for the Mind, Body and Spirit. As co-creator of this consciousness, I embodied this practice by working on myself through my own Chakras so I could facilitate each class with authenticity.

At the same time we increasingly started to integrate Sound. I’ve always expressed my art and creativity through Sound. I grew up with jazz music, played bass and first clarinet in a symphony band and was a choir vocalist for musicals. Having developed that skill at an early age made picking up the Gong quite natural for me. I love my moments of solitude when I can meditate and play the Gongs for hours. This has reignited my awareness of what I love to do and transformed the way I want to live and run my business. The quote “practice what you preach” resonates with me loads!

It is from these two experiences that HOA was born. HOA features daily practices that is augmented with the Gongs and monthly lunar rituals for New & Full Moon. We also host live music sessions, what we call The Living Room Set where you get to hang out and appreciate music with local artists and musicians. If I had to sum up what we do at HOA, it is using Sound as a sacred tool to REALIGN your natural frequency.

Tell us a little bit about facilitating: what is your process before you begin, what happens during the session or ceremony, and do you have any personal rituals after? 

In my practice, facilitation is not an easy “job”. I have to be grounded, neutral, vulnerable and open. The space I'm holding needs to be sacred and safe. I am the gate keeper for the subtle forces when space holding in session or ceremony—so it takes a day to harness this state of consciousness for preparation. Daily breathwork, mindful movement, meditation and a lot of smudging are the requirements. Each session or ceremony may differ due to who comes for practice. There is often a release of emotional baggage, karmic patterns and behaviours from clients. Augmenting natural elements are key to balancing and harmonising any stale or stuck energetic force. There are a few techniques to cleanse these forces. Smudging is of Earth, Fire and Air element. The resins are of Earth element, the coconut husk coal when ignited is of Fire element and the divine smoke that comes out of those components are of Air element. Whilst using Aromatherapy with essential oils are of Water and Earth element. When diffused or applied topically, it's particles are of Air element.

We’ve seen your Gong collection grow over time. How has your relationship with the Gongs developed over the years? 

The Gongs are my sacred Gurus! Because they are shiny sacred tools, it is like looking in the mirror. Whenever I sit in front of the Gong to tune in everything about me is reflected, piercing through the layers of my BEING. The Gongs have taught me to be genuine, patient, resilient, grounded and calm. I’ve shed a lot of tears, fears, guilt, grief and shame through the years in deepening my practice of the Self with the Gongs. It has not been an easy one! You can never hide anything from the Gong, especially once you start playing. The Gong is an extension of the layers of YOU!

During Summer 2019, you completed further Gong training in Denmark. What was that experience like? What are you eager to share with the Ascend community after this experience? 

Yes, Jens and I completed an advanced Gong training course with our mentors, Mehtab and Laura Benton on one of the islands of Denmark, Møn. It was such a great experience! From the island we are at, to the people who attended together with us, the amazing vegetarian food and of course the ever so many Gongs. In our Summer trip we also met two Gong makers. First Martin Bläse, a third generation silversmith, who makes Titanium and Bronze Gongs and other wonderful sound instruments.  Then, Rolf Nitsch (one of the Original Gongsters) a pioneer of Gong making from Paiste who now has his own gong brand Gongland. This allowed us to further understand how Gongs are made, their subtle differences and how this knowledge evolved. Their stories were AHHHMAZING! I guess we have to write another blog for that so stay tuned.

Finally, what can we expect at HOA in the near future? What are your hopes for the community in time to come?  

We are always evolving, but only at a pace that allows us to first grow strong roots. A tree grows from the Ground up, not from the Sky down. We try to learn as much as we can from our own local Universe (surroundings) and grow in harmony with that.

We have new instruments but we don’t use everything at once, we believe less if often more. We spend a lot of time playing for ourselves before sharing with others.  It is easy to strike a Gong and make a Sound however, it takes practice to strike a Gong and create harmony, and so with all instruments. Once we feel we can do justice to a new instrument we will start to integrate them into our practice. So keep your ears peeled to new layers of Sound! We have curated great syllabus for you to explore the depths of who you are. So, hop on and enjoy the ride!

Thank you Sue!

Written by Izzy Liyana, content creator & writer for HOA

Pictures by and at Lisa Von Tang's Jeweluxe Fashion Show


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