Sound healing is the therapeutic application of sound with the intention to heal on all levels of our being; physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. It is a way of healing that uses sounds and silence to positively influence the body.
Sounds made using the voice and/or musical instruments are able to bring ease (lack of dis-ease) and health through the sound waves they produce that resonate to cause vibrations in the body. Sound resonates with areas of our brain to change patterns, aid relaxation, bring a sense of calm and release endorphins; the feel good and pain relieving hormones.
A period of silence is also needed; this is the time when the sounds can be absorbed and gives the chance for our natural healing ability to be activated.
The principles of sound healing include several aspects that combine together to promote conditions for healing to take place. Sound and singing take us to an altered state of consciousness which affects our awareness.
The treatment involves you lying on a couch or sitting comfortably. Various techniques can be applied depending upon individual needs. I will tone using my voice and may also include tuning forks, singing bowls or gongs in the session.
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More about Sound Healing
Everything in the universe has a vibratory rate that resonates at a particular frequency. A common illustration of this is when an opera singer causes a glass to vibrate and then shatter. For this to happen the voice has created the same resonant frequency of the glass causing it to vibrate, and then as the volume of the voice increases, the resonance becomes too much for the forces holding the glass together, therefore it breaks. Fortunately, unlike glass, healthy cells in our bodies will not shatter when exposed to healing sound frequencies, they will instead vibrate sympathetically with the sound.
All of our organs, bones and cells vibrate at their own resonant frequency. Our bodies can be likened to an orchestra; people sometimes refer to themselves as being "in tune" meaning that they are in good health. This will occur when all the instruments are played in tune and in rhythm. However if one instrument is out of tune it affects the orchestra's whole sound. Likewise when one organ in the body is not functioning harmoniously (vibrating at its resonant frequency) it can have a negative effect on the whole body.
When a tuning fork is struck it will vibrate. If another tuning fork of the same note is nearby it will also vibrate as they both have the same vibrational quality, or resonant frequency. This is known as sympathetic resonance and demonstrates the ability of the sound waves created from one object to influence the other. For healing to take place we firstly need to have sympathetic resonance with the therapist giving the treatment, meaning that the receiver is comfortable with the vibration that the giver is displaying. We have all experienced feelings of not quite being at ease with certain people although not necessarily being able to reason why, and then others seem to emanate a sense of brightness and lightness that can help us to feel very comfortable and at ease with ourselves. This lightness will aid in our own healing.
Sound healing involves the process of entrainment; this is a phenomenom that occurs in many branches of science. It can be explained as the transference of small amounts of energy between stronger and weaker vibrations. The weaker vibrations will lock into the stronger ones to regain harmony. This is nature's way of maintaining balance: when two objects vibrate at the same frequency, energy is conserved. This illustrates that it takes less energy to be in harmony with our surroundings than in opposition. It requires less energy to function when we are healthy in both mind and body than when our immune system is fighting an acute illness or in the case of chronic disease which depletes us of our energy and vitality.
In nature this can be seen when flocks of birds simultaneously flap their wings to conserve energy. In 1666, Christian Huygens, inventor of the pendulum clock, noticed that two pendulums on a common mounting synchronised their swinging. Both of these examples are following the law of entrainment.
Therefore when we use sound to heal the body, the vibrations of the weak body part or organ will lock into the strong vibrational frequency of the voice or instrument. Resonance and entrainment are both working together to result in harmony and ease of the body.
When giving sound healing, a conscious intention is transferred to the receiver. Jonathan Goldman states that "frequency plus intention equals healing". This means when a pure tone is sung with the correct frequency, with a loving intention, then healing can occur.
A statement of intention and thanks is made at the beginning and end of a treatment; this can be likened to prayer. The purpose of prayer in sound healing is to state an intention for healing to take place for the highest good. This enables us as therapists to step out of our own way and allow ourselves to be a clear channel for the healing to take place. Thus we surrender our own will that wants the receiver to get better and trust that the outcome will be for their highest good and that of Divine will. Sometimes health may not improve very much, such as in the case of terminal illness, however conscious awareness may be altered by the healing which has the effect of helping people to cope better with their situation. Healing is a process that takes time, it is not an event that only lasts for the duration of the treatment.
Our bodies have natural rhythm patterns that sound and music can affect. Music that has around 60 beats per minute, the same as the resting human heartbeat, will change the brain waves from beta to alpha: a more relaxed state of being. Drumming rhythmically entrains the heartbeat to its rhythm and has the effect of shutting out external factors so our brain can focus on exploring states of altered consciousness and perception, as occurs in Shamanic drumming. The heartbeat is influenced by the rhythm of music and will attempt to match it, for instance, fast moving rock music will increase the heart rate, listening to slower paced music reduces the heart rate. Music also affects our feelings and emotions and, dependant upon the type of music and the listener's mood, can, calm, uplift and improve metabolism. In some cases moody rock music may be more calming than a brash classical fanfare.
As well as the rhythm, speed and mood of music, the musical intervals employed also have a major effect. When we sing (or indeed play sounds on most instruments) we naturally produce harmonics, as within the fundamental note are the related notes that form the mathematical ratios of the harmonic series, as discovered by Pythagoras. He invented the monochord; a single stringed instrument that when plucked will sound a particular note. By dividing the string in two the same note is produced an octave above the fundamental due to vibrating at twice the rate of the fundamental note. When he further divided the string he found patterns arising that were mathematically related. These harmonics are whole number multiples of the fundamental frequency.
When singing a fundamental note in C, other overtones will be produced above the fundamental note, namely the C octave above, the G (octave-plus-fifth), the second C octave, and higher frequencies in the harmonic series, which have simple whole number ratios to the fundamental. Overtones with these ratios are also known as harmonics. The relative blend of harmonics determine the timbre of a sound, for instance to distinguish the difference between a trumpet, organ and voice of the same pitch and volume.
Sound can be a powerful remedy as it resonates with areas of the brain to change brain patterns, aid relaxation and release endorphins (the feel good and pain killing substances). Sound healing encompasses several techniques ranging from vocal toning, singing a person's name, mantras and the Indian scale to name but a few. Sounding the musical intervals is a technique that can help to heal the emotions. When two or more notes are sung or played together they create harmonious or discordant effects. The sound intervals in music reflect the experiences and feelings of being human. Composers of all ages have used the musical intervals to create music that will resonate with our deepest emotions. For example a major second interval C/D creates tension, the major third C/E is harmonious and can bring us in touch with a feeling of hope, the perfect fifth C/G is expansive and stimulating. The major seventh C/B is discordant; listening to this interval helps us to connect with difficult emotions and those we may have buried in the past. This enables the unresolved emotions to be brought to the surface, acknowledged and let go of. As we continue to listen to the next interval, the octave, we will experience peace, making us feel lighter, more open and joyful. As with harmonics mathematical ratios are found in the intervals, for example the octave produces a 2:1 ratio and the fifth produces a 3:2 ratio. These simple whole number ratios are also found in nature, art and in the proportions of the human body, they were used by architects to build ancient sacred buildings and great cathedrals.
Singing mantras is another sound healing technique that balances the chakras, the subtle energy centres that govern our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. In Sanskrit, chakra means 'wheel' and they are likened to swirling wheels of energy, each one vibrating at a higher rate than the one before. There are seven main chakras located from the base of the spine to the top of the head. The 'bija mantras' or 'seed sounds' are the sounds of the chakras. They are very powerful mantras and each one is sung on one note and repeated several times. This helps to clear and focus the mind. The practice of singing a mantra whilst visualising the geometric shape of the chakra allows the right and left hemispheres of the brain to become entrained. This heightens awareness, enables creative solutions to old issues, increases insight and expands consciousness.
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