By creating sounds which harmonise with the correct frequency of our body’s organs, we could learn to heal ourselves.
Ancient cultures knew about the power of sound when shamans and healers sang, chanted and drummed people to health. They understood that we live in a constant state of vibration from which sound is derived and sound has significant influence on us. In many traditions, sound is considered the primary force in all creation. Sound can awaken our inner primordial spirit; it can heal and soothe. Some sounds can energise and stimulate, while others can relax and calm us. Sound is vibratory energy and since we are all fundamentally made from energy, we react to sound on this level. Sound influences our emotions and has considerable power to heal us.
The beat goes on
Everything in the universe vibrates at its own natural frequency, whether we hear it or not. Each organ in our body has its own natural healthy resonance, and the fundamental principle in sound healing is that a disruption in these natural frequencies will manifest as physical, mental and emotional imbalance. In these situations, the resonant principle is applied to harmonise the disrupted cells.
Since the human body is 70 percent water, all cells are excellent resonators and conductors of sound vibrations. “When the body is out of balance, sound is a tool to reset it to its own natural rhythm through resonance, restoring natural flow and harmony,” explains Christine Morrison, a sound healer, musician and teacher.
The projection of sound to correct the natural frequency of cells or organs can be done via chanting, singing, or listening to sounds of nature, classical music, or acoustic instruments. Other techniques including listening to music specifically composed for the individual, chanting mantras in a group, lying on a specially designed bed that project sounds into the body, or using headphones that play certain frequencies.
Finding your voice
The greatest instrument of healing is the human voice. Natural sounds like crying, laughing, sighing, wailing, humming, yawning, whistling, and the sounding of single vowels are all part of a self-healing technique called Toning, which is the use of voice to release pain and stress and to align imbalances. “The sustained, vibratory sound of single tones, without the use of melody, rhythm or words, bypasses language entirely and allows us to express the heart and soul directly, quietening the over-active left brain,” Morrison explains. “It is about being connected at the heart and soul and allowing your intuition to let your soul sounds emerge from deep within. People are always amazed at what they produce, especially when they let go of the fear of their voice being heard. Afterwards, they feel so free, it impacts their whole life. They speak with more empowerment and live the life they want.”
Sound healing practitioners often make sounds while healing a patient. These sounds are purely intuitive, where the practitioner allows himself to be a medium for sacred sound. By repeating these sounds they are able to release trauma in parts of the patient’s physical body. Some practitioners use a technique called Overtoning, where they use their voice to scan the client’s body and then project vocal harmonics into the imbalanced parts. The practitioner will listen for changes in their tone when it reaches a place of disharmony. This happens when the vibrational energy of the sound interacts with the patient’s energy field.
Sound’s healing effect is amplified when applied with creative intention. Intention consists of using your focus, thoughts, feelings and creative visualisations to attract a particular result. Jonathan Goldman, considered to be the guru of sound healing, expresses it thus - Frequency (Sound) + Intention = Healing. By using creative intention, we can be so deeply motivated that our mind’s energising force, coupled with universal healing energy, will create what we desire and transform our lives.
The power of chant
The word ‘mantra’ is often used to describe a frequently repeated phrase. However, it actually comes from the ancient Indian Sanskrit language and is derived from the root manas which means “to think” and tram, “to protect” or “liberate from bondage of the physical world”. A mantra, therefore, is thinking which liberates or protects.
Mantras are sonic formulations evoking vibrations that heal, enlighten and promote spiritual growth, and are said to be sacred sounds that speak to the gods. It is the power of word, a compelling force that not only vibrates in the being of the person who utters them but also subtly educes universal changes. Mantras are Vedic in origin, but transcend all language and all religion. Michelle Byrne, sound therapist, musician and chantress, adds,” A person does not need to be of any religion to enjoy chanting, as the chants can also be interpreted as universal energy. Many people practise yoga for healing, without completely immersing themselves in the spiritual ideology that it stems from. Chanting can be practised in the same way.”
Mantra chanting awakens our creative processes, removes energy blocks, energises our chakras, refocuses our consciousness, and calms the mind. Byrne says, “It is a very easy way to attain a relaxed and meditative state. When you chant, you bring yourself into a higher state of consciousness; there is nothing but the sound of your voice. It is a focus point for the mind, to put positive energy towards oneself, which has a lasting effect.
Even just thinking of a mantra can help you feel relaxed in a stressful situation.” Chanting of vowels has the same benefits. Vowels carry ‘information energy’, whereas consonants break up the flow. They are part of every language and are considered sacred in many traditions.
Reboot your brain
Research shows that self-created sounds like chanting cause the left and right brain hemispheres to synchronise. Chanting oxygenates the brain, lowers blood pressure, reduces heart rate and causes the brainwaves to calm down. Studies also show that chanting regulates breathing, which has many health benefits. While breathing alone is rejuvenating, breathing in synch with others, as one would when chanting in a group, amplifies the effect as the entire group entrains their breathing with each other. The vibrations contained in that synchronised sound radiate out in concentric circles, healing the group and even the world.
It is said that the silence afterwards is more potent than chanting itself. Byrne says, “Great healing occurs in the space between sounds. Silent meditation is helpful for relaxation and stilling the mind, and the silence after chanting takes you to that same still space. When you chant you are absorbed in a magical, healing space which seems to transcend time; your cares melt away, you feel light and free. And after chanting, the space and silence is so encompassing.”
Ancient rhythms, modern healing
The Tomatis® method of sound healing utilises Gregorian chants and the music of Mozart to stimulate the ear, brain and nervous system. Gregorian chants have a neurophysical effect which charges the brain and stimulates the central nervous system. Developed by Dr Alfred Tomatis, a French ear nose and throat specialist, it is based on his ground-breaking work into how music and sound can transform and heal.
“The Tomatis® method is a listening program which stimulates the brain and energises the body,” says Françoise Nicoloff, psychologist and founder of the Tomatis® method in Australia. “It is based on the relationship between the ear and the voice, between listening or auditory processing and communication. The goals of the method are to awaken the desire to communicate, learn, and embrace life.”
The ear plays a principal role in human development right from the foetal stage. When functioning properly, it supplies about 80 percent of the brain’s energy. The vestibule, a part of the inner ear, is connected to the whole body and controls our balance, coordination, verticality, muscle tone and eye muscles, while the cochlear analyses sound, which is vital for language, comprehension and expression.
Nicoloff explains, “Mozart’s score achieves the most perfect balance between relaxing and energising the two middle ear muscles. It works on retraining the two tiniest muscles of the body in the middle ear, but also energises the brain and all connections to the body. Gregorian chants are used for their effect on the flexor muscles of the body, as well as their ability to slow the heartbeat and lengthen the breath, which creates balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. Some waltzes also stimulate the vestibular system which is related to each muscle of the body.”
Tomatis developed a special headset called the Electronic Ear, which is equipped with air and bone conduction and relays music in a way that retrains the muscles of the ear and reawakens the person’s listening skills. “The Electronic Ear helps implementing a proper listening posture, which increases the chance of analysing sound and improves vocal posture by influencing timbre, rhythm and intensity. A good listening posture requires a vertical position so the positioning of the different parts of the ear allows optimum functioning,” explains Nicoloff.
According to Tomatis, emotional blockages due to past traumas or stress and depression can cause listening issues, speech delays, learning disabilities and communication problems. The method increases concentration, creativity and productivity and is a tool for language acquisition, personality development and voice and music performance. It is especially beneficial for children with ADD, ADHD, autism, and dyspraxia.