The Healing Power of Sound
By Lia Scallon.
‘In the beginning was the Word and the Word was’…. a sound – the very breath of God. In Sanskrit, the words ‘Nada Brahma’ means, the world is sound. As in the Bible, so too, ancient Hindu scholars claimed the universe arose first out of sound – sound gave rise to light and light became matter. Modern science now seems to concur. The theory of Big Bang proposes that our universe exploded into being out of one great sound. The Hindu belief is that the “soundless sound” is the subtlest element. It is beyond the speed of light, contains all universal knowledge and is the cohesive source of all that is.
Artwork by Lise Nilsen
Every planet, indeed every layer of life, vibrates to sound. Many living organisms, apart from human beings, communicate so richly through sound, that it is hard to imagine their survival without it. Bird song and the songs of whales for example – these are bewilderingly complex, and decidedly musical.
As humans, so sensitive are we to sound, that noise pollution has been called the most common modern health hazard. High levels of unpleasant sounds, cause blood vessels to constrict; blood pressure, pulse, and respiratory rates, increase; extra fats are released into the bloodstream; and the blood’s magnesium levels fall. People are disturbed not only by loud sounds but also by those that are dissonant or inharmonic.
For thousands of years, cultures throughout the world have used the powers of music to heal the body, mind and spirit. Only recently, however, has the field of sound healing emerged into full-scale public awareness. Studies have shown that music can reduce stress, enhance immune system function, slow down and balance brain wave activity, reduce muscle tension, increase endorphin levels, and evoke feelings of love and inner peace.
Sound can mean something to us, however, that is not adequately explained just by an analysis of the physical changes they cause. The sound vibration can open doorways to other dimensions as it alters the vibrational reality. For millennia, many great spiritual traditions have prescribed the repetition of certain sounds to promote the experience of transcendent realities. The ritualistic use of specific chants, prayers, incantations, affirmations, and holy words is truly worldwide.
Artwork by Lise Nilsen
Ancient civilisations, such as that of Atlantis, believed that each soul held its own musical frequency, a sort of individual soundprint throughout every cell of the body. This was referred to as the ‘wam’, or the soul’s music. In the crystalline caves of Atlantis, the healing priestesses would attune the wam simply by striking the appropriate crystal matrix and creating a resonant tone that would bring the individual back into harmony.
The first Tibetan masters, developed a way to reproduce and preserve the ‘wam’, by creating sacred tools which include the dorje, the bell and the Tibetan singing bowl. And today, we have seen the emergence of quartz crystal ‘singing’ bowls, which have evolved from the computer industry, which uses their intense energy field to grow quartz silicon chips. Each crystal bowl is digitally attuned to the diatonic musical scale – C, D, E, F, G, A, B – which is vibrationally connected with the chakra system.
The bigger the bowl the deeper the sound and the more it resonates with the physical. The smaller the bowl, the higher the sound and the more it resonates with the spiritual. The sound emitted by playing the crystal bowls as musical instruments, is one of the “purest tones” in the world.
Crystals are rainbow channels of light and can be programmed for healing. The sound produced by the bowls, intensifies the seven rainbow lights of the crystals. When we enter into the sound of the crystal bowls their seven rainbow tones activate different states of consciousness.The vibrational frequencies of the bowls resonate with the physical body and the subtle energy field, around the body, thus facilitating the harmonising of the heart and the mind, the physical with the spiritual.
Certain meditation practices that emphasize the repetitious chanting of special sounds, or mantras, are associated with demonstrable health benefits.
Sound expert James D’Angelo, believes that sounds sung or words spoken by a person, have the strongest impact upon the individual’s chemical changes, especially mantras repeated regularly, which can bring about very decisive changes. In his book ‘Healing with the Voice’ he says ‘the subtle and powerful vibrations produced by the human voice purify and balance energies within the body to help promote total wellbeing’.
He believes toning – the repetition of single vowel sounds or syllables – and chanting, are the highest form of healing vibration using the voice. The repetition of the sound penetrates deep into the psyche and can calm the mind or boost energy levels. Different sounds can be directed to specific areas of the body to boost wellbeing.
Sound has tremendous power. The ancients understood that a simple sound could reorganise the body’s structure. Specific tones correspond to specific areas of the body. Each chakra can be balanced by a specific tone. In fact, sounds can affect all the various senses and organs of the body and can stimulate the deterioration or regeneration of these systems. Sounds that are harmonious can activate the body and create healing.
We are coming closer to a full understanding how music can heal us. Music affects us physically, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually. We can now say with certainty that our responses to music are far more complex, subtle and far-reaching than we imagined. Many experts now recognize the existence of the “energy anatomy” which underlies the physical anatomy and is every bit as real.
There has been some remarkable work done on the effects of sound – in particular music – on the foetus within the womb. French physician Dr Alfred Tomatis, understood that the ear is the first organ to hook up to the brain’s developing neural systems and that the foetus begins to hear by the second trimester in the womb. Tomatis realised that interference with hearing in utero and the first years of life could lead to listening, learning and emotional disabilities later on.
He discovered that the only sounds that penetrated the womb were high frequency sounds. After extensive research he found that the two sound experiences that were far and away the most effective were the mother’s voice, filtered through a special device to omit all but the high frequency sounds, and the music of Mozart. Music, rhythm, tone, and the vibration of sound, serves to organise matter – to create structure in space and time. Its effects are clear and measurable. The high frequencies of Mozart in particular, stimulate and charge the creative and motivational regions of the brain.
Don Campbell, in his two books on the Mozart effect, has also shown what an effective tool music is for assisting brain development in infants.. Music can play a crucial part in the wiring of a young child’s brain. Many studies have demonstrated that newborns clearly recognise and prefer music that their mothers listened to or sang during pregnancy. This applies to stories read to them too.
Tomatis also found that different frequencies and rhythms of sound had remarkably different effects on his patients’ state of being. High frequency sounds increased energy levels and created feelings of calm, while low frequency sound often proved disorienting.
Unfortunately, we are surrounded by low frequency sound in modern life – the constant hum of computers, fridges, microwaves, buses, jackhammers etc. This creates body imbalance which, when severe enough, develops into a state of ‘dis-ease’. The more we expose ourselves to the high vibration sounds found in the symphony of nature, to redress the balance, the better. Birdsong, the gentle sound of a breeze, cascading waterfalls and streams and the rhythm of waves breaking on the shore – these are all healing for the body and soothing for the soul.
The pioneering studies of Dr. Marcel Vogel and Irzhak Bentov, revealed that, in a state of deep relaxation or meditation, the electromagnetic field surrounding our head, literally attunes to the basic electromagnetic field of the earth itself! The earth’s harmonic resonance has been measured at approx 8 cycles per second, or 8 Hertz (Hz). The frequency range of the electrical activity of the brain that we access, in states of deep relaxation, is also centred around 8 Hz. Is this correspondence just a coincidence?
Perhaps that is why we feel so rejuvenated when surrounded by nature, in a forest, in the mountains, or by the ocean. Perhaps this is also a key to understanding how, our inner and outer environments, can be orchestrated to a higher level of harmony.
Music is a universal language. Its gifts are the feelings, memories, enjoyment and tears it creates. Music creates emotion and emotion produces actual chemical reactions in the bloodstream – neuro peptides are released – which affect the organs and systems. Harmonic sound equals harmonic emotion equals harmonic body.
The human body itself is intrinsically musical, right down to the DNA that makes up our genes. Even our DNA has it’s own melody. The idea that DNA and music might be connected comes from the work of a geneticist, Dr. Susumu Ohno. In order to understand Dr. Ohno’s insights, we need to understand that every organism’s genes are composed of strands of DNA, which in turn are made up of four so-called nucleotides. In an imaginative leap, Dr. Ohno assigned musical notes to these four substances The result was a melodic composition that was finally fleshed out with harmonies, by his wife, Midori, a musician. When completely transcribed, the scores were then performed by professional musicians on instruments such as the piano or organ, violin, and viola.
Dr. Ohno, has so far, notated over fifteen “songs of the DNA” of a variety of living organisms. He finds that the more evolved an organism is, the more complicated its music. To listeners knowledgeable about classical music, these DNA-based compositions have been taken variously for the music of Bach, Brahms, Chopin, and other great composers. These melodies are majestic and inspiring. Many persons hearing them for the first time are moved to tears; they cannot believe that their bodies, which they believed to be mere collections of chemicals, contain such uplifting, inspiring harmonies — that they are musical.
Sound can also actually produce form. This relates directly to sacred geometry. Sacred geometry originates in nature. Budda’s lesson on sacred geometry was to silently hold up a flower. The incredible symmetry and patterning within a flower, produces an overwhelming sense of awe. The human body, is also a reflection of this sacred geometry. The exact proportions of individual parts of the body to each other create a set of harmonics, like the harmonics in all life.
Artwork by Chat Tibet
Concert pianist Lorin Hollander has described the rich visual imagery he has experienced, all his life, on playing the works of the great composers. Hollander was astonished when he later discovered that these forms, which he had visualized since childhood, were practically identical to many of the beautiful tile designs on Islamic mosques scattered throughout the Middle East. These images, he states, often take the form of highly complex geometric designs. His experience affirms Pythagoras’s assertion in the fifth century B.C. that:- “There is geometry in the humming of the strings. There is music in the spacings of the spheres.”
For more than 200 years, modern researchers have been validating this connection of Sound and Vibrations to physical form. The first to make the connection was German scientist Ernst Chladni, who, in 1787, detailed his research in his book “Discoveries Concerning the Theory of Music.” In that pioneering work, he explained ways to make sound waves generate visible structures. He detailed how a violin bow, drawn at a right angle across a flat plate covered with sand, produces patterns and shapes. Today, those patterns and shapes are called Chaldni figures.
The study of wave phenomena, that is, the ability of sound to organize and repattern matter, is called Cymatics. Sound-forms can be seen by subjecting mediums such as sand, water, or clay to a continuous sound vibration.” These pictures taken by Dr. Hans Jenny are sound-forms. They were obtained by placing various mediums on a steel plate with a crystal sound oscillator attached to the bottom. The Oscillator creates a pulse, which vibrates the steel plate. The forms on the plate are examples of sound organizing matter.”
Then there is the work of Japanese researcher, Dr Masaru Emoto and his experiments, mostly with water. Dr Emoto’s research into the nature or water reveals a vast array of form and structure, as reflected in the crystalline shapes that result when water is exposed to subtle energies. One experiment has a group of people projecting love and gratitude towards the water samples. When the water was crystallised by freezing it, and then photographed, the water specimens revealed stunningly beautiful forms and shapes. Other water samples exposed to negative words or thoughts, reflected ugly forms, colours and shapes.
Music has a similar effect on water as words and thoughts. The music of Mozart produced beautiful, hexagonal crystalline shapes while those exposed to heavy metal, were distinctly dull, formless and ugly. Dr Emoto research is based on the premise that everything in the universe vibrates with what he calls ‘hado’ – a vibrational frequency or resonance wave that is the true source of all living forms in the Universe. He has concluded that, anything in tune with Mother Nature, manifests as beautiful, hexagonal crystal structures.
Our bodies are over 70% water. We have to assume then, that everything we, hear, think and say, must affect our overall body structure as well as those with whom we interact.
Poet Cathie Guzetta summarized this science best when she wrote: “The forms of snowflakes and faces of flowers may take on their shape because they are responding to some sound in nature. Likewise, it is possible that crystals, plants, and human beings may be, in some way, music that has taken on visible form.” Pythagoras echoed this when he said, many thousands of years ago:- “A stone is frozen music”.
Another fascinating finding by Dr Hans Jenny was his observation that, when the vowels of ancient languages like Hebrew and Sanskrit were pronounced, the sand took the shape of the written symbols for those vowels. “Modern languages, including English, failed to generate those patterns.”
Dr Jenny concluded that all natural phenomena were ultimately dependent on, if not entirely determined by, the frequencies of vibration.”Every cell pulsates, reflects and interacts with acoustic oscillations”, he said. Even the earth and sun vibrate in unison, based on a main rhythm of 160 minutes. As a result, he argued that physical healing could be aided or hindered by tones. He claimed that different frequencies influenced different genes, cells, and various structures in the body.
I think we can safely assume then, that sounds affect both our physical and spiritual well-being. The body is a self-healing instrument, It is genetically pre-programmed to heal itself. Certain music can heal us, by assisting the body to come into its natural state of balance and harmony.
As we acknowledge then, the potent properties of sound, let us seize this powerful tool and use it to bring harmony and healing into our lives.
(Sources: Dr John Beaulieu ‘Music and Sound in the Healing Arts,’ ‘Cosmos of the Soul’ Patricia Cori, ‘The Mozart Effect for Children ‘Don Campbell, ‘ Theo Gimble ‘Healing through Colour’ , Chris Neill ‘Balanced Concepts-Colour and Music’. Larry Dossey MD ‘Healing Words: The Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine’, Chris James, Steven Halpern (www.innerpeacemusic.com), David Hulse (www.Soma Energetics.com) Shirley Roden ‘Sound Healing’)
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