science of sound
Sound has been utilized in various cultures for thousands of years as a tool for healing.
Whether through the use of mantras as with the Hindis, the Icaros (medicine melodies) of various Indigenous peoples from Central and South America, or Pythagoras' use of interval and frequency, these various techniques all have the same intention: to move us from a place of imbalance to a place of balance.
How does it work?
Sound helps to facilitate shifts in our brainwave state by using entrainment. Entrainment synchronizes our fluctuating brainwaves by providing a stable frequency which the brainwave can attune to.
By using rhythm and frequency, we can entrain our brainwaves and it then becomes possible to down-shift our normal beta state (normal waking consciousness) to alpha (relaxed consciousness), and even reach theta (meditative state) and delta (sleep; where internal healing can occur).
This same concept is utilized in meditation by regulating the breath, but with sound it's the frequency that is the agent which influences the shift.
What is it like?
A sound therapy treatment is both a passive and participatory experience.
The passive aspect is that you become more relaxed by laying down and slowing your breath.
By doing this, you prepare yourself to become the receiver of sound.
It's in this place of stillness that you participate by becoming more open and aware of each sound that comes in.
Sound helps create the pathway to this place of stillness the same as a mantra helps you to arrive at the still point of meditation. It's important to note that awareness plays a huge role in our own healing.
How do we define the energetic body?
If we are able to shift our perspective, we can change our relationship to the issue that may be preventing us from experiencing our optimal homeostasis.
Sound not only helps with inducing relaxation, but also has a way of moving through areas of blockage. These energetic blockage areas can be located in our physical bodies, our subtle bodies, or both.
The physical body is where we experience localized pain and discomfort.
Using low frequency vibration we can stimulate the release of Nitric Oxide, a free radical molecule that has been proven to positively affect pain transmission and control.
Which, in short, means that these frequencies help to create a physiological reaction, while the sound itself helps to influence our auditory system, enabling us to modify our relationship to the pain.
Our "subtle body" is our energetic body.
This body is where our life force energy exists, commonly referred to as Qi, Chi or Prana.
In Chinese medicine, meridian points are used to pinpoint areas that have restricted energetic flow to our physical and subtle bodies.
The body is known to have thousands of these meridian lines that are mapped out through the body, in the same way we've mapped out the latitude and longitude of the earth.
The subtle body holds imbalances and traumas that can eventually manifest in our physical bodies, which is why it's important to look at healing and balance not only from a physical perspective, but as a complete holistic experience that includes mind, body and spirit.
Sound has the ability to positively affect our whole being.
Eileen McCusick, author of Tuning The Human Biofield, has been exploring the theory that our subtle body acts as memory storage.
For example, a tree has rings that extend outward as the tree grows. McCusick suggests that our subtle body expands and stores our life experiences in a similar way.
If we apply frequency with tuning forks we can help blocked energy from past experiences move toward the energetic filtration system of each Chakra, so that the stuck energy can be recycled back into our life force.
What can sound heal?
Using sound as therapy can provide results for a variety of issues including:
Is our environment a factor?
It's important to consider what kinds of sound we take in from our living environments.
Anyone who lives in New York City knows how painful the sound of a subway train screeching to a halt feels and sounds. Loud sounds can elevate our stress levels, create imbalances in our nervous system, lower our immunity and in extreme cases, cause hearing loss.
When we are stressed, our whole relationship to sound changes, and regular everyday sounds can become magnified and contribute to the feedback cycle of the stress, amplifying it even more.
By utilizing sound therapy techniques, we can become better listeners and more aware of the sounds we take in.
Many of us already have a pretty good understanding of the benefits of healthy eating, and the same can be true of sound.
This is another example where mindfulness practices like chanting and vocal toning, can help us to find a center and feel grounded. In doing so, when we do have those stressful trigger moments, we may be better equipped to appreciate and discern the sounds more as our own unique symphony constantly happening around us, rather than feel overwhelmed by random cacophony.
Our body, mind and spirit always want to be moving in a direction toward balance, yet we often have too much outer stimulus and noise and not enough time to dedicate to ourselves, which can prevent us from achieving a better state of harmony.
Sound has a way of helping us get to the source of this inner peace we all desire.
- Nate Martinez
Since ancient times countless cultures have utilized the power of sound as a healing medicine.
Recorded as the first people to use sound as a healer the Aboriginal people of Australia have used their sacred instrument, the Vidaki (didgeridoo) to heal physical injuries and psychological issues for at least 40,000 years.
Sound Medicine was long forgotten in the West until acoustic researchers rediscovered the medical properties of ultrasound during the 1930's. It is now becoming apparent that much of the wisdom held by the ancients was based on “sound” principles.
There is now a mass of research into the healing benefits of ultrasound, including its use in breaking up kidney stones and even shrinking tumours. In today's medical societies both infrasound (inaudible) and audible sound are now recognized for their powerful healing properties.
The low frequency sounds from drums and the ultra sound created by rattles are both now known to accelerate healing.
Acoustics research within the pyramids of Egypt has provided a solid basis that suggests that the Egyptians designed their temples to be highly reverberant to maximize the power and effect of ritualistic chant and toning.
It is, therefore, very likely that the ancient Egyptians were aware of the healing properties of sound long before the Greeks.
Although Pythagoras (circa 500 BC) is commonly credited as being the first person to use “music as medicine", a fellow Greek traveler by the name of Demetrius wrote (circa 200 BC) wrote that the Egyptians used vowel sounds in their rituals:
"In Egypt, when priests sing hymns to the Gods they sing seven vowel in due succession and the sound has such euphony that men listen to it instead of the flute and lyre."
The flute and the lyre were two of the primary instruments used by Pythagoras and his followers for healing purposes. He is also credited with being the first to understand musical intervals from his work with the monochord, a single-stringed instrument in which the string tension was established by a fixed weight.
In the Greco-Roman period healing temples were used for “incubation”, a process in which patients underwent “dream sleep”, among other known modalities.
Of Pythagorus Lamblichus noted that:
“Pythagoras considered that music contributed greatly to health, if used in the right way he called his method ‘musical medicine” To the accompaniment of Pythagoras” his followers would sing in unison certain chants”.
"At other times his disciples employed music as medicine, with certain melodies composed to cure the passions of the psyche…anger and aggression.”
Fundamental principles of sound healing.
Resonance may be the most important principle of sound healing and has various definitions. In the context of healing humans or animals it can be described as the frequency of vibration that is most natural to a specific organ or system such as the heart, liver or lungs.
Resonance is the scientific principle where one vibrating object can force a second object into vibrational motion.
Entrainment is a physical phenomenon where the frequency of one object changes its own frequency to match another object. In other words, it matches or comes into harmony with another object.
An example of this is when pendulum clocks placed in the same room eventually fall into a rhythmic harmony, each swinging in unison.
In sound healing, resonance and entrainment principles are utilized to re-harmonize cells that have become disharmonious as a result of disruptive frequencies.
The revolutionary work of Dr James Gimzewski, of UCLA, Ca, within the field of Sonocytology, has uncovered that every cell in our body has a unique sonic signature and ‘sings’ to its neighboring cells.
Sonocytology is a potentially powerful, diagnostic tool for identifying the sounds of healthy cells versus those of injurious ones.
It also introduces an even more exciting prospect: the ability to play the destructive sounds of rogue cells back to them greatly amplified, so that they implode and are destroyed. In this scenario there would be no collateral damage to surrounding tissue since healthy cells would not resonate with these frequencies.
Another possible explanation of how sound is able to trigger the healing response relates to cellular ion channels. Situated within a cella membrane, ion channels are the means by which the cell receives nourishment and communicates with neighboring cells.
In dysfunctional cells it is proposed that some of these vital channels are shut down causing cell senescence, so literally the cell is sleeping. In this hypothesis, sound opens the closed channels, supporting the cell to awaken and resume normal functioning and replication.
It is now widely accepted that electromagnetic interactions are fundamental to the workings of biological tissues. However, the important point to remember is that all electromagnetism is created as a direct result of sound collisions.
Sound is always the precursor to electromagnetism.
The role of intention in sound healing.
Sound is a highly effective tool for healing and, fortunately, an individual does not need to believe in it for it to work. There is a factor that can greatly amplify the effectiveness of healing: creative intention.
When the power of intention is held, the chances of a successful outcome are greatly intensified. Intention consists of using your focused thoughts, feelings and visualizations to attract whatever is desired, such as enhancing one’s health.
It seems possible that the energy of intention is carried on the frequencies of sound and many believe, Sound is a carrier wave of consciousness.
‘One’ intention is the spiritual counterpart of the sound and the combination of sound and intention create the outcome of healing.
Another American sound healer, Jonathan Goldman, created this simple formula:
Sound + Intention = Healing
The power of intention involves consciously drawing on the universal field of energy. Utilizing this potent, universal force along with healing sounds has been found to dramatically accelerate the healing process.
Many people fall into the trap of fear, or negative intention, particularly in regard to health issues. It is all too easy to fixate upon the possible consequences of a health challenge rather than on the positive expectation of enjoying a healthy, vital life.
The universe, it seems, is neutral and will return in kind whatever we focus upon.
Whether we are aware of it or not, we use the force of intention either positively or negatively every moment of every day.
Our thoughts, feelings and imaginings are the templates for the results and experiences of our lives. In this context, like attracts like. When using creative intention, there is the sense of being deeply inspired.
The word inspiration means In-Spirit.
We are motivated to respond to a deeper calling with a firm belief, an absolute knowing, that our desire has already been fulfilled. When we merge the mind energizing force with the universal field of energy for the purpose of healing and creation, our health and the quality of our lives can be transformed.
One may ask how it is possible to have absolute certainty about a desired outcome before there is any apparent proof. People tend to believe things only when they see them. However, the art of creative intention calls for a new way of thinking:
When you believe it, you will see it!
It is highly beneficial to the creative process when you act as if you already have what you want. See, feel, and think as if your body is currently vital and whole. When you act as if your desired outcome has already happened, the subconscious mind cannot differentiate between what is factual and what is imagined and believes your intention is actual reality.
The mind holds immense healing and creative powers and will continue to work on your behalf as long as you maintain your conscious focus of intention. Perhaps the most important element in “acting as if is to feel the experience of having already manifested your desire.
Some people have used these and similar tools of intention but have not experienced the successful outcome for which they had hoped. Generally it is not because they have applied it incorrectly or missed an important element in the process.
Their lack of success usually stems from unresolved issues and detrimental beliefs that are harbored as internal fears in the subconscious mind; issues so old and ingrained that the person may not even be aware of them.
Buried fear-based issues and limiting beliefs tend to set up an internal conflict.
The conscious mind may want to create a desired outcome, but the overpowering, conflicting influence of unresolved issues and beliefs block success.
Nothing can become a part of your reality unless your feelings and your conscious mind are in alignment with the more powerful subconscious mind...