What do the brilliant minds of Greek mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras, Baroque composer J.S Bach, and Swiss psychiatrist and psychologist Carl Jung have in common? They share deep understanding that music and sound connect humans to the earth and beyond.
Sound healing and sound and music therapy are growing increasingly popular these days as an alternative way to deal with a range of dis-eases from chronic pain to ADHD to depression and more. Sound and music is currently being welcomed as a tool to assist healing in hospitals, schools, nurseries, birthing centers, rehabilitation facilities and retirement communities around the U.S. and Europe.
Tibetan and quartz crystal singing bowls, tuning forks, gongs, didgeridoos, drums, rattles and other instruments are being utilized to help patients and clients go beyond relaxation and into a place where the body and mind are receptive to balance and, ultimately, healing.
“When properly mobilized, sound can specifically entrain the human organism toward the greater harmony and homeostasis that it requires to remain vibrant and to regenerate after injury or illness. The properties of sound medicine—entrainment, harmony and homeostasis—represent the rational and spiritual foundation for a new movement in the healing arts and sciences,” according to Mitchell Gaynor, M.D., the late integrative oncologist who was passionate about using sound to help heal his patients with cancer.
This might be a new movement in the Western world but music and sound used as a tool for healing is deeply rooted in ancient cultures and civilizations. Schools of ancient Egypt and Greece considered healing and sound a highly developed sacred science. The flute and lyre were used to treat illnesses such as gout and sciatica. When illness set in, Native American shamans used their own voice in healing rituals by singing to themselves to facilitate healing. Creating light through vocal harmonics was utilized by Mayan shamans. Hindu Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Kundalini yogic practices have used the breath-chant combination to balance the energetic centers and cleanse the subtle energy body for thousands of years. In early Christianity, Gregorian chants used certain melodic and harmonic structure that helped prepare for accessing a heightened state of divine awareness and power.
The common denominator in all of the ancient healing wisdoms is the knowledge and understanding that humans are beings of vibration. Everything vibrates; it is vibration that we see, hear, feel and experience on our earth journeys. When our bodies are ill, when we have chronic pain, depression and anxiety set in, it is our bodies’ way of telling us we are not in vibrational harmony. Is dis-ease a physical manifestation of stored pain, trauma, emotional blockages, or deep conditioned thoughts and beliefs that need to be brought to the surface, attended to and released? How does sound and music help to attain whole being healing? When body and mind are given the proper tools for energetic release and vibrational alignment, the body can then heal from the inside out instead of a pharmaceutical drug masking a symptom of the “root” cause.
Singing Bowls and Gongs
Use of Tibetan singing bowls can bring brainwaves from alpha to theta, which creates a deep state of relaxation, harmony and balance. Because of the multiple harmonics, the sound can have the effect of bringing both hemispheres of the brain into synchronization. Sound can be the medium that transports a person to an elevated state of consciousness. Through journey inner clarity, peace and the healing knowledge can be attained.
When the body is allowed to be in a non-resistant mode, “ease” not “dis- ease” can begin. Gongs have been used for more than 4,000 years; attending a gong bath is a powerful method for reducing stress and breaking up emotional blockages. The gong creates a profoundly relaxing ocean of sound that activates the parasympathetic nervous system to balance the over-amped, over-taxed sympathetic nervous system.
“The sounds from the gong travel from the outer ear throughout the body via the vagus nerve, impacting brain waves, respiratory rates and heart rates. Sound enters the healing equation from several directions. It may alter cellular functions through energetic effects. It may entrain biological systems to function more homeostatically. It may calm the mind and therefore the body. Or it may have emotional effects, which influence neurotransmitters and neuropeptides, which, in turn, help to regulate the immune system—the healer within,” says gong master and Kundalini yoga teacher, Don Contreaux, who is in his 46th year of gong healing and teaching.
Your Own Voice
Whether you sing to yourself, chant sacred chants or tone your chakras, the ultimate sound healer can be your voice. Its resonance is as unique as your fingerprint and extraordinarily powerful while raising your vibration.
It is said that while chanting, the tongue connects with meridian points on the roof of the mouth. These points are connected to areas in the brain that can result in chemical changes that bring about a more balanced psyche; strengthen the immune system; and promote mental, physical and emotional health. One of the interesting things about mantra chanting is that it works even when the chanter does not understand why.
Sound healing, when practiced by caring, supportive and educated practitioners with the highest intentions, can be tools for profound healing. In the end, these sacred instruments can allow each of us to tap into the ancient wisdom within our bodies, and connect to our intuitive knowledge and higher self. They can bring us back into alignment while raising our individual and collective vibration. When emotional, spiritual and physical bodies are in accord with each other, illness fades, pain disappears, and the divine path shines bright.