Sound Healing uses sound to create balance and alignment in the physical body, the energy centres ouncalled “chakras,” and/or the etheric fields. The sound may be applied by an instrument or by the human voice. Sound Healing is a vibrational therapy and can be understood as being energy medicine.
While the use of sound and music for healing is ancient and can be found in many spiritual and sacred traditions, “Sound Healing” is a relatively new modality in the traditional (allopathic) and complementary healing arts. The current field of Sound Healing is enormous in its scope. Sound encompasses virtually all aspects of the auditory phenomenon—from music to nature sounds to electronic sounds to vocal sounds. Practitioners who use sound may likewise use anything that falls within this scope; from classical music to drumming and chanting to electronically synthesized sounds to acoustic instruments. The depth and variety of a “Sound Healing” may vary extensively, from a client listening to soothing music that calms and relaxes to a client lying on a specially designed bed that projects specific sounds into their body. Some “Sound Healing” sessions may include:
Music in Imagery: Client listens to specific music while using imagery to open their psyche to self-discovery.
Music Therapy: Therapist works with client by using music to help elicit states of behaviour modification.
Cymatic Therapy: Instruments project specific frequencies into a client’s body to create physiological change.
Tapes: Audio with specifically chosen frequencies, either generically created or specially designed for an imbalance of a particular client.
The Electronic Ear: Client listens to a program of specially filtered music via headphones, designed to open the ear and the brain to greater frequencies of sound while treating imbalances such as dyslexia and emotional issues.
Toning and Overtoning: Client receives the vocally created sounds of a practitioner to balance and align imbalances on the physical, emotional or etheric.
Harmonic Resonance: Client is tested using kinesiology and receives frequencies from synthesized sounds to balance the physical body.
Bio-Acoustics: The missing frequencies of a client’s voice are found and played back via synthesized sounds.
Hemi-Sync: Client listens to synthesized sounds designed to balance the hemispheres of the brain and to induce altered states of consciousness.
Mantric Chanting: Client sounds specific mantras designed to balance and align their etheric field.
Tuning Forks: Client receives specific frequencies from specially designed tuning forks for relaxation and balance.
Vibro-Acoustic beds, chairs, etc.: Client sits or lies on a specially designed bed that projects music into their body. Such devices include: the Somatron, the Betar and the Genesis.
(These categories are by no means inclusive of all the various possibilities inherent in the field of Sound Healing and are listed to give the reader some examples of the potential variation of treatments found in the field.)
Perhaps the greatest instrument of healing—one that is natural, cost effective and does not require batteries or electrical outlets—is the human voice. Toning is a generic term to describe the use of the voice for release of pain and stress, and to help align imbalanced portions of the body. Sighing, moaning, groaning and other sounds we frequently make are all aspects of toning, as are the sounding of different vowels. Often, a Sound Healing practitioner will make sounds to a client they are working on. Usually, the client is lying on a table during a session. The sounds made can be purely intuitive, coming through the practitioner as they allow themselves to become a conduit for sacred sound. Some practitioners claim to be able to sense or hear trauma that’s trapped in the physical body. By repeating these sounds they’re able to release the trauma. Some practitioners work with a technique called “Overtoning.”
A typical session
“Overtoning” is a technique in which a Sound Healer will use their voice to scan the physical body of their client and then project vocal harmonics (overtones) into an imbalanced portion of the body (or etheric centre) that is found. A practitioner begins by making a siren-like sound, starting at the bottom of the client’s feet with a very low sound and continues up the body, raising in pitch, until a very high sound is created at the client’s head. An experienced practitioner of this technique can hear changes in their tone as they do this. The vocal timbre (or tone colour created by harmonics in the voice) actually changes when the sound reaches a place of imbalance. The practitioner then projects this specific harmonic into the area of the body where the imbalance was found. This may be for a few minutes or longer. When the harmonic becomes less audible or disappears and the tone becomes normalized, the sounding for that area is complete. Frequently, a practitioner will find a number of areas where sounding is needed. A practitioner may conclude the session by discussing the experience with the client.
This simple technique combines both listening and sounding. The practitioner is listening for a change in their tone, which happens when their sound interfaces with the energy field of their client. They must be extremely aware of the subtle changes in their sound in order to do this technique effectively. Overtoning can produce astounding results. Since sound can rearrange molecular structure, it’s quite possible for seemingly miraculous things to occur: vertebrae align, muscles relax, chronic pains disappear, traumas and blockages are released. Clients may report feelings of being energized, ecstatic, lightheaded, or drowsy. However, it’s also possible for nothing to happen at all. As with many of the healing arts, much of this may depend upon the relationship of the therapist with the client and vice versa.
Techniques such as Overtoning are particularly effective when combined with different bodywork modalities such as massage, chiropractic and therapeutic touch. A skilled practitioner can create sounds that enable their bodywork to reach new levels of effectiveness.
The use of sound as a healing modality dates back to prehistoric times, when shamans healed through chanting and drumming. In the ancient mystery schools of Egypt, Greece, India, Egypt and other centres of knowledge, the use of sound and music for healing was a highly developed sacred science. Sonic vibration was known to be the fundamental creative force in the universe.
In modern times, the Cymatic experiments of Swiss medical doctor Hans Jenny demonstrated how various substances such as plastics, liquids and sand take on different shapes depending upon the frequencies they’re subjected to. These experiments showed that sound has the ability to affect and change molecular structure. Since the body is composed of over 75% water, it’s easy to understand how sound can create change in the body.
Other Sound Healing pioneers who experimented with instrumentation, include: Dr. Peter Guy Manners, whose Cymatic Instrument projects specifically tabulated frequencies into the body; Dr. Alfred A. Tomatis, whose Electronic Ear uses sound to treat many learning disabilities and emotional problems; and Robert Monroe who discovered how to use sound waves to synchronize the hemispheres of the brain and cause accelerated consciousness.
The voice has been used as an instrument of healing since the earliest times. The technique of “toning,” using the voice for healing, was first named and described in the book of the same name by Laurel Elizabeth Keyes. “Overtoning,” the technique described earlier in this article was first named and described in HEALING SOUNDS.
How it works
The basic principle of Sound Healing is that of resonance; every object is in a state of vibration and therefore creates sound. This includes the various parts of our body, such as our organs, muscles and bones. If these parts of our body are vibrating at their normal, healthy frequency, we term this “health.” If a portion of our body vibrates at a frequency not harmonious to us, we call this “disease.” Sound can be used to project the correct resonant frequency into the “diseased” part of the body, returning it to its natural frequency and a state of health. This projection of sound can be done through electronic instrumentation or through the human voice.
The primary question in Sound Healing is: what are the correct resonant frequencies of the body? The answer to this has not yet been fully verified. Sound Healing scientists and researchers have determined frequencies for the various parts of the body, as well as for specific imbalances of the body. They have invented instruments that project these healing frequencies back into the body and all report success with their sounds. Yet these frequencies are all different and do not correlate with each other. There are many theories about this, but no one knows exactly why.
In terms of vibrational medicine, another major questions arises: do all people vibrate at the same frequency? The answer to this is unknown. It may be that the frequencies of different people vary. This could explain why different instruments with different frequencies all seem to have success. Different practitioners have different methods of testing to determine the proper frequencies. Some use kinesiology (muscle testing), others pendulums or radionics. There’s even a system of Sound Healing that finds missing frequencies in the voice and adds them back through listening to tapes, restoring the body to a state of health. All these methods have had some success. Whether they work for everyone is another issue.
Benefits, limitations and contraindications
Since sound can potentially rearrange molecular structure, the possible healing applications of sound are limitless. Stories exist of terminal or incurable diseases that have been instantaneously healed through sound. However, while such miraculous experiences may occur, it’s also quite possible for a client to receive no apparent benefit from Sound Healing.
When dealing with the plethora of instrumentation and sound devices currently available on the market, it’s conceivable that a person receiving the sound from an instrument may not resonate with a particular frequency and could potentially have an adverse effect with sound. While this would be rare, it is possible. The least invasive approach to Sound Healing seems to be that of using the human voice.
Evaluating a practitioner
Due to the recent rediscovery of Sound Healing, anyone with a musical instrument, an electronic gadget or the courage to project their voice at another person may call themselves Sound Healers. There are no licenses. There are in fact few programs of study in which an individual can learn about the physiological and psycho-acoustic effects of sound. It’s hoped that a practitioner will have an understanding of the physical and energetic mechanisms of the body. The best way to evaluate a practitioner is simply to experience their work and see if it resonates with the individual. If a client feels better after a session, that is good. If not, don’t go back for more.[box type=”note” style=”rounded” border=”full” icon=”none”]
THE ‘AH’ SOUND
An exercise to generate peace and compassion
“AH” is an extremely powerful sound particularly useful for generating peace and compassion—the keys to transformation of consciousness on this planet. It’s also a sacred seed syllable found in most of the God and Goddess names on the planet (Tara, Buddha, Krishna, Yah, Astara), as well as many sacred words (Amen, Alleluia, Aum). Also, most mystical traditions find it to be the sound of the heart chakra. Yet, as a vowel sound, it defies denomination or description as a mantra and is acceptable by everyone.
1. Make the “AH” sound in whatever key or tone feels comfortable, feeling the energy of peace and compassion as the sound resonates in your heart centre. While making this “AH,” visualize a beam of pink and gold energy coming from you then spreading throughout the world. As you make this sound and do this visualization, feel the energy of peace and compassion within and without yourself. This feeling of peace while you make the sound is essential to the effectiveness of projecting the “AH.”
2. Begin to tone the “AH” sound while feeling the energy of compassion and peace within. Once achieving this feeling, visualize a person with whom you have positive energy and send this energy to them while making this sound. Then visualize someone with whom you have neutral energy towards. Finally, make the “AH” sound while sending the energy of peace and compassion to someone with whom you’ve had some difficulty. It’s this last part of the exercise that provides the greatest opportunity for spiritual growth. It’s easy to send love and peace to someone you already love. Or, with the second part of the exercise, someone you don’t have any real feelings towards. It can be a real challenge to send compassion to someone you don’t love or may consider an enemy. Yet, herein lies the most extraordinary evolutionary activation that can occur on both a personal and planetary level. If we can learn to do this, we will great assist the ascension of the Earth.
Jonathan Goldman is a writer, musician and teacher. He is an authority on Sound Healing and a pioneer in the field of harmonics. Jonathan is the author of HEALING SOUNDS: THE POWER OF HARMONICS (Inner Traditions), SHIFTING FREQUENCIES (Light Technology) THE LOST CHORD (Spirit Music) and TANTRA OF SOUND (Hampton Road), co-authored with his wife Andi. You can visit him online at www.healingsounds.com.
To access a listing of Sound Healers, training seminars and resources, visit www.soundhealersassociation.org.