Overview Sound Healing
by Jonathan Goldman
Sound Healing, as the name implies, is the use of sound to create balance and alignment in: the physical body, the energy centers called “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 understand 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: in which a client will listen to specific music while using imagery in order to open their psyche to for self-discovery.
- Music Therapy: in which therapist will work with clients using songs and music to help elicit states of behavior modification.
- Cymatic Therapy: in which specific frequencies via an instrument are projected into a client’s body in order to create physiological change.
- CDs: with specifically designed frequencies, either generically created or specifically created for an imbalance of a particular client.
- The Electronic Ear: in which a client will listen to a program of specially filtered music via headphones, designed to open the ear and the brain to greater frequencies of sound and treat imbalances such as dyslexia and emotional issues.
- Toning and Overtoning: in which a client may receive the vocally created sounds of a practitioner to balance and align imbalances on the physical, emotional or etheric.
- Harmonic Resonance: in which a client will be tested using kinesiology and receive frequencies from synthesized sounds in order to balance the physical.
- Bio-Acoustics; in which the missing frequencies of a client’s voice are found and played back via synthesized sounds.
- Hemi-Sync; in which a client listens to synthesized sounds designed to balance the hemi-spheres of the brain and induce altered states of consciousness.
- Mantric Chanting: in which a client will sound specific mantras designed to balance and align their etheric field.
- Tuning Forks: in which a client will receive the frequencies from specially designed tuning forks for relaxation and balance
- Vibro-Acoustic beds, chairs, etc.: in which a client will sit or lie 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. These 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 is trapped in the physical body. By repeating these sounds they are able to release the trauma. Some practitioners work with a technique called “Overtoning” .
WHAT A TYPICAL SESSION IS LIKE
“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 center) that is found. A practitioner begins by making a siren like sound, starting which at the bottom of the clients 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 will be able to hear changes in their tone as they do this. The vocal timbre (or tone color created by harmonics in the voice) actually changes when the sound reaches a place of imbalance. The practitioner then proceeds to project 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 become 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 with discussion of the experience with the client.
This technique, while quite simple, utilizes a combination of listening and sounding. The practitioner is listening for a change in their tone which occurs as a result of their sound interfacing 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 most effectively. The results of Overtoning can be quite astounding. Since sound can rearrange molecular structure, it is 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, light headed, or drowsy. However, it is 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 the many different bodywork modalities, from massage to chiropractic to therapeutic touch. A skilled practitioner will be able to create sounds which facilitate their modality and enable their bodywork to reach new levels of effectiveness.
The use of sound as a healing modality dates back to prehistoric times, when shaman chanted and drummed to heal people. In the ancient mystery schools of Egypt, Greece, India, Egypt and other centers 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 would take on different shapes depending upon the frequencies they were 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 is therefore easy to understand how sound can create change in the body.
Some pioneers in the field of Sound Healing created through instrumentation, include: Peter Guy Manners, MD from England, whose Cymatic Instrument projects specifically tabulated frequencies into the body, Alfred A. Tomatis, MD, from France 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 and has continued to be used in this manner in the East. 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 in “typical session” was first named and described in HEALING SOUNDS.
THE THEORY ABOUT 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, bones, etc. If these parts of our body are vibrating at their normal, healthy frequency, we call this state “health”. If a portion of our body begins to vibrate at a frequency which is not harmonious to us, we call this “disease”. It is possible to use sound to project the correct resonant frequency of that part of the body which is vibrating out of harmony back into the body, causing it to return to its natural frequency and return to a state of health. This projection of sound can be done through electronic instrumentation or through using 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 parts of the body, as well as for specific imbalances of the body. They have invented instruments which 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 be an explanation as to 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 is even a system of Sound Healing which uses a method of determining missing frequencies found in the voice (by having the client speak into a voice analyzer) which when added (via listening to a tape) will supposedly restore the body to a state of health. All of these methods have had some success. Whether they work for everyone is another issue.
BENEFITS, LIMITATIONS, 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 is also quite possible for a client to receive no seeming benefit from the Sound Healing.
When dealing with the plethora of instrumentation and sound devices currently available on the market, it is 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 a 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 is hoped that a practitioner will have 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.
RESOURCES FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
The Sound Healers Association offers training seminars by Jonathan Goldman, sells a nationwide directory of sound healers and other sound healing related books, CDs and products and prints informational literature.
HEALING SOUNDS by Jonathan Goldman (Element Books, 1992)
SOUNDING THE INNER LANDSCAPE (Caduceus Press, 1990)
MUSIC AND SOUND IN THE HEALING ARTS by John Beaulieu (Station Hill, 1987)
MUSIC: PHYSICIAN FOR TIMES TO COME edited by Don Campbell (Quest, 1989)
SOUND HEALERS ASSOCIATION INTERNATIONAL DIRECTORY (SHA 1995)