The Healing Power of Sound and Music

The Healing Power of Sound and Music

Music is “an invitation into the mysteries of the human soul.”
Frederick Delius

In ancient times music was solely in the realm of the mystical, magical, healing, and ceremonial. When there were no CDs and record companies all music was a-live played by people for people. There was a specialness to it we can barely appreciate today, instead of radio and muzac there were the sounds of nature. When music was heard it was rarified and honored and was for shamanic healing, church ceremonies, or in the court of the high king. Just as sweetness used to be the delicate flavor of a fresh strawberry and these days nothing tastes sweet without copious amounts of sugar, we’ve lost our sensitivity and appreciation for the subtler aspects of life, including sound.

We are bombarded these days with sound, from the noise of the city to the chaotic sound of the TV Music has to get louder and ‘catchier’just to be heard. To add to this the relentless struggle for perfection and the ability to find a version of it with computer recording and editing has left us with music devoid of life energy.

There is relatively little mystical, sacred, or healing energy left in music today. There is an increasing interest in these areas but most of that are commercialized ideas rather than the real thing. How do we know what’s real? Our bodies know but first they have to be desensitized and cleansed from all the sound pollution we have ingested.

The best way cleansing our bodies frequencies is to spend time in the quiet of nature. Here the 8Hz resonant frequency of the earth along with the music of the earth will re-integrate the hemispheres of the brain, which get thrown off by modern music, and the chaotic noise and energy of modern life. Once we get used to a subtler vibration our bodies will feel what sounds throw them off and intrinsically know what music is beneficial for us in each moment.

The only problem is there’s so much sound and noise in our modern life to throw us out of sync. We end up becoming numb to music and just accept what we hear blindly without realizing the affects it is having on our body, emotions, mind, and spirit. Good healing music will allow and help the listener to find their own optimal rhythms and frequencies and enter brainwave states conducive to healing.

Another aspect of healing sound utilizes sounds, frequencies and music to deeply enter the psyche of the listener, consciously hooking emotions, shaking up blocked energy pathways and working in all matter of subtle ways that need clarity of purpose, intention, understanding and strong intuition. In this way all styles of music can be healing, and it becomes the life energy in the performance and recording as well as its proper application, which give the healing benefits.

We must become aware that we are responsible for the sounds we allow into our bodies, just as we are responsible for the food we eat. Sound is a kind of vibrational nourishment that has a profound effect on our health. Just as certain foods can increase or decrease our vitality and general health, so can the “diet” of certain sounds and music help with our bodies state of health. We are able to be discriminating by closing our eyes or mouths to that which we do not want to take in, but our ears are always receptive and open, even when we sleep, we are still hearing, for this reason hearing could be described as the feminine sense. As with the feminine in general in our culture, hearing is very much abused. The sensitivity and receptivity of the ear and hearing are very misunderstood and accosted by the flamboyant, loud displays of progress we seem to honor.

Though the ear is still given major credit for hearing, or aural processing, there is a great deal of scientific evidence that the entire body hears, or is sensitive to sound. All the cells in our bodies have vibratory properties and hence are capable of being receptive to sound. Our environment is inundated by supersonic and subsonic ‘sound’ waves that universally affect our physical and energy bodies with there vibrations such as microwaves, radio waves, electrical currents, and the multitude of invisible networks based on vibration such as cell phones.

Sound researcher and music professor Murray Schafer discovered by testing a group of North American students, that after deep relaxation the musical note B natural was the easiest pitch to maintain and recall. However, after the same tests in Germany, G sharp was found to be the common note. The difference? In North America, we run our electricity at 60 cycles per second. We hear the corresponding frequency subconsciously in all our electrical devices. The corresponding pitch to that frequency is B natural, exactly the pitch the students recalled. In Germany, the electricity runs at 50 cycles per second with a corresponding pitch G sharp, exactly as the students recalled. This shows how at an unconscious level, our bodies are constantly ingesting and being transformed by the sounds and vibrations in our environment.* sometimes these vibrations are very noticeable. Have you heard the low hum of electrical transformers, or the buzz of old fluorescent light fixtures? As a sound engineer the 60 cycle hum is something we must battle with all the time, so much so that there is usually a low cut filter or equalizer that removes the sound at and below 60 Hz caused by all the electrical equipment. These hums are especially apparent when electrical equipment is not grounded properly, but even at the best of times electromagnetic fields are radiating in all directions from electrical equipment, especially those with moving parts, transformers, motors, TVs and computer monitors. Stephen Halpern describes our bodies as “bio-oscillators, much like crystal receiving sets that pick up radio sounds from the environment”.

The brain can dampen and or be sensitized to different sounds. A mother can distinguish her son’s small voice in a large crowd but when her own mother, who has complained and whined ever since she was a child, speaks her brain tunes it out. In fact the mind can tune out any sound that even reminds this person of her mothers voice, the pitch, the particular inflections similar words etc This can be one reason people begin to lose there hearing, tuning out what they don’t want to hear.

A study done by Dr.Sheldon Cohen showed that children living near an airport did not “perform as well on difficult and complex tasks” and were “more likely to give up in discouragement” compared to similar children in quiet areas of the same city. Another experiment by Dr. Cohen showed 80% of people stopping to help a researcher in a cast who dropped some books. But when a lawn mower was on close by only 15% stopped to help.

It is clear that sounds and music affect our lives in very real ways and that certain sounds contribute to stress, ill health and dis-ease, whereas others will optimize our vitality and life. Long range ingestion of noise creates damage to the ear, disrupts the central nervous system and creates perceptual distortions in hearing and other senses. The work of Dr. Bose in India shows that the effects of different kinds of music affects animal productivity and plant yield. Dorothy Retallack’s research noticed that when plants ‘disliked’ certain types of music, they grew away from the speakers. When they ‘liked’ the music, they grew towards the speakers even if it meant moving away from the source of light. When Indian classical music was played continuously, they literally wrapped themselves around the speakers, while when heavy metal was played for extended periods they withered and died.

Dr. Hans Jenny studied extensively the relationship between waveforms and matter, how sound vibrations affect and create physical form. He would send constant pitches into materials such as a droplet of water, and a thin surface covered with licopodium powder, as well as others. When the pitch sounded it would create incredible geometric patterns in the substances. They would look like pentagonal stars, hexagonal cells, spirals, leaves, and complex mandalas. (A mandala is a circular, complex, usually mathematical collection of harmonious geometric patterns often used for meditation). All these varied shapes would hold there form as long as the pitch was constant, as soon as the pitch was shifted the form would dissolve into chaos and then form a new pattern. As the pitch went higher in frequency the patterns became more and more complex. More fascinating still when two pitches were played simultaneously the patterns created would pulsate and move like living organisms. Some would look just like blood pulsing through vains, others exactly like spinning galaxies, if you did not know what you were looking at you would think you were looking at black and white movies of weather patterns, space scapes, close ups of nature, and human biology pulsing with life. These patterns illustrate an underlying order in the physical universe and human consciousness that appears to be intimately related to sound. Even at a microscopic level a substance, when exposed to sound, arranges itself in mathematically precise formations, which reveal consistently meaningful proportional, numerological, and beautiful, relationships. Basically the sound vibrations are causing physical chaos to coalesce into form. As in Genesis stories from many major religions and myths there is a primordial chaos which becomes the physical world through Gods spoken word or a sound such as Om. One interesting fact related to Dr. Hans Jenny’s work are the Yantras used in ancient Vedic and Tantric practices. A Yantra is a type of mantilla that relates to a particular sound, (Mantra) which in turn relates to a particular energy (symbolized by a deity or aspect of god). When these sounds were put to similar tests as Dr. Hans Jenny’s they were found to create there corresponding Yantra exactly. One example is that of the sound OM and its corresponding Yantra, the Shri Yantra (see illustration at top of page)

Modern biochemists, astrophysicists and yogis all agree that at the molecular level of reality, our bodies are systems of vibrating atomic particles. Each part of our body, each cell, gland and organ resonate with different frequencies and hence can be said to have their own particular keynote. In a very real sense then, at the very core of our being, we are composed of sound.

Being composed at our core of vibration it would make sense that the vibrations around us would have impact on us but how? Through the principle of resonance and entrainment. Two objects containing similar vibrational makeup are said to be in sympathetic vibration, or resonance. The body as a total system vibrates at a rate of approximately 7.8 to 8 cycles per second when it is most natural and relaxed. The alpha brain waves, which correspond to a state of relaxation, are also in the 8 per cycle range. The Earth itself vibrates at the same vibrational frequency of 8 cycles per second. The nervous system of each life form is attuned to this fundamental frequency. When we say, we are “in tune” with something or when we are feeling “in harmony with oneself or the universe” we are actually more literally accurate than we may realize. Dr. Manners, a British osteopath, showed that when vibrating matter moves, rather than fragmenting, it tends to move collectively as a whole. The human body is not a random collection of matter, but a well-organized whole. Each person has his or her own collective pattern of tones and frequencies that expresses our unique harmony within the universal harmony. This is particularly important when we consider our total health. For optimal health, we need to ensure that our liver, our kidneys, our glands are all vibrating at their healthy frequency. We know that any deviation from an organ’s original harmony, due to the discordance of a foreign impulse, will produce undue stress. When two or more objects are vibrating in the same field at nearly the same rate, they tend to shift their pulse so that they are vibrating identically. This is called entrainment.

We feel relaxed when our body is in resonance, when there seems to be a minimum of effort, or energy expenditure, to our actions. Because we are complex organisms living in a complex environment, we are subject to getting caught up with the outside world. From of vibrational point of view, we would call that entrainment. When we experience vibrations from the outside world that are close to the pulse of our own natural rhythm, we get “off center” and become literally “out of tune” with ourselves.

One of the biggest problems with modern music is what is called the “stopped-anapestic rhythm” which consists of a “short-short-long-pause pattern”. This rhythm is the basis of most rock, pop and dance songs of today. It seems this rhythm became popular when rock and roll lost its roll and became known as rock in the 70’s. Most Beatles music for instance isn’t problematic. The stopped-anapestic rhythm is the opposite of the body’s natural rhythm, the heartbeat, and throws it out of sync. The work of Dr. John Diamond MD has proven this in 90% of his case studies many of whom Love rock music. When exposed to this beat for extended periods a process known as switching occurs and the synchronization between the right and left hemispheres of the brain is lost, which can cause confusion irritability and stress. The bodies internal rhythm switches and then needs the external stopped-anapestic rhythm to feel good, and becomes like an addiction where we need something that is not good for us in order to feel good. This does not mean rhythmic music is bad, on the contrary the beat gives energy, improves muscle coordination and stimulates the mind, it invites the body to move in ways that motivate strengthen and relax all the muscle systems. Rhythm is used a lot in music therapy to improve motor skills. The center of our life is rhythm, the breath, the heartbeat, and the seasons. The “groove” of music is infectious; it’s sexy and life affirming it inspires movement dance and ultimately a sense of community as everything comes together on the beat. As with everything that which has the power to create has as much power to destroy and we have to be aware of the effect the music we listen to is having.

Many studies show that music that we may think is relaxing may not physiological be so. Often, when we refer to music as relaxing, we are referring to its familiarity, easily memorable melodies, and pleasant associations. Music which affects the state of brain activity and the body’s electromagnetic energy needs to possess certain distinct characteristics that may be more difficult to create than simply through quiet, soothing sounds. Most music is not consciously composed to be healing and relaxing. In fact most modern music is designed to sustain tension as long as possible to hold listeners interest to the release. It is music that allows the listener’s organism the place to find its own rhythm, is optimal for healing affects.

Music therapy is the first field of using music in a therapeutic manner to be recognized by the establishment. It is; the systematic application of music to bring about helpful changes in the emotional or physical health of the client. Music therapy includes moving or drawing to music, using imagery in response to music, learning to play an instrument, participation in musical activities from the hokey poky to learning to play in a classical ensemble from folk songs to drumming. Music is nonverbal and therefore can bypass the conscious mind and move directly to the center of emotions, by moving through the auditory cortex into the limbic system. Music activates stored memory in the corpus collosum, which balances the brains right and left hemispheres. Relaxing music seems to stimulate the production of peptides, which the body uses to relieve pain. These facts give validity to using music in a therapeutic manor for the proper music for the individual can relieve pain, and bring up emotions to be released. All done in a non-verbal semi-conscious way so as the mind doesn’t get in the way.

“Music, because of it’s abstract nature, detours around the ego and intellectual controls and, contacting the lower brain centers directly, stirs up latent conflicts and emotions which may be expressed and enacted through music.” I.A. Taylor and F. Paperte Journal of Aesthetics 1958 “used correctly it is possible with music to achieve in minutes the results of perhaps years of psychotherapy.” John Diamond M.D.

Our bodies know when music is beneficial for us, even though our minds may not. We may love a song that is vibrationally throwing our body off and another piece of music we find boring may be very good for us. What’s most important is how we feel when we hear the music, rather than how technically proficient we find it. An easy test: if your breath is shallow and irregular while listening to the music in a relaxed setting there is probably not much healing potential, whereas if you breath is becoming deeper and more regular the music is probably “in resonance with the pulse of your body”.”Much of what has been available in the market-place and the airwaves relates to sonic junk food- the processed, artificial sounds of canned music or the slick overproduced sounds of many popular recordings” (Steven Halpern).”

The stylistic ‘interpretation’ as well as the life-energy and attitude of the performer are of critical importance in influencing the healing capacity of a recording.” (Steven Halpern). Music can act like a carrier wave for consciousness bringing a message deep into our cellular being. Therefore it becomes the musicians responsibility to create their music with a state of being they want to share with their listeners. It doesn’t matter what the lyrics say or that the music is labeled “healing music” It is the musicians state of consciousness. Are they in a state of joy, gratitude, peace, power, passion, or in a state of greed, boredom, striving, competition, ego. This is something one can not hide for music communicates the deepest soul essence and if its blocked the music is lifeless and holds little healing potential. This is why some powerful healing music can come from a drug induced rock musician while the new age meditation music another does from an idea of being healing is lifeless. Granted the unconscious surrendered state of the rock musician rarely lasts because they get bored or lose themselves and there is no longer a sense of joy openness abandon and gratitude. This is probably why so many great rock bands die out, while classical jazz and blues musicians keep getting better with age. Joy, intention, and a deep understanding of ones innermost self; what motivates you, your fears and sorrows your shadow as well as your healing light. Most importantly you must live with total conviction, that which you want to express with your music. If you don’t live your expression no one will get it, they may understand, but they won’t feel it in the music.

Over the years, the medical establishment has described the human body in a variety of ways. It has seen is as a mechanical system of levers and pulleys to be “repaired”. It has seen the body as a plumbing system of circulating blood and digestive fluids to be kept clean, and to be cut and mended. The body has been seen as a chemical system that can be controlled and altered by the use of pharmaceutical substances. The body can also be seen as an electromagnetic system, oscillating and vibrating to be kept in tune.

French engineer Andre Simoneton found that the average healthy person gives of a radiance of about 6, 500 angstrom units, while tobacco smokers, alcohol users, and heavy meat eaters give off uniformly lower radiance. Cancer patients give a radiance of almost 2,000 units less than normally healthy people, even long before any over symptoms of disease were present. Sound can be used to diagnose patients by tuning into the frequencies given off by internal organs in order to detect the presence of diseases such as cancer before they are physically present as well as broadcast supportive sound to return inner harmony.

It is time to tune into who we each are individually, to discover the unique sounds and rhythms that define our unique vibrational nature. We must learn how to keep our body-mind-spirit in tune with our souls essence and the pulse of the earth. Music is one of the most powerful ways to move and shift energy and therefore can be an indispensable tool in our healing journey.

Michael Moon’s Chakra Sound Chart for workshop participants looking for a reminderchakra sounds

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