“The utterance of particular sounds is thought by many cultures to form a connection to all the elements of the universe. In some belief systems music and sound vibrations are pathways for healing mind, body and spirit.” Folklife
Sounds and Healing Frequencies
The subject of frequencies gets very complicated very fast for a layperson like me, so this post will not deal completely with the Hz and mHz (though an article is forthcoming on this issue). In healing work, we use all kinds of different sounds- voice, music, instruments like gongs, singing bowls, and the newer technologies of brainwave music and recordings. Each is utilized differently and the range of frequencies is enormous; though sound healing techniques have been around for a long time, the science, though promising, is still not well developed. As a partial answer to this question of the effectiveness of sound healing, Stephen Porges, a neuropsychologist and developer of the polyvagal theory, says that emotional healing is affected by sounds that are within the frequency of the human voice, which is somewhere in the frequency range of middle C, give or take an octave, depending on who is talking. This beneficial effect includes the sound of the voice itself and content of the spoken words; this applies also to instrumental music that is played within that range. He thinks this is so in part because that tone frequency range soothes distress in people who are struggling with traumatic emotional injury; it induces trust between the therapist and the patient.
It makes sense that music, which elicits an emotional response from us would have an impact on our physiological state. Porges has a developed a music therapy intervention based on the healing power of music called "Safe and Sound Protocol" that is designed to train a patient's auditory pathways with specially mixed music (within the range of the human voice). By listening to this music over the course of 5 days, the patient is better able to focus, tune out irrelevant sound/input; and self-soothe, because the therapy retrains the pathways of specific cranial nerves that are active in both of those mental processes. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, we are taught that sound is vital to the creation of the world. In the human body certain sounds resonate within specific tissues and organs and vibrate at the same frequency as other sensory input: colors, flavors, smells and physical touch. Frequencies can be scientifically measured, but sound also has a psychoacoustic affect on listeners which is based on individual perception- qi level enerigies of thought forms and emotional patterns. Because of this observation, sound healing based upon the vocal sounds was developed around the five element organs.
Synchronizing the Magnetic Body Electric: Cymatics
“Illnesses are one manifestation of disorder of the body’s vibrational frequency. Moreover the curative vibrational frequencies create order in the center of this chaos. One method for changing the energetic field is called the science and technology of cymatics. It allows us to concretely see the pattern of sound and how it functions.” Li Shi Fu
A basic description of cymatics is visual sound patterns made by sound frequencies that are introduced into different mediums, like water or metal plates with sand on them. The articles on the technicalities of cymatics are numerous and easy to find, so this is a topical talk about the subject and how it is important to sound healing. “I see cymatics as a type of poetic truth. A form of alchemy, transforming matter, transforming ourselves. It hints at a deeper understanding of motion and form and may even remind us - if we choose to see - that there is a song in everything.” (Jacob)
Cymatics does allow us to see sound patterns, but Jacob, a visual sound photographer, points out that it isn’t only sound we are looking at with these patterns, “So it should be seen that the pattern is not the frequency, rather the pattern is a resonant mode of the medium, being excited/resonating/ ’triggered’ by that particular sound frequency.” This, he says, is an emerging view- read controversial- in cymatics that adopts the perspective of the yin aspect- the visible, the formal, and places it in an equal relationship to the energetic yang. It shows what happens when sound resonates through a particular substance, and “…creates a collaboration that would yield a unique form of those variables interacting together.” (ibid) This seems like classical Yin/Yang theory in action, or the how the movement of Taiji creates the physical body. The shape of the standing wave patterns, created in cymatics, shown above left, is also interesting. They appear to form an infinity symbol.
Healing sounds made with the human voice
There are thousands of sound healing techniques; I'll touch just on the surface of one method here. I have found these healing sounds to be extremely potent both in my personal practice and in my professional practice with clients and students, especially in dealing with problematic emotions or emotions that are difficult to just get over. I did a thesis for my advanced training certification on sound healing. About 40 pages worth of very fascinating and information about how Sound works as a healing force in Traditional Chinese Medicine-on the human body and the human emotions; the individual’s holistic being. Don't worry. I won't reprint that whole thing here. But I do want to share some things I discovered about healing with sound, which is a practice as ancient in Chinese medicine as any of the other Qi Gong techniques- movement and qi emission therapies. I also wanted to show how these ancient observations intersect with current scientific research, which appears to be bearing out what the Ancients knew all along and have practiced for millennia.
History and philosophical ponderings:
We are inherently musical beings; the elements of musicality- pulse- rhythm, tone, and melody are represented among the various movements we make, inside and outside. They are encoded in our DNA, and according to the 5 Element theory in TCM, they developed as we formed in the womb.
Six tones resonate in the orbs for each organ and those set the basis for our human sound frequencies and the six tones that are used in healing work. They're also calibrated with the universal tones, which relate to the five lights or the five elements that were said by the ancient Daoists to be responsible for all of the formal universe (the 10,000 things). And this serves as a kind of tuning fork that lets us know when something is out of sync or when we are out of attunement. Each of us could be said to be unique and masterful song or even a symphony. According to Daoist tradition, all matter is a manifestation of vibration and wave function.
Solids and liquids in the natural world, which includes our bodies, are organized and defined by the underlying patterns created by these vibrations and wave functions. We are made from pulses that become energetic fields and these vibrate with the force of sound waves that have the power to actually move matter, like particles or cells. Sound has a profound influence as an energetic code on the subtle body. It creates a link between matter and spirit as it is experienced consciously through the senses, but also opens doorways to the unconscious. It can elicit an automatic negative or positive response.
Sound Energy and Emotional Healing
Think of the music of the body- the sound of breath moving in and out through the nose. Our voices singing laughing shouting crying or groaning. Our stomachs gurgling, the hiccups, the belches, and farts. The creaking of joints or the beating of hearts. And how the breath sounds differently when you are sad or angry or content; the voice often sounds different under the influence of emotion. The breath in deep meditation brings awareness of one's personal inner sound and with time and skill awareness of the resonant universe.
Sound has the power to hold vibrations together. But because it can move them also, it has the force to push apart the stuck energies from the organs in the body and more important to this lesson from the mental body. That is the emotional patterns that are stuck on anger or Obsession or grief fear or anxiety or beliefs that no longer serve our purpose. Stagnated energy as we've discussed throughout my classes can cause issues in the smooth flow of Qi through the body or can keep us trapped in negative emotional or mind spaces that keep us from being healthy.
Overtime chronic unresolved issues become in a sense thicker. They hold together stronger and longer. This dense packed energy as the power to attract frequencies into its field kind of like a net. Magnetizing like energies and in binding them together. This holding can be as damaging as the effect of any physical disease or injury over time. So, we use the healing sound to disperse this collection of energies to help the energies return to their natural function. It works in a similar way to the science of cymatics, discussed above.
How do we move energy or matter with them?
Ancient feng shui masters considered the wind as the first and primary phenomenon to command and influence nature on the earth; ‘feng’ means wind and ‘shui’ means water. The force of ‘xun’, also wind, represents in part the breath, the tone - the very word of the Creator; it is always obeyed. Its power can be like the soothing caress of a warm summer breeze or the total devastation of a shear line gust. No matter which, it always has an influence on the people, the places and things that it touches, sometimes indelibly. Our breath, is human wind. It is a combination of our ‘yi’, our intention, 'zhi',or will and shen, our mind. These together, combined with specific healing sounds, can be used to guide Qi of the emotions with the will of the Heart/Mind. The synchronization can be as subtle or intangible as a strong thought that is held intently, or it can be audible like a word said out loud with sufficient Force. The human wind, from rustling thought, to uttering a mantra or command influences movements of mental energy and those influence the physical structures of our bodies.
"Geez, what are the healing sounds, already?!?"
A Quick Chart:
Organ/sound Negative emotion Virtue
Heart= Ha; Panic, Anxiety Order/ Peace
Spleen= Hu Worry, Obsessiveness Trust/ Faith
Lungs= Shh Sadness/ Incompleteness Integrity/ Wholeness
Kidneys= Chree Fear/ Lost and Lonely Wisdom/ Willpower
Liver= Shu Anger/ Resentment Compassion/ Kindness
How do I use them?