Image by Colin Behrens
Jonathan Goldman, author of Healing Sounds, president of Spirit Music, and Director of the Sound Healers Association, identifies healing as the result of a formula he defines as: Frequency + Intention = Healing. This can be accomplished in various ways through sound.
Chanting Your Way to Health
Chant is one way that sound and intention have been combined throughout history to create various states of healing.
In the late 1960?s, Dr. Alfred Tomatis (a French surgeon in the specialty of Ear, Nose, and Throat for many years, who became a pioneer in Applied Psychology), was called upon to investigate a strange illness that had come over a Benedictine monastery in the South of France.
Soon after major changes occurred in the Roman Catholic Church through Vatican II reforms, seventy of the ninety monks became depressed, lethargic, fatigued, and unable to perform their daily tasks. There didn't seem to be any clear explanation for this phenomenon that had descended over the monastery. They had experienced theological reforms, and their diets had changed slightly, as well as some of their daily routines. Nothing seemed drastic enough, however, to have caused this state of severe malaise. A succession of doctors attempted to uncover this mystery, trying a variety of cures, but with no success.
Dr. Tomatis noted that the only major change in their daily routine was that several hours of daily chanting had been eliminated by order of the new abbot. Before this time, the monks would chant between eight and nine times a day for periods of ten to twenty minutes. The sounds created in the chants such as "Gloria in Excelsis Deo" acted as fuel for their spiritual (and physical) engines. It also acted as a means of release and provided common focus for the community of brothers.
The chanting acted as an energizing mechanism by "awakening the field of [their] consciousness." When the chanting stopped, they became tired and depressed.
Clearly, the monks were not aware of the benefits of this practice, but they had become accustomed to the affect it had on their well-being. The brothers returned to their former routine of chanting, and dramatic results were seen within five months. Literally, their spiritual sustenance had been restored. They again became healthy and returned to their rigorous work schedule, requiring only a few hours of sleep daily.
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Chanting and Mantras
Music of many different genres can help to enhance the mind/body connection. Healing mantras, chants, and incantations have ancient and obscure origins but are seen throughout history and in every major world culture -- Hinduism, Muslim, Judaism, Native American, Polynesian, Asian, Sufi, etc.
Don Campbell, author of The Mozart Effect : Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind and Unlock the Creative Spirit writes, "The power of chant involves bridging the two worlds of humanity and eternity. It allows a person to touch a deeper world that is organic and flowing. It has no set rhythm, and is based on the breath in combination with tonal patterns of sustained vowels."
To the Sufis, singing is life. Hazarat Inayat Kahn, a highly acclaimed musician in India, was told by his guru, in the early 1900s, to take the teachings and practices of the obscure Islamic sect to the United States.
Spiritual practice for the Sufis emphasizes deep breathing and chanting or singing. The ancient singers would chant a single note for half-an-hour at a time while noticing the effect of the vibrations on their chakras (energy centers in the body). Kahn states, "What life current it produced, how it opened the intuitive faculties, how it created enthusiasm, how it gave added energy, how it soothed, and how it healed. For them it was not a theory, it was an experience."
Toning is Power in Action
Another powerful form of sound is toning. There are many definitions of toning. Laurel Elizabeth Keyes, forerunner of the toning as a healing art, and author of Toning: The Creative Power of the Voice, says, "Toning is an ancient method of healing... the idea is simply to restore people to their harmonic patterns."
Don Campbell describes toning as, "Simple and audible sound, prolonged long enough to be identified. Toning is the conscious elongation of a sound using the breath and voice." John Beaulieu, author of Music and Sound in the Healing Arts says, "Toning is the process of making vocal sounds for the purpose of balance... toning sounds are sounds of expression and do not have a precise meaning."
Stimulating, authoritative, and often lyrical, The Mozart Effect has a simple but life-changing message: music is medicine for the body, the mind, and the soul. Campbell shows how modern science has begun to confirm this ancient wisdom, finding evidence that listening to certain types of music can improve the quality of life in almost every respect. Here are dramatic accounts of how music is used to deal with everything from anxiety to cancer, high blood pressure, chronic pain, dyslexia, and even mental illness. Always clear and compelling, Campbell recommends more than two dozen specific, easy-to-follow exercises to raise your spatial IQ, "sound away" pain, boost creativity, and make the spirit sing!
About the Author
Amrita Cottrell is a classically trained vocal musician who has been involved in the personal growth movement for over twenty years. She has studied theology and music, and plays all types of flutes, harp and percussion instruments, as well as crystal singing bowls. She utilizes the healing power of music in private practice and as a volunteer with Hospice Caring Project of Santa Cruz, California. Her current project is studying the issue of grief -- how grief manifests in many of the ills of the human experience; how sounds and music can assist people in expressing grief in a healthy way, and how sounds in nature may provide the tones and rhythms to help people in their grief process. Amrita is the Founding Director of The Healing Music Organization http://www.healingmusic.org and the Co-Director of the Crystal Sound Institute.