Ellen F. Franklin, PhD and Amanda Lamprecht, B.Juris, RYT
Light of Consciousness Magazine, Spring 2007
In Hindu mythology, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva represent the Eternal Trinity and were the first musicians. Shiva, in his aspect of Nataraja, “Lord of Dance,” is dancing out the intricate rhythms in the processes of universal creation, preservation and destruction while Brahma and Vishnu accentuate the time and beat: Brahma playing the cymbals and Vishnu sounding the holy drum. Sarasvati, the goddess of music and wisdom, is often pictured playing the veena, considered to be the mother of all stringed instruments. Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu, plays his flute to call back the souls that are lost in the delusion of worldliness to their home in Spirit.
Sound helps us deepen our connection to our spiritual path and wellbeing by reuniting us with something greater than self. Within each of us is a unique pure sound filled with delight. In every atom of our organic being we find a vibration, a blueprint of radiance, a vibrancy of telepathy that connects us at all levels to the greater universe, as within so without. Every cell in our body is a sound resonator. Every cell lives in a rhythmic pattern. Each organ has its own cycle and its own pulse. Each and every system has a cycle, rhythm, pattern and pulse that exist in resonant harmony and sympathy to the cycles of the Earth and the heavens, helping us to remember and to reconnect to the greater cosmic blueprint.
Our bodies reflect our inner state of being by the sounds we utter. If we are in pain, we groan. If we are joyful, we hum or sing. If we are sad, we cry. In meditation, we are still. Just as sound was born out of silence, sound creates the road back to silence, inner harmony and health. The human body is 70% water and sound travels four times faster in water than in air. Thus, we are a perfect resonator for sound; within us and around us the sounds of the universe impact us both positively and negatively. When we lose our connection to the rhythms and cycles of nature and the interconnection to all things in the universe, this alienation or disharmony manifests as imbalance and disease of the body and subtle bodies. Through the practice of yoga, meditation, chanting and the use of specific sound healing tools applied on and over the body, we gain access into the core energetic systems within the body, in a non-invasive way.
In the system of healing that we practice, we also work with the energetics and frequency of the planets, whose universal archetypes, myths, and correspondences provide us with physiological and psychological depth that help us to fine-tune the therapeutic frequencies that are applied to the body. The beginning point, or home tone we work with, is Om.
The great Vedic sage Patanjali said: “He who knows Om knows God,” and Paramahansa Yogananda wrote, “Aum is the basis of all sound. The Aum of the Vedas became the sacred word Hum for the Tibetans; Amin of the Moslems and Amen of the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Jews and Christians.” In contemporary sound healing, whether through chanting or harmonic attunement, through the use of Tibetan bowls, gongs, tuning forks and other sound healing tools, the frequency or vibration of Om is used to balance, ground and achieve greater harmony and connection to the Divine.
The practice of Nada (sound) Yoga creates healing in body and mind. When we close the senses and listen, the subtle inner sounds of the chakras become audible and the mind becomes absorbed in sound. The subtle sound nada takes the practitioner into deep meditation, dhyana. Yogis are watchful not to put their spiritual practices into molds. When we claim our practice as our own—our perfect yoga poses and accomplishments on the path—our ears become deaf to subtle inner music. We can only hear in the openness of non-attachment and the “tuning” inwards.
The transformative nature of sound is embodied in what is known as mantra, the science of sacred utterance. The sound healing meditations of singing, chanting, toning and vocal affirmations create strong spiritual magnetism, which draws what is required for living one’s dharma.1 From ancient times, yogis have aligned themselves with the cosmic vibration by using the voice to invoke Earth, mid-world, sky, heaven and Sun in sacred mantras. The Gayatri Mantra is one of the oldest, most sacred mantras in the Vedic language, predating Sanskrit. Just like a mantra, gongs, Tibetan bowls, tuning forks and other sound producing instruments that embody the vibrations of the Earth, Sun and planets in our solar system can act like an invocation, harmonically tuning our consciousness into right relationship with the Source, the Purusha, the “Divine Self,” which abides in all things.
The pure sound created by a stringed instrument can break up mental and emotional patterns and allow healing to flow into the deepest recesses of molded practices, rituals, and samskaras2. Written record of this practice can be found in the Bible where David plays the harp to treat King Saul’s depression and anger. To practice ahimsa (no-harm) the Svara–Saushthava is considered an attribute, which means kindness or compassion in one’s speech or a soft and pleasant voice. Using bhramari breath (bhramari means bee), the yogi makes the sound of a bee, which calms the nerves and takes one into the para-sympathetic mode where true healing can happen.
In addition to working with chanting, meditation and yoga traditions, a number of sound healing tools can be used in an integrated way to promote deep healing and inner harmony.
Tibetan Singing Bowls
Tibetan singing bowls are used both on and above the body to align and balance energy patterns in both the physical and subtle energy fields. Traditionally the bowls contain seven metals, which corresponded to the seven original planets. The combinations and proportions of the metals are used to produce unique harmonics, character and texture that generate specific healing properties. Most bowls range in age from fifty to three hundred years and the techniques used to produce them are difficult to replicate. However, there are several organizations working for a free Tibet that are helping artisans reclaim this lost art by making these healing bowls. Playing singing bowls in a clockwise direction over the chakras (using the lower pitch bowls for the lower chakras and higher pitch bowls for the upper chakras) clears the body on an emotional and energetic level and stimulates the endocrine system to create hormonal balance
Tincha chimes are used to repair tears or holes in the subtle energy fields of the body and to lift and transform denser energy patterns. They are also used to indicate the beginning and the end of treatments and meditations.
Bell and Dorje
The Tibetan bell and dorje are used to balance and heal the body’s etheric energy field and to transform negative patterning through sound frequency bending. They represent the yin and yang aspects of existence and creation, the complementary and fundamental principles of all life. In Shamanic traditions, the sound of the bell represents the element of air, the realm of the spirits and the ether that transmits and is the transmitter.
Tuning forks provide a transformational and versatile healing tool that can be applied directly to acupressure points, trigger points, points of pain and to access the entire chakra energy system. The rich resonance and vibration of tuning forks that represent a natural harmonic series based on the orbital properties of the Earth, Moon, Sun and planets, connect with and support the body’s natural frequencies. This helps to bring us into alignment with the cycles and sounds of the cosmos, known since antiquity as the “Music of the Spheres.”
These symphonic gongs resonate harmonically with the cycles and rhythms of the cosmos. Their opulent tones and vibrations unite with and support the body’s natural frequencies and bring us into alignment with the source of original harmony promoting healing at a deep cellular level.
The didgeridoo is an ancient Australian Aboriginal instrument used to connect the human with the Earth and the Divine. Healers sound the didgeridoo to ground and connect the physical body and to reawaken consciousness with the dreamtime. (What is real—the life we dream or the life we live? Aboriginals believe that our dreams are as real as the waking state.)
The rattle is one of the oldest healing instruments. It is used to awaken the spirit and shake loose negative energies. Rattles have been used all over the world for ritual, ceremony and healing, and have the capacity for linking the waking consciousness to the energies of the cosmos or to levels of consciousness deep within us.
Drums represent the heartbeat of the Earth and have been used in healing for thousands of years. Their intense reverberations help to ground and root energy in the body. Drumming and rattling disperse blocked energy in the lower chakras and open a healing space for vibrations of healing energy to be accessed.
All of these tools can be used independently or in concert to bathe the body with sound. Edgar Cayce said that sound would be the medicine of the future, and the future is before us, uniting us with sacred and cosmic sounds. As Hazarat Inayat Khan, founder of the Sufi order in the West wrote, “The knower of the mystery of sound knows the mystery of the whole universe.”
1Righteousness; living by spiritual/divine laws.
2According to Raja Yoga, samskaras are mental modifications or limitations that a soul may carry from birth to birth, and which have to be purified or released in order to attain Self Realization.
George Feuerstein Ph.D., The Shambhala Encyclopedia of Yoga, Shambhala Press, 1997; and The Yoga Tradition—Its History, Literature, Philosophy and Practice, Hohm Press, 1998; Paramahansa Yogananda, Cosmic Chants, Self-Realization Fellowship, 1974;
Donna Carey & Marjorie de Muynck, Acutonics®: There’s No Place Like Ohm, Sound Healing, Oriental Medicine & The Cosmic Mysteries, Devachan Press, 2002.