PONDERING THE REALM OF HEALING WITH SOUND
Firstly, we must consider that there are two fundamental approaches to healing. These are the Intuitive and the Mechanistic. I work from the Intuitive approach. A mechanistic approach would resemble a system that could be applied by anybody whatsoever. One can see adverts on TV for chairs that give you a shiatsu massage! In the mechanistic system, for instance, and within the realm of sound healing, one can be taught, for instance, that there are correspondences between the seven white notes on the piano and the seven colours of the rainbow and the seven chakras. In this simplistic system, if the patient’s second chakra were not working properly the sound healer would play the note D and assume that the colour Orange (or visualise it) would automatically accompany the note D. The patient’s chakra is healed. Well, a trained monkey could do that providing that the monkey had a system for working out which chakra(s) did not functioning properly. The technique involved may be that of using a pendulum or that of singing up and down the client’s body, or playing a single singing bowl up and down their body, and where the sound was weak concluding that the chakra near that point was malfunctioning. Maybe with a bit of help, a trained monkey could manage that. Granted it might take a lot of training, but my point is that such a procedure is mechanistic no special talent is necessary. That is to say: no intuition, no clairvoyance,
and no psychic abilities. All one needs to know is which note of the diatonic scale is related to which chakra and which colour (if one wanted to work with colour also).
I have had telephone conversations with people who have completed a one-year course in sound healing that do not know what a scale is, what an interval is, what an octave is (e.g. which octave a note is in?), or what a pitch is. When I was asked for three big Tibetan singing bowls one C, one D, and the other E. I asked how much pitch tolerance was available. They had no idea what I was talking about. And so I had to explain that Tibetan singing bowls are not made according to our diatonic scale and so it was a matter of how close an approximation would be acceptable to them. Again, I asked in which octave were they looking for these notes in Tibetan bowls. It seems unusual to myself that a sound healer would know next to nothing about sound or music. Obviously, providing you know what size glass bowl is supposed to produce a certain note of our diatonic scale and which chakra that note is supposed to be related to that is all that is required. No intuition is involved. Similarly, there are systems for sound healing using gongs. These so-called planet gongs are derived from a mathematical model derived from a certain rationalistic system. Such mechanistic models are often derived from a philosophy comprised of the rationale that certain parts of our body are healthy when vibrating at the pre-ordained rate supplied by the system. When they are not so ‘in-tune’ they produce ill-health. To remedy this situation the
phenomenon of resonance is used via playing the correct note to the sick organ/area of the body and it is considered that it is returned to normal. In such a system, we could say that we are conceived of as something like a giant clock and when all of its several parts are working properly all is well but if a part goes wrong then it is replaced with a new one or mended. Of course, not
everyone possesses spiritual gifts and for those unable to follow the intuitive path other methods are necessary and in this article I do not intend to condemn anyone following those paths nor teaching them either. I am simply stating these two approaches in order to make it clear that one has to be careful in choosing which is the best method for oneself. These are two basic pathways of
applying healing and also two distinctly different systems (intuitive and mechanistic) of applying healing assistance.
Likewise, there are two basic approaches to the healing situation also. Tne method is to repair the sick person by getting them back to normal. Again this is the idea that all was working well but somehow the person has lost their rhythm and fallen out of harmony with their situation and needs putting back into touch with their normal rhythm. The other approach is to discover that for this patient their old rhythm no longer works; it no longer meets their need. Therefore, we have to assist them to move forwards and
onwards into a new rhythm that has not previously existed for them.
There are many mechanistic systems that one can train in that are arguably very effective. We can divide these into two groups (1) those working with sounds produced by electronic machines, and (2) others using material objects, or instruments, of various kinds. Tom Kenyon (founder of Acoustic Brain Research Inc) having studied psycho-acoustics, utilises electronic brainwave states alongside ‘shamanic’ sounds (voice & drum) also, and because he is trained in psychological counselling, he incorporates other techniques in order to access the deeper level of Self where healing can take place; Cymatics Peter Guy Manners has developed his so-called ‘applicator’ machine utilising five frequencies, with different combinations for the various bodily organs, etc; Alfred Tomatis filtering the sounds of music (alongside other techniques involving the addition of certain human sounds) accentuating the higher
frequencies/upper partials; Hemi-Sync Bob Monroe uses combinations of two electronic sine waves listened via headphones to induce several altered brainwave states (alongside other techniques) for healing different psychological states. Ultrasonics dentists, hospitals, whilst cutting-edge research is developing means for the elimination of cancer cells. We might also add that certain music (CDs) have been used as torture of prisoners, either as irritation or to cause disorientation.
Then, from among a vast sea of healing practitioners using sound in some form or another, we have sound healing via the use of Tuning Forks (John Beaulieu) using musical intervals and certain tunings (e.g. Pythagorean), whilst Fabien Maman, working with Western instruments plus some of his own devising, uses musical tones to cure cancer, etc; Judith Seelig in her Voice work, can use more intuition to determine which vocal sounds the patient’s body requires; Jenni Roditti in her trained form of voice work, searches for the weaknesses in the voice of the client as an indicator of what needs to take place for healing to occur; Jonathan Goldman Jonathan does work with different pitches for the several vowel sounds unlike others relating lower pitches to the lower chakras and higher pitches for the upper chakras; Gong healing Don Conreaux states that his premise for healing with gongs resides in their production of ultrasonic sounds that affect the cells of the human body and that the human body can take from this ocean of ultrasonic sound the particular sound frequencies required for healing and therefore the gong healer is not required to know what the
illness is neither to have detailed techniques (or sounds) for different ailments. The Didgeridoo ostensibly an instrument working with overtones and rhythmic breathing - some practitioners use various sizes of Didgeridoos to provide diverse fundamental notes to affect different body/soul regions. Another worker in the field of Cymatics (Cymatics was a term coined by Hans Jenny in the early 60s for his research into visible sound waves/cycles) John Reid has created a machine similar to a drum where the head/skin is highly responsive to sound frequencies and this is a kind of Chladni plate (numerous applications for healing e.g. assistance with pronunciation, etc one can ‘see’ whether one is producing the correct geometrical form for whatever vowel sound one is pronouncing). Of course, shamanic practitioners traditionally using drums, rattles, bells, and voice. Then the ancient Indians developed their Ragas. Most probably this was an intuitive process originally (thousands of years ago) to establish the notes of different deities, etc. An adjunct to this is Mantra. Thomas Ashley-Farrand is a leading practitioner in the West. Mantra uses sounds to effect changes (Often on same pitch, therefore not music). This is less scientific; being as there is no guaranteed outcome from
using any one particular mantra - i.e. it is not a ‘system’ in a scientific sense of ‘do this and that will happen’. One must also use a degree of intuition in choosing a mantra and also in comprehending how the mantra is working on the chosen issue.
In the case of Tibetan Singing Bowls we have to understand that these are not made as musical instruments but rather as ritual instruments and therefore they do not conform to any scale at all. Tibetan folk music would not have used the diatonic scale. We must also bear in mind that this diatonic scale has not been around for very long at all certainly not as long as our chakras. This is rather akin to the old (orthodox) Christian idea that Jesus was the one and only Son of God thus implying that all the countless millions of human beings unfortunate enough to have been born before his arrival, are all doomed! In other words, to say that the notes for the chakras are to be found on our piano means that our chakras have only recently been able to hear the right notes. However, we also have the problem that the modern piano and standard keyboards are all tuned to Equal temperament, which is out-of-tune with the music of nature the overtone series (this for musical reasons the added freedom of the composer, and nothing to do with our chakra system!). Needless to say, I am not convinced and prefer to stay away from rigid grey-scale systems preferring a more chromatic approach. In my intuitive path, I have eight singing bowls for the Heart Chakra and each is a different note. An
argument for this approach lies in the fact that our Heart Chakra has twelve petals. The Austrian-born occultist and clairvoyant Rudolph Steiner, stated that all of humanity has already unfolded the qualities of six of these twelve petals. To my way of thinking, this indicates that we need at least six notes for the six remaining petals of our Heart Chakra, being as six different qualities remain to be developed. This in contradistinction to a method of there being one single note derived from one scale system as employed upon the rigid fixed-note equal-tempered out-of-tune piano. In fact, we have had composers seeking alternative systems whereby 43 notes to the octave, or 54, or 72, or more divisions replace our twelve notes to the octave system - for many decades
THE WAY WE LISTEN TO AND WORK WITH SOUND.
The way of hearing sound is also important. I should like to provide one such example that arose from experiments I did back in the very early 70s. I invited my friend Susan Rossiter around who was good at meditation and also a musician. I would improvise from a specific silent meditation unknown to her and afterwards we would compare notes. She always experienced the exact same meditation as myself. However, when I would ask her what I was playing that led her to the sequence of the specific meditative experiences, she was unable to say. That was a pity, as it was the main purpose for my experiments to gain a greater understanding of what sounds created what meditative experiences in order to reduce the conflict between intention and result in my solo mprovisations. When we bring our spirit to bear upon listening, then we hear that which lives within, behind, or through the sounds heard. We begin to hear
the inner sound without which the outer sound is dead.
What we bring to the sound, how we meet the sound, will affect how the sound works on the listener. There is listening with the physical ear and analysing the sounds via different ways of perceiving sound. We could analyse what intervals may be present (in instruments that create several strong overtones when played) or we may hear these sounds and yet not have a musical reference point. So we could listen and simply state that we can hear a seventh in the sound say, or, again, we could simply experience what the sound is doing to us. A person attuned to what the instrument is saying (regardless of what intervals are audible) could describe what the sound is doing and when the other listener, who is a musician, related which intervals they heard included within that sound, we would find that the spiritual significance of these self-same intervals present in the instrumental sound was experienced by the
other person able to ‘hear’ what the instrument is saying on a soul or psycho-spiritual level.
This is to state that it is possible to observe sound on the purely physical level, and then on the etheric level, then the astral, and then the mental and higher than these levels if the instrument is from a sacred tradition and has been suitably charged with psycho-spiritual energies consciously or unconsciously over a period of time or, otherwise, when the player is aware of the supersensible regions of sound or is intending to convey such qualities through the medium of the sound being used. I prefer to work in the way of the Taoist philosophy to ‘go-with-the-flow’ - and not to force things. In practise, this means that if I wished to send the colour Gold to the Throat Chakra I would prefer to use a bowl that is attuned to the throat Chakra and to the colour Gold. I would see little point in wasting mental or psycho-spiritual energy in intending to send Gold to the Throat Chakra with a bowl that produces the colour Green and resonates with the Solar Plexus Chakra. One practitioner visited my home several years ago now and he had a set of seven bowls. I asked whether any were for the chakras and he replied that he had a bowl for each one. I looked at his collection of bowls upon my living room floor and considered that there were no bowls small enough to produce a note that would
resonate with the Crown Chakra and, similarly, nothing large enough to work with the Root Chakra. I asked to hear the bowl for the Crown Chakra. The bowl actually resonated with the chin and not with any chakra at all but the player was thinking and concentrating intently upon the Crown Chakra. I consider this to be a conflict of interests as the bowl is affecting one area and the mind of
the healer is desperately working hard to reach the intended goal in another area. When the Root Chakra bowl was played I got Solar Plexus. I mentioned this to the practitioner after he had finished playing and he replied; “Yeah, I got Solar Plexus as well! What has gone wrong?” I am not concerned here with whether the individual was being deceitful or dishonest that is not for me to
say. Rather I mention it to illustrate my point of working with what is and not working against it. However, I guess I can sympathise (rather as with those who have insufficient intuitive abilities to be able to follow the intuitive healing path) given that, for instance, after sorting through over 5,000 bowls, I have found four for the Root Charka and two for the Sacral Centre! In other words, in truth, such bowls are thin on the ground.
SOUNDS RESONATING WITH OUR CENTRES
I should also explain that only a few of my chakra bowls do I consider were made especially for that purpose and are suitably consecrated. It is always a matter of resonance; for myself I have to be clear that the sound-energy-vibration of the bowl has a direct effect upon a specific chakra, otherwise I will not call it a Chakra Bowl. Some unscrupulous merchants may hear of the term “Chakra Bowl” and merely see this as a useful sales pitch to charge more or make a bowl more appealing to the prospective purchaser. Such individuals are not able to truly discern whether any one bowl would work with any one Chakra at all. Their awareness of chakras and nadis could be relatively unawakened. It is certainly not the case that every bowl is made for a certain chakra. It may even be the case that, in certain areas, bowls were never intended to work with charkas. As mentioned above, in my experience, sometimes
it is extremely rare to find a bowl to work with certain chakras.
Bowls are like people. How many saints are there among us? Ergo, how many sacred bowls are there out there? Try to avoid your ego telling you that the one bowl you’ve just bought for yourself is very special and very sacred and how it is only right that such a rare and wonderful bowl should have found its way into your hands. If you resonate to the sound of your bowl(s) then it is a wonderful experience for you and that is not to be denied. Resonance is the key. Objectivity is another useful tool in this matter.
Resonance is often demonstrated via two tuning forks that are attuned to the same pitch. When we strike one on a hard or conductive surface, the other one begins to sound too. It resonates in harmony with the other tuning fork that produces the same note as itself. When we resonate with a sound, or sounds (music), we are coming into sympathy with whatever vibration or frequency of consciousness resides within those sounds, or that manifests through those sounds, and we can experience a state of at-one-ment. We transcend the
condition of ego-isolation and experience a level of being that is vastly expanded - whilst the sense of union is also present to the extent that we feel a sense of oneness either with everything in Life or with the music, the musicians, or those joining themselves in listening to the music, or all of these at once. Of course, something similar could also be said to happen when the football fans of one team feel a sense of union with all fellow fans during the peak experience found when their team scores a goal. They all resonate with the great sense of achievement felt by the player who scored the goal and they all resonate with the feeling of confidence that their team can now win the match.
The chakras can also be related to the evolution of our spiritual consciousness. As we ascend upwards through our chakras this can be seen to correlate with our expansion of consciousness from one level of functioning onto ever higher and more refined levels of awareness and beingness. In this sense we can see that the chakras can then be said to resonate with these several levels of consciousness. To state this simply, let us turn to the Heart Chakra, the chakra that is characterised by the quality of Love. Music, or sounds, that resonate with this love quality can be said to affect this Heart Chakra and to lead the listener into contact with that sphere of existence where all is love potentially (the listener ever using his/her free-will may choose to respond or not). One is invited to come into resonance with this spiritual quality. Naturally, it is wise to only do this in a very safe environment and where the person actualising the sound/music can be fully trusted with our heart. Such individuals must be spiritually pure even as the Throat Chakra has so much to do with sound and is named Visuddha meaning PURE.
We must also be clear about what sound can and cannot do. I can recall attending several workshops years ago; maybe 80s or early 90s, where the leader would genuinely wish to know what notes were for which of the traditional four elements. I pointed out that, were someone to state that, for argument’s sake, the note C was for fire, then we would have to conclude that if we left a sound-producing device playing this note that the house would catch fire. Clearly this is not the case. So, something else must be involved and this is the human consciousness and will and spiritual power. We can catch another glimpse of what I am trying to say if we contrast the sound of a large bus going past our home and the sound of a dog barking. They are both sounds only one is produced by an animal and the other by a machine. We could say that the bus sound communicates to us that a bus is passing our home. But this doesn’t give us anything more than that. The dog is communicating a feeling, an experience or the reaction to an experience. It is animated and the sounds are the means for communicating certain information to other dogs. Of course, we humans communicate through words but these have limitations. To state one thing might indicate that the opposite thing is absent or excluded. But with sounds we can go beyond the limitations of language and speak to the higher mind of the listener, as it were. We can communicate experiences that are not easy, or possible to express, through the medium of spoken language. It is my opinion that ultimately the ideas communicated originate with the musician and not with the sounds. I often say at my workshops after having played a 12th century Heart Chakra bowl, that it might not sound the same if Mrs Thatcher had been playing it! That is to say that the people there listening to that bowl would share a different spiritual vibrational energy and consciousness-being state depending upon who is playing the bowl and how in-tune that player is with what the bowl is saying. We must not get too involved in making the bowl object a source of worship in and of itself. The bowl contains a particular potential resonance but first the musician must enter into communion with that
resonance and then that resonance is present in the room for those able to receive it to whatever degree and however consciously or unconsciously they participate in the communal sharing of that presence. It has also been my experience that to play such special bowls can be very harmful if one is unaware of what the bowl does. Years ago now, I was asked to meet a man who owned one bowl that he loved to play. However, during the time that he had played the bowl he had eventually become paralysed down one side of his body. They brought him and his bowl along for me to look into during a workshop. I determined what the bowl was meant to do and told the man and explained that if he did not want to do that particular meditation to which his bowl was attuned, then he should not play the bowl! I could relate other stories but the main point of issue I am striving to relate is to work with the directional energy (or the power behind it; or the sound spirit attached to it) of such instruments consciously, or suffer the consequences.
It is also true that the form of the music must be suited to the spirit behind it. For instance, I remember listening to an LP by Steve Hillage where all the titles of the tracks were either to do with UFOs or spiritual subjects (because of the books he had been reading, I presume) yet the music was still blues music. To my ears this was incompatible - like singing a philosophical lecture to a child’s fairy song, or like singing the words of a soft, romantic love song over the music of a military march. I am not saying it can’t be done, I am simply commenting upon the efficacy of such inappropriate actions. Playing football is fine on a nice flat field but not appropriate to kick a large football around a small living room full of china cups besides, it’s more fun outside in a larger space. So one needs to have an understanding of what lives ithin certain forms and then choose wisely the form of music for the intended message. BUT what lives in such music will not originate from the form but rather from the invisible spirit that the human being can communicate with. It is rather like a long chain of links the spirit gradually being clothed in ever-denser material until it finally manifests in this physical world upon or through physical objects or sound-producing media. If the existing forms aren’t suitable, then one must create a new form of music in order to more fully give voice to that seeking expression through one’s creativity.
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY OF THE CREATOR.
I like to make it plain what my intentions are for my improvisations that way people can choose whether or not to expose themselves to such energies. The danger that we now face arises from systems for applying certain affects through certain sounds that individuals (musicians or DJs) can impose upon an unconscious and unwilling public. I consider this equal to putting LSD
in the water supply because an LSD user thinks that the world would be a better place if everyone in it were just like them. We are distinguished from the animals by virtue of free will and to secretly use the power of sounds to influence people is a form of coercion, which is a form of black magic. If we are going to use the power of sound in a magical way then we are initially
confronted with this issue of whether we are going to serve the forces of black or white magic. Ritual is an integral part of magic and the purpose of such rituals are to generate group energy. I know that I am responsible for what I create and for the effect those creations have upon humanity and this brings about self-discipline and inevitable restrictions upon what is expressed through my work. I have nothing against willing and conscious participation people going out dancing may not be aware of the science of sound used in order to make them want to dance. But they want to dance and the musicians or DJs may, or may not, consciously know what will assist in that. But for such persons to create sounds intended to stimulate specific chakras and to awaken particular qualities (and each chakra has a dark side) without the listener’s consent or willing participation I consider a form of abuse. With increased
knowledge comes increased responsibility. One has to be so careful of what are the true impulses behind such seemingly ‘pure’ desires! We must also remember that phrase, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing!”
Music is functional and we find music that can help us to release our anger, or to find peace, or to enter into spiritual dimensions, to awaken joy or courage, etc: - music to help us driving in a car late at night, and music to help us unwind after a stressful day. Music that lifts one up out of the physical world or music that brings one more down to earth and more fully in the world. Ultimately, one has to be true to oneself and follow one’s passion and then all will be well for one will be fulfilling one’s own destiny and also fulfilling the role within the universe that one answers. There are many paths to and from the Source and that Source I see as a multi-unity for there are differences and we need to understand those differences and work with them and
accept that they are all facets of one diamond. Music can assist in reminding us of the happy condition we were in prior to incarnating before we experienced the ‘fall’ in our lives on earth. We all need to make that reconnection in order to make the best of the opportunities that life affords us. It is rather like the builder who must periodically refer back to the blueprints for that
which is being built as it was envisioned in the eye of the architect/creator. We all create our lives with the forces of our emotions, our thoughts, and our physical acts. Music represents the harmonious outcome of wisely working with these forces in a way that creates spiritual harmony as a result of living in harmony with our essential spirit; our true Self. The true music arises from
learning to sound our own note upon the soul plane and we each possess the instrument to be able to do this -our Spirit!
By Frank Perry - originator of ‘Spiritual Sound Healing’
exclusively using Himalayan Singing Bowls.