A seek for the healing power of sound
Marieke Verhoeven | September 2011 issue I’m lying in A bed that’s as hard as nails with a sequence of strings along the edges and two gongs above my head. It’s referred to as a gong bath, and Gwen de Jong, a practitioner of sound healing at Spirit Connection in Amsterdam, assures me it could actually help clear my mind. “Just give in to it, and don’t attempt to analyze it,” she says before we begin.
Then she asks, “What do you hope to achieve?” After I say I WOULD LIKE to relax, De Jong puts a mask on my eyes and begins to play. While I benefit from the sounds at first, they soon become unpleasant. The increasingly intense vibrations feel like screeches; my head fills with dark thoughts. I’m this just about ending the session, but I struggle to provide in to it. When the vibrations soften, I BELIEVE better. A COUPLE OF times, I even reach a mindless state—if just for a fragment of a second. Afterward—my session lasted 20 minutes; and they last an hour—Spirit Connection’s founder, Harry van Dalen, is available in and explains that the unpleasant sensation I felt is the interior battle between thoughts and the “I.” “Your ego is resisting. Some people may give themselves over in no time; others take longer.” Internal battle or no, I BELIEVE remarkably relaxed afterward. Though I usually activate my iPod after an interview, I decide this time to travel home in silence.
Most individuals are probably unaware that the body includes vibrations. External sounds resonate with the sounds in bodies; recall to mind the feeling you are feeling near a speaker at a concert. It’s not so crazy, then, to assume that external sounds may additionally have a therapeutic, healing effect. Anyone who listens to birds singing knows sound can relax us. But it surely too can heal, accomplishing everything from reducing stress to helping autistic children.
In recent years, academic studies have investigated the healing power of sound. In 2009, researchers on the University of Jyväskylä in Finland discovered sound waves can improve mobility in older individuals with bone problems. The appliance of sound waves reduced levels of cholesterol and bone deterioration. That year, research at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada, produced equally positive results. Forty patients with Parkinson’s disease sat in physioacoustic chairs, seats with speakers that emit low-frequency vibrations. Afterward, the patients’ symptoms had decreased. Motor skills improved; stiffness and shaking declined
The concept that sound affects the human body isn’t new. Healing mantras and spiritual chants are centuries old. The Egyptians described incantations to heal rheumatic pain, insect bites and infertility. The Old Testament records how King Saul was cured of his depression by David’s harp music. Famous composers have also discovered the relationship between sounds, music and health. Mozart used this information in his music by having the antagonist in an opera sing in a minor key and the protagonist in an enormous key. Composer George Frideric Handel once said he hoped his music had not simply entertained his listeners but “made them better.”
Jill Purce in England is a pioneer within the field of contemporary sound healing. Because the 1970s, she has led workshops worldwide to show people tips on how to use what she says is essentially the most powerful instrument of the entire: voice. She has people sing or chant to extend awareness and dissolve blockages.
Purce grew up with the healing power of sound. Because the daughter of a concert pianist and a doctor, she was surrounded by the mix of sound and healing. In preference to study music or traditional medicine, Purce desired to investigate the healing power of sound. “I was eager about forms and vibrations and by the consequences of sound. I soon realized that our own voices are essentially the most powerful instruments on Earth.”
A childhood incident played a very powerful role on this realization. Purce and her family were in a small boat when a violent storm blew up. While others worried they could drown, three women on board started to chant. “Almost directly our fear dissolved. Waves of strength surged into us until finally we were overcome with feelings of bliss and enchantment.”
In addition to exploring the results of sound and vibrations, Purce studied with Tibetan lamas beginning within the late 1960s. The lamas sing in overtones, higher-frequency components of the basic note that may be chanted. “These monks sang in tones that resonated with their internal and external vibrations.
That’s after I realized that this manner of chanting is top-of-the-line approach to create peace within the body and to succeed in a better state of being.”
In Purce’s workshops, overtone chanting is a central part of discovering the ability of sound. “I like to work in groups. Then you definitely resonate not just with yourself…