Inspirational Articles

The Power of Sound

The Power of Sound

By Kathy Ryndak and Gord Riddell

Sound has the ability to touch our souls and speak to us at a very profound level. It has the power to inspire us, calm us, uplift us and heal. We just need to recall recent world events. Remember how musical tributes helped us to move through the tragedy 9/11. The Pilgrims of the Papal visit in July expressed their awe, joy and bliss through continuous song. And JP II sure knew how to orchestrate this through ceremony resplendent with sacred song that seemed to transcend denominational barriers.

Ancient and Modern

The Ancients understood the therapeutic power of sound to heal, initiate and transform. The Mystery Schools of Egypt, Tibet and Greece did not regard sound as entertainment but valued it as sacred, sonic medicine.

They understood that sound is the primary, creative force of the universe and that everything is in a state of vibration. Even religious scripture speaks to this. The New Testament states that "In the beginning was the Word (sound), the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Hindu/Vedic scripture notes that "In the beginning was the Brahman with whom was the Word."

While sound dates back to the ancients, it is a holistic modality that is rapidly reemerging and evolving - some saying it is the transformative medium of the 21st Century. In his book "Creative Fire," musician Torkom Saraydarian speculates on the music of the future: "New era musicians will compose music for the mysteries of initiations and others to help the healing of every disease." They will be artists, mystics and scientists.

Let's explore some of the facets of sound as a holistic modality. It differs from music therapy since it requires no previous musical experience and is created in an improvisational versus structured manner. It also involves many easy-to-play instruments such as rattles, singing bowls, bells, tingshaws and drums.

Sound Energetics

Sound energetics is based on the principle of resonance. Jonathon Goldman, a sound healer, states, "Every object is in a state of vibration and therefore creates sound. This even includes various parts of our body such as bones, muscle and organs. If these parts are vibrating at their normal frequency, we call this health. If a part of the body begins to vibrate at a disharmonious frequency it is called disease." For example, cancerous cells would oscillate at a lower, dissonant vibration or a blocked chakra's frequency would be "off."

This concept is best proven by Dr. Hans Jenny's experimentation with sound and form called Cymatics. Jenny photographed liquids and powders as they were being vibrated with different sound frequencies and they began to take on different geometrical forms. He proved that sound has the capability to affect molecular structure and hence influence our energy field and body.

We can use our voice and instruments to help shift blocks in our energy field. It's said that the most divine instrument of all is the human voice. Toning consists of vocalizing a series of vowel sounds or mantras that can be used to help balance the energies of each chakra.

A whole gamut of simple to play instruments can be used for energy work. For example, drums are great for the base chakra and solar plexus; bells, Tibetan bowls and tingshaws help to open the upper chakras. The Shaman's rattle is a great tool to unruffle the aura.

Crystal Singing Bowls, a modern innovation of the 80's, invite the body's crystalline structures such as in DNA, bones, blood, etc. to resonate with quartz crystal which is said to be an embodiment of white light. Hence, the results can be quite powerful. The bowls also allow us to journey multi-dimensionally and can take us into otherworldly experiences.

Sound Therapy

Sound therapy is a great tool for psychotherapists. When the individual is stuck in a pattern and words are not cutting it, sound can help to transform that block. The therapist, for example, can ask the client to sound the pain they are holding in their heart. Yawning, moaning, groaning, sighing, laughing, crying and of course, breathing are all ways to release blocks.

Improvised soundscapes using a variety of instruments and the voice can be used to take us through the stages of human development from pre-natal to elder hood to address unresolved issues. The lub-dub of the heart which can be replicated through a frame drum can help to heal mother bonding and trust issues. Ever wonder why babies love rattles? When we are inside the womb, our mother's voice sounds similar to a rattle's shaking.

Soundscapes can also be created to anchor archetypal patterns and characters. Imagine how mystical it would be to create sounds to engage the archetypes of the sage, seer and magician? Now contrast that to the mother, lover or warrior.

Scared Sound, Sonic Ritual and Global Music Sound has been used to enhance spirituality since the beginning of time. It is an integral part of the ceremonial experience of the five primary religions as well as shamanism and paganism. Sacred song and chant can help us to understand religions that we are not familiar with bringing about a sense of their universality. Robert Gass, in his book "Chant" provides songs and chants from several spiritual traditions. James Tywman, the peace troubadour, organizes groups to go into hotbed areas of the world to sing songs of peace. Song can help to build cooperation and unity.

What a better way to gain an appreciation of unfamiliar cultures than through sound. Djembes and balafons give us an appreciation for Africa, the tambura for India and the gamelan for Bali. They also take us outside of the experience of the Western musical scale.

Harmonic or overtone chanting, which simply means we can sing more than one note at time, is said to charge the brain's cortex, release healing neurotransmitters and provide an internal sonic massage.

The modality of sound can be easily integrated with other modalities such as Reiki, massage, psychotherapy, aromatherapy, colour and more to enhance their regenerative abilities. It is also pleasurable, uplifting, creative and fun. Sound can bring about a sense of community, cooperation and unity not only helping us to heal ourselves but also the world.