Good Vibrations: Sound Healing for the SoulNov 30, 2011 11:54AM ● By Erin Lehn Floresca
Many sounds associated with holidays instantly cheer us up, but why? We naturally respond to sounds, because everything in the Universe is comprised of vibration—also referred to as resonance. When we are exposed to healing sounds, our bodies and minds begin to resonate in harmony with them, supporting our well-being.
Fortunately, avenues of sound healing are readily accessible in our everyday lives. Engaging in activities such as singing, drumming or chanting often help us quickly reestablish a sense of balance in the midst of our multitasking lives. Attending an uplifting musical event can render a similar effect.
Sound Healing Therapy
Psychotherapist Meredith McFadden, a sound healing therapist in Medford, Oregon, observes that, “Receiving or creating intentional, healing sound vibrations is proving to be one of the most direct, most relevant healing modalities available today.”
McFadden appreciates sound for its immediate effect. She takes individual clients on sound journeys with the help of voices, crystal singing bowls, buffalo drums and other instruments. “When we bathe ourselves in healing sound waves,” she observes, “we open up a direct line of communication with our soul.” At the culmination of each session, she allows what she terms the “big music of silence” to envelope the one being healed.
McFadden notes that not all healing sounds need to be calming. “Activating music can be just as healing as soft and slow sounds,” she says. Whether we prefer listening to Lady Gaga, Native American flutes or the sound of a heavy rainstorm, the key is to discover what especially resonates with us.
Crystal Singing Bowls
Master crystal singing bowl artist Ashana, based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, couples angelic vocals with her massive collection of bowls for a musical healing alchemy recognized worldwide. “Listening to the bowls can have a profound impact on a person’s well-being,” says Ashana.
Made from pure, crushed quartz, infused with precious gemstones, minerals and metals, “The bowls vibrate at a very high, pure frequency,” she explains. “As we come into resonance with the bowls, mental chatter slows or stops and the mind quiets. Within minutes, our nervous system starts to unwind. In a state of peaceful stillness, the ‘dial up’ to our higher self becomes accessible. This is the optimum state for healing to occur.”
Ashana emphasizes that we are all interconnected, so any healing work we do on ourselves affects all of humanity. “As we raise our personal frequency, we can become conscious tuning forks for divine energies to pour through us,” she believes. “We’re all holding a piece of the web.”
Healing Through Song
“Since the dawn of time, humans have been sharing song in their tribe,” says Zurich, Switzerland, recording artist, educator and filmmaker Michael Stillwater. “Pop songs are modern tribal songs, although we have mostly become a culture of consumers and spectators, rather than participants.”
The founder of Inner Harmony Music and Song Without Borders, Stillwater’s is a strong voice in an emerging grassroots global movement devoted to helping people reclaim their inner song. “As a vocal art, singing is unique,” he advises. “It’s deeply connected to our sense of self.” He also notes that if our voice or singing is criticized in our developmental years, we may shut down our creative expression. “We then become like cave dwellers, hiding our voice; there are millions of vocal cave dwellers in our world,” he says.
Finding your song—or chant or mantra—almost inevitably becomes integrated with a pathway for rediscovering one’s authentic self. “It’s about letting your voice become part of your own healing medicine,” says Stillwater. His film documentary, In Search of the Great Song, celebrates the use of creative vocal expression for healing and transformation.
Kitzie Stern, producer of the New World Kirtan podcast, notes that kirtan, or sacred chanting, is known for bonding everyone in the moment of co-creation between audience and artists, followed by quiet meditation in community. Originating in India, kirtan is one of the oldest musical traditions in the world.
The mantras used in kirtan open the listener to the experience of peace. Stern explains, “The music that accompanies kirtan also helps our minds to turn off. As wallah (chant leader) Dave Stringer puts it, ‘The chant is the medicine, but the music is what helps it go down.’”
One does not have to attend a live kirtan performance to reap its benefits. Stern’s podcast plays a variety of chants to help listeners tune into tranquility. She observes that, “Being able to access the quiet magnificence that exists within each one of us and live within it for some portion of the day helps us to stay sane in the turmoil of the modern world.”
Erin Floresca is a freelance writer in Portland, Oregon. Connect at ErinLehnFloresca.com.