Sound therapy is based on the theory that all things vibrate, and therefore everything can be relatively in or out of tune. This includes parts of our bodies, such as our brains, and things in our environment, like grasshoppers, or passing trains. While some of the vibrations are very obvious, heart beats, for instance, and some of them are not, such as colors, molecular proteins, DNA, and times of the day. Basically, any physical matter, or event, consists of patterns of movement, and consequently everything around us is contributing to a greater harmonic mixture.
Deep down within our physical selves, at the furthest reaches of smallness that scientific proof can bring us, our bodies are nothing more than fields of energy. If we could zoom in with a super powerful microscope we would find that our atoms are held together by an invisible force, and that the atoms themselves are empty. No matter how closely we look, we can hardly find a substance that isnít just another form of energy contained withing seemingly empty space. This energy can not be created or destroyed, and all things happen as the result of it. All the events in our lives are based on the absorption and reflection this binding energy.
The common image of a Hydrogen atom, is something about the size of a marble, representing the nucleus, being circled closely by another marble, the electron. In fact, if the electron and nucleus were the size of marbles, and the electron were moving in a perfect circle, the electron would have an orbit several miles in diameter around the nucleus. The electron’s enormous and complex orbit forms a pulsating cloud around the nucleus called an electromagnetic field. If all of the electromagnetic fields in our bodies were suddenly removed, we would be no larger than grains of sand. Our bodies and everything that we interact with are made of energy, and without it we simply could not exist or move around.
We are part of a very complex and extremely wide range of vibrations. The speed and complexity of their frequencies, within apparent time and space, are stacked in relation to magnitude. The nucleus of an atom, for example, pulsates with an electromagnetic frequency of 1000 trillion cycles per second. The entire atom vibrates at a slower frequency of about 1000 billion cycles per second. Working our way up in size, a molecule has its own unique frequency of 1000 million cycles per second. These molecules might belong to a heart, beating 100 times per minute. As we keep zooming out, we will keep adding longer, and longer wavelengths to the picture, such as the rotation of the earth, our rotation within the solar system, and the 230 million year rotation of the Milky Way Galaxy. The further out we focus, the more rich and complex it all seems. Even though our vantage point is a tiny pin prick in the expanse of the cosmos, we are moved by vibrations that operate far outside of our casual awareness.
It’s evident that there are frequencies all around us that we can harmonize with on some musical level. Even if these frequencies are not audible, they can be used as a reference, converted into vibrations within our range of hearing, and used to make music. For example, hydrogen is the most common element in existence. Hydrogen absorbs and emits energy at 1,420.4057527 KHz. If we take that frequency and transpose it down by 24 octaves, we hit 84.5 Hz, which is very close to an E note, the lowest string on a guitar. Since about 90 percent of all matter is hydrogen, including our bodies, then perhaps notes in unison with hydrogen can resonate more harmoniously with matter in general.
If two vibrations that are nearly identical in frequency collide, then they try to combine, the result being a more efficient use of energy. In 1666, a physicist named Christian Huygenes placed two pendulum clocks on a wall next to each other. Over a short period, the pendulums eventually were swinging in unison. He tried this again with the identical results and called the phenomena “entrainment.” In actuality, the pendulums in Huygenesí experiment moved the wall back and forth by a minute amount. Since the pendulums were both moving the wall, they were able to tick more efficiently if they were not fighting each other. Ultimately, the wall was then moving back and forth twice as much, the ticking sound was twice as loud, and the clocks survived longer without winding. This is a very important aspect of life; nature seeks the most efficient use of energy, and always prefers synchronism.
The pattern of Saturns rings is formed by unstable resonances with its inner moons.
Entrainment is similar to harmony. For instance, if we look at Jupiterís moons, we find that the moons are exerting gravitational tugs on each other as they pass each other in orbit. Because these pulls are always in the same direction, and at the same time, the planets have become aligned with each other in a very stable mathematical pattern called an “orbital resonance.” This happens when the orbital period of one moon has become a whole number ratio of another. Since whole number ratios are what makes consonant sounding relationships between two notes in music, the moons truly have a harmonious relationship.
Our brains exhibit entrainment with pulsation, commonly called the Frequency Following Response (FFR.) In the early 1900′s, doctors began documenting brain waves with electroencephalograph (EEG) units. It was discovered that with the use of low frequency oscillations or flashing lights, test subjects could be steered into varied states of relaxation, hypnosis, and altered states of thought. Modern research has shown that these techniques can be used to treat patients with anxiety, sleeplessness, and ADD/ADHD.
Sound Healing is an effective and proven modality that uses vibrational sound to help reduce stress, alter consciousness and create a deep sense of peace, well being and better health. Sound has also been shown to be a vital part of the healing process for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and side effects especially for pain relief management.
During our waking state, the normal frequency of our brain waves is that of Beta. Sound tools entrain the brain to move into the deeper Alpha and Theta brain wave frequencies. These are the frequencies that induce deep meditative and peaceful states, clarity of mind and intuition. Modern medicine can now measure and thus confirm the practice of sound as a means to promote healing.
Example: Tibetan Singing Bowls
As Perry (1996) and Jansen (1992) state, little is known in western scholarship regarding Himalayan singing bowls. It is likely they were used in rituals, having a specific function like other instruments (such as the ghanta, tingsha and shang). The oral and written traditions from the Himalayan region are vast and largely unknown in the west. To date, no specific texts have been found discussing the use of singing bowls in depth, but according to Joseph Feinstein of Himalayan Bowls (2006), paintings and statues dating from several centuries ago depict singing bowls in detail. Singing bowls from at least the 10th-12th century are found in private collections. The tradition may date significantly earlier since bronze has been used to construct musical instruments since ancient times. Bronze bells from Asia have been discovered as early as the 8th-10th century BCE (Feinstein, 2006).
Singing bowls are unique because they are multiphonic instruments, producing multiple harmonic overtones at the same time. The overtones are a result of using an alloy consisting of multiple metals, each producing its own overtone. New bowls can also produce multiple harmonic overtones if they are high quality bronze, but many are made from a simpler alloy and produce only a principal tone and one harmonic overtone.
While it is generally believed that the traditional manufacturing techniques are lost, there are new hand-hammered bowls being produced in the centuries old tradition. The difference is the quality of the alloy and the aging process itself. The tone improves as they age, so new bowls cannot sound as warm and mellow as a real antique. (Feinstein, 2008)
Both Antique and New Bowls are widely used as an aid to meditation and as a tool for trance induction. They are also used in yoga, music therapy, sound healing, religious services, performance and for personal enjoyment.