Saturday, November 12, 2011

What is Sound Healing?

After 20 years, people are still often asking me the simple question: "What is Sound Healing?"  While attending the 11-11-11 Crystal Sculls conference in Los Angeles during the November full moon I was asked again in the hotel lobby so I decided to write this very basic explanation in response...

My earliest conscious introduction to this new awakening (in the west) of an ancient healing and meditation practice, art, and science started when I met Ephat Mujuru in Boston about 22 years ago when my first son Nathaniel was born.  Since that time I have seen it grow and evolve and move into many directions.

In general, When I talk about sound healing I usually make some distinction about whether we are talking about (1) a healing session between practitioner and client, (2) a personal form of meditation (with sound), or (3) what is commonly called a sound circle.  I call this third category a "harmonic attunement gathering" which is done with a group.

All three of these practices are done in many different ways all around the world.  In some non western traditions it has been practiced continuously for thousands of years.  In Zimbabwe all three practices exist centered around the mbira (thumb piano) and hosho (seed shaker) and most importantly, the human voice.

In Mongolia there are also very strong traditions within all three practices.  Native Americans, and Australian Aborigines also practice all three forms in various ways.  There are many more traditions around the world of course but this suffices as an example.

Less formally sound healing is practiced unconsciously by all of us without knowing: when a mother sings to her child or unborn baby, and when we utter sounds as an emotional response to pain, joy, surprise, love, sex, what ever!  The sounds we make when we are angry are very powerful and we must learn how to channel that energy in creative ways rather than destructive ways if we do not wish to resonate and pass on the source of our anger.
As a one on one healing practice, many practitioners have the client lie on a massage table while they perform healing work using sound in a similar way that a Reiki practitioner works with hands.  Sometimes these practitioners use tuning forks to perform the sound part of the practice.  Sometimes they use singing bowls, or crystal bowls, and sometimes they also use other instruments if they are also trained musicians.

I use many different kinds of sound producing instruments when I am practicing, mostly my voice combined with metal singing bowls, didgeridoo, flutes, mbira, drums, and seed shaking sounding instruments.  Yes... even sticks and rocks struck together work well in the correct setting and context.

Sometimes the practitioner combines sound with other modes of vibrational healing like Reiki, or Flower essences, massage therapy, etc.  I also do this in my own practice.
During my private personal meditation practice I use sound to tune and energize my chakras, perform self healing, regeneration, and to manifest personal intention or to do distance healing work on another.

My own sound practice combines, pranayama breathing, silent mantra meditation, and Reiki.  The pranayama I use has evolved from what it originally was when I first was taught the practice by my guru in the late 70's.  It now combines the breathing with multiphonic vowel chanting and also playing the didgeridoo or a flute.

The third context of sound healing, done in a group and called a sound circle has evolved in many ways in the USA and Europe over the past 20 or so years.  I have coined the words "harmonic attunement" to more accurately describe this third context of sound healing.

There are many different ways its done depending on the school of thought doing it.  The French acupuncturist and sound healer, Fabien Maman prefers to do it in more of a concert like setting where healing musicians are seated on a stage or in a corner of the room while recipients sit in chairs or lie on mats and passively take part.

Many other sound healers do the group thing as part performance and allow the audience to come in with their voices later during a second session etc.

When Michelle Herrera and I founded the Sound Healing Network in Massachusetts back in 2002 we formed it with the intention of being a synergistic group consciousness collaboration rather than the result of one single teacher or guru.  In that spirit we sponsored local sound circle gatherings that were democratic and non hierarchical in the way they were run.

We would rotate each week someone to be chosen to lead the circle, but their function was only as a facilitator, and their only purpose was to come set up the environment, make announcements, start the session, keep time, and end the session.  The rest of it was all spontaneously created through the entire group. Events would proceed like magic without needing verbal or physical direction.

We believe that a group sound circle session is often guided thorough a collective conscious awareness, as if we are the musicians in the orchestra and the conductor is a higher power guiding us all in spirit.  With that said, those who are more experienced often teach those who are new the neat tricks they have learned along the way.  It is a growing tradition...

Since moving to Orcas Island, in the Salish Sea, (north west of Seattle, south of Vancouver BC, and east of Victoria BC) I have been guided to do these these harmonic attunement sound healing gatherings during the full moon.  The purpose of them is more about getting ready for powerful physical, mental, and spiritual changes that are now occurring around the globe as we enter fully into this new age that has been dawning since the 60's and now coming fully into manifestation now through 2012.

This month, during our road trip to the 11-11-11 Crystal Sculls conference in Los Angeles we had a chance to do a very powerful Full Moon Harmonic Attunement at a very powerful site: the Campbell Hot Springs in Sierraville, CA.  We did a preliminary session during the evening coming into the full moon, in the parlor of the Globe Hotel in town.

Later that morning we were called by many owls who woke us up out of bed with their persistent hooting and so we did a second more powerful session while soaking in the hot springs.  Our second session was one of the most powerful sound healing / visioning events I have yet to experience!  We sang, chanted, and tuned in with some very powerful energetic entities who inhabit the valley where the Campbell Hot springs are located.

I am writing a story about some very special owls who fly through a multidimensional portal near the north face of Turtleback Mountain (on Orcas Island) at a certain time of the year when conditions are just right.  This actually happened in a vision that came to me a few weeks ago, but what I did not know was that these owls somehow came through the portal (energetically) and visited us at the hot springs in Sierraville, CA in the early morning yesterday (November 10, 2011). 

Our Journey this month has been quite an exciting unfolding story.  There will be more stories to tell to come soon!

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