What does In Sound Health mean to you?
S/he is sound – a good person, honest, trustworthy
Do you currently feel In Sound Health? Structurally sound? Of sound mind? Are you in good health? Do you know..?!
I have worked with Sound as a healing tool for over 20 years, and I love that mirroring of worlds; to be in sound health is more than possible when we draw upon the healing power of sound.
With a number of opportunities coming up to share healing sound and chant, I’ve paused and been reflecting on my journey with this healing modality – it has been amazing and continues to be a genuine privilege to learn, explore, refine and teach…
Personal journey I “stumbled” on my chant teacher after our family moved to America in 1998 for my husband’s job with Boeing. Landing in Washington State, and settling near Seattle, I had a 17 month old baby, and at the beginning wasn’t quite sure which way was up! Visiting the newly opened library I found the book “Music for the Mozart Effect” by Don Campbell – it had been published just the year before. This was absolutely fascinating – but more, it grabbed me! Heart and mind were zinging with excitement – there was something here that spoke to my Soul! At the back of the book was a list of individuals and centres that offered training or workshops. One of those had a Zip Code that was almost identical to mine…The Open Ear Center, then on Bainbridge Island, nr Seattle (now based in Santa Fe, New Mexico) was run by Dr. Pat Moffitt Cook, the Founder and Director. And the rest as they say…is history. Over a 20 year period, I have primarily studied with Pat (three years in the USA, and subsequent trainings both in Santa Fe and Belgium). I am an Advanced Cross-Cultural Music in Health and Education Practitioner and have studied healing chant from various traditions with her, more recently focusing on Vedic chant.
During difficult times in my life (parenting challenges, divorce, bereavements, and through the diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer) chanting has been of huge support and comfort to me. No matter what happens, when I come back to my meditation cushion, take a breath, and chant (from the simplest humming to the universal Aum, the Bija/seed sounds or longer mantras) there is always a sense of coming home, coming back to myself, and being lifted above whatever is being thrown at me. That connection to the Source, to the Divine, is re-established and strengthened. It is a gift beyond comprehension.
Modern day and Ancient times…
Sound is used in medicine -Ultrasound or a sonograph, is a procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of part of the inside of the body. It is used to scan for pregnancy, to evaluate blood flow, and as a diagnostic tool.
You already know that music heals; the instruments used, rhythm, melody, pitch, orchestration and voice can all inspire, uplift, and calm. Music can move us to dance or cry. Binaural beats are also now added to music to synchronise the left and right side of the brain. Music is orchestrated sound.
Your Voice Heals. But did you know that sound as a healing tool, and in particular the voice, has been used for literally thousands of years for health, healing and spiritual connection? Consider your voice as the first instrument, you can “tune up” your body and mind through the vibration that your voice creates. Higher pitched sounds (an elongated Eeee for example) will bring clarity to your mind, energise the brain, and in turn your body. Toning “Ooooh” will soothe the nervous system, calm digestion and move us from the head down into the body.
Through the oral tradition, it is recorded that thousands of years ago, Holy men, Rishis, retreated to caves and spent many, many years meditating to experience or understand the Source of all life. It was through this ongoing state of meditation that sacred sound, chants and mantras were first heard, perceived, and then re-sounded by the Rishis. Through repetition, an understanding of their meaning was perceived – but in truth an exact meaning is not possible.
Chants hold additional healing potential; in sacred texts it says that the sounds have meaning imbedded within them, and that they can remove blocks within our lives, offer protection, heal organs in the body, call upon deities for guidance…and so much more.
For over twenty years now I have studied healing chant from various traditions – Hindu, Buddhist, Indonesian, Tibetan, Vedic. It is a vast subject, and I feel as though I’m barely scratching the surface…
For those more experienced with chant, you might like to read my three part blog on “Falling in Love with Aum” (my yoga teacher training philosophy essay) .
There are multiple physical, mental, emotional and spiritual benefits to chanting.
Physically, as mentioned earlier, the vibration produced by chanting produces a vibration, creating an ‘inner massage’ to the body. This dissolves tension held within the muscles and tissues of the body. It “tunes us up” by increasing energy and enhances the flow of blood and lymph. It is said to improve the digestive and immune system too.
Emotionally – the focus required to chant stops our ruminating, that ongoing whirl of thoughts in our heads that perpetuate worrying and anxiety. I find it both calming and soothing, and the practice brings me perspective and clarity if I’ve got upset or “in a tizz” over something. I continue to find that chanting uplifts me, and creates a positive mood naturally.
Mentally – chant and mantra definitely bring us focus and clarity! It helps you to learn more easily by synchronising the brainwaves and balancing the left and right side of the brain too. Imagine a lamp within your brain – chanting keeps that light shining brightly! It is said to be protective (against the ageing process) and to keep learning is important too.
Spiritually – this is a subjective area to write about. What is ‘spirituality’ to you? Is it God, the Goddess, Mother Nature, the Source of all Life, that Mystery of life that can’t be explained, but you know ‘something’ bigger than you exists? OR…if you believe we are born, we live, we die and that’s it…chanting may help you connect to the energy within Nature (earth, air, wind, fire, water). It is not for me to say what Spirituality means for you – that is your journey. But I have found, and continue to be inspired by, the power of chant and mantra to take me beyond my small ego self, and to become aware of …the mystery of life!
See below for opportunities to experience healing chant. Are you curious? Tempted? Inspired? Complete beginners and those with experience are equally welcome. Feel welcome to have a chat with me if you’d like to know more. People from all walks of life, with no previous experience, often not knowing quite how they turned up to a chant session…have dipped a toe and just said “Wow!”
We have one place unexpectedly available on our upcoming weekend retreat in Dorset. From Friday 1st to Sunday 3rd October, this takes place in the beautiful Monkton Wyld Centre, Nr Charmouth, Dorset. This weaves together gentle yoga, healing chant, cross-cultural music and creative movement. See HERE for the full details.
This is an opportunity to explore, deepen and refine your practice and is suitable for complete beginners or those with experience. Each 3 session/6 hour Healing Chant Series will include the theory, science and history of each chant or practice, the Sanskrit script and transliteration, teaching in the traditional “call & response” style, handouts and recordings to support your home practice. For full details click HERE.
Finding Your Roots – 3 x Sunday Sessions – 7th and 21st November + 12th December. 2-4pm
Clear – Balance – Strengthen. Exploring the Chakras – February – April 2022 (TBA)
You Are Nature – Your Inner Elements – June – July 2022 (TBA)
Sound & Silence – Experiential drop in sessions
The first Sunday in January and May are currently booked as “open to all” sessions. All welcome – we co-create a wonderful healing sound circle. A perfect introduction, or for those with experience an opportunity to re-connect with chant.
Are you feeling stuck? Do you have a health challenge? Would you like to find a spiritual practice that supports your journey through this life? These sessions are for your health and wellbeing, spiritual path or professional development – individual sessions are tailored to your needs. For a free initial consultation to explore your needs, send an enquiry via the Contact Form.