A few weeks ago I experienced a sound healing session for the first time and although I didn't know what to expect, or what it even meant to be 'healed' by sound; it was an out of body experience that I would recommend to anyone.
Ann (pictured above) has been using sound to help calm, relax, and bring energies back to center. Sound healing is a lose term, of course she doesn't claim to officially 'heal' anyone, however the use of sound and vibrations is proven to produce positive effects on the human body and brain. I won't get into the specifics of facts and numbers, in part because Ann doesn't consider herself very logic or fact based when it comes to what she does. She relies on what she inherently knows, has learned, can feel, and what works for her. Although I can be very OCD when it comes to learning how something works, asking why & how... I can loosen up and learn to get on Ann's level - to just let the sound come to you and do it's thing.
During our interview we talked about what all she uses, her techniques, the effects of her sessions, and the levels of sound. She mostly uses Singing Bowls (both Quarts and Metal) for their beautiful, singular tones. Each bowl is tuned to a specific note or pitch and when played correctly, can produce a sound that almost seems to build on itself as it goes. When playing, you take a rubber mallet and move it around the circumference of the bowl, like you would with a glass of wine trying to make a sound.
Here's a clip from Miss Congeniality to show you how this sort of sound works...
So those are just small thin glasses... if you can - try to imagine a handcrafted thick bowl made of Quartz with a precise note pitch that's been tuned... It's definitely bigger and fuller.
As the sound builds and builds, not only does the pitch get louder but more intense and suddenly you feel surrounded by a wavelength that seems to be holding you up. It's a crazy experience and that's just from one bowl alone! She also uses drums, a gong, and smaller instruments for effect during the long, meditative journey. The combinations of instruments & pitches she played, along with the full spectrum of un-identifiable sounds that get introduced to you takes you on an hour long journey that feels euphoric.
Upon entering this museum (around DTC area of Denver) we were told to lay around the gong.
You sit back and basically get to be a kid in nap time again, laying there on the floor with a bunch of other grown adults listening to pretty sounds.
It's nice to not know what's coming next, there are no lyrics to identify with, no 'normal' uses of chorus or melody to register or anticipate. What this does for the brain is so important to meditation: it becomes easier to fall back and let go of thoughts and patterns. You can start to look (or hear) past the individual sounds to the over all energy going around you - or you can choose to follow one tone for it's longevity and go with that pitch. The sound waves and energy circling around you penetrates your body through your skin. The sound moves the water at a molecular level in your body (since we are 75% water) and can almost 'reset' you back to a more centered state.
We were asked to paint with colors to different sounds, to really try and expand our creative consciousness on the back of our eyelids and in our brains. After a while you begin to lose yourself, your thoughts, and the things you're holding on to. At one point I couldn't tell if I was wide awake or in a deep meditative spot. It wasn't until afterward when that mental spot felt so far away that I realized I had to have been deep in the depths of my soul - faded away! Very cool and ULTRA relaxing to say the least.
Coming out of that deep sleep after an hour of beautiful sounds makes you feel like you've mentally taken a bath. All the sudden the lack of sound plays contrast to the past hour, making the silence almost louder than the session itself. You crave those harmonies and singular pitches. You feel refreshed and awake, calmed and peaceful, like a day at the spa but all you did was listen to some bowls and gong noises..? How ?
It's a wonder how this thing works, but it basically comes down to the wavelengths of sound and pitch penetrating your body rhythms and aligning your chakras from the inside out. Every chakra has a pitch and a note, and if we play those notes and combine pitches - we can realign different parts of our energies in our bodies. It sounds weird but I'm a firm believe in the healing properties of sound!
part II : MUSIC & HIP-HOP AS HEALING SOUNDS:
My sound healing session provoked some pretty interesting thoughts on the way home...If each chakra has a note and a pitch, then in theory certain pitches or notes can be used in songs in combination to elicit different effects. Music is the gathering of sounds, notes, pitches, and melodies in order to produce an audible narrative that can produce emotions, memories, and feelings. In general, we know when music can sound happy or sad, ominous or light, complicated or very soothing... but could we in the same fashion, label hip-hop as a type of music that could potentially produce sounds that would in effect be healing?
I've narrowed some hip-hop songs that I think produce calming effects on my personal energy, and picked out the key notes of the melody. It was interesting to find similarities between the main notes of a song and how those notes correlate to the different chakras. One example is in the song "Prototype" by Outkast. You find tones that pair up nicely with the heart, mind, and crown chakra in the chorus. Talk about stimulating and also calming!
What did you hear? Do you feel stimulated in your upper body as well as calmed? I know I do...
Next time you listen to music, consider how it makes you feel and why... could be more than meets the ear!