thoughts ON SOUND HEALING
Sounds around us can affect and change our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual being.
Sounds from our surroundings can have a significant impact on our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual being.
We can feel certain sounds as generally positive and calming in and of themselves. We are usually "naturally" drawn to nature and it's peaceful sounds. A gentle rain, a bird singing, waterfalls, or the ocean for example. That is one of the main reasons why – along with its beautiful natural timbres - I seek the many sounds found in nature, including animals or livestock sounds. They are healing to me. But yet again, so is thunder! That deep, earth shattering sound, and its vibrations that resonate though the whole body.
While “Modern world” sounds, like cars, subways, machinery, television, and so forth can be hip and inspired in creative music, they are rather intrusive, aggressive, and even jarring when they are imposed on us in our daily lives. The sounds of heavy traffic and congestion, for example, are a sonic pollution that is very aggressive to most of us, and can cause or aggravate tension and stress, which we can feel affecting us negatively emotionally and physically.
Like natural sounds, certain musical sounds or pieces of music can feel naturally healing to us. However, many sounds can be “neutral”, and the nature of their impact will largely depend on whether you set your mind to being receptive and let yourself resonate with them. When tired, stressed, or ill, even a harmonious combination of notes or a bird chirping can be unnerving. A proper mindset and careful examination of which sound can be healing is then essential. In other words, while we can feel “good” upon hearing certain sounds, we will feel “better” if our mind, heart, and soul are set to be receptive and connected with their positive vibrations. Then, the natural or instrumental sounds can ease you, prepare you, and then lead you to a maximum healing property.
We shouldn't assume and only seek "pretty" sounds and music however, as sounds can be counter-intuitive in their effects or properties. For example, listening to or performing avant-garde or free jazz music is usually very calming to me. It unclutters my mind, breaks tension, and makes me more generally “aware”. It also seems to relieve many physical zones of constriction, even though it’s a music that can be purposely devoid of harmony, melody, or rhythm. What does that mean? When we break or dislodge a bone, it often needs to be put back in place, sometimes with pain, before it can heal. When depression or anxiety cripples us, healing usually will only come after we go through and recall the hurt. Likewise, in Sound Healing, it often takes disharmonious sounds to “break through” and heal... disharmony! In the end, judiciously blending dissonance with harmoniously soothing sounds can bring greater benefits.
How does Sound Healing Performance can sooth and heal our body, emotional, mental, soul, and spiritual being.
Sounds affect the body, emotions, mind, soul, and spirit through waves of unadulterated sounds, that is, vibrations. These go to where they are needed and work in humans through various means, especially:
- generating sympathetic resonance through "like vibration", that is, performing a sound that matches the original frequency a particular area of the body most naturally wants to vibrate at, thus restoring its most desirable frequency, and bringing back the affected area into balance with the rest of the body;
- brainwave entrainment, where ideal vibrations are harmonized and synchronized, and Frequency Following Response and creating sounds that stimulate certain brainwaves associated with positive, peaceful, and healing states;
- balancing the left and right hemisphere of the brain, notably thought use of two different frequencies;
- inducing relaxation to alleviate the symptoms of chronic stress;
- fostering the release of suppressed emotions associated with trauma from the past.
Integral Sound Healing
I favor "Integral" Sound Healing. Integral because it is comprehensive, that is, meant to address the Source Energy / Lifeforce Energy, out of which vibration - life- comes.
Integral Sound Healing is especially beneficial because incorporates and addresses all 5 Elements of Consciousness.
Spirit, Soul, Mind, Emotion, and Body.
Also Ether, plasma, Gas, Liquid, Solid and the 5 elements of physics; the Spirit, Earth, Air, Water, Fire from Shamanic healing; Chia source energy and the Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood 5 elements of Chinese medicine); Cosmos, Nature, Community, Family (and Friends), Person and the 5 Elements of Connection; Ether, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth in the 5 Elements of Ayurvedic Medicine.
The brain possesses five main rhythms within: Gamma, Beta, Alpha, Theta, and Delta.
By activating any of the 5 brainwave frequencies, we can obtain certain “healing” benefits associated with each five, as each correspond to a particular state - or more accurately particular states of various levels.
For example, making sounds that are within the Gamma frequencies can lead to stress reduction, mood elevation and increased life expectancy of the mind and its cognitive functions; activating Beta within the brain is helpful when one has to deal with mental / emotional disorders including depression and Attention Deficit Disorder; Alpha activation can assist in overcoming stress and phobias. Activation of Theta waves are associated with deep states of meditation, peace and calm, all of which promote healing, but can also improve concentration and attention. Delta is the slowest band of the brainwaves and healing can take place there, when we are completely unconscious.
A particular and extremely beneficial brainwave frequency is 7.8Hz – or Alpha-Theta Border – where one can be in tune with the Earth frequency, leading to enhanced and natural ability to heal AND connect not only with the earth but also with other energies and higher spiritual forces.
One person, a small group, or an audience... I care about you, and I make no apologies for it. I feel Intention is absolutely essential when working with sound because the altruistic element is perhaps the most essential component of sound healing.
Frequency + intent = Healing. Healing comes from the sound (frequencies) being performed + the mindset adopted by the sound therapist, and the energy he or she thus brings to the sound making.
The Sound Healing performer's intent must be “uncluttered” with personal thoughts, devoid of self-limiting ego, set altruistically, and must largely follow intuition as a guide - rather than pre-set lists of formulas.
Quite naturally, there can only effective and natural flow of intuition and healing energy if we have a mind specifically and exclusively set to work for the good of the audience or individual.
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ON DRUMMING ~ where it all began
The story goes that Picasso was sitting in a Paris café when an admirer approached and asked if he would do a quick sketch on a paper napkin. Picasso politely agreed, swiftly executed the work, and handed back the napkin — but not before asking for a rather exorbitant amount of money. The admirer was shocked: “How can you ask for so much? It took you a minute to draw this!” “No”, Picasso replied, “It took me 40 years”.
As a young musician, I was very much influenced by this story and by the genius who believed he still had much to learn 40 years into his career. I believe Picasso was not referring to a method of schooling or apprenticeship but a mentality: one that requires you to undergo a constant renewing of the mind. To have a never-ending thirst for what is innovative, uncommon, or unexpected. My musical life has been continuous voyage thru a kaleidoscope of cultures, expressions, styles, and instruments. A joyful and passionate learning. A mesmerizing journey of discovery that is never finished.
In my childhood, my father – a fine drummer and percussionist himself – taught me the basics by having me accompany him on hundreds of percussive instruments in many styles of music, often while playing alongside his LPs. He had a unique way of pressuring me to achieve: he would take me to clubs and concerts where we would both jam with the musicians. My parents furthered my musical “education” by taking me to countless concerts, and by playing music from a wide variety of countries and genres in our home on a daily basis. When the constraints of living in an apartment frustrated me from further exploring drums and percussions, I learned to play several of the instruments I heard at home — the guitar, mandolin and banjo — as well as a myriad of less reputable instruments such as the bagpipes, zither, and the portable harmonium. I also took up singing.
Oddly, this rather un-academic formation worked and by my teenage years I was able to hold my own among accomplished musicians. I was fluent in contemporary western music (rock, blues, jazz, country, and folk) but also quite fond of and familiar with such varied music and rhythms as Afro Cuban, Latin American, Middle Eastern, African, Caribbean, Polynesian, Indian, and East European. To this day I incorporate elements from these cultures in my playing, no matter which style of music I’m performing.
To be immersed in music is a fascinating and enlightening way to live. It fosters sensitivity, creativity and individuality, and hopefully, triggers a passion for learning more. I’ve been on that trip and never really came back.
This passion for learning is shared by the best musicians out there. Drummers such as Elvin Jones, Art Blakey, and Milford Graves all traveled to Africa and India to learn more from indigenous percussionists. The great tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins is well known for having taken dramatic “breaks” during his career to re-learn his instrument and start anew. Likewise, I still seek and discover drumming and percussion techniques I haven’t heard, and young players that take my breath away.
I am hopeful that everyone can experience the kind of epiphany I had after hearing John Coltrane’s “Olé” recording. I had obstinately tried this tune and many other avant-garde jazz recordings before, but they had always sounded to me like a bunch of random notes, sounds, and noise. But on one particular day I was listening to the tune over again and it clicked — I suddenly got it! In a fraction of a second I “re-heard” a lifetime of jazz and appreciated it for the first time. I literally thought my brain had doubled in size. More than finding a key to modern jazz, a mental barrier had broken down and I was being flooded with a new comprehension.
So how do you go on and keep going down this path? Ultimately, I feel it all goes back to listening to music, all kinds. I have no doubt that my passion for music and my ability to play in many styles really began one Christmas morning some forty five years ago. I found myself the ecstatic owner of a cassette player and some pre-recorded tapes. Next to the obligatory children’s lullabies and fairytale tapes, my parents had thrown in a dozen or so others — among them The Doors, Julie Driscoll & Brian Auger, the Bee Gees, a Folkways country and bluegrass compilation, and another of Celtic Music, the Red Army Choir, the Dave Brubeck Quartet, Alan Stivell, an African drumming field recording, and numerous Latin American music including Mexican, Cuban, and Peruvian. I didn’t like it all immediately, but I loved all of it, ultimately.
Because it always is about Love. It is the Answer, isn't it?