Reverend Mary and her company of healers are preparing for a first of its kind. Summer Soul Sounds: a concert of musicians and performance arts entertaining … and healing an audience. The legendary 13th Street Repertory Theater, home to LINE, the longest running play in history (and it’s still running) has opened its doors to the event. Artistic director Joe Battista could not be more thrilled to help present such a ground-breaking event.
Reverend Mary says this about Sound Healing:
“We all know that music or sound can set a mood. The music in a club can get us dancing with it strong beat and repetitive sound. Many use music or sound for running or working out, many say it adds to their workout and it inspires them to work harder. It can also help us to concentrate or find peace or an inner quiet. Think yoga class, meditation, mantra chanting and even prayer or song in church or synagogue. Sound also has a powerful effect on how we feel throughout the day. Our bodies and minds react differently to the unrelenting noise of a jackhammer than to a trickle of water in a creek or the sound of a baby crying.
The truth is some sounds make us feel better than others. Even if our conscious minds are not paying attention our bodies take their cues from sounds and rhythms
Now, a growing body of research suggests that when used in a directed way, sound can help us to reduce stress, create a deep sense of well-being and even promote healing. People are using music in sound now in more of a directed way, from playing Bach in the nursery to chanting in the oncologist’s office. Sound therapy is gaining a following and being used both as a preventative and a complement to more known treatments. Research has shown that it is not only good for the body but for the mind as well. It has been shown to lift depression, clear sinuses, and help people to recover from chemotherapy; it has also been used for people with Alzheimer’s disease with good results.
Rev. Mary on ancient instruments with renowned Harpist, Richard Spendio, in rehearsal for Sunday’s early evening concert.
Of course, the idea that sound can affect the health of the mind, body and spirit is certainly NOT a new thing. Chanting and mantra recitation have been part of Hindu spirituality for thousands of years and it has been used not only for Yoga but for healing and spirituality in every corner of the earth!
So, Sound healing….exactly what is it?
Sound and music healers use the human voice and objects that resonate to stimulate healing. They use things like tuning forks, chimes, bells, harps, singing bowls and traditional instruments from all over the world. According to physics, everything vibrates; the chair you’re sitting in, the food you eat, the rocks and trees.
“Whether or not we hear it, everything has a sound, a vibration all its own,” writes Joshua Leeds in The Power of Sound (Healing Arts Press, 2001).
That sound he is referring to is called resonance. It is the frequency at which an object naturally vibrates. Each part of our body has a natural resonance too. This is what some of vibrational medicine is based. Some believe that disease is a result of those natural resonances getting out of tune…if you will. This results in stress and illness.
Sound healers do not use highly focused and fast vibrations now used in some ultrasound (a technology already used in some hospitals to break up kidney stones or see a growing baby in the uterus) but use gentle therapies many find as effective to return the body’s own vibrations to their natural states.
Does it really work? YES, say sound healers, who have successfully treated everything from stress to Parkinson’s disease to hormonal problems. Many use tuning forks and singing bowls on clients and are able to watch many maladies dissolve by “tuning” their client’s bodies! Many say their clients have experienced “relief from pain and discomfort, clearing of sinuses, shifting out of depression, (improved) ability to sleep, revitalization and clarity, feeling of well-being, great connectedness, and deep personal transformation.”
Sounds good! Maybe a little strange?
“Using forks and bowls for anything other than dinner may seem to some people like New Age nonsense,” writes Stephanie Rosenbloom in a November 2005 article in The New York Times. “But healers, sometimes called sounders, argue that sound can have physiological effects because its vibrations are not merely heard but also felt. And vibrations, they say, can lower heart-rate variability, relax brain-wave patterns and reduce respiratory rates.”
Stress hormones decrease under these conditions, which is great news, but especially for people with serious illness. This is one reason Doctors like Mitchell Gaynor, an oncologist and assistant clinical professor at Cornell University’s Weill Medical College in New York has used singing bowls with his cancer patients. Gaynor sees sound as a part of a broader trend toward the humanization of medicine in which the whole person, not just the part that’s broken, is addressed. “I believe that sound can play a role in virtually any medical disorder, since it redresses imbalances on every level of physiologic functioning,” he writes in his book The Healing Power of Sound: Recovery from Life-Threatening Illness Using Sound, Voice and Music (Shambhala, 1999).
The Sound of the future
Many experts say that Sound therapy is at the very cutting edge of healing. Many believe that just like Yoga and meditation it will enter the mainstream.
You are probably using sound therapy already! Several years ago, three out of four people who responded to a Prevention Magazine health survey said that they listen to music to ease tension and stress. Of those, 82 percent reported that it brought them significant relief.
Maybe you aren’t interested in buying a tuning fork or a singing bowl but sound healing is still available to you in the form of a song that lifts your sprits or a walk in nature!
SOUNDS THAT HEAL
Sound healers can make music and sound in many different ways. Here are some common techniques:
Classical Music. Classical music has been show by some to increase the rate of development of synaptic connections in young children’s minds. It also helps fuel creativity and enhances joy in adults. Classical music can even help address physical ailments like high blood pressure and muscle tension.
Humming. Humming not only lifts your spirits, it clears your mind too. According to a study conducted by Swedish researcher, and published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, humming may actually help keep your sinuses clear and healthy.
Singing Bowls. Whether metal or quartz crystal, a singing bowl sings when you run a felt-tipped mallet around its edge. Along with rhythms produced by striking the edge of the bowl, the vibrations and tones slow down breathing, brain waves and heart rates, producing a deep sense of calm and well-being.
Tuning Forks. Originally used to tune musical instruments to the proper pitch, tuning forks have long been used by orthopedists to detect stress fractures in large bones. Now, sound therapists use the vibrations of tuning forks to increase the amount of energy in parts of the body they are trying to heal or energize. These good vibes can support relaxation, balance our nervous systems and increase physical energy.
Yogic Chanting and “Om”ing. Chanting, the first step to meditation is also a means of maintaining health and well-being. Research shows that chanting can stabilize heart rate, lower blood pressure, improve circulation, produce endorphins and aid the process of metabolism. Chanting can also help the mind focus, which alleviates stress levels. For example, repeating the syllable “om,” considered one of the most important mantras in yoga, is said to foster a deep mental clarity and promote a sense of connectedness with a higher power.
Sacred Singing. For centuries chanting, singing and celebrating in a sacred space helps relieve tension and open one up to feelings of euphoria and joy.
Sound Soaks and Events. Like ours! Soul Sounds. Many go to experience these types of healing together in groups all over the world.”