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Sound changes consciousness

from the October 2003 Star Beacon

Tibetan bowl
     EDITORíS NOTE: Martyn Rudin uses Tibetan Bowls in healing. He says we are all naturally sound healers. In this article he looks at everyday sounds and how they have an influence on our lives, and suggests some simple exercises you can do to experience sound healing.

by Martyn Rudin
Excerpted from Connect Magazine

     Weíre told that "In the beginning was the Word." But the text, or Hebraic glyph, actually refers to the "Sound," the cosmic Aum, the first whisper, swoosh, bang, tinkle, murmur or shout.

     But whatever it was, it created the miracle of the universe, and that is the power of sound healing.

     Even if we are deaf, sound has an effect on us, due to the vibrations that go through the bones of the skull and into the brain. Consciously and unconsciously, we are affected by sound each and every day of our lives. Sound even affects us as we sleep. So it is important to be aware of this phenomenon and explore how we can use this force creatively for our own personal healing.

     When we think about the way sound interplays in our lives, we bring to mind many "sense memories": the singing of the birds in the early morning and at dusk as we walk through the woods and fields; the sound of the ocean waves as you stroll along the beach; the sound of a river or stream as we amble along the waterside - all this is sound healing.

     They are also there in our human interpersonal relationships: the way a parent sings a lullaby to the baby; sweet nothings whispered into a partnerís ear; even the sound of grief, crying and wailing. All these are examples of sound healing.

     It is important to understand that we are all naturally sound healers. We need to appreciate the power of our voice and its ability to make and produce sound. Singing, chanting, sounding, humming - they are all simple processes, but they can inspire deep and moving emotions of love, compassion, strength and tenderness.

     There are also the physiological benefits to consider. We take in more air when we sound and encourage blood flow, and the action of the sounding massages the liver, kidney, bladder, lung and heart, plus it enervates the brain.

     In all ancient traditions, cultures and religions, singing and chanting is used to bring us closer to our spiritual realities. There is now a rebirth of this through the activation of regular sound healing groups. These include chakra chanting, New Age music, natural singing, the revival of large community choirs, the gathering of groups to sing devotional songs or "bajhans," and workshops and classes where we can learn overtone singing and Mongolian deep throat chanting and various techniques to create harmonies.

     There are many sources available to teach you ways to do all this, drawing on Native American Indian, African, Indian, Tibetan, Sufi and even Pagan Celtic, as well as the Christian tradition of Gregorian chants.

     Although I would encourage anyone to investigate these approaches, I would also suggest that there is great benefit in simply sounding with the seed/vowel syllables. Try taking these sounds and doing the following:

     First, put your body in a balanced, open position by lying down with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, with your knees directed up towards the ceiling. Make sure you head is in alignment with your spine, and check to see that there is space between the back of your neck and the floor. Also, feel the space under your chin and around your throat. You may need to give yourself some head support in the form of a couple of paperback books or a firm cushion.

     Tuck in your chin slightly towards your chest, so you open up the back of your neck, but not to the degree that you tighten around the throat. This position is called semi-supine. Open your arms out to the side, palms facing upward, although during the sounding you may want to gently place the palms of your hands on your abdomen, stomach or chest, so you can feel the vibrations of the sounds affecting your body and sense the movement of your breathing.

     Take time to establish the connection to your back. Feel it lengthen and widen and allow your body to establish a sense of balance and release. To prepare the voice for sounding, take some long, deep breaths and release the breath out through the mouth in the form of a sigh or a whispered AH. Do this a few times, because it helps to release the jaw, open the throat and connect the head, neck and spine, enabling you to sound deeper into the body.

     Then you can start to sound through the seed syllable or vowel sounds. As you make the sounds, it may help to focus on different parts of your body and feel the effects they have on your body/mind.

        OOH - base of the spine
        AWH - abdomen/solar plexus
        AH - heart chakra/center of the chest
        AIH - throat center
        EEH - third eye center/brow
     Practice these sounds and note how it feels. This is not a system, but simply a way to explore how sound can bring about a change of consciousness and awaken your awareness of sound healing.

     You can also practice this sitting cross-legged, or on a chair, but it is essential that you sit in such a way that you are in balance and the back is well supported. Sit up light, rather than uptight!

     You can also explore making the sounds by adding "MM" at the end of the vowel sounds:

     Take time to sound the "MM" so it vibrates through your body. You can also try it sitting opposite a partner and listen to the overtone sounds that the two voices create. Itís a real buzz, and lots of fun!

     Other forms of sound healing using specific instruments, such as Tibetan Bowls, Tingshas, Gongs, Didgereedoos or Drums.

     These specific instruments have the effect of quickly enabling the mind to go into a receptive state.

     Those attending my Tibetan Bowl evenings can experience the sound of the bowls on their own and in conjunction with their own voice.

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