Tuning in!Toning up for good health with a harmonizing dose of good vibrations.
BY aaron noble
ur world is a sea of sound, and we can either swim in calm waters that support our health, or struggle against harsher currents of abrasive noise. I’m intrigued by common sounds like the sigh of relief that marks the end of a stressful day, or the involuntary “ouch” that comes with stubbing a toe. What can we learn by tuning in to these everyday sounds? What role does sound play in relation to our bodies and our health? And what can we learn from the experts who explore sound and its effects on the body? My interest in health, yoga, and meditation led me to study vibrational forms of medicine, a holistic approach that embraces a number of subtle energy modalities to treat the body, mind, and soul. These methods, which include gem, color, and flower essence healing, view the body in 26
conscious dancer | fall 2009
layers of frequency. As my awareness grew, I found myself passionate about the effects of sound frequencies, and sought to learn more. At San Francisco's Institute of Sound and Consciousness, I learned that this field includes subjects ranging from biophysics to musicology, and I began to learn some of the ways in which sound affects us. One common perspective is that sound can serve as a form of nutrition. This belief is based on a discovery made in the late ’60s by Alfred Tomatis, a German doctor specializing in the ear, nose, and throat. He determined the ear to be the first sensory organ of the fetus to become fully functional and suggested that the ear’s primary role in prenatal development is to harness sound waves inside the womb and convert them into energy for neural development. Another key understanding in the field
of sound is the concept of “sympathetic resonance.” This phrase describes a phenomenon that occurs when the vibration of one instrument actually causes a sympathetic response in another instrument. So if I strike an A string on my violin, somehow the A string on my friend’s violin across the room begins to resonate as well, and in perfect synchrony without even being touched. This magical reaction makes me wonder about people as instruments of sound, and the ways in which we can resonate with one another. Scientists and doctors are beginning to understand the power of the voice, especially when people make sound together, to stimulate our neural chemicals and endorphins. Jonathan Goldman, director of the Sound Healers Association, says that sound impacts us in two ways. “One way is that sound can actually go into the physical body, affecting us on a cellular level. The other way is when sound goes into our ears and into our brains and therefore affects our nervous system, heart, and respiration.” Sound vibrations actually have the ability to match the specific frequencies of each organ within the body, as well as to induce the autonomic nervous system simultaneously. I began to study tones in terms of their effect on the body. Results seemed to vary depending on pitch, rhythm, and placement of the tongue. Low tones generally impact larger muscle groups, while higher frequencies seem to stimulate the brain and smaller muscle groups. Drawn out tones, like string sounds, actually create patterns, while staccato or rhythmic patterns disperse and clear energy. Alex Theory, founder of the Global Sound Conference, says, “Once you break up some of those stuck patterns you can use specific low, elongated frequencies to create tangible geometric patterns within the body itself.” Creating sound within a group offers benefits that one voice can’t conjure. When people make sound together they release oxytocin, also known as the trust chemical. Therefore, when people harmonize in sound, they build resonance and trust within each other. According to Lis Addison, creator of a vocal-dance form called KiVo, “It’s very important for us to engage in these activities often: to dance, tone, move through space, and create vibration just to resonate with other people. Tones have the ability to release us from the limitations of language…”
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