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From "The Shropshire Review" magazine - December 2009
"Ask me to ‘fix’ you and I will tell you that you are not broken! Perhaps you just need a little help and healing along the way. Ask me to tell your fortune and I will say it is yours to create."
Sally Cardew is a healer in total harmony with the power of sound... and silence. She is able to harness, through an ancient therapy, the energy of different sounds, enabling clients to tune into a state of wellbeing.
"Sound healing is probably the oldest form of healing known to man and was used in ancient China, Egypt, Greece and India," she explained.
"It is the therapeutic use of sound and music for healing, with the intention of bringing the subject into a state of harmony and health."
"A sound healer may use toning, singing, crystal bowls, drums, gongs and other similar musical instruments."
"I prefer to work with my voice, crystals and tuning forks. The client may lie on a couch or sit in a chair and the session will last about an hour. Silence is also an important part of the treatment. It allows the client to absorb the healing at a gentle rate."
With a degree in Human Psychology the Bridgnorth-based therapist is able to adopt a ‘feet on the ground’ approach to healing.
From an early age she has used her voice as an instrument through her passion for singing and music. It was, therefore, a wholly natural progression for her to become a sound healer, she said.
Sally also offers a card reading service. "The card reading side of my life came from my grandmother, herself a clairvoyant. However, I became increasingly uncomfortable with the fortune telling aspect of this gift and abandoned it for a long time," she said. "It was only when I discovered the beautiful pictures on the Osho Zen Tarot that I began reading again."
Sally does not tell fortunes. Rather, the pictures on the cards ‘speak’ to her, revealing, very much like a story, the current energetic issues involved in a situation.
"What the client creates with this information is up to them. And if they agree, it may seem appropriate to put some healing sound into the reading as well, although a proper sound healing session requires its own dedicated time," she said.
For further details, Sally can be contacted on 01746 765271 or 07805 138189
By Heather Parker, From "Energies in Action" Magazine Aug/Sept 2009
It is well documented that music and sound can improve people's sense of well-being. In Don Campbell's book ‘The Mozart Effect’ he documents the positive effect that classical music, especially that of Mozart, can have on people's concentration levels during engaging activities.
Another study mentioned in his book revealed that when pregnant mothers listened to Mozart and Vivaldi, their unborn babies' heart rates invariably steadied and their kicking movements inside the womb declined.
Slower tempo music slows our breathing rate. The human heartbeat will tend to match the rhythm of the music. Listening to Pacabel's Cannon, for instance, will slow our breathing rate and change our brain wave pattern from beta to alpha. Music will also calm our nervous system and affect metabolism.
If that is the case it should be relatively simple to improve people's health, shouldn't it? It's not quite that simple. Many of us are in a routine where we get up, get the kids off to school and go off to work. We sit in an environment where all you hear is the humming of computer screens, tapping of fingers on keypads and raised voices of colleagues in meeting rooms thrashing out another important work related issue.
As a Sound healer, I often meet people who say, "Oh but I can't sing", or, "I'm tone deaf". We can all have fun making sound even if we think we can't sing!
Why not allow yourself a little bit of healing through sound? It doesn't have to be loud, you can do it in the privacy of your own bathroom, car, wherever you feel most comfortable. Just simply start with a bit of humming and then progress to singing along to your favourite tunes on the radio, whether that be Classic FM or Radio 1, it matters not, what matters is the effect that those sounds are physically having on your body.
The results of a study conducted at the University of Frankfurt, Germany were released early last year and add to the case that choral singing has a positive health impact. Researchers took blood samples from chorus members before and after they sang Mozart's Requiem. The levels of immunoglobulin A and cortisol were noticeably higher after singing, indicating that singing boosted their immune systems!
To get the most benefit from sound you have to actually join in yourself! If you are sitting there thinking but I still wouldn't know where to start, then why not try investigating some of the information out there.
I trained with College of Sound Healing. They have a great web site full of interesting articles on sound and music. They also have courses running all over the UK.
Go to a workshop and have a go. Most people enjoy making sounds once they have overcome slight feelings of self consciousness. I am run a monthly ‘sacred chanting session’ at the Yoga For Harmony Studio, Windsor, Berkshire so why not give that a try? If you don't give it a go, you'll never know what a difference it can make!
Heather Parker - Sound Healer & Workshop leader from Cippenham, Slough.
I feel impelled at this time to cast an eye over the work some of us are doing with Sound and Music, and remind ourselves and others who may not really understand yet, why we are doing this incredibly rewarding work.
I think it is being recognised now, more than ever before, that sound plays a huge part in our lives, either for good or otherwise. We can be adversely affected by unpleasant sound in subtle ways; roadworks, noisy building works, or loud music in shops can jangle our nerves.
In contrast, the pleasure of sitting down and listening to a great piece of music on CD or at a concert is difficult to surpass. It takes us to a different place in consciousness. We all know how relaxed and rejuvenated we feel after such a pleasurable listening sensation.
So for years we have been using harmonious music and sound as self-therapy when we feel the need to relax and de-stress after, for instance, a hard day at work. What we are doing is bringing our subtle energy system back into balance with music.
Sound Healing is one step further than that. Sound Healers are deliberately using certain known, beneficial sounds to consciously impact our being in a positive way, on all levels, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
To do this we use the voice, gongs, singing bowls, tuning forks, violin and other instruments that appear to have proven healing and stress-relieving properties. Some of these instruments have been in use for thousands of years in many different cultures. I think we are just starting to realise that the ancients had a lot more knowledge and wisdom than we previously gave them credit for!
As a classically trained musician, with a mother who was a gifted professional pianist, I have always been aware of the positive effects of good music played well - I was brought up on it from an early age. I have always enjoyed my work in the classical arena, both teaching and performing.
It wasn't until I came across Sound Healing nearly ten years ago, that I discovered my true vocation. I realised that the application of certain types of sound could be used so simply and effectively for healing on all levels and for the relief of stress, which I believe is at the root of all dis-ease.
My work has taken me, via a series of synchronicities, into the world of gongs. An odd world, you may think, and not, as yet, very well known. I think it will become much more widely-known in the years to come because of its' obvious effectiveness in the growing field of Sound Healing. I now use the highest quality large gongs as my principal Sound Healing tools.
When I first heard the gong, played by my teacher Grand Gongmaster Don Conreaux, I was completely blown away by the sound and the effect it had. It was totally compelling and turned out to be life changing for me. I knew I had found the ultimate Sound Healing instrument and that this was the work I was here to do at this time. Since then, I have immersed myself in Sound Healing and particularly in this world of the gong.
If you haven't yet had a direct experience of the gong, you may not understand what I am talking about here. The gong needs to be experienced. You can read about it and hear about it from other people, but as with other things, until you have actually had the experience, you won't totally understand.
The gong contains an awesome power but we rarely use the full volume of the instrument, only occasionally at certain key points in our work. Played well and in certain ways, the gong works its' magic using the huge variety of tones and harmonics present in the instrument at lower levels of volume.
We always approach the gongs with respect and humility, without ego, and act as channels for whatever sounds need to come through the gongs at any given moment. In effect we don't play the gong, the gong plays us! It is a great privilege to work with these instruments in this intuitive way.
Gongbath recipients normally lie down in order to get the full benefits of the gong sounds. We call it a "gongbath" as you are literally bathed in the sounds of the gongs. The Om or Aum sound made by the gong creates a feeling of timelessness. You become immersed in the sound, and time as we know it disappears. It also has the effect of de-materialisation - people usually lose all sensation of the physical body, and often have the experience of floating in space, or in an ocean.
Going deeper, the Universal quality becomes more apparent. Many people report feeling at One with the Universe and everything. I have some clients who have experienced past lives during a gong bath. Other people may have visions or see colours. Some people become so relaxed that they go into deep sleep. It is not unknown for people to sleep right through a gongbath!
The usual effect of the gong is to take you into a state of deep meditation. This is the state where healing can more readily occur, as the mind is still, so that the body can concentrate on drawing in the sounds it needs to re-align and harmonise itself on all levels. Most people emerge from a gongbath feeling extremely relaxed, re-energised and refreshed, as though they have had good nights' sleep.
It is not unknown for aches and pains to have disappeared, some many years old. And the silence which settles after the gongbath has finished is very profound. The sounds of the gongs have cleared away old energy and created a sacred space and high vibrational energy in the room. Most people want to remain in that wonderful space for as long as possible.
At the Mind Body Spirit festival every year we give mini-gongbaths so that people can have a ten-minute taster session behind the gong before committing to a full-length gongbath or one-to-one therapy session. This is a good way to have your first experience of Sound Healing with the gong. However, it is no substitute for a full-length session, which will be even more beneficial.
So now, in a roundabout way, I have come back to the question at the head of this article Why Sound Healing? I've answered my own question. The answer is - BECAUSE IT WORKS! It has worked for thousands of years, but we forgot, somewhere along the way.
Now we're beginning to realise and recall the wisdom of our ancient ancestors and we're learning to apply sound consciously for the benefit of mankind in therapeutic ways. I think in the next few years, Sound Healing will become known the world over, and it's about time! We need as much help as we can get during this turbulent period on Earth! Now where's that gong?
Copyright © Sheila Whittaker, July 2009
Article Published in Body and Soul Magazine October 2008
We'd been singing, chanting and using moving meditation for days, and it was a wonderful experience, but sitting on those bean bags for hours at a time was killing me. I was in such pain, and by the sixth day, I didn't know what to do with myself. Brigitte stepped in. "Let's give Gill a sound bath."
At this point I have to explain that I was the universe's biggest sceptic. If there was no scientific evidence, or you couldn't prove it, or you couldn't see it it wasn't real, it was all in your mind. But the pain was so bad I would have tried anything, and anyway I didn't want to let the group down.
So I lay on the rug on the floor while twelve women and men knelt or stood round me and started to improvise and ‘sound' my name. "This is very nice and relaxing," I thought, "what lovely sounds." But nothing prepared me for what happened next. It felt as though the blood in my legs started to heat up and started to flow upwards towards my body. A few minutes later the warm blood pulsed along my arms, and I started to get hotter.
Then I felt myself lifting, and that was the point were I realised that I needed to remember all this to report back later, and I came back to earth again. As the sounding continued I started to feel nauseous but the voices gradually stopped, and Brigitte held onto my feet and started to sing long low sounds until she had ‘grounded' me, and the nausea went away.
I experienced no more pain for 22 hours! I was totally amazed.
I have always sung since I was a very small child, and music has played a vital role in my everyday life my work, socialising, creativity, entertainment, activities, relaxation everything. I started to realise how much it had affected my life in a therapeutic way since childhood. (Hiding my head under the pillow when I was about 7, singing hymns to shut out the scary music in ‘Quatermass and the Pit', Mars from Holst's Planet Suite as my earliest example). This experience took music into a different place.
When I saw the advert for an ‘Introduction to Sound Healing' with Simon Heather I just had to go. I learned how to use sounds with intention, as the group had done in my sound bath, and ways in which I could use sound for self-healing. It was a beautiful weekend and I had no more pain for 3 weeks!! I had the proof. I was a sceptic no more.
Since then I've completed the Sound Healing training with the College of Sound Healing, and also the teacher training. I continue to use ‘sounding' daily for 15 minutes or so for my highest good, and have experienced improvements in every part in my life. I am so grateful to Brigitte for opening that door for me.
You don't need to be a singer to use sound for healing, and of course, other healers may use bowls or gongs or drums, but I find the voice works just fine. It is part of you and it's cheap, and you always have it with you. There are very few practitioners in the North-West.
That is beginning to change. I am just running my first Sound Healing training in the Manchester area, in Stockport, and am about to start my second on the 23rd and 24th May, starting with Part 1 the introductory weekend, which can stand alone, or be the first of a 5 weekend training course for practitioners, which is spread over 15 months. It will be held at the Cenacle Centre a holistic treatment centre on Dialstone Lane in Stockport. Please come and experience it, even if you're a sceptic like I was.
Sound healing is probably the oldest form of healing known to man. It offers the possibility of a drug free way of treating pain and illness and is simple to use and has no harmful side effects. It is a form of vibrational energy, which helps to balance the chakras (energy centres) and enables the body's energy to flow, so that the body is able to heal itself more effectively.
For more information please contact Gill.
Ange Leake UK Breathwork Facilitator and Trainer
The interview was published in the Transformational Breathwork Foundation e-newsletter, published October 2008.
Our voice is a huge part of how we express ourselves in the world, how we make ourselves known. Most of us have at some time in our lives been told to be quiet, not to speak out, not to sing, not to express how we feel. As Transformational Breathworkers we see the legacy of this in the breath patterns of our clients and ourselves, and know the importance of moving past these blocks and reclaiming our expression as we reclaim our breath.
Toning is effective in moving this blocked energy, because like the breath, sound is pure vibration and I believe that it's possible to go much further, really helping people to come fully into alignment with their true free expression. Many people need to relearn that the sound of their voice is acceptable, either in singing or simply in speaking their own truth.
What has been your journey with sound and music?
As a small child I sang freely and expressed myself confidently: however by early teens my confidence had been undermined until I was sure my singing voice was rubbish and speaking about my feelings was dangerous, so I learned to keep quiet, not to draw attention to myself and pretty much avoided situations where I had to express anything real.
As an adult I have been fortunate enough to encounter a number of wonderful teachers who very much believe that everyone can sing and it's our birthright to do so. I joined a choir where you don't have to audition or read music, went on some amazing workshops and began writing songs myself. I was encouraged by my wonderful friend Gila whose work is all about inspiring people to find their own voice and a few years ago took a course in Sound Healing.
Because my first love, the work of my heart is Transformational Breathing, it seemed natural to look for ways of incorporating more sound work into my breath practice too and this is continuing to grow and develop into workshops that focus equally on both. My confidence has grown and in a bizarre way, it has almost been an advantage not to have a perfect singing voice because that makes it less intimidating for unconfident people to join in if I make mistakes and hit dodgy notes, it gives them permission to do the same!
How does sound enhance breathwork in your experience?
We already know the value of toning within TB, also the importance of the music we use to enhance the complete experience of the breath session. In the groups I run, or where appropriate with individual clients, I use vocal sound (speaking, toning or chanting) often with movement as well to help people to access energetic blocks, or more often to make contact with their power, their inner resources. This creates an opening that often allows the breath to go deeper, more quickly and to ground the positive experiences they find through the voice work.
What are the types of sound methods do you use?
In my sound healing training I learned how to give a sound healing treatment by sounding over a person's body and using the vibration of my voice to identify energetic blockages and then to help to remove them. We also learned about using chants, tuning forks and other instruments. What gets me most inspired is supporting people with their own work, to empower them to be the instruments of their own healing so I am much more excited by the ways I can help people to find their own voice in whatever way that is meaningful to them.
There are some wonderful chants from a variety of traditions around the world that can really help people to open up, also some great singing affirmations that can energise and empower people and I often use these in groups. I like simple songs that are easy for people to learn and join in with, without having to stress about learning lots of words, part of the intention being that people will remember them and go away singing these positive messages to themselves.
Within breath sessions, I sometimes tone into a client's body, or use tuning forks to help to clear the auric field and support them in opening to the session. I have a wonderful tuning fork called an Om tuner, which you strike and then place onto a bony part of the body where it sends vibrations thoughout the body and feels lovely. I often use this over the heart chakra (I warn people first to it doesn't make them jump out of their skin!); it almost always makes them smile and breathe more deeply into that area.
How does it effect what you are doing?
Working with sound makes me happy and that's a pretty good argument for doing anything as far as I'm concerned! Making friends with my voice, my own sound, has also been a way of building confidence in my abilities as a facilitator and trainer, and the belief that I have the ability to share the work I am meant to do. It is a way of making communication fun, giving myself and others permission to experiment and play, without attachment to outcome.
How can one bring more sound practice and experience into their everyday life and the lives of their clients?
Sing, tone, yell whenever and wherever you can! Experiment with the range of sounds your voice can make, even the ones that aren't beautiful to listen to. I encourage clients to practice toning, because many of need to get used to the sound of our own voice, and to get accustomed to the idea that it's okay for other people to hear us too. In the car is a great time for doing this because no-one can hear you.
If you live with other people it may be tricky to find opportunities to make sound without feeling self conscious; however you can incorporate sound into your daily practice of meditation, 100 breaths or whatever you routinely do. If you are around small children take advantage of their willingness to join in and have fun, also their ability to enjoy your sound and their own uncritically!
My own practice incorporates toning every morning, also using a beautiful singing bowl which is easy to learn to use and gives support to the sound of the voice. Whatever my intentions for the day are, I can usually make up an affirmation that fits and sing it over a few times to myself: again it doesn't matter if the tune keeps changing or if it doesn't really scan, it's just a way of really putting my intention out there and making sure both I and the Universe have really heard it.
You could also get a copy of my CD "Meditations with Breath and Sound for morning and evening" which guides you through sessions for both ends of the day, approximately 12 minutes each.
To learn more, please visit: www.transformationalbreathing.com
Tuning into the Healing Power of Sweet Music - Lucy McDonald
Music can do more than temporarily boost your spirits. We know that music affects our mood but research now suggests it can also benefit patients with profound medical problems.
Listening to music can do more than temporarily boost your spirits if you are depressed, stressed, in pain or have suffered a stroke or other brain injury.
Latest research into the neurological effects of music, using highly advanced brain scanning techniques, has given scientists proof that listening to anything from Beethoven to Bruce Springsteen can improve health and speed recovery rates.
In other words, if music was a pill, we'd all be popping it.
Dr Wendy Magee, a music therapist at the Institute of Neuropalliative Rehabilitation in London, believes music therapy should be used, alongside conventional medicine, to treat everything from autism to accident injuries.
"Music is a mega-vitamin for the brain and kick-starts everything," she says.
"Through either listening to music or playing an instrument, or even just singing, patients can overcome physical, emotional, mental and communication problems. Music can access many parts of the brain and help to rebuild damaged neural pathways. It has a profound effect."
The study by doctors at the University of Helsinki is the most rigorous and controlled to date and has led music therapy advocates to claim that it provides solid scientific proof of the treatment's benefits.
In an article in the medical journal Brain, Finnish scientists claimed that people who listened to pop, classical, jazz or folk music for a couple of hours a day after a stroke had better verbal memory and were happier and more focused.
They found that verbal memory improved by 60 per cent in music listeners in the first week compared to just 29 per cent in non-listeners.
Teppo Särkämö, one of the authors, says: "These differences in cognitive recovery can be directly attributed to the effect of listening to music. Furthermore, the fact that most of the music also contained lyrics would suggest that it is the combination of music and voice that plays a crucial role in the patients' improved recovery."
So how does listening to your favourite band or composer improve your health? Scientists believe that music directly stimulates the recovery of the damaged areas of the brain while helping it to repair and renew.
It also helps to improve alertness, attention and mood through the part of the nervous system - the dopaminergic mesocorticolimbic - that controls a person's feelings of pleasure, motivation and memory.
Over the past five years there has been much research into the relationship between music, mind and body. As brain scanning techniques and hormone and blood tests have become increasingly sophisticated, so neuroscientists have been able to understand more about the human response to music.
In the past, it was impossible to scientifically prove the benefits of music therapy and the theory that it helped certain conditions was founded more on anecdotal evidence.
Now doctors are calling for more research to see whether music therapy should be integral to treatment for strokes, brain injuries, Alzheimer's disease and autism.
Composer Nigel Osborne, of the University of Edinburgh, uses what he calls "music medicine" to help to heal traumatised children in many of the world's conflict zones. He wants music therapy to become part of an integrated mainstream approach to health care. It is cheap, easily accessible and has no side-effects.
"Everyone knows that music moves them but until recently no one has been able to explain why, " he says. "Exciting breakthroughs in neuroscience are allowing us to understand more about the relationship between music and the mind and body. It's very important as we can show there is a solid scientific basis to prove what we know intuitively works."
Sue Dodds organises music and dance therapy classes for special educational schools across North Lanarkshire in Scotland.
The results - particularly with autistic children - have been dramatic. "Music refreshes the parts that nothing else can reach, " she says. "We all know the healing power of music and scientific research now backs that up. I'm passionate about it."
One story moved her especially.
Gareth Campbell, 10, had been diagnosed as profoundly deaf and very high on the autistic spectrum.
He had difficulty in communicating and suffered tactile defensive disorder - a hatred of being touched.
Sue says: "Through using vibrating sounds and playing him musical notes, we realised he could hear us. Eventually, he started to repeat notes back to us. He now likes being touched and his life has completely changed from being isolated to interacting with people."
The idea that music heals dates back to the Middle Ages when Al-Kindi, an Arabian doctor and music theorist, realised its therapeutic value. He was the earliest known physician to experiment with music therapy and even used it to try to treat a quadriplegic boy. Since then, everyone from Shakespeare to WH Auden has extolled its virtues in helping to heal a broken heart or to salve a troubled soul. Music was played in hospitals as part of the regime for recovering soldiers from both world wars.
Around 150 hospitals now employ music therapy for a range of conditions from depression to cancer after it became state registered in 1998. But it is not just about listening to music. Patients are encouraged to use instruments or their voices to express themselves and communicate.
Dr Magee says: "There are two sides to how it helps - through psychology and neurology. Music makes us feel good, but it also has complex pathways across the brain. Sometimes, when one part of our brain is damaged, music can help access alternative pathways to that ability. For example, people who have a left hemisphere stroke can't speak but often they can sing. This is because we use different areas of the brain for singing and for talking. The speech area is quite isolated but music is much more global."
A 2003 study published in the American Journal of Advanced Nursing found that listening to soothing classical music can reduce chronic pain by up to 21 per cent and depression by up to 25 per cent. According to a 2006 Arts Council report, rheumatoid arthritis sufferers who listened to 20 minutes of their favourite music daily reported a significant reduction in pain.
Meanwhile, the mere act of singing was shown to increase the quality of life for people with progressive dementia. The director of an American hospital's coronary care unit once notably said that half an hour of classical music produces the same effect as 10mg of Valium.
Neurologist Professor Tim Griffiths from Newcastle University believes that more research is needed before we can prove that music is more than a psychological distraction. He says: "We still don't know whether the effect music has is specific or related to an emotional effect that could be achieved by other means. Regardless of how it works, this latest study suggests that music is an easy treatment that could be introduced to stroke units and elderly care."
Through his work at NordoffRobbins, the country's leading music therapy charity, Fraser Simpson witnesses the power of music therapy but admits it is hard to quantify its effects.
"It's not like giving someone a pill and creating a statistical survey about how successful treatment is. It's very difficult to put a percentage on it but we do see an enormous number of people being enlivened by it."
LOSING WEIGHT: Rock music makes you eat more, quicker. Classical music, however, encourages you to eat slower and thus consume less.
IMPROVING BRAINPOWER: Some experts believe that listening to Mozart, or playing it to your baby or foetus, can improve intelligence - although this has not been scientifically proven.
BEATING ROAD RAGE: Dance music increases the production of cortisol and will make your heart beat faster while classical music will soothe your nerves.
EXERCISING: People work faster for longer if they listen to their favourite music
Nigel Hawkes, Health Editor, The Times - 20th February 2008
Stroke patients recover their memory and ability to concentrate more quickly if they are encouraged to listen to music for a few hours a day.
Their memories and command of language improved more rapidly than those of patients who listened to audio books or were left in silence, a study has found. They were able to focus and sustain attention for longer and they were more cheerful.
Researchers in the psychology department at the University of Helsinki measured patients' ability one week after their stroke and then began playing them music or speech, or did nothing. They tested them again at three months and six months. Teppo Sarkamo, a PhD student and one of the authors of the study, published in Brain, said: "We found that, three months after the stroke, verbal memory improved... by 60 per cent in music listeners, by 18 per cent in book listeners and by 29 per cent in non-listeners."
"Similarly, focused attention - the ability to control and perform mental operations and resolve conflicts among responses - improved by 17 per cent in music listeners, but no improvement was observed in audio book listeners and non-listeners. These differences were still essentially the same six months after the stroke."
He said that most of the music (63 per cent) also contained lyrics, so it must be the music (or the combination of music and voice) that helped.
Healing Hands - The Benefits of Sound Therapy
Name: Debra Grinham, age 49
The Treatment: Healing tinnitus with sound energy
THE PROBLEM: After enduring constant ringing in my ears for years, I was diagnosed as suffering from tinnitus. A visit to a specialist led to an MRI scan, revealing the suspected cause - an untreatable, dysfunctional jaw joint. I was told I would have to ‘live with, and learn to manage' the condition, but, as part of my treatment, I was referred to a Sound Therapist, who would use enriching sound to counteract the noise I was experiencing. Although I was at first sceptical, my symptoms had become so relentless over the past year that I was unable to relax or sleep. Feeling exhausted, stressed and permanently close to tears, I was desperate to try anything that would improve my sense of wellbeing.
THE EXPERIENCE: I lay down and my therapist Narayani walked around me, making long soothing vowel noises. Changes in tone would, apparently, enable her to identify imbalanced parts in my body that required healing. As I lay with my eyes closed, the sound enveloped me completely, and I noticed a wavering in pitch when she met the centre of my back and head area. Sound therapy works by isolating the perfect ‘note' that will help a certain area of the body heal, before directing the energy created by the sound waves towards the imbalanced area. I have to be honest and say I didn't expect great results, but, as Narayani walked around my head and spine, the sound resonated through the room and I felt myself relax.
THE VERDICT: At the end of the treatment, I felt completely physically and emotionally relaxed; when I returned home, I experienced an unfamiliar sense of balance and peace. The ringing in my ears had abated enough for me to sleep soundly for the first time in months. I continued to feel relief from my condition for days, and have been so impressed with the treatment and its ability to improve my wellbeing that I've already booked my next session. I plan to utilise sound healing as a way to help me manage my condition.
HEALING WAVES: Sound healing is based on the principle that every part of the body vibrates harmoniously. Negative factors can unbalance the frequency and health of areas, but sound waves can restore harmony, enabling treatment of conditions including depression, insomnia and chronic pain.
By Amy Camie (Harpist and Founder/Executive Director Scientific Arts Foundation St. Louis, Missouri, USA)
Written for the International Harp Therapy Journal, Fall 2007 Issue
It seems like only yesterday that we learned the solo harp CD, "New Love-awaken to yourself" that I recorded for my father when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, induced a state of relaxation in four minutes by increasing the alpha wave and decreasing the beta wave frequencies in the brain as measured by Quantitative EEG by William Collins, Ph.D. That was the beginning.
What followed was: the development of a larger clinical study for breast cancer patients; the submission of this research to a large medical institution; the contingent approval to do our research at that institution; the subsequent dismissal of our research; the formation of the Scientific Arts Foundation, a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization; and finally, the implementation of a 2nd pilot study with my solo harp CD, "The Magic Mirror-Inspired Reflections". Now that you have a little history, I'm excited to share what has transpired during the past year as the Scientific Arts Foundation has nurtured this research forward.
In our 2nd pilot study, William Collins, Ph.D., measured the brainwave frequencies of 4 women currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer using Quantitative EEG. Each of the women had individualized neurological processing imbalances. For example, one woman had elevated Delta frequencies while another woman had low Delta frequencies. Each woman was given a copy of "The Magic Mirror-Inspired Reflections" solo harp CD, along with a short questionnaire for them to log their feelings before and after listening to the music. They were instructed to listen to the CD once a day for 10 days then come back for a follow-up QEEG measurement. Here is a statement by Dr. Collins discussing his observations:
"A normative database was used to compare subject's brain functioning before and after listening to the music for ten consecutive days. In another pilot study I had looked at a particular brainwave frequency that is associated with relaxation. The design of that study was to see whether this relaxing frequency increased, decreased or stayed the same."
"This study was designed to be slightly more sophisticated in that we were comparing the subject's brain wave frequencies with those of a normal population. This way we could see not only if there was any change but whether that change was significant when comparing it to a normal population. Basically, how did our subjects fare when compared to the average population's brains? These were brains that did not have to deal with cancer, treatment or the effects of either. They were the norm - how would we stack up against the norm?"
"The results were in a direction that was totally unexpected. I had supposed that certain frequencies related to stress or relaxation would change. Solo harp music is very relaxing and enjoyable. This would be a reasonable expectation."
"What I didn't expect was that fundamental brain functioning would change. In each of the subjects the pre qEEG report indicated specific areas of deviation from the norm or decreased functioning. As we supposed, the stress had made its mark on each person involved in the study. The brain showed decreased ability in every day life."
"However, after listening to the music for ten days, ALL subjects' brains tended to normalize. In other words, listening to The Magic Mirror solo harp music had a direct positive effect on the subject's neurological functioning, not simply increasing or decreasing stress responses."
William Collins, Ph.D. - www.rhistl.com
We also conducted 2 additional pilot studies exploring the impact of "The Magic Mirror-Inspired Reflections" on immune system biomarkers, IgA, IgG, amylase and carbonic anhydrase VI, in saliva samples of 9 healthy individuals ranging in age from 14-67 yrs. We collected saliva samples prior to listening to the music, immediately after listening to the music and again 24, 48 and 72 hours later at approximately the same time of day. Results indicated that the levels of secretory IgA, IgG, amylase and CAVI in saliva samples were increased post music and stayed high for 2-3 days.
Now that we had substantial pilot study data suggesting "The Magic Mirror" had a positive impact on neurological functioning as well as physiological immune system biomarkers, we redesigned our initial clinical study to specifically focus on the ‘stress of having cancer' and not just a particular gender or cancer type.
Our current study is titled, "A Randomized Study of the Effects of Two Relaxation CDs on Stress Factors in Adults Receiving Chemotherapy as Treatment for Cancer" and the measurements now include:
One Hundred Twenty (120) adults diagnosed with cancer, who will be undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer, will be randomly assigned to 1 of 3 different groups following initial diagnosis:
Group 1: will listen to the acoustic solo harp CD: The Magic Mirror (23 mins.) by Amy Camie
Group 2: will listen to portions of the acoustic solo piano CD: Comfort Zone (23 mins.) by Steven Halpern. Steven Halpern is considered the founding father of New Age music. He pioneered the use of therapeutic music in the fields of holistic and alternative medicine.
Group 3: Control - no music
Initial measurements will be taken prior to chemotherapy treatment to determine a baseline; the second measurements will be taken 2 weeks after they have begun chemotherapy treatment and the musical intervention will be given at this time; final measurements will be taken 2 weeks later.
We have developed collaborate relationships with The Center for Cancer Care and Research under the direction of John Eckardt, MD and the St. Louis Cancer and Breast Institute under the direction of Rachel Borson, MD (in 2008 we also added Missouri Hematology and Oncology Care under the direction of Robert Avery, MD, FACP) These cancer centers will enroll patients into this research study. William Collins, Ph.D. will collect saliva samples, Quantitative EEG measurements and conduct the standardized psychological tests. David Kossor, R.Ph, Ph.D. will analyze saliva samples and our statistical analysis will be done by Judith Holt, Ph.D. Deborah Burnett, ASID will evaluate the "Listening Space" questionnaires and photos.
In addition to the above listed researchers, the Scientific Arts Foundation Research Committee includes: Asif Anwar, MD, MS; Mary Autrey, MA,OTR/L.; Susan Schulte, DSc and Amy Camie.
The Scientific Arts Foundation is aware of the current research indicating links between our thoughts, feelings, emotions, support systems, belief systems, relaxation activities and environment and our health. As a result, every question on the Initial Questionnaire, Case Report Form and Daily Questionnaire was carefully chosen to offer insight into these possible co-relations.
On August 9, 2007 our research protocol was submitted to St. John's Mercy Medical Center's Institutional Review Board for evaluation. We received approval on August 14, 2007 to conduct our study as described in the application effective immediately. This will offer substantial credibility to the study when submitted to peer review journals for publication upon its completion.
The current budget for this research is close to USD320,000. The Scientific Arts Foundation is selling "The Magic Mirror-Inspired Reflections\ in an effort to help increase awareness of this study as well as to share this music immediately with those who could benefit from its use. Each CD is sold for USD20 with USD10 going directly to support the research.
Individual and corporate donations are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated and may be sent to the Scientific Arts Foundation, 11469 Olive Blvd. PMB 180, St. Louis, MO 63141, USA.
Amy Camie is a Harpist, Recording Artist, Public Speaker on "Vibrational Awareness", Founder and Executive Director of the Scientific Arts Foundation. Amy's solo harp CDs are used throughout the country in hospitals, cancer centers, hospices and for general relaxation and stress reduction.
Why take Prozac when you can sing Prokofiev? - Mary Ann Sieghart
Here's an idea that will make you healthier and happier without any pain at all. In fact, it's pure pleasure.
Start singing. It's the easiest thing in the world. And it's one of the most fun. Not only do we sing when we're happy: singing actually makes us happy.
So hurray for the Education Secretary, Alan Johnson - an old rocker himself - who this week announced a 10 million campaign to encourage singing in schools.
Singing with other people brings so many benefits. You have to stay in tune and in time with the others, so it's quite different from singing in the bath or the car. If you're singing in harmony too, there's the added challenge of sticking to your part without being distracted. All this does wonders for children's concentration and self-discipline.
And it gives them a great sense of collective achievement, too. Choirs are all about teamwork. Sing an alto line on its own and it won't make much sense. Weave it in with the soprano, tenor and bass lines and it creates a wonderful tapestry of sound. Your contribution may be just a few stitches, but if you stand back from it, a beautiful picture emerges.
I used to love singing in choirs at school, but didn't take it up again until I was nearly 40. Once learnt, however, the techniques never desert you. I might have been a little rusty, but practice soon oiled the mechanism back into shape.
That school experience was incredibly helpful, and now I'm due to sing Brahms's German Requiem at the Barbican in March - one of the most sublime, spine-tingling works I know - and to perform in an amateur musical a few days later.
I really look forward to the rehearsals for both. We emerge from them humming happily down the pavement, moods lifted, spirits raised. And this is a standard response to choral singing, as a study published in the Journal of the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health shows.
The authors questioned members of a university choir and found that no fewer than 93 per cent agreed that singing made their mood more positive; 89 per cent reported feeling happier; 79 per cent said it helped to reduce stress and 78 per cent felt calmer. At the same time, though, 74 per cent were more energetic and 76 per cent more awake and alert. Who needs Prozac when you can sing Prokofiev? Why feel the blues when you can shake them off by singing the blues?
Other studies have shown that choral singing increases immunity, reduces depression, improves cognitive function, lowers stress levels and releases endorphins, the feel-good hormones. A joint Harvard and Yale study even found that it increased the life expectancy of the population of New Haven, Connecticut, by promoting a healthy heart and a better state of mind.
These findings don't surprise me at all. Becoming so thoroughly absorbed in something that you forget everything else is a very effective agent of wellbeing. The psychology professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes this state of mind as ‘flow'. Artists, athletes, musicians, rock climbers and bridge players all experience it. You lose sight of your normal preoccupations and worries and concentrate completely on what you're doing. If you do it well, you feel a natural high - both at the time and afterwards.
You can't achieve flow through anything passive. Watching TV or lying in the bath won't get you there. You need to be challenged and stretched. Then, when you get it exactly right, you experience the spiritual equivalent of the ‘ping' that a tennis racket makes on a brilliant shot.
The added dimension of choral singing, though, is harmony. Barbershop choirs talk of ‘ringing the chords' to describe the feeling when the notes are blended and balanced perfectly in harmony. Choir members often talk of their whole body tingling; I've certainly experienced it.
It is no accident that most religions and spiritual pursuits talk of achieving inner harmony. When our voices blend and merge into one glorious sound, our egos dissolve too into a sense of oneness. Singing with others is a humbling experience: no voice should stand out from any other. In the study I referred to earlier, 74 per cent of choral singers agreed that singing was ‘good for my soul'.
All children should have this experience. All should learn enough about it at school to be able to take it up again in later life. But for those of you who have never tried, don't be deterred. Many community choirs welcome complete beginners, even people who can't read music.
So make it your mid-January resolution to join a choir. I bet that, like the late, lamented James Brown and hundreds of thousands of amateur warblers, you'll be humming ‘I Feel Good' on the way out.
Music is the Best Medicine - Pat Hagan
SINGING: Imagine if your GP diagnosed you with heart disease - then ordered you to sing every day. As unlikely as it sounds, dozens of studies show music can relieve pain, slash levels of stress hormones and even boost intelligence.
Professor Clive Holmes, from Southampton University, studied the effects of live music on dementia patients. He says: "Suddenly they came alive - some hadn't spoken for three years."
CANCER: Patients having chemotherapy experience less pain and discomfort when they listen to music during their treatment.
Earlier this year, patients at the Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff were treated to the first live music session - with a professional harpist - during their cancer-busting treatments. The soothing effects of the music have been shown to ease the trauma of the toxic drugs.
INTELLIGENCE: Kids who take music lessons may turn out to be more intelligent. Canadian scientists discovered that children as young as four who took music lessons for a year had greater memory and learning abilities.
Professor Laurel Trainor, of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, says: "Musical training has an effect on how the brain gets wired."
HEART DISEASE: A regular singalong can slash the risk of heart disease. Professor Graham Welch, an expert in music and medicine at the University Of London, says it cuts stress hormones and gives the cardiovascular system a good workout.
Singing has physical benefits because it is an aerobic activity that boosts oxygenation in the bloodstream and exercises major muscle groups in the upper body. The charity Heart Research UK is planning a publicity campaign in December to get us all singing to boost our heart health.
DEMENTIA: A recent study looked at the impact of live performances on patients with severe dementia. Bands played popular classics such as The Blue Danube and Glenn Miller's Chattanooga Choo Choo, while researchers scored patients in terms of awareness and alertness.
Some residents, who were so profoundly disabled by their dementia they could hardly hold a conversation, danced and sang along with the music.
LEARNING DISORDERS: Music therapy is widely used for severe autism and learning disorders. Music therapy specialists Nordoff-Robbins claim frustrated kids have been taught to channel their energy into playing music.
STRESS: This can have a damaging effect on your physical and mental health, as well those around you. Many companies now use drumming to combat the problem for their employees.
Research shows workers who spend an afternoon in a drumming session experience a 50 per cent drop in feelings of tiredness and depression. Drumming releases feel-good hormones and some studies have shown it changes blood chemistry.
PAIN: Listening to music could help control pain, according to research. A study of 500 patients who had major abdominal operations found those who listened to music as well as taking painkilling drugs had much lower levels of discomfort.
The type of music did not matter. Patients were able to choose from a harp, piano, orchestra or slow jazz.
PREMATURE BABIES AND CHILDBIRTH: Even sick babies love music. A study by Israeli doctors found premature babies had lower heart rates and slept more deeply when they listened to a singer and a harpist.
Reducing stress in this way hastens weight gain and recovery. Music can also reduce childbirth pain. US experts found first-time mums who tuned into soothing music during labour had significantly less pain than those who did not.
Harp Music ‘Eases Pain in Surgery'
Hospitals are using harpists to calm patients on the operating table after research found that the instrument eased pain.
The sound and vibrations have also been shown to lower the heart rate, decrease blood pressure and combat heart disease.
Several private hospices and care homes already employ harpists and the National Health Service is following suit with the Royal Brompton Hospital, in London, and Cardiff's Velindre Cancer Centre looking set to become the first trusts to take on players.
Research in the United States found that the range of vibrations emitted by the plucked strings affect the body's nervous system and some American surgeons employ harpists so that patients need less anaesthetic.
Last night, Anne Mills, the head of nursing and therapies at the Velindre Hospital, said using a harpist during chemotherapy and radiotherapy could mean that a patient needed fewer pain-relief drugs.
The hospital has recruited Bethan Hughes, 26, to play to patients during the sessions. Miss Hughes, a harpist from the age of 10, said: "The harp can be a medicine. It works differently to other instruments."
"It can help to alter brain patterns and brain waves, slow heart rates and increase oxygenation in the blood. Within 10 minutes of music being played, the patient's blood pressure can change."
The Royal Brompton Hospital hopes to employ Liehsja Blaxland-de Lange, also 26, to perform for its patients.
Miss Blaxland-de Lange, who has been playing the harp for 17 years, said: "I will perform to patients before and after they have surgery and - depending on the surgeon and the patient - possibly in surgery itself."
The US research has been conducted by Dr Abraham Kocheril, the chief of cardiac electrophysiology at the Carle Heart Centre, in Illinois. He said: "The harp seems to affect the part of the nervous system which regulates the heart. It relaxes the patient and the heart slows down."
"People are not seeing this as some sort of voodoo any more. There's a sound scientific basis for it. What hasn't yet been done is to figure out why the harp works in this way but that is what we are trying to do."
Christina Tourin, a California harpist who visits Britain to teach ‘harp therapy', said: "I have played in surgery, including while a woman had a lump removed from her breast. She needed hardly any anaesthetic."
What's the Buzz? Sound Therapy by Stephanie Rosenbloom
CAROL HARADA lay on her back, eyes closed, on cushions strewn across the floor of a studio in Emeryville, Calif. Several people, some clutching musical instruments, quietly gathered around. It was her turn to receive a group healing.
One person held her feet. Another touched her head. Someone placed a hand on her shoulder. Ms. Harada, 40, then stated that her intention was to release the dull pain in her left shoulder.
"The physical touch was important, to remind me I was safe and directly connected to people doing healing work on my behalf," she wrote in an e-mail describing her experience last spring.
Then, using their voices and acoustic instruments - bowls made from crystals, an Australian didgeridoo, bells and drums - the participants gently bathed Ms. Harada in sound.
When the sonic massage ended several minutes later, Ms. Harada's eyes fluttered open. She felt grateful, peaceful and when she stood up, found that the range of motion in her shoulder had increased.
For decades people have relaxed and meditated to soothing sounds, including recordings of waves lapping, desktop waterfalls and wind chimes. Lately a new kind of sound therapy, often called sound healing, has begun to attract a following.
Also known as vibrational medicine, the practice employs the vibrations of the human voice as well as objects that resonate - tuning forks, gongs, Tibetan singing bowls - to go beyond relaxation and stimulate healing. "It's like meditation was 20 years ago and yoga was 10 to 15 years ago," said Amrita Cottrell, the founder and director of the Healing Music Organization in Santa Cruz, California, and the leader of the class that Ms. Harada attended.
While many people are only just discovering it, sound healing is actually a return to ancient cultural practices that used chants and singing bowls to restore health and relieve pain. It is often introduced at mind-body or wellness festivals. Thousands of healers from almost every state and many countries have created Web sites about sound healing.
Schools for certification have sprung up too, though certification is hardly standardized. The healers include medical doctors, academics and people with no medical or scientific background at all. What they have in common is a belief in the potency of sound to not only promote relaxation, but relieve ailments, from common aches and pains to the anxiety that accompanies chemotherapy.
People who have tried sound healing say they like it because it is noninvasive and relaxing. And lying on a cushion, exercising only the ears, is decidedly easier than stretching into the downward dog pose. But can chanting ‘om lam hu' or blowing into a didgeridoo really loosen a stiff neck?
Sylvia Pelcz-Larsen of Boulder, Colorado, an acupuncturist who was suffering from excruciating back pain, tried a form of sound healing called Acutonics, which involves applying tuning forks to acupressure points on the body.
"I got a 10-minute session, and my back was about 80 percent better," she said. "It changed my life." Ms. Pelcz-Larsen now teaches classes through the Kairos Institute of Sound Healing, which is based in New Mexico but offers classes throughout the world, and has incorporated tuning forks into her acupuncture practice, along with Tibetan singing bowls, planetary gongs and chimes.
Using forks and bowls for anything other than dinner may seem to some people like New Age nonsense. 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.
When the heart rate is relatively steady, and breathing is deep and slow, stress hormones decrease, said Dr. Mitchell L. Gaynor, an oncologist and clinical assistant professor of medicine at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York and the author of ‘The Healing Power of Sound.' That is significant, he said, because stress can depress every aspect of the immune system, "including those that protect us against flu and against cancer."
Ms. Cottrell pointed out that ultrasound, which employs vibrations in frequencies above the range of human hearing, has been used therapeutically. "When the body is sick - it could be a cold, a broken bone, an ulcer, a tumor, or an emotional or mental illness - it's all a matter of the frequencies of the body being out of tune, off balance, out of synch," she said. "Vibration can help bring that back into balance."
Sound healing works like the cry you make when you stub your toe, said Jonathan Goldman, the director of the Sound Healers Association in Boulder, and the author of ‘Healing Sounds: The Power of Harmonics.' "Have you ever been able to stub your toe and not make a sound?" he asked. "It hurts a lot more."
The cry, he suggested, may stimulate endorphins or create resonance with the part of the body that is in pain and lessen it. Or, he said, the cry you emit may simply distract you from the pain.
Dr. Gaynor distinguishes between curing and healing. To ‘cure' means physically to fix something, whereas ‘healing' refers to wholeness, a union of the mind, body and spirit, he said. Dr. Gaynor, who has an oncology practice in Manhattan, considers sound healing integrative medicine: not an alternative to science but a complement to it.
He leads free bi-weekly support groups for his patients that involve chanting and playing Tibetan singing bowls. The bowls are made of several kinds of metal; when struck gently on the rim with a wood baton, they vibrate at different frequencies, making sounds not unlike church bells.
When Marisa Harris of Manhattan first saw Dr. Gaynor with one of his Tibetan bowls she thought he was going to prepare pasta. But when he began to play them, she said, it was the first time since she had been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer that she could hear something other than the words "you're going to die."
"It was as if all of a sudden there was room for possibility," she said. The sound, Ms. Harris said, penetrated her body and made her feel as if it were not only her thoughts about death that were breaking up, "but these poisonous cells, these cancer cells, were breaking up and I experienced something very healing."
More than seven years later she plays her own singing bowls every day, often chanting the names of her three children, her husband and other loved ones. The bowls, she said, helped her express feelings she had bottled up inside. Sometimes, she said, she talks to the bowls about her fears. "The sound would take them away," she said, "out of my being, out of my existence."
Mr. Goldman draws an analogy between sound healing and prayer. Many cultures, he said, believe that vocalizing a prayer amplifies it. By the same token, he said, expressing what you want a sound to accomplish (Ms. Harada's wish to release the pain in her left shoulder, for example), can help you heal yourself - or someone else.
Dr. Gaynor likens sound healing to music therapy. In ‘The Healing Power of Sound' he cites studies indicating that music can lower blood pressure, reduce cardiac complications among patients who have recently suffered heart attacks, reduce stress hormones during medical testing and boost natural opiates.
But not everyone who partakes in sound healing is in need of medical treatment. Ms. Harada's husband, Greg Bergere, attended the sound healing classes in Emeryville even though he had no physical ailments. They left him feeling refreshed. "It felt like I just had a really relaxing night's sleep," he said. For some people, that alone may be worth the price of a singing bowl.
Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
To read articles on Sound Healing written by Simon Heather please visit www.simonheather.co.uk/pages/articles.php.
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Alexandra: "A wonderful experience covering all the necessary tools a person needs to become a sound healing practitioner. The emphasis is on the practical side which for me was so important as to be a practitioner one needs to learn how to ‘practise’. It was a year of enlightenment!"